Aaron told me that what drew him to contact me was the fact that I have shown interest in the plight of the young people in our community. I don't think he will mind me sharing these words:
"Well over the summer I have been talking with citizens out in Hickory about trying to stop the cruise weekends on US-70 primarily ran by teenagers. I want to bring them off of the road and allow the local government to invest in businesses to revive them and offer new costumers. If you would please take the time to look over the two attachments I have sent you, and please give me some advice. I believe what you wrote in that article really gave me a confidence boost about stepping up to the plate to offer new ideas. When you view what the city of old habits and customs. "If you ignore history and its teachings, you will fall victim of it." has been doing, I think of a Nicholas Machiavelli quote, "I do not wish to preserve the status quo; I want to overthrow it." If we fail to realize we must look forward, and keep our eyes down field, we will fall victim toI met Aaron last week at the Hickory City Council meeting and had an excellent conversation with him after the meeting. I explained to him that I don't think it is the City of Hickory's role to invest in businesses to provide a marketplace for these kids. I believe that these kids just being alive creates a marketplace of opportunities that aren't being taken advantage of.
I agree with his assertion that it is dangerous to have kids out riding up and down HWY 70 at all hours of the night, and for safety sake, we need to be proactive and put a stop to these planned cruises before something terrible happens. These are mostly High School kids who should be under some sort of supervision. State Laws say that they aren't supposed to be out past a certain time and we have all witnessed this occurring out at Wal-Mart around Midnight. We know eventually something bad will come from all of this. Why wait until a horrific incident takes place? Do something now!!!
But like Aaron, I want to come at this from a positive angle. As I said, this issue presents an opportunity for business owners in Hickory. Why don't these businesses offer incentives and discounts to get these kids to patronize their establishments. This is an excellent article - Winning the Profitable Teen Customer Demographic. The article states, "Some businesses might have an advantage if their services or products appeal to teenagers. Teens have disposable income and they like to spend it. If you can grab this demographic, you may find intensely loyal, enthusiastic customers."
Is that not what local businesses want, especially in these Economic times when they are struggling? Teens are also struggling in the current economic environment, but for the most part teens don't have the same obligations as adults, so they tend to have more money to spend freely than their parents. Although many of the underlying assumptions have changed, this article Teen Market to Surpass $200 Billion by 2011 states, "Teen spending money, accumulated through paying jobs, allowances from parents, 'as needed' money from parents, and monetary gifts, will increase an estimated 3.5% annually, raising the aggregate teen income 14.4%, from $79.7 billion in 2006 to $91.1 billion in 2011." Sounds like a market segment I would be going after.
I told Aaron that if he is truly interested in seeing this issue addressed, then he is going to have to be proactive. He needs to set up meetings with business owners and managers to talk about this issue and see where each party can collaborate on marketing strategies. I think everyone needs to realize that it is in this community's best interest to get these kids off the streets. Cruising is pointless. It wastes gas, it decreases safety, it increases liability, and these kids can't properly socialize while they are riding up and down the highway.
Well Aaron has been proactive. He has formed what he is calling the Ten Action Committee. Here are two messages he has sent me about events he has established to promote this Idea and Agenda:
What the Hound would like to see - I think it is a great first step that the Crawdads are allowing Aaron to try to accomplish this goal. It would be great if Crawdad officials (or whoever it takes) would step up and make discounted tickets available to teens and free tickets available to teens for good behavior in school. We see empty seats available out there. Fill them up with some teens.Every Weekend for a month.With permission from Hickory Dickory Dock, the Teen Action Committee will start recruiting new Representatives on their premises. We will have a table set up on how to join, and what we stand for. Please drop by our table and let us know that you s...upport us. For more information please join our group to receive emails. "The Teen Action Committee is dedicated to provide teenagers an outlet to learn about one another, and to stand up for what they believe in. The committee is designed to establish individuals to be open minded, and it stands on bi-partisanship.Host:Teen Action CommitteeTime:8:00PM Friday, August 28thLocation:Hickory Dickory DockCome support us during an evening at the park. With permission from the Hickory Crawdads, the Teen Action Committee will start recruiting new Representatives on their premises. We will have a table set up on how to join, and what we stand for. Please drop by our table and let us know that you s...upport us. For more information please join our group to receive emails. "The Teen Action Committee is dedicated to provide teenagers an outlet to learn about one another, and to stand up for what they believe in. The committee is designed to establish individuals to be open minded, and it stands on bi-partisanship."Host:Teen Action CommitteeTime:7:00PM Tuesday, September 1stLocation:L.P. Franz Stadium
I would also like to see the City and the Crawdads support a concert series for teens on the weekends the Crawdads aren't playing and a concert series (or DJ) for the teens in the fall -- all at LP Franz Stadium. Why not use the Convention center occasionally for something like this? Use it to educate these kids and help build community pride, spirit, and participation. Let's start raising people to BE solid citizens, instead of casting them out on the streets and hoping for the best.
I think it is great that Hickory Dickory Dock has stepped forward. I hope some other restaurants will also step forward and support this mission. As I have stated, they stand to reap a good reward (money and a loyal customer base), if they do so. I know that some of these entities worry about controlling these kids, but there is little control out there on HWY 70. In my opinion, this would be a great Community Goodwill gesture for these businesses to step forward and at least attempt to make a go of this.
As a community we need to start thinking outside of the box on some real issues involving our citizens. We need to support our younger generation and be thankful that we have a go-getter like Aaron Scott in our midst. Let's support this kid. He is showing some real leadership in attempting to get this off the ground. Maybe if he leads others will follow and wouldn't this be a good feeling of success, as we attempt to change the fortunes of Hickory.