As I sat down at my desk at Neosho High School, I began to imagine a Neosho set in the future. I envisioned a Neosho that can be a reality with hard work and determination to bring the best possible opportunities to our citizens. I saw a envisioned system that provided the public travel throughout the town. I imagined businesses coming to the city again.

As I sat down at my desk at Neosho High School, I began to imagine a Neosho set in the future. I envisioned a Neosho that can be a reality with hard work and determination to bring the best possible opportunities to our citizens. I saw a envisioned system that provided the public travel throughout the town. I imagined businesses coming to the city again.
The Guardian tells us that one of the keys to making a city attractive is to “make it local.” Which is to say, cities should embrace their unique characters of place and avoid sameness. So what’s stopping us from making our cities attractive/open? An intellectual confusion around beauty and a lack of political will, says “The School of Life.” Social programs encourage businesses to come to a city, creating more jobs. These jobs attract more people to the area, promoting societal growth. Making massive reforms on a large scale could bring real change to this wonderful city.
I began to imagine what this city could be like. The historic downtown square becomes a hotbed of activity as the center of the city. Two or three story buildings become nine or 10 story highrises. Soon, company headquarters become established in the once small city, and we begin to grow. As business after business makes its way to the city, it expands, people move in bringing diversity and economic/societal change.
Public services are offered to every citizen, and we soon compete with cities like Joplin, Springfield, and even Kansas City. Parks that were once abandoned now echo the laughter of children, the barking of dogs, the cheers of sports fans. The town’s center becomes a hotbed of reform for the people, and life is made better. Properties that were once run down become more valuable as radical change occurs. Small businesses flourish, and more people are encouraged to affect real change in their lives.
Neosho in 10 or 20 years becomes a modern day boom town where the people flock to the city for the vast opportunities available to them. The school system expands with seven or eight elementary schools, two or three middle schools, two junior high schools and even a second high school. Administrators partner with city leadership to expand the educational opportunities to students who struggle to get ahead in this increasingly technological world. Curriculum in the system is superior to that of surrounding towns, and Neosho is seen as a top school district  in the state/nation; offering three or four foreign languages, more AP courses, maybe even an IB program.
What is keeping Neosho from moving in this direction? What will it take to make these dreams reality? Does Neosho really want to grow like this? Such expansion might force greater diversity; what do locals want?
As a city, we must ask ourselves these questions. Do we want to continue to be a city with a double digit poverty rate, or do we want to grow and prosper? A more substantial tax base would be needed to grow as a city, but are we ready for that? Would we be ready to have racial, cultural, and political diversity? In the end, each and every one of these questions would have to be answered by the people of Neosho.
Today, I open my eyes, and I see the potential we have as a city. I see people who continue to struggle day after day to get by in a town that has been struggling to compete for years. I see a school system that struggles to keep students interested. I see a Neosho that isn’t living up to its full potential. Walt Disney tells us, “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them,” and we can make this Neosho of the future a reality. It may be a dream right now, but imagine all the good we can do if we come together to work towards the betterment of our amazing city. We must always strive as a city, as a people to move forward to the future.

John Wallis writes a column for the Neosho Daily News.