Aug. 22 was an exceptionally beautiful day in Centre County. Not a cloud in the sky with a perfect temperature of 72 degrees, the type of day to enjoy this wonderful place I have called my home for more than 40 years.
Our tranquil community, tucked into a valley and surrounded by the mountains of central Pennsylvania, has been anything but tranquil in recent months.
The events surrounding the Jerry Sandusky situation have shaken this community to its core.
The events of the past year have changed the collective consciousness of an entire community in ways that none of us can yet understand. Many of us have moments of sadness, sometimes anger, and some dont want to think about it at all.
For me, that beautiful August day was a time for reflection. In listening to discussions around town and on campus, I sense many others within our community are doing a lot of reflecting as well.
It seems that we are collectively realizing that the truth of who we are and what this community and university represent is incontrovertible, and if we move forward together with a shared purpose and common ideals the ideals that have always characterized this community we will emerge stronger than ever.
Something egregious happened in our beloved college town. Seemingly out of nowhere, State College experienced its own black swan event an event that occurs totally unexpectedly and carries enormous potential impact. I didnt see it coming; nor did anyone else.
Its no exaggeration to say that this event was entirely unpredictable, and its no exaggeration to describe the impact as devastating, not only to the State College community, but to the 95,000 students and 560,000 Penn State alumni.
We share sorrow and anguish for the young boys who were victimized by Sandusky and ignored by others. Every day we are reminded of these things and, as a community, we will never forget.
I believe that in this community we have a collective resolve to endure these events and to ensure that such things never happen again. That resolve is being backed by the countless actions of humanity and charity being taken by community members every day.
The emotional consequences extend to how we have long viewed ourselves and the institutions we hold so dearly to our heart. They extend to an uncertain future ahead.
I was one of those who believed in the Grand Experiment of Joe Paterno. I believed that we were a step above the rest in how we created a proper balance between college athletics and academics.
And as I reflect, I am saddened by the events of the past year but also excited about a future that I am now realizing that together we can create.
I suspect that there comes a time in all of our lives when the essential nature and character of a person is revealed. The same can be said of many great institutions and even communities. This moment in our history will permanently define the character of the community of State College and the administration, students, faculty and alumni of Penn State.
This moment is upon usnow. None of us is happy to have been put in this position. But we must embrace the moment as being a time in history that will permanently define the character of our community, our university and each of us.
It is time to show the country what our community and university are truly about and how we plan to shape our future.
Our message to the rest of the country will not be some slick marketing campaign, but a natural expression of who we are and what were made of.
Organizations are being formed all over Centre County in which thousands of people are participating. One such organization is called Together We Are One.
Together We Are One is a call to action and an invitation to the entire country to hear our story and to visit our community and campus a town and university filled with natural beauty and an indomitable spirit.
As a local entrepreneur and businessman, Im accustomed to the slow process of getting things done when you involve government, private and educational institutions in a single effort.
Something very different is happening here now as we align together to get it done. Our message to the returning students, to the parents of the returning students, to local businesses, to Penn State alumni and to every person who lives in the Centre Region is awakening a spirit of courage, fortitude and resilience and that lies within each of us.
I am witnessing a spirit emerge as I have never seen before. An entire community is waking up and, I believe, embracing this moment within our collective history, I think more and more of the people affected in some way by this event are instinctively understanding that we can define the future for our community and campus based on our strong principles and determined action.
We have collectively decided not to let others define who we are.
I am convinced that, as we share our stories with others, more and more people will experience a renewed spirit and optimism about what lies ahead.
As fall approaches, Im witnessing this community come alive again. Were emerging from our shock and horror and from our reticence to speak out. We are moving forward individually and collectively. We are discovering that, together as one, we can define the path to our future.
I am honored to be a part of this journey, and ask you, along with your neighbors and friends, to join in this transformational journey.
David L. Nevins, owner and president of Nevins Real Estate Management, is a Penn State alumnus with a graduate degree from Penn. He lives in State College and in Estero, Fla.