Publisher perspective: Epic challenges need epic solutions
Last week, as part of Vail Resorts EpicPromise, I was able to attend their community roundtables in both South and North Lake Tahoe. The idea was to gather people within the community to discuss a wide range of challenges as well as potential solutions.
By attending both sessions, I wanted to see exactly how each of the communities differed in their discussion, or more importantly, how they were similar. While we know that each community around the Basin has its own uniqueness, at the end of the day, there’s more in common than there are differences – especially when it comes to challenges.
During the two sessions, no topic that was brought up was exclusive to one group. While some topics garnered deeper dialogue than others, the same items discussed in one meeting were also discussed in the other. Items like wildfire, transportation, housing, workforce, traffic, general livability, mental health, childcare, and tourism permeated the walls and echoed across each room. I could go on and on about other topics, but you’ve heard this before. You know what they are. You live and breathe them every day.
But, what we don’t know, at least not yet in their full capacity, is how do we solve them – and in some cases, quickly. Depending on your situation, one topic is probably further towards the top than another. But, as these discussions proved, many of these topics lean on each other.
For instance, not having affordable housing (which also includes attainable options for the middle class), spills into the workforce. If you don’t have an available workforce pool to hire from, you may not be able to service enough visitors to have a successful business, or there might not be enough staffing to fight fires, or people to educate visitors on how to be a good steward of Tahoe.
There are rabbit holes after rabbit holes that we can go down and connect situations to, but there seemed to be one thing clear from these meetings: we can be more successful if we do it together.
The idea is not new. And we know the complexities of the Tahoe region – two states, five active counties, multiple jurisdictions, and so on. Just put it on repeat and let it spin. But, we can’t afford to let this be what holds us back.
If there was one good thing that came from the pandemic it is that it forced a lot of agencies that normally didn’t talk, to actually have meaningful conversations. This is a great start, but it can’t be the only thing.
It’s going to take everyone having these conversations across borders to really make a difference. Why can’t someone in Truckee have a conversation with a person in South Lake Tahoe about what’s being done in one area that could be successful in another. Or, perhaps how we can go about pooling resources to solve one singular issue across the region?
It’s definitely easier to find answers to challenges in smaller geographical areas – and successes like that are amazing. But what would happen if an effort across the basin were to work together and break down walls for the greater good of the region? The saying of “a rising tide lifts all boats” hits a little bit harder.
None of these items have a simple solution. But if there’s one thing that can bring about solutions it’s getting support from everyone across the region. Don’t be afraid to attend a meeting or volunteer your time, or if you have the means, reach from outside your normal bubble and see what other organizations are doing around the region that can help solve your challenge.
In one of the discussions, it was mentioned that there is a fear that the sense of community is leaving – for many of the reasons listed above. Community is a powerful word – one that if spun into a positive direction can be even more powerful. I’d encourage everyone to look at your community through a larger lens. That lens could be one that makes all the difference in the world in and around the Tahoe Basin.
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