El Guapo

El Guapo

El Guapo 1Last year we took a lovely vacation to Saugatuck, Michigan where we enjoyed touring a delightful small town filled with lovely shoppes, some once-in-a-lifetime deep-sea fishing, and a heart-palpitating ride on a schooner at the Saugatuck Sand Dunes.  So.  Much. Fun.  If you’ve never experienced a sand dune ride, add it to your bucket list before you forget! The sand-filled hills create sort of a land-coaster effect and the schooner is very Jurassic Park, sans the dinosaurs, of course.

And, although the adrenaline rush was amazing, the educational commentary offered up by our tour guide was pretty fascinating, too.  Did you know that one of Michigan’s main exports to the Arab Nations is sand?  Seriously, I’m not even kidding here!  I know it sounds like selling snow to the Eskimos, but it’s actually true.  Arab Nations actually NEED sand imported in order to make glass and concrete to construct their buildings.  How can that be, you ask.  Well, apparently, just because you have sand, doesn’t mean it’s good sand.  Not all sand can make quality glass or concrete.  And, without those two things, ones construction options are severely limited.  So, to solve their problem, they import sand from the U.S. and mix it in with their own sand until the mixture is build-worthy.  Who knew?

El Guapo 2

This story came to mind today when we were talking about the upcoming Community Marketplace hosted by the Marion-Grant County Chamber of Commerce this Wednesday from 1-6 at the STAR Financial YMCA.  This year’s theme is “A Night at the Movies” and I’m sure there will be several famous stars from the silver screen present that day.  One classic I really hope makes an appearance is the ¡Three Amigos!  I love this movie for two reasons: (1) Chevy Chase, Steve Martin, and Martin Short, (Seriously did it get any better back in the mid-80’s?) and (2) their common sense approach to problem-solving.

Since more than half of our office wasn’t born when this movie premiered, they couldn’t fully appreciate the hilarity that ensues when Chase, Martin, and Short share the screen.  But, the moral of the movie still holds true today.

The evil villain El Guapo and his thugs are running roughshod over the town of Santo Poco and they need a hero to save the day.  Enter: ¡Three Amigos!  These modern day stooges are really Hollywood actors who believe they’re playing a role when, in fact, they’ve been hired to protect the town from a notorious bandit.  To rally the town to help fight this battle, Lucky Day gives his famous El Guapo speech


“El Guapo is on his way. Someday the people of this village will have to face El Guapo. We might as well do it now. In a way, all of us have an El Guapo to face someday.  For some, shyness might be their El Guapo. For others, a lack of education might be their El Guapo. For us…El Guapo is a big dangerous guy who wants to kill us. But as sure as my name is Lucky Day, the people of Santa Poco can conquer their own personal El Guapo…who also happens to be the actual El Guapo. We want to defend ourselves. But how? By using the skills and the talents of the people of Santo Poco. This is not a town of weaklings. You can turn your skills against El Guapo. Now…what is it that this town really does well?  We can sew. There you go. You can sew. If only we had known this earlier.”


That’s the $64,000 question, isn’t it?  “What is it that this town really does well?” In the village of Santo Poco they could sew, and just as Lucky Day instructed them they set forth to “Sew like the wind.”  And that they did.  They sewed costumes for the entire village that looked exactly like the ¡Three Amigos!  So, when El Guapo appeared he had no idea who he was actually battling, got distracted by all of the fake amigos, and battled to his death.  Michigan had sand, Santo Poco could sew…they both leveraged what they had and it was good.

In the coming week and months Grant County will be answering the call discovered in a recent community survey which revealed our lack of identity as a community. We have our own El Guapo, to be sure, but every community does, that doesn’t make us special.  It will be asking ourselves, “What is it that this town really does well?”, that will set us apart from every other community.  Well that, and being vigilant in doing it every single day.

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