Creating a community that embraces everyone |

Creating a community that embraces everyone

I went to the housing workshop in Kings Beach earlier this month and learned that you need to have an annual income of $197,000 in order to afford a house here.

Not one hand went up when Ron McIntyre asked, “How many of us could afford to buy today the house we own?”

And I know, despite not even coming close to reaching the income needed to afford a house, I pretty much have a perfect life. I bet a lot of you do, too. I live in the place I where I want to live. I have a job that is a perfect fit. I live with the person with whom I want to be living.

It’s the cure for a mid-life crisis: Don’t have anything you want to change in your life.

But enough of the smugness ” I signed up for a beginning Italian class at Lengua Viva. Some people have a “gift for languages.” My gift must have been the wrong size because languages do not come easy to me. Fortunately, Buffalo and Denise in my class are gifted and help me along.

It’s a humbling experience, stumbling through each week, but one that offers a lesson. Maybe we should all take up an activity that moves us out of our comfort zone.

Right after my Italian class is an English class for Spanish-speakers. I wonder if the men and women in this class also think they have close to a perfect life. They probably don’t have the income necessary to buy a house here, either.

Are they living in the place they want to, doing the work they want to be doing, and surrounding themselves with the people they love?

Our challenge is to create a community for all of us who want to be here: poor people, middle class folks, and, as we call them in the fund raising business, high net-worth individuals.

Remember the video game SimCity? It allows you, the player, to build your vision of a perfect town. You have all the power and resources to build a town with schools, transportation, open space and parks, and everything you ever dreamed about. Yet there is more to building a community than buildings.

There’s a role for all of us to play in this arena. Become involved in community-building. Volunteer or donate to organizations like Tahoe Women’s Services, W.H.A.T.T. (affordable housing), Project MANA (hunger relief), the Kings Beach and Truckee Family Resource Centers, or simply write a check to Truckee Tahoe Community Foundation and ask that it be designated toward the highest needs in our community.

Becoming an advocate might take you out of your comfort zone even more than learning Italian. You may need to find those more gifted or experienced to lead the way. But this is our home and every decision we make is an opportunity to make it better. Building a building is easy. Creating a community that embraces all is the real goal.

Lisa Dobey is CEO of Truckee Tahoe Community Foundation. Reach her at 587-1776 or

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