Friday, October 10, 2014

Thinking seven generations forward

Someone at the Economic Summit meeting in Sun Valley this week said that if the same percentage of the local population in Los Angeles, Calif., attended such a summit, the participants would have filled the Rose Bowl and left 40,000 people waiting in the parking lot.
    Around 240 people spent Wednesday discussing the state of the local economy, its strengths, weaknesses and opportunities.
    They were wowed by keynote speaker Mayor Bob Dixson of Greensburg, Kan., who made the astonishing statement that residents in his town had to decide if they would be “humbly grateful” or “grumbly hateful” for the “opportunity” presented to residents by a monster tornado that leveled the town in 2007 and left everyone homeless with no food, water or electricity.
    Dixson is no starry-eyed dreamer who spins gossamer tales for willingly gullible listeners. He and his practical Midwest neighbors harnessed their relationships and their strong sense of place, and yoked them together with government and private investments. They rebuilt Greensburg as a living laboratory of energy-wise construction and wind and solar power-generation facilities.
    Dixon is an evangelist for the sound business case for green construction and green energy and for the wisdom that people should face their disasters head-on, learn from them and live on. He believes that communities should project the impacts of their decisions of today seven generations forward.
    In two major wildfires, Sun Valley-area people looked down the barrel of potential destruction and didn’t blink. Businesses survived, events rebounded and the economy is slowly, but steadily improving because of sound decisions made by local voters, business investors and solid local leaders. Unfortunately, global conditions mean that the fires may not be the last crises the area is forced to face.
    One participant in the Economic Summit spoke the words that send shivers through areas with an economy based on winter sports: climate change. In response, Hailey City Council member Carol Brown announced the formation of a local Climate Adaptation Planning Group.
    In Dixson’s view, such an enormous threat is an opportunity to figure out how to change, adapt and survive well.
    Tornados are not part of life in the Intermountain West. Even so, Sun Valley-area residents are going to have many opportunities to find ways to address and adapt to the global climate threat.
    With its energetic people and resources, our area may have the best chance of any place in Idaho to put change on the ground and create a sustainable model for life, now and for seven generations forward.

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