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Farmington Lessons: What I Learned This Year

Community stories deliver powerful messages in 2011.

Someone once told me that community journalism is a front row ticket to the Greatest Show on Earth. I still believe that, but it's also a career path that allows you to learn on the job. 

I've met some amazing people, like , the , the  and . 

In every person's story, there's a lesson. Here are just a few I've picked up this year: 

1. You're never too old to be happy.

In September, Farmington Hills resident Edna Black turned 100 and had several parties, including , to celebrate that milestone. What struck me, though, was not the number of parties or the milestone she achieved, but her warm and genuine smile. It made her look much younger than her years. 

2. Sometimes, you have to follow your heart.

spent a summer as a volunteer teacher in the Dominican Republic last year and felt so connected to the country and the mission of Vermont-based The DREAM (Dominican Republican Education and Mentoring) Project, she committed to spending the school year there. Blanco left in October to teach literacy and after-school classes in English and art. Originally from Cuba, she said the trip is not only an opportunity to volunteer. "I want to do it for myself more than anything," she added. "I feel it will get me closer to a place I was plucked out of."

3. Margaret Mead was right.  

She said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." I've written about many groups in Farmington and Farmington Hills that are working to change our little corner of the world. New this year, the  was formed to provide support for people, especially teens, dealing with depression and suicidal thoughts. They've already hosted , and we look forward to covering their activities in 2012. 

4. Freedom is a powerful motivator. 

Until June of this year, was living and working as a doctor in Cuba. She knew she would never go anywhere but where the Cuban government wanted her to go. Today, she is a resident of Novi, thanks in part to support from Rotary International. People call Detroit a nightmare, but Dayana's story reminded me this is still America, still a place people come to live free. 

5. A business is also a dream. 

For all the bookkeeping and management involved in starting and running a business, no entrepreneur starts one without a dream. This year, we've seen dreams end for some, as with the unexpected closing of , while others like  co-owner Brad Ahlijian struggle to keep theirs alive. Fortunately, as evidenced by the opening of , , , , ,  and others, we have no shortage of dreamers here.

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