It’s something we all want, whether we think about it very much or not. We all want our space, our territory… our own place in the sun.

The famous and whacky comedy duo of Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner had a classical routine about territory. Brooks was the 2000 Year Old Man who remembered the days when all his people lived in caves.

“Did you have a national anthem?” Reiner asked.
“Each cave had a national anthem.”
“Do you remember what yours was?”

Brooks answers emphatically, “I certainly do. You don’t forget a national anthem. The words go like this (singing terribly!) ‘Let ’em all go to hell except my own Cave 76!'”

Mel got right to the heart of the matter, didn’t he? It’s called locale patriotism and we all have a healthy dose of the stuff. Soccer moms and football dads know all about it, too. As the old song says, we… root, root, root for the home team, and if they don’t win it’s a shame.

Mel’s attitude scales up, too. It gets really big when we call it Nationalism. Have you heard “USA First” lately? That’s our Cave 76. And our own neighborhood, village and city are, too.

There’s something deeply American about our sense of Territory. It has to do with our drive for independence and freedom from outside control. Remember Woodie Guthrie’s great anthem?

This land is your land This land is my land
From California to the New York island;
From the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and Me.

But, as always, there’s more to the story, isn’t there? If the United States had remained a bunch of independent states instead of united… what would we have today? Probably something less than we’ve all become so proud of.

Owning your own territory is nice, but cooperating with neighbors just about always gets you more. It takes a whole state to build state roads, and a whole nation to build an interstate network of superhighways and even a whole bunch of neighborhoods deciding to get along with each other to build a town.

This week the Jamestown Gazette invites you to consider getting over Territory. Think about cooperation and collaboration instead. If every hamlet, village, town and city had to invent, build and keep up its own system of roads, water and waste, schools and services – just for the sake of local pride – imagine how much time, effort and especially money would go into everybody duplicating everything.

This week’s story talks about a huge incentive we just received – I think $20 million qualifies for that title. The State of New York has placed it within our grasp if we simply figure out how each of us can stop re-inventing the wheel our neighbor has already built. It’s called consolidation, collaboration and just good old-fashioned sharing.

Regional school systems are doing it, neighboring towns are doing it, and just in case you didn’t know about it already, Jamestown has been doing it for decades with dozens of services shared with county and neighboring towns alike and millions of dollars saved.

So how about just a little change in that old tune? Everybody profits. This land is Our Land, not just those of us who live in Cave 76.

Enjoy the read.

Walt Pickut