“Chatitude”

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“Chatitude” is a word that I first heard while in a meeting with a group of people who had grown up in Chatham.  It is not a good word.  It embodies the narrow and negative view that holds Chatham back.  It is the spirit that keeps the town rooted in the past by doing things “the way it was always done before.”   It predicts and celebrates failure with a gleeful “I told you so.” It is the tendency in this town to heap derision upon people who try to better themselves and the community.

I’ve certainly experienced it in my six years of living here as a subtle undercurrent that makes it hard for people who were born outside of this town to feel welcome in the community.  Recently, however,  I was stunned to  witnessed it in full bloom.  It happened in a conversation that shifted so easily from the chatter of two children to their parent’s derision of the most recent addition to Chatham.

The Downtown Chatham Centre (our shopping mall)  has recently built a small ice skating rink on it’s property.  This was built with private funds, on private land and is intended for use, without charge, for families and children in the community.  In a town where a common complaint is that there is “nothing to do” a local business has essentially donated property and funding to provide a free recreational space to Chatham.  The rink is lit at night, and the expenses are paid for by the DCC.

I heard two children were talking excitedly about the rink before school started. Picking up on their conversation the parent’s added their two cents.

“It’s too small”

“Why didn’t they put it in Tecumseh Park?”

“How is this going to generate any money for the mall?”

“Little kids don’t have money,”

That, folks, is an example of the “Chatitude”.  The community was given a gift and yet there is an undercurrent of negativity.  We did not have to  pay for it with taxes. The city does not have maintain it.  What, really, is there to complain about?

Starting in the late 1800s, Andrew Carnegie donated money across the world; not to individuals but to public works.  That is how Chatham got it’s old library building which has since been razed.

I doubt the “Chatitude” was in play yet in the early 1900s.  This sort of philanthropy has become rare in our modern times.  Is it really too much to ask that whenever a successful entrepreneur gives back to his community, we simply say “Thank You” like the citizens did 100 years ago?

This town has so much going for it.  It is close to beaches, located along a major highway, has a rich historical story and a great climate.  Instead of lamenting what has been lost in the past decade, instead of belittling the efforts of those who try to innovate and do new things, instead of perpetuating the “Chatitude” lets focus on what this town could be.  Let’s encourage people to invest in new ventures, to join clubs, to frequent the down town core along with the outlying towns.  Change the attitude, and maybe we can get rid of the “Chatitude”.

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18 thoughts on ““Chatitude”

  1. I think part of the problem is negative voices seem to be the loudest and gather the most attention. I choose to ignore them and focus on what is good about my home, my Chatham. There are many people who embrace what is offered in this community, maybe it might be nice to focus on that.

  2. Finally someone who understands. I am a single mom to 2 1/2 year old. I just moved back to Chatham from seperating from here due to these negative situations. Twelve years ago I swore I would NEVER come back to the blood sucking negative ignorant people who live here. I moved back in regards to family, have only been back for one month, and now wonder, what have i done? UUgghh, I feel like I have been swollowed into a black hole with no future!!! I feel worse off than where I was all by myself…. My situation deals with no help from the community in regards to asking questions in regards to kids play time assosiations around town, day care, etc… NO HELP here compared to where I moved from. I just wish there were more publisized programs for kids to play, programs for mothers/fathers and kids like mommy and me yoga classes, etc. This rink, I think is a great idea, yes, by a busy road I agree may not be the best place for it, a park was probably a better idea, but it is free, and is was offered to the community for something to do….. Take advantage of the gestures of kindness and thoughts of these people who donated it… That is it for now…. Happy Holidays

    • Please have a look at the TVCOGECO community calendar on our website. Local organizations are always posting things to do for and with your kids. You could also contact the Ontario Early Years Centre and the CK Recreation Department for other ideas.

    • Please call the 1-866-720-7975 Best Start phone number. Any questions you have about children’s programs and services available in Chatham Kent they can help you with! Chatham Kent has a lot to offer families and their children! I hope you can find what you are looking for!

  3. I was just stating this exact thing the other day, let’s be thankful for another great thing our children are provided with instead of being such ungrateful negative nelly’s! Well said my friend.

  4. Very well said! I would love to move back to Chatham….the houses are waaaaaaaaaay cheaper, like you said close to beaches, so close to Detroit for concerts and the downtown core looks great thanks to Rob Myers. Beautiful farm land, gorgeous sunsets and less snow than here in London. The reason I won’t move back to Chatham is Chatitude. I would rather pay way too much for my house, have ridiculous property taxes and live away from my own family rather than move back Chatham. The Chatitude is a serious problem. It makes the town depressing and seem very backwards. Chatham has so much to offer! I do know some people are trying to turn it around and I can’t wait to see them succeed! The moment I feel the shift in attitude you can bet I will be one of the very first ones moving back to the hometown I have so many fond memories of. The people will Chatitude should just move out and make way for people that can bring the town onto its feet again where it has a bright and promising future!

    • I should mention that the Mall is owned and operated by Dan & Carson Warrener, whom I believe are partners with Rob on other ventures but I think they did this on there own and I for one love what they are doing for the city and applaud them for keeping the money in Chatham.

      Well written article.. and we can all help stomp out Chatitude one ignoranus at a time :)

  5. I enthusiastically applaud your positive outlook! May we all continue to encourage each other with grateful attitudes such as yours. Thanks Dan Warrener and Rob Myers for your selfless generosity and ongoing support of Chatham!

  6. I agree wholeheartedly, we moved from Edmonton, AB 2.5 years ago, hands down the best move we EVER made. We’ve got everything you could possibly need. No real traffic on the roads, a brand new Theatre (both of them) people wiling to invest, despite the “Chatitude”; close proximity to the USA (Toronto, if you have to go there) all the major sports just an hour away. Orchards, beaches, and tons of other fun summer stuff. The WEATHER?? hands down the warmest place I have ever resided in, I shovelled once. In Edmonton you’d need to shovel so the klds could make it you door on Halloween. Oh and the new rink downtown; it may be small but there were a bunch kids with smiles on their faces skating back and forth and loving every minute. My 7 year old was skating on it just last night. Not once did he say “Dad this rink is too small” however, he did say “Aww Dad… do I have to go? I’m playing tag with my new friend”. Those people who complain will always complain. The rest of us, and hopefully the majority, will continue to enjoy what we do have here Chatham-Kent. Com opn people let’s have a new “Chatitude” or “Kentitude”.

  7. I love my city. I grew up here and moved away after highschool. But when I started my family, I couldn’t think of any better place to raise them. I have to say though, that Chatitude is far too common. About a month ago, Randy Hope posted a promotional video about Chatham, which I loved, – it made me feel good about where I lived, and what we were doing to improve our community. So I shared on my FB page – only to have someone bash it, stating crap about it being lies and propaganda. It is difficult to overcome such negativity. If you don’t like where you live, leave, or, better yet, do something to change it! If you haven’t worked to improve it, you don’t have any right to complain about it.

  8. Well said! I personally invested in an event in the community, and was hit with nothing but chatitude about every aspect of the event. One year over 50% of the attendees were from out of the community! Majority Chatham folk simply don’t support the community or the people in it. For some reason they turn their nose up at entrepreneurs. Anything different or out of the box is nearly impossible here. It is sad, as the area does have allot to offer with the beaches, US border and mild climate. It would be nice to take the people with “chatitude” and put them on a train. What we need is a major employer or a larger college to bring in fresh blood, fresh attitude.

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