The "American Dream" has been a part of the national ethos, some people say, since the founding fathers wrote about "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" in the United States' Declaration of Independence.
It's an elusive concept that may have a different meaning to different people, although at its core, achieving prosperity is considered one of its primary tenets.
But these days, with news about the economy, the , high unemployment, home foreclosures, rising national debt, the yo-yo gyrations in the stock market and the tightening of purse strings everywhere, prosperity is a rarely spoken word.
For many among us, the American Dream has begun to change. At Patch, we want to explore that conversation in order to better understand how our neighbors are adjusting to the challenges and opportunities that surround us.
Across the country, including in Newtown, Patch is kicking off a series called "Dispatches: The Changing American Dream," which is meant to chronicle the American Dream of everyday people in our respective communities and if and how that dream may be changing for some.
In many ways, we are already covering these stories, such as the profile of last year's Newtown High School valedictorian and then-Yale Unversity-bound Amar Agashe, .
Newtown Patch also has chronicled some of the ways in which dreams have had to be tempered with economic reality, such as the story on how high school students or a more recent one on how the economy and cultural shifts to live with their parents.
Small business owners also have had to adjust their plans in light of economic conditions, including , and several coffeehouses, including and the .
But even as some have called it quits, others have taken the plunge in pursuit of their dreams knowing full well the difficult economic times. The , ice cream shop, cafe and restaurant, are among businesses that opened their doors just this year.
With the "Dispatches" series, Patch plans to bring you more local stories on the topic. But we also are curious about what you think about the American Dream and whether there is a collective one that Newtown residents share. If so, has it changed for you over the years?
Feel free to reach out with ideas and suggestions by emailing me at email@example.com or sharing them with everyone else in the comments section of this article.