I have lived in Dodge City, Kansas, my entire life. Before doing the mapping exercise, I thought I had known just about everything there is to see in this old, dusty town. Despite this, I decided to do the exercise anyway and take a look around the community to get a better sense of the commonwealth assets surrounding me. Turns out, I was severely mistaken.
The first and most obvious asset is history. Dodge City is known as the “Cowboy Capital of the World,” thanks to its iconic Wild West figures such as Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, and Doc Holliday and the once-popular show “Gunsmoke.” If you hold even the slightest of interest in all things Wild West, this is your place. The next asset you can find without looking too hard is arts and culture. Dodge City has a Latino population of over 60%, leading to a wide variety of cultural activities, restaurants, stores, bakeries, ice cream shops, and so on. This community is also rather welcoming, creating a sense of place for newcomers settling in and tourists passing through.
Speaking of passing through, upon arrival, you might notice a large wind farm right outside of town. This was a recent addition to push towards renewable energy. The next thing you’ll notice is the smell. It’s a running joke that you can smell Dodge City coming. That smell is the cattle feed lots and the two beef packing plants in town, which are perhaps the biggest employers in town and a large part of our foodshed.
Some of the less obvious assets that I discovered include health and education. Health has seven aspects: physical, intellectual, emotional, social, financial, spiritual, and environmental. Dodge City has a hospital, various clinics, dentist offices, family practices, therapists, employment offices, a library, support groups, community activities, and so on that make it possible to live a healthy lifestyle here, in every sense of the notion. Education is also surprisingly bountiful, apart from the obvious pre K-12 public schools, a pre K-8 private school, and the community college. There is also an adult education center for those wanting to obtain a GED, an adult learning center that provides ESL courses, citizenship courses, writing courses, and computer technology courses. There is also a Newman University outreach location that offers various bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in education, business, ministry, theology, and criminal justice. Overall, I was surprised that I discovered as much as I did. Exploring my community for its assets gave me a deeper connection to my community and a sense of pride in all it has to offer.