We pride ourselves in this part of the country on our pioneering spirit. Many of us can trace our family heritage back to well before Colorado became a state in 1876, and some of us even before it was officially a territory.
We’re familiar with the term “pioneer” as someone who went to the frontier, broke new trails, and settled a new region. We’re less familiar, perhaps, with the definition of “pioneer” as a verb: “to develop or be the first to use or apply (a new method, area of knowledge, or activity).”
In today’s world there are few truly unsettled regions and frontiers, but there are innumerable ways to “be the first to use or apply” new methods, new knowledge and new activities.
My ancestors were pioneers. Pre-Revolutionary War pioneers who came to the New World to settle in the 1600s. When new land opened up (and in some cases long before) they were among the first to plunge forth into the wild. I admire their tenacity, their bravery and their ingenuity.
It is those qualities that we must find within ourselves if our towns and county are to thrive in the face of an uncertain future.
As 26 Rangely residents face the loss of their jobs this week, as small ranches deal with the repercussions of “big ag” and corporations swallow small businesses, we must find our pioneer spirit and begin to think outside our safe little boxes. The “way we’ve always done it” is likely to fail in this new “wilderness.” We need to learn new ways of thinking if we’re going to survive.
We’ve done it before, and we’ve done it recently. Our county’s broadband project, which is attracting state and national attention, is a perfect example. RBC stepped up and stepped out and created a new frontier for economic development in northwest Colorado, one with potentially limitless potential.
But that’s just one wagon trail, so to speak. Let’s make more.
In Governor Hickenlooper’s state-of-the-state address, he quoted Abraham Lincoln as saying, “I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts … and beer.”