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Pioneer Editorial: Embracing change in Bemidji

This time of year often prompts resolutions and a time to reflect.

Naturally, we look back at the top stories of the year, highlighted on the front page of The Pioneer this week.

But it begs the question: What will the next year bring?

As you'll read in Saturday's Pioneer, the Bemidji area is anything but static. It's undergone changes and growth as the dynamics of the community evolve.

That trend likely will continue in 2012.

In the coming year, the Bemidji area will likely consider and debate many changes.

One obvious change is the ongoing shift taking place on Lake Bemidji's south shore. Could two new hotels under construction spur further development, like rental housing, restaurants and other service-oriented businesses?

City leaders and visionaries who sought a master plan for the land surrounding the Sanford Center certainly hope so.

Bemidji landmarks, like the Chief Bemidji statue, also are undergoing change as three finalists look to submit their work for a realistic replacement for the chief.

The Students First Initiative, which pairs community members as coaches for seventh-graders, also is set to start as a pilot program. It aims to provide individualized plans for children in an effort to help them reach their potential, eventually expanding to provide development and enrichment to most Bemidji area children.

Another change, long in the works, will fold residents of Northern and Bemidji townships into city limits.

Along political lines, the state's legislative boundaries will be redrawn based on U.S. Census numbers, changing representation for at least some in the area.

Some changes will be small. New ideas and projects will take hold in 2012. Other, perhaps still unforeseen, will prompt change in our lives and communities.

John C. Maxwell, an author, speaker and leadership expert who has sold more than 16 million books worldwide, often talks about this very topic: "Change is inevitable. Growth is optional."

So, as a New Year dawns, we have choices.

We will find ourselves and our communities facing changes, prompting a choice on how we respond to them.

We can embrace, plan and adapt change, aiming to be pro-active in influencing the process, or we can sit idly by and wait for the outcome.

As 2012 approaches, it's perhaps worth recalling some words by Mark Twain: "Twenty years from now you will be disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the one's you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."