Vian, Oklahoma (pop. 1,466) is our featured rural community this week. After two fires, Vian is on their way to rebuilding their downtown and seeing a lifetime of dreams come true for their community. We'll be sharing stories throughout the week of some local leaders and business owners who are making an impact in the community. Today's guest blog post is from Suzanne Sullivan, founder of the Vian Community Foundation.
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In a land where the gentle sloping mountains fall to meet the lush valley below and three rivers converge is a place that is as mystical and magical as anywhere you could imagine. It has been said that if a wayfarer happens to drink the water, they will always return. Those who dwell there know the magic the crystal clear waters hold. The ancients knew it as well.
Let us introduce you to Vian, Oklahoma — a town rich in tradition, diversity, pride, and dreams. Having suffered two downtown fires, a new generation of entrepreneurs had visions of repurposing hundred-year-old buildings that have sat vacant for years. So with limited funds but unlimited passion, the revitalization process has begun! Nine new businesses have opened in the past five years!
Approximately 9,400 people call the Vian area home. Google it, there’s only one. Located on Interstate 40, Vian is a rural area encompassing Kerr Reservoir, the Arkansas River Navigation System, and beautiful Lake Tenkiller. People from regional cities have moved to our area full-time to enjoy the amenities the lake and area affords. Our community is a destination. Vian is a community filled with the dreams and visions of the people who love it. Our medical professionals are friends of their patients and still make house calls. Merchants know their customers and go the extra step to provide goods and services. It’s all about quality of life!
The southern “gateway” to the Cherokee Nation, it is home to the historic Presbyterian Dwight Mission and Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge. It is a diverse ethnic community, a blending of many cultures, the heart and soul for many generations of families with a rich history and a strong tradition of unity. Home to the Cherokee’s “Mother Fire,” the Redbird Smith and Stoke Smith Stomp Grounds, our ancestors saw it as a spiritual place of good medicine. The downtown train depot scene from the 1974 movie, “Where the Red Fern Grows,” was filmed in Vian’s downtown.
We believe Vian is the crossroads of America — you can get anywhere in the world from here, and many have! Vian has produced more professionals per capita than many surrounding communities. Our school has prepared them and our citizens have wrapped their arms around our children until they believe they can take on the world. Many are now choosing to return to their roots, wanting to start new businesses in our downtown, and wanting their children to experience the same winning tradition and community support they remember from their childhood. We are, after all…the mighty, mighty Wolverines!!
Daniel Burnham said, “Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood. Make big plans. Aim high in hope and work.” The citizens of Vian have aimed high. Our forefathers came to this place in a covered wagon or on the trail of tears with everything they owned on their backs and built our community. Now it’s our time to rebuild it. If not now, when? And if not us, who?
Find out more about the rural revival happening in Vian, Oklahoma here: