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Bravo to Paige Jones for amplifying the issue of our young people making the hard choice to return to Meeker. We do need them to become the next generation of leaders and to not move to other locales perceived to offer greater quality-of-life fundamentals.
As a newcomer (resident less than five years) I can relate to Paige’s plight. I recently reviewed a proposed branding initiative launched by the Rio Blanco County Economic Development office that touts our lack of things in a very creative and sometimes humorous manner. My first reaction was to relate to the message and wholeheartedly agree that our scenic beauty, lack of traffic jams and pot shops is exactly why one would choose to live in Meeker.
Upon reflection, I see Ms. Jones’ message as spot-on and an insightful view of how we are delivering on our brand promise to potential newcomers and newly returning residents from our little corner of the world. What are we doing to engage newcomers, those precious location neutral workers like me that took the bait with super-fast broadband? Are we really tapping the new energy, new ideas and including their newly found ingredients to cook up a secret sauce that binds the social fabric of a rural town?
It’s is easy to feel socially isolated in a small town. Networks, relationships, activities outside of work, the feeling of inclusion or exclusion is the small town secret sauce that can improve quality of life for all, little by little while keeping the community better and all the while staying smaller.
As we all discuss the future of Meeker I’m going to keep in mind how we support each other and what we can do to work collaboratively to strengthen everyone’s social capital and sense of belonging. I hope you’ll join me!