What makes a community? It might surprise some to hear that others think that “business” is different from community. It might surprise some to learn that others believe that communities operate in a vacuum, entirely separate from the sum of its parts.
Well what does make a community? Before determining what a community needs to do to stay whole, one first needs to determine what a community is, it would seem. Such an elementary question … perhaps not. From this writer’s perspective, a community is one that shares common boundaries encompassing residents, businesses and organizations — all living, working and playing together, hopefully in harmony, but not necessarily so. On the other hand, what’s wrong with that idea? Why not try it?
How do communities retain their essence, both historical and natural, while at the same time keeping itself cleaned up and a proud place to call home? Does one facet have to be sacrificed for the benefit of the other? Does it have to only be that we keep the old and sacrifice the new? Or get the new and sacrifice the old?
How does a modern, yet historical, community keep up with change? Change is inevitable; it’s caused by the mere passage of time, whether we like it or not … people grow old and wrinkle, and so do communities. Washing machines need spare parts, houses need fresh paint, cars break down, and so do communities. Managing the changes brought on by the clock and the calendar is what we call responsible improvement, and it is not a bad thing. Acknowledging change in a community is the piece that keeps all healthy communities thriving, as long as they strive to improve what needs fixing.
What do we need to keep our communities thriving? What do we need to do to ensure that young people, our most important community resources, want to stay in our communities and ultimately raise their own families there?
The community of Pollock Pines has now met a total of three times since December in open dialogue workshops to create a common vision and methods to attain and embellish the common vision. Entertaining thoughts and ideas by participants in packed rooms, El Dorado County Supervisor Norma Santiago and facilitator Michael Ward led the diverse group of community attendees in exercises designed to prompt thought processes necessary to answer some of the questions cited herein. From those two-hour long sessions, four critical areas of enhancement (community assets) have been drafted and a community approved process to form a Pollock Pines Community Advisory has been launched. The four areas are:
1. Natures’ Wonderland: pertains to numerous and prevailing natural resources in and around Pollock Pines that draws residents, businesses and organizations to seek the pristine tranquility found therein.
2. Cooperative Rural Community: refers to the people of our community who prefer rural living and will work cooperatively in many various capacities to ensure that our ruralness is maintained.
3. Heritage and Cultural History: Pollock Pines is steeped in significant historical facts and legend. These assets can be embellished to produce tourism and action packed vacations, as well as the pride of the community that is willing to maintain its heritage.
4. Active Recreation: The recreational opportunities from every side of Pollock Pines is ripe for activities for every age group. Hiking, biking, camping, water sports, bowling, ATVing, etc., all exist locally and can provide tourism to act as economic contributors to the overall health of the community. Locals, as well as travelers, enjoy the many opportunities to live and play in Pollock Pines.
Although still many months away from an approved Community Plan, the intelligent responses from the masses have inspired the townspeople to continue in what both Ward and Santiago hail as the trust factor. Keeping our total communal-self healthy, enough to counteract the viruses that plague unhealthy communities, will yield a product that will be stronger by its group consensus model and far more united as residents, businesses and organizations work together in an integrated, communicative manner to improve and enhance specified areas within the community as designated by the community.
Tonight one young man was present as an assignment from his college government class. He heard several people describe the evening as brass tacks democracy … for the people, by the people and with people. He has now participated in government work at its finest … and lowest common denominator … the community itself!
Jeanne Harper is the executive director of the Community Economic Development Association of Pollock Pines.