Be careful–when a community is portrayed as “anti-business,” it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

That’s one lesson that could be learned in the wake of “Chicken-Gate.” It’s not exactly a political scandal of “Watergate” proportions, but locally and regionally, the baby chick issue has struck a chord–or more accurately, discord.

If you’re not familiar with the issue, there’s plenty to read in this edition of the Press. And, there’s plenty to read on Facebook social media.

Which brings us to another lesson: We’ve witnessed first hand the power of social media, as dozens upon dozens of people reacted to the issue. Also –the dark side of social media was vividly exposed.

Many of the posts included attacks on the mayor, the city, and individuals. Some of the comments were rude, mean-spirited, inflammatory, misinformed, uninformed and inaccurate.

The overarching theme of the comments: Pelican Rapids is anti-business, in decline, unprogressive, narrow-minded–and even “communist.”

One of the Facebook posts read: “Sadly some community leaders think they can rule without cause. Pelican has a long history of anti business relations and this kind of unlawful use of power to prevent businesses from free enterprise. Spread the word people, time for this to stop.”

And, spread the word they did.

Fortunately, most of us have had the opportunity to step back and take a deep breath since “Chicken-gate” exploded last week.

Hardware man Matt Strand and Mayor Brent Frazier met for coffee April 6, which helped “smooth feathers.”

Be aware: There remains discussion ahead.

The city will likely be reviewing not only the retail sale issue, but also the keeping of backyard laying hens in city limits. We hope open minds, and calm discussion, prevail as this goes forward.

Zoning ordinances are often described as a government framework to ensure “neighbors remain as good neighbors.”

As much as we may not like regulation, when you’re dealing with human nature–sometimes government needs ordinances to maintain social order.

The silver lining in this “chicken-gate” episode is that lots of folks are paying attention. Now that there is public interest, wouldn’t it be wonderful if it produces local action in bettering Pelican Rapids–as well as the surrounding area?

If you have a renewed interest; if you’re excited…get involved.

We would love to engage people in the community.

There is no shortage of opportunities.

Become a Lions Club member; a Rotary member; a library card-holder; a school volunteer…the list is endless. Become involved in your church. Join the Chamber of Commerce.

One less obvious opportunity is an “associate” member of the Chamber–open to folks who may not be business owners, but want to be involved. The annual dues are affordable. At other communities I’ve worked, the associate members–often retirees or semi-retired folks, have been crucial to the local Chamber as a corps of volunteers.

As long as “Chicken-gate” has got our collective attention, here are just a few ways to get involved in the community. And they are coming up quickly.

• A community gathering is planned Friday, April 13, 9 a.m. at the downtown Pelican Rapids Chamber of Commerce offices. The informal discussion is intended to give everybody a voice in moving the community forward. This will be followed by a April 21, Saturday morning 8:30 a.m. gathering at Lake Region Electric.

• On April 12, from noon to 4 p.m., there will be coffee and goodies at the Pelican Rapids High School library. Superintendent Randi Anderson is seeking input from the public as the school plans for the future, and the profile of a graduate in the Class of 2036.

• The Oktoberfest committee, always in need of volunteers for the fall festival, will be meeting April 16, 6 p.m. at Hillbillies in Erhard.