Guest Column: Questioning proposed expansion of Squaw Valley
Ryan Summerlin May 1, 2014
It seems that Squaw Valley’s corporate leaders have no fear around their rapid accrual of Promethean debt. As I wander the same trails above Squaw that I remember from my childhood, I listen to the voice of the beautiful mothering landscape around me.
What might Mother Nature have to do to get their attention? Nothing has worked so far. Not even a seeming shift in the season of winter where adequate snowpack often doesn’t come until late January or even March.
The answer to that problem is to make more snow, which has significant negative environmental consequences. They seem quite skilled at placating their challengers who confront them about how they will justify further depletion of natural resources without a substantial plan for sustainability.
There are no plans that I am aware of for building new structures with recycled materials, for the massive consumption of water and poisonous consequences of snowmaking, no plan to reduce the amount of disposable cups, plates and other paper and plastic products.
Employees of Squaw have told me that the recycling bins are mainly just for show at Squaw Valley; that recyclables are pretty much thrown in with the non-recyclables. Included in sustainability is treating employees with eyes and hearts for their well-being both economic and otherwise.
So when it’s time to make a payment on Promethean debt accrual here in the Sierra, I am a little afraid of how that might manifest.
“What America needs in the face of a tremendous urge toward uniformity, desire for things, desire for complications in life, for being like one’s neighbors, for making records, etcetera, is one great ability to say ‘no.’ To rest a minute and realize that many of the things being sought are unnecessary to a happy life…” the great C.G. Jung once wrote.
Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. The question nobody at KSL Capital or Squaw Valley Ski Holdings’ leadership wants to ask and answer honestly is, “Do we really need this?”
What we need is revitalized connection and relationship with Nature, not more options for shopping and dining. We need a return to simplicity and quiet, not more chaos and consumption.
We need corporate leaders willing to think in terms of everyone’s well-being, not just their own, and how we can build sustainable communities where resources are not depleted; where we engage and employ local residents in building and maintaining the local economy.
As it is, the proposed expansion will duplicate what we as a culture suffer from the most which is too much noise and overstimulation; over-talking, over-eating and over-drinking and being chronically overstimulated.
What if Squaw Valley Ski Holdings led the way in providing a truly sustainable ski resort where one could really enjoy the outdoors, being “unhooked,” and restoring some quiet in their lives?
What if, by some magic sweep of raised consciousness, KSL and Squaw Valley Ski Holdings engaged all of us in creating a monument that paid homage to the land and the indigenous people who were sacrificed for the sake of our wish fulfillments, none of which show more than token interest in stewardship?
Our American collective culture does not cultivate the ability to refrain or restrain; we gobble and gorge and buy and buy until we are so out of balance with everything that we become physically, spiritually and mentally ill.
We see dust bowls, wild fires, tidal waves and hurricanes and we wonder why. Perhaps it’s Nature trying to tell us to consider the consequences of our hasty actions that seem to make our lives easier or more fun or more profitable.
If we are stunned and stilled by the extraordinarily powerful acts of Nature, will we gain enough insight and perspective to change our ways.
Kimball C. Pier, Ph.D, is a licensed marriage and family therapist based in Truckee. The guest opinion is adapted from a larger piece she wrote titled “Silenced Land – An Affective Turn Toward the Voice of Place.” Read more at sierraagape.org.
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