Editor’s note: Pelican Rapids woodworker Ben Sytsma, inspired in part by the recent discussions and public commentary exploring “What’s Right” and what improvements are possible in the Pelican area, has joined the discussion with some of his views and visions on variouis civic improvements.

The Pelican Rapids Press invited him to write guest columns on these topics.  Please share your views–and get involved as you are able–in the community-building proccess. 

Email comments to Louis Hoglund, managing editor: 


Previous entries in Sytsma’s series can be found on our website at www.pelicanrapidspress.com under the Opinions tab.

By Ben Sytsma, Guest Columnist

Last week I encouraged readers to consider the comparison between city shaping and home ownership. A case was made that both situations require three critical elements for success – first a dream, second a strategy, and finally a determined effort to work the plan and accomplish the goal. Success is hindered, and often impossible if any of these points is lacking.

In light of this idea where would you say we are at regarding our town?

I’m hoping for us to take a serious look around and assess the current state and identify the future direction of Pelican Rapids.

Next I’d like to start putting these thoughts into words and most importantly create some plans of action to take us where we see this place growing. Let me begin. Again, I’ll use a comparison to real estate mainly because it is so relatable.

When my wife and I were looking to buy our first home we first looked for a nice neighborhood. We knew how important this was because it offered a certain security as we made our investment.  Next we looked for the house that had the most potential to increase in value over the time we that we owned it. That meant we were looking at houses that were kind of rough. We realized this was actually a great benefit for us in the long term. We bought a place many people wouldn’t consider. The fact that others couldn’t see what we saw didn’t matter to us, we saw potential, made a plan, and got to work. It needed updating.

We remodeled almost everything because it hadn’t had any real investment made since it was first built. The long and short of it, we started with the worst house on the block but ended up with something that was really easy to sell.

I look at our town in a similar way. It’s like a bad house in a good neighborhood. Actually, more like a great neighborhood.

Here’s what I mean.

The neighborhood is our region; full of natural beauty, recreational options, and all sorts of retail and restaurant choices within an hour of this glorious little place. Think about how amazing it is that we have an international airport just down the road!  The region isn’t exclusively ours however, it is shared by many other municipalities and towns. We share our region with them.

If we’re being realistic, quite a few of these communities are looking really attractive compared to us at the moment.

Before you gather up the pitchforks and torches and run me out of town, let me plainly state something.

I love Pelican Rapids.

I consider myself privileged to call this my home town. I agree with many of the positive things that have been said, and written about over the last several months. I love it enough to speak up, to ask some questions, or encourage some dialog and action. I love it enough to commit to the fixes.

I see our potential and want to tap into it and watch it bloom. We have the most to gain of any other town in our region because we’re the only one positioned not just geographically, but also historically and culturally to become the best house on the block.

Our town will never be exactly like it was “back in the day” but I know it can be just as good, only different.

Who’s ready?