Opinion: We must work together to transform Lake Tahoe | SierraSun.com

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Opinion: We must work together to transform Lake Tahoe

Editor’s note

Heidi Hill Drum is a regular opinion columnist for the Tahoe Daily Tribune, the Sierra Sun-Bonanza’s sister newsaper serving the South Shore of Lake Tahoe.

Life is short. Recently, the world lost some very special people including some wonderful local residents who will be greatly missed. The world also lost musicians David Bowie and Glenn Frye. In my own family, we lost my fabulous brother-in-law Steve in January.

Losing loved ones is incredibly difficult for those of us left behind. We all have different ways of dealing with grief and sorrow. But we are still here. We carry our loss with us every day.

In order to honor those who have passed, here are a few of my thoughts on making the world (and Lake Tahoe) a better place — for those of us still here and for those we'll leave behind when our time is up.

Work together. Spending energy on negativity doesn't help your health or quality of life. Sure, it might give your ego a boost because you want the world to know you are "right."

And suing someone may or may not yield the "rightness" of your argument, but what does it truly gain? Legal bills. Of course we all won't always agree. That is the beauty of a democracy.

But, what if instead of arguing our points in public meetings, on Facebook or at the lawyer's office we sat around a dinner table instead? What if we talked through the issues that we feel so strongly about and came up with ideas to overcome those issues?

What if we worked together on finding solutions instead of putting all our energy into the problems? I think the outcomes would be better for all in Tahoe. The Tahoe Prosperity Center wants to bring people together to focus on solutions. How about you?

Transform Tahoe. Improving traffic flow and adding transit is one critical infrastructure need for our region. It should not take locals one-and-a-half hours to drive home from Heavenly to Meyers on a weekend.

Yes, we need our visitors in order for our economy to thrive, but let's figure out ways to get them out of cars and onto buses that don't clog our roads. Sitting in traffic for hours is not a quality experience for tourists or residents. While we are fixing transit (and hopefully adding bike paths), let's also adopt a Dig Once policy to promote adding conduit underground for high-speed broadband fiber.

Our businesses need it to grow, residents need it for homework and visitors expect it. Let's work together to transform Tahoe on both of these important issues.

Focus on the goal. What do we all want for Tahoe? I believe most of us who live here want a great quality of life. The Tahoe Prosperity Center would like to see a thriving year-round economy not dependent on weather.

We have great schools and amazing recreation opportunities, but we lack high-wage jobs and reasonably priced housing. By focusing on making Tahoe a great place to live for residents, we succeed at ensuring it is a great place to visit, too.

Our government agencies and jurisdictions can prioritize building affordable and middle-income housing. Businesses can prioritize taking care of their employees so those employees will take care of the business. And residents can prioritize supporting local businesses — by shopping locally.

Open the door. My brother-in-law Steve was a great guy who was also a door salesman. A favorite saying is that "when one door closes, another opens."

If we all looked positively toward the open door of Tahoe's future, what will we see? The Tahoe Prosperity Center, the Tahoe Chamber, Lake Tahoe Community College and other partners will be interviewing businesses and residents soon to find out what local challenges can be overcome to help Tahoe thrive and grow.

If you can volunteer on these "Workforce Business Walks" March 15-16, learn more at http://www.tahoeprosperity.org/workforce. You'll help make an immediate and positive impact on an important issue in our community.

I am going to work hard to bring people together to stay focused on the goal of transforming Tahoe for the better. I look forward to working with all of you and walking through that open door for Tahoe's future.

Heidi Hill Drum is the executive director of the Tahoe Prosperity Center, a Tahoe Basin-wide organization dedicated to uniting Tahoe's communities to strengthen regional prosperity. She has expertise in collaborative governance and is a 20-year resident of Tahoe. Email her at heidi@tahoeprosperity.org.