Steamboat Springs From the Yampa Valley Beef program to approving a tax to fund agricultural lands and open space in Routt County, local residents have shown time and time again they are capable of solving almost any problem even affordable living issues.
Affordable housing, affordable child care and competitive wages are weighty issues with connections to almost every aspect of daily life. Many people might say the problems are insurmountable, so why bother?
Yet, local residents stepped away from their offices and busy lives for one day last week to gather together and listen to each other about ways to solve the issues affecting this community.
Last week's Economic Summit was an eye-opener for me. I've been proud to show my parents the view from the top of the gondola and I've been proud to introduce a friend from out of town to the Strawberry Park Hot Springs. But I've never been as proud to be a part of this community as I was at the Economic Summit when I saw someone with a different opinion struggling to hold his tongue to let someone else speak and when I saw groups of people keeping each other on track, staying focused on the topic at hand.
The ideas flowed like free drinks at a wedding. People in this community have creative ways to get around problems and they aren't shy about sharing them.
It's easy to imagine someone who thinks of an idea holding fast to it, not letting anyone else have a say in how the idea evolves. In one session, though, a concept changed several times before time was up and the people seemed inspired and empowered by what had occurred. The idea escaped one person's mind to become part of the collective consciousness, with fine-tuning and additions that changed it from its original state. That change wasn't seen as negative, though.
Advocates of affordable child care came into the Economic Summit thinking they would ask voters to approve a bond issue connected with affordable housing. Some of them left the worksession considering whether to separate the issues they believe to be intricately linked. It didn't mean failure it meant allowing themselves to think differently to succeed.
Lunchtime at the Economic Summit didn't mean it was time to stop debating the best way to address growth pressures or environmental concerns. It meant time to hear more from someone else in your session who echoed what you were thinking or maybe someone you wanted to convert to your way of thinking. Discussions were heated, but controlled, and most people came away thinking they had accomplished something.
Inclusionary zoning and silent second mortgages aren't terms that everyday people can readily define, but with heavy issues such as affordable living to solve, Routt County residents are getting a crash course about programs like those.
With the diversity, intelligence and willingness of our residents, ideas are being shaped right now to direct the future of our community. One person doesn't have all the answers, but together, the residents of this county showed at the Economic Summit that the solutions are out there.