Tammie Delaney: The ‘heart and soul’ is in our hands
July 8, 2007
I firmly believe in the Curse of the Sleeping Giant. Legend has it that once you leave the valley you are destined to return. The Sleeping Giant, also known as Elk Mountain, peacefully watches over the Yampa Valley as one heads west from Steamboat Springs. It has always been a vision of strength, peace and long-term permanence in the valley.
What is it beyond this Giant’s curse that keeps us so connected to the Yampa Valley? Is it the drive down the pass, where the wide-open hay meadows greet us and somehow absorb all the stresses of the outside world? Or is it the sense that our children have the community watching over them when they ride their bikes to school – ready to lend a helping hand, an ear or sometimes even a scolding?
What is it about the “level playing field” where sharing our time and our talent is respected more than treasure alone? Our word and a handshake is as good as a contract, and our gates are for keeping the livestock in. We’re quick to respond to the question, “What makes up the heart and soul of our valley?” with answers like “small-town character,” “our friendliness” and “sense of community.”
As our valley changes, we’re finding these little nuances being transformed. There’s a desire to bring things in from the world out there that make us more efficient, yet in the quest for bigger and better, we risk losing the character, culture and core essence of who we are as a community. Acknowledging these changes, a grassroots committee has formed to look toward our future and envision ways to retain our core values – or elements of our community’s heart and soul – for future generations.
The intent of “Vision 2030” is to create a community vision that will define the “heart and soul” of the Yampa Valley and develop specific, measurable strategies for ensuring that these core elements of our sense of community are successfully stewarded from one generation to the next. This effort incorporates rejuvenating the Vision 2020 Report of Recommendations that was created in 1994 along with discovering and defining what we value most as a community. These are the items that, like a heart and soul, once lost can rarely be restored.
As far as the curse’s effect on me, it worked. As a native to Steamboat Springs, I returned to the valley in 1992 and shortly thereafter moved west to Hayden. The curse is in my blood, and I am ever grateful for it. Mom used to talk a lot about our community’s incredible ability to make something positive happen when there is a need. We all roll up our sleeves and help rather than wait around to see if someone else will take care of it for us. Our community has an incredible ability to get things done and people often join together to help with common causes.
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If there ever was a time to join together with a common love for our valley and its respective communities, it is now. Our sense of community is at risk. As Aldo Leopold has challenged us, we need to “think like the mountain” in the long-term, sustainable and permanent sense. Vision 2030 is an effort to envision what the best of our valley could be for our next generation.
Somehow, I think this is what the Sleeping Giant would like. Perhaps this is why he keeps cursing us with the need to return, and perhaps our valley’s “heart and soul” is the treasure he guards. It is a hope that in return we will also give something back and ensure that our valley is a place we feel blessed to visit and live for generations to come. In the coming months, the Vision 2030 effort will embark upon a journey to discover our valley’s highest priorities for retaining our sense of community. We welcome you to join in and share your love for the valley and work together to sustain the heart and soul of our valley into the future. For more information, please visit http://www.vision2030routt.org.
Delaney is the project manager for Vision 2030.