Small business, big difference

DePauw senior David Kobe
DePauw senior David Kobe
DePauw senior David Kobe

Watering holes, bars, breweries and cocktail lounges have a long history of being places where discussions happen. Where two men at the end of the bar can talk about regular season baseball game with the same vigor as a presidential debate. A place where co-workers can agree on their mutual hatred for their supervisor. Ultimately, a place where people can connect.

In the past year, Greencastle’s town square has become populated by such establishments. Cocktail lounges like the Swizzle Stick, bars marketed towards students like The Boulder Run, and breweries such as Wasser Brewing Company and Tap House 24, aim to bring interest to the square.

These establishments are calling out to students to go with their growlers, boldly where no student has gone before, north of Walnut Street. I believe it is our obligation to answer this call, not just because beer is awesome, but because beer, and participation in the square, creates a community.

The decline of the small town square is something that plagues not just Indiana, but the whole country. Towns like Connersville, Lawrenceburg and Bedford have gone by the wayside and its lack of community responsibility and integration only exacerbate their difficult problems with addiction, poverty and crime. Different organizations both charitable and corporate have tried to ignite the communities with artificial attractions and relocated small businesses that inevitably fail.

This is simply not the case in Greencastle. Small business has consistently grown in my time at DePauw from food services like Meyer’s Market and Anthony’s Pizzeria, to technological services such as WynWay and MetroNet. Even the DePauw University’s establishment of Music on the Square feels organic.

Towns like Bloomington, Terre Haute and West Lafayette succeed because students from Indiana University, Indiana State and Purdue invest in the community they are a part of through their patronage and this can be achieved in a college town like Greencastle. A town we should all be proud of.

Not only is the investment in our communities, and specifically the town square economically beneficial for Greencastle, it provides a moral and emotional connection to two separate entities in town that have been estranged for too long. A recent objective of DePauw University, universities across the nation and the agendas of multiple industries has been to create a distinctly diverse community.

Although student opinions vary, I believe that DePauw has moved in a positive direction in this regard through dialogue as well as an emphasis on diversity during admissions. Some of the most disturbing stories I have heard from students of color are ones in which locals harass them with slurs, insults or aggressive displays of racially divisive symbols.

I find these events to be tragic not just because they negatively affect students of colors in ways I cannot fathom but also because it paints the Greencastle community with a broad brush. By participating in the epicenter of Greencastle, its town square, and neighboring businesses, we can put a friendly face to our community and turn strangers into our neighbors.