Good lessons learned by the accidental fly in the hallway

Published 9:55 am Sunday, September 24, 2017

By Bill Spitzer

Austin Positive Action Coalition

Have you ever wished you could be a fly on the wall?

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Well I became that fly on the wall a couple weeks ago. I was working a side job helping a friend when I overheard a conversation that was approaching down the hallway as I was waiting for the elevator.  The conversation was about a certain billboard located on I-90 that I had invested a great deal of time.  The person thought it was foolish putting up such a message and wondering how many more students drank during the rest of the school year?

The two people rounded the corner to see me waiting for the elevator and one recognized me as the coordinator for the group that put up the message.  It became uncomfortable for them as they continued on their way.

The gentleman who didn’t know me and questioned the message encountered me the next day.  He was sincerely apologetic for his comments he made the day before. I explained his comments provided me with some valuable knowledge.

Sometimes criticism is hard to take but it is all about how you use the information.  For me, I learned that we must do a better job of helping people understand the message. In addition, we need to do a better job of explaining our mission out to the members of the community and county.

That brings me to yet another one of our core principles: Be proactive.  If we want our message to be understood, we need to do more educating across all spectrums of our community.

There are other lessons to be learned here.  If you have criticism, make sure you let those involved know firsthand.  It may feel uncomfortable providing criticism, but trust me it will spare you the discomfort of talking about someone as they listen around the corner.

Another lesson, people still read billboards along the roadside.

Lastly, one of our goals was to start the conversation about under age consumption. Looks like those conversations are far reaching!

Being proactive helps our young people build the knowledge to make good decisions.  Prevention is all about making those good decisions that lead to positive behaviors.  Action will always be faster than reaction so let’s engage our young people on the positives of NOT using alcohol under age.
Bill Spitzer is the Planning and Implementation Coordinator working closely with Austin Positive Action Coalition.  APAC and Bill will be working with local schools and community as part of a five-year grant focusing on Positive Community Norms.  Feel free to contact him at the Austin High School 507-460-1800 ext. 0361 or via e-mail

This grant is made possible by the Minnesota Department of Human Services, ADAD and hosted locally by the PRC.  To learn more about the Parenting Resource, visit their website at