LOOGOOTEE — Noel Harty is a proton, of sorts; one accurately could characterize him as a positive electric charge.
His positivity charge not only has been electric; it has been contagious.
Harty, who is Loogootee’s first three-term mayor, began in mid-December what was planned to be a 15-day positive people campaign as an attempt to lift up some people as well as himself.
What he didn’t expect is the reaction to his campaign.
“It is unbelievable how many people have commented about the campaign,” said the 41-year-old mayor. “It is incredible how people have reacted to this.”
Even more astounding to him is the number of people who have nominated others to be selected as a positive person.
Nominations are simple: either send a text to the mayor or nominate a person by way of Facebook messenger. Nominees are people who demonstrate positive images and those who help enhance the community.
“I never expected there would be so many people who would want to participate,” Harty said.
Harty does not have an exact number of the people who have nominated others, but he is certain of at least one fact: Loogootee and Martin County have many people worthy of being recognized for their impact to and influence on their community.
“Trust me, we have so many people in the city and county that we could go on recognizing people for a long, long time,” he said.
Harty has no idea how long the recognition effort will continue, but noted he will stay the course until there is no interest.
Interest was swift as Harty heard immediately from residents Dec. 15 after his first Facebook post that recognized Linda Sargent Britton as a positive person. As part of her recognition, the mayor noted Ms. Britton “is always quick to pay a compliment and to find good in almost every situation.”
Good from that post rained down on Harty.
While the post was intended to bring joy to others, the response resulted in an uplifting time for Harty.
“It’s quite a wonderful feeling to hear selectees tell me how their selection warmed them and lifted them just when they needed it,” Harty said.
The idea for the uplifting campaign came to Harty as he and his wife, Amber, were driving and they were listening to the radio as Loogootee’s United Methodist Church pastor Gary Elsten was asking, in part, why it is people cannot be positive even during negative moments.
“I got to thinking that we all have reasons for which to be thankful and we all can choose to be happier, so I thought I’d give the positive people a try,” said Harty.
While Harty didn’t cite Ghandi as an influence, Harty opted to put into practice a Ghandi quote, “Be the change you wish for the world.”
“I just think we need to counter all the negativity we see, hear and read about, and I hope this helps in some small way,” Harty offered. “We don’t have to look far at all to see reasons for which we should be thankful.”
While the mayor does not anticipate exhausting the pool of reasons for which to be thankful, he expects there will be a time when interest will wane relative to the positive people campaign.
“Sure, interest will die off some time, but when it does, we will come up with something else to remind people how good we have it,” Harty promised.