Randy Dollins: Off-season reflections on who we are
As the county empties out, i.e., the tourists return home and the part-timers go away until the lifts open, most of us find ourselves living a simpler routine. We enjoy the amenities and infrastructure that exist to accommodate a much fuller occupancy. It is the off-season or shoulder-season; the kids are back in school and the local restaurant is offering a two-for-one dinner tonight. Essentially, we are the core group of people who live here in Summit year-round.
At times like this, when, for the most part, it’s just us, it is good to make time for reflection. The visitor booms of the summer and winter drive our tourist centric economy, but, as human persons, we are more than just economic creatures, we are moral as well. We must be aware of the dangers that often accompany a lopsided, tourism-dependant commerce. Is the dignity of the county’s lowest wage earners respected? Do we adequately consider the environmental impact of our continued expansion? Have our competitive business practices led to a “survival of the fittest” mentality that undermines community fellowship? Who are we? Right now we are the UPS driver, the schoolteacher, the grocery checker, and so on. How we live as a community, especially in the off-season, informs who we are.
If you look at many of our seasonal businesses, they reveal an underlying structure that is often fueled by greed, which in turn, creates an excessive availability of material goods and services that serve only the benefit of the affluent. Residents must be more than functionaries in a theme park “alternative reality” for those of means. We should seek to cultivate a vibrant neighborly subculture that, while not denying the central role of our tourism industry, keeps our morals and relationships intact. Asserting that we are all more than a product of economic forces, the task of the year-round resident is not to indict a particular group or oppose the resorts, but to encourage authentic advancement and growth in a direction, and at a pace, that serves the most people who actually live and work here in the best possible way.
In short, we ought to promote the common good of all who reside in and visit Summit County. The extent to which we are succeeding or failing at this task determines who we are. The off-season viability of our social service entities (think: FIRC, Care Clinic, Community Dinner, etc), the attendance at our churches, and our participation in local organizations and events determines who we are. The manner in which we encounter each other in the Walmart parking lot or in line at the post office determines who we are.
As I said, now in the off-season, it’s a good time for reflection, to determine who we really are and who want to be. We need to build up a neighborly subculture, so that when the snow falls, our fellowship does not dissolve, but thrives.
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