Craig: Relishing the Summit County community
How many times a year do you get asked why you live in Summit County? Having probably grown up in a more temperate climate, your friends and relatives from your hometown may think you are certifiably insane for daring to endure such harsh winters in the Colorado High Country. In fact, after watching it snow in the latter part of May this year, you may have even begun to question your motives yourself.
After living here now for three years and commuting daily over Vail Pass for two of them, I sometimes contemplate our choice of residence. That’s when I think back to the discussion my wife and I had shortly after the birth of our son.
As an avid skier, I had always wanted to live in a ski community, but I was surprised when it was my wife, who abhors cold weather, who advocated most vociferously for our move from Evergreen to Silverthorne. Why, you ask? Because we shared a common vision for our children, a vision that has become all too scarce in the modern world: a sense of community.
A little over a week ago, my family and I were driving to Frisco for our regular weekend family bike ride. As I had been busy with the end of the school year, I had not been paying enough attention to community events and did not realize that it was clean-up day throughout the county. As we drove the short distance from Silverthorne to Frisco, we noticed innumerable volunteers armed with trash bags ready to help make their community a better, cleaner place. It became a sort of game with my now 3-year-old son pointing out the car window and screaming loud enough to rouse his younger sister to similar excitement: “Daddy, look! There’s another garbage picker!”
It was not only my son’s boisterous cries that moved me. I was taken by the sense of community that spurred these individuals to give of their free time so willingly to enhance the common good, a growingly rare trait.
With the developing technology of the modern era, it becomes easier and easier to slide into the comforts of self-isolation. While the Internet is a remarkable tool for connecting with others, it also represents a backing away from interpersonal connections. In the last century, we have seen an erosion of face-to-face communications as devices have afforded us the conveniences of communication without genuine contact. The result has been a disconcerting disconnect with actual human beings. Just think: How many times have you watched someone take a cell phone call while the person they are there with simply sits and waits? We are slowly but surely losing our kinship with our fellow human beings, and studies suggest this has also translated into declining interest in community involvement and volunteerism.
Research also suggests, however, that this rampant self-interest hurts the individual as well. We as human beings need to forge a meaningful relationship with the world around us, to feel a part of something far greater than ourselves. In serving others, it is not just those we help that prosper, it also succors the soul that lies within.
With this in mind, I urge all of you to take advantage of this unique place we all call home, not just to enjoy the great outdoors but to participate in an eroding institution: community. In fact, you can all expect to see the Craig family at next year’s clean-up day, and I promise to not let my son call you a “garbage picker!”
Steven Craig is an educator, husband, father of two, and vice-president of the Summit County Library Board.
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