By Richard Weinstein, President & COO
Ocean Reef Community Foundation

One Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi… every kid on my block knew what happened next; the rush was on! However, the truth is that counting Mississippi’s never really sounded like that. Then, and still today, you can hear kids playing football on the street counting more like this “One misipi… two misipi… three misipi…” Now for those of you who do not know, this “count” is required so the defense cannot rush the offense. Additional blockers are not needed so less kids make a bigger team and everyone gets to play. Until the count reaches three, the defense cannot cross that magical and imaginary line of scrimmage. That moveable line divides “our side” from “your side,” offense from defense, and is critical to the structure and organization of the game.

It seems our lives are full of real and imaginary lines that either divide one side from another, or help us keep structure and organization to our activities, i.e. my side of the bed, your half of the garage, you can have the WHOLE laundry room… Other lines are more geographic like the line created by none other than the Mississippi. Not only does it divide east from west, but it is also used to divide sales territories, distribution centers and even radio stations. East of the Mississippi starts with a “W” like WKRP in Cincinnati and to the west of the river they all start with the letter “K,” like KLOS in Los Angeles.

Since it starts in Minnesota, ends in Louisiana and travels past many other states in addition to the state of Mississippi, I had to look up why it is not the Minnesota River or the Iowa Waterway. Turns out the river’s name is from the Chippewa Indian word meaning “large river” and is shown on maps with its current name as early as 1695. The state (Mississippi) took its name from the river, not the other way around.

A different east/west line exists without much recognition for dividing things – the Continental Divide. I think it sounds familiar because it was the name of a movie and I know it is in the lyrics of a Jimmy Buffet song, but in the real world it is all about rainfall. The Continental Divide is the point on a continent that water will drain into the east and west basins, in this case, west to the Pacific Ocean and east, not to the Atlantic Ocean but much to my surprise, into the Mississippi River. That is all well and good, but try counting “one continental divide, two continental divide, three continental divide” and rushing in sometime, it just doesn’t have the same effect.

Different from the divisions east to west are the imaginary lines we draw to separate north from south. It is hard to figure out exactly where “the south” starts. “The deep south” seems to be more to the west from “the south.” For instance, Miami is farthest south of any major city and yet they don’t have much of a southern accent anymore. Unless you consider South America the real south, in which case you hear a very southern accent in Miami.

Being Southern may be one of those things that “you know it if you are” but it is nice to have a clear delineation. That is why we have the Mason Dixon Line. This line is usually associated with the Civil War and is one of those history tidbits stuck in your brain from school days, like the Normandy invasion in the year 1066. Actually the Mason Dixon Line was not originally drawn because of slavery but to settle a property dispute among two English gentlemen.

They, two surveyors from England, Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon, simply drew a straight line between Pennsylvania and Maryland. “Simply drew” required almost a year in the wilderness to survey the locations and map them. The purpose of this effort? So William Penn and the first Lord Baltimore (get it? Penn-sylvania, Penn station and to the south is Baltimore, Maryland) would stop arguing. One hundred years later, the Missouri Compromise drew the line further across the country so we could determine which states would like country music and drive pickup trucks and which states would support certain political parties and drive BMW’s.

But most of these lines are imaginary. Unless it follows a river or mountain range we just sort of drew it, like a line in the sand. We accept these lines as if they are real. It keeps order from chaos yet countries and neighbors still fight over these borders.

Each of us has our own personal lines. Some lines we won’t cross like the line between right and wrong. There is also a line between what we do for ourselves and how much we do to help others. That is where the Ocean Reef Community Foundation can help. With greater success in life comes a gratitude that inspires us to do more for others. Your Community Foundation has several ways to help you do just that. ORCF can help manage your giving and ensure you maximize impact for our local communities. These efforts improve Ocean Reef’s Unique Way of Life and improve the lives of thousands in our surrounding communities.

But you don’t have to start all at once. You can start by getting involved with All Charities, by attending the wine tasting, or bidding at the silent auction. A Donor Advised Fund or a Lasting Legacy Gift can come as you learn more about how your Foundation makes an important difference on and off the Reef. We are here to help when you are ready, so there really is no need to “rush in.”