Opening doors to the future

Published 7:01 am Sunday, November 6, 2016

By Bill Spitzer

P & I Coordinator Parenting Resource Center

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to hear more positive about the world? Or even more positive about our own community? Sometimes we get caught up in all the negativity that surrounds us on a daily basis and we forget to acknowledge the positive. It’s there and always has been there but we often look past it to find the negative so we can fix it.

Email newsletter signup

For the next five years, we have the opportunity to dig deep and find that positive streak that flows through every community. We often look to other communities or states to find solutions to our problems when the answer is right in front of us. In our community and towns.

Our five-year mission to explore the positive will hopefully open more optimistic doors to the future.

You will start to hear phrases like “science of the positive” as well as “positive community norms” and will wonder what it all means? If you have not heard by now, the community of Austin received a million-dollar grant from the Minnesota Department of Human Services, Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division. These funds will be used in our schools as well as our community developing positive messages based on data collected from you and our students. The main focus of the grant is to reduce the 30-day use of alcohol by our young people. I know what you may be thinking, why are we focusing on alcohol when we have other drugs concerns. Selection of the focus drug is based on several factors and surveys.

Recently released 2016 Minnesota student data still indicates a high use of alcohol among our students over a 30-day period.

Wait a minute, I thought this was about positive stuff? Well here it goes, most eighth, ninth and 11th grade

AHS students didn’t use alcohol in the past 30 days. Better yet, most 11th grade students feel that drinking alcohol is never a good thing to do for anyone their age. Check this one out, most 11th grade students feel that parents and other adults should clearly communicate the importance of not using alcohol. Parents sometimes feel that students don’t want to hear that message but they clearly do.

These are positive community norms. Nothing fancy but certainly helpful to know. A positive community norm is just the positive part of the statistic collected from a survey. We have admired the problem long enough; these grant funds will work with the other side of the statistic. The statistic that focuses on the majority.

Have you ever noticed the change in people when you start talking about the positive? You see more eyes light up and smiles fill their faces. It’s time for positive, join us! If you are interested in being a part of the positive, please contact us.
Bill Spitzer is the Planning and Implementation Coordinator for the Austin community. He will be working with our schools and community as part of a 5-year grant focusing on Positive Community Norms. Feel free to contact him at the Austin High School or via e-mail The grant is made possible by the Minnesota Department of Human Services, ADAD and hosted locally by the PRC. Check out and resources at the Parenting Resource Center(PRC) Specialty Library (105 First Street SE, Austin).