Murch: A Wiser way to show community love

Phil Wiser is a retired Alpena police officer, and an all-around nice guy. He has an engaging demeanor and I don’t think I’ve met anyone who didn’t like him. We all have our detractors or someone who doesn’t particularly like us, but I’ve yet to meet that person who thinks that way about Phil.

Phil also loves Alpena. You don’t have to ask him, he wears it right out front. It’s a pin that reads “I (Heart) Alpena.” You can see him all over town with his pin proudly displayed. I happen to be lucky enough to have one of those pins because Phil gave it to me.

The pins were part of a campaign back in the 1980s. I don’t know how many there are in circulation, or whether many people kept the pins, but I know there are a few of them not attached to lapels or hats or anything else people might want to pin them to in a way of showing their support for Alpena.

And they are available.

Team Heart is looking to spread the word – and the love – and find others who feel the same way about the community, perhaps even joining the team. Call it a Wiser way to support your hometown. Those who love Alpena won’t be afraid to show that love and wear a pin proudly.

There are I (Heart) Alpena pins in a private stash stored somewhere in the city limits where only Team Heart has access to them. And they aren’t doling them out like candy.

Lots of people will say they love Alpena, but when it comes time to show that love … they are nowhere to be found. Call them fair weather fans, if you will. You know the ones, they have a ton of love when things are going well but disappear when it’s a tough road to travel. When the going gets tough, they leave or complain.

No place is perfect and Alpena is no different. But there is a line of distinction you don’t cross. You can be critical of Alpena but you need to offer solutions; you need to be part of the team helping to make it a better place to live, not just whine. You have to have a belief there is a silver lining, and the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is real. It takes a leap of faith sometimes.

Can you answer yes to these questions:

* Do you get involved in your community?

* Have you ever questioned someone who bad-mouthed Alpena?

* Would you rather live here than somewhere else?

* Do you take pride in Alpena as your hometown?

* Do you sing Alpena’s praises when you are out of town and people ask where you live?

If you can answer yes to at least three of those questions then you are smitten with Alpena. If you can answer yes to four then you truly have affection for Alpena, and if you answered yes to all five, then it’s a fact, you love Alpena.

I have had conversations with plenty of people who sing Alpena’s praises and wish they could move back here. We have a great quality of life, and people are constantly amazed at how much there is to do in our community. Of course, many of them are people who don’t live here. There are too many people who live here who have become jaded about Alpena – those people don’t have a place on Team Heart, nor will they have a pin to wear.

So how do you become a team member and earn a pin? Simply keep being positive about your hometown. There is a cadre of people on Team Heart who may keep an eye on you and give you a pin and welcome you to the team. This cadre is looking to grow into a small army of believers.

There are no secret handshakes, no initiation, and no dues. Your only responsibility is to keep the love and show others what a great place we have to live. The team only wants those committed to the pursuit of creating a better, friendlier, forward-thinking Alpena.

There is no shame in loving your community, and none in showing that love outwardly. Wearing a pin is just one way to do it. So show your love and spread the love, Alpena is only going to get better.

Steve Murch can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5686. Follow Steve on Twitter at sm_alpenanews. Read his blog, Pardon, Me But … at