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Has the 'American Dream' Changed in Chatham?

As everyone continues to cope with the struggling economy, Patch will examine its impact locally.

We're excited to inaugurate a new series for our Patch Readers: "Dispatches: The Changing American Dream."

Every day, the national media is full of stories about how American families, businesses and neighbors are adjusting to these trying times. There are so many changes happening so fast that it's dizzying: national debates about unemployment, foreclosures, debt, religion, government and private enterprise all touch on fundamental ways in which we see ourselves and our communities. At Patch, we want to explore that conversation on a daily basis so we can better understand how our neighbors are adjusting to the challenges and opportunities that surround us.

We don't think there's one American Dream, but a multitude of American Dreams, which a multitude of people are working toward. Looking out across nearly almost 900 Patch sites, we see businesses holding their breath deciding whether to expand; college graduates returning home because they can't find jobs and senior citizens bringing boarders into their homes to help pay their bills. We also see bold new volunteer efforts, inspiring stories of local businesses that succeed because they innovated and locals who've taken these trying times as a signal to engage more, not less, in their government.

At the purely local level, we want to know where we, as Chatham neighbors, fit along these fault lines.

Nationally, there's a debate about funding government spending. Locally, property taxes continue to rise in the Chathams. Are residents close to reaching their breaking point?

Nationally, there's a debate about the education system, which is at the center of our dreams of a better life for our children. In Chatham, a salary cap on school administrators has resulted in the retirement of longtime Superintendent James O'Neill. 

"Dispatches" will be built upon the compelling vignettes and snapshots we unearth across all of our Patch sites.

And, of course, we want your help: Tell us what issues and what stories in Chatham go to the heart of your American Dream.

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