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I believe that many small towns that have been on the decline and floundering through transitions from commodity industries like timber or cyclical industries like second-homes such as Pagosa can achieve success by believing in themselves and showing a “can-do” attitude. But for this confidence to evolve into a vibrant local economy and a community brand identity that defines our future, I believe we need to create a community vision to rally around.
Vision marks the roadmap to success. It takes into account the destination, the surrounding “terrain,” the roadblocks and the hazards along the way. With vision, we can determine the best way to reach our destination.
Vision is as important to a town’s success as it is to an individual’s or a corporation’s. In fact, I believe that vision makes the difference between a town in decline and struggling along and a booming town such as Branson, Mo., or Moab, Utah. Both of these towns had vision that drove an unlikely transformation in an intentional direction. They didn’t achieve success by aimlessly letting thing happen or lurching from one strategy to another. These are but two examples of incredibly successful towns that ended up in a place of their own design. They got the community to agree on what they wanted to become and they set a course to achieve it. And they were both wildly successful.
The poet, Carl Sandburg once said, “Nothing happens unless you first have a dream.” And Walt Disney said, “If you can dream it you can do it.” I believe it.
The first step is to develop a collective vision that civic, business leaders and the community can get behind.
A vision starts with strengths — different towns have different strengths. Some strengths, like Pagosa’s, are by virtue of natural resources — the geothermal, biomass and solar potential, as well as the incredible wilderness area we are nestled within. Some of Pagosa’s strengths are the breadth and depth and passion of the people who live here. Think of our town as a blank canvas. What do we want Pagosa to become? Let’s define it and work to achieve it.
A lot of work has been done over many years to create a vision for our community, but a vision created and sitting on a shelf gathering dust has no value. We need to review the work, re-engage and put our vision into action. That is the way to make our town vibrant again.