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Can-do attitude

Dear Editor:

I believe that community development begins with a “can-do” attitude. Robert F. Kennedy articulated it perfectly when he said, “There are those that look at things the way they are and ask ‘why?’… I dream of things that never were and ask ‘why not?’”

There are examples we in Pagosa Springs can learn from, like neighboring Moab, Utah.

In Moab, mining and other resource extraction industries have historically been the major local economic activity, which resulted in many years of boom/bust cycles. As a small, geographically isolated community, the “bust” cycles were devastating. Much like Pagosa’s dependence on the timber industry, followed by a dependence on the real estate and construction industry, which has created our boom/bust economy.

By the end of World War II, Moab was also getting a small amount of attention in the media as a tourist destination and a fair amount of use from the film industry, but the local economy continued to rely on mining, oil and gas and the boom/bust cycles continued.

By 1964 the demand for uranium had decreased. The largest mine closed and the mill laid off hundreds of workers. In 1984 Moab’s unemployment rate was 15 percent as local mining companies continued to cut back. At the same time, Moab’s population decreased by 23 percent as residents sought ways to make a living elsewhere.

Dire circumstances for sure. But did Moab give up? No. What did they do? They reinvented themselves and their economy. They had a “can-do” attitude!

By the end of the 1980s, tourism was viewed as the future of Moab and a whole-hearted effort was made to promote Moab as a tourist destination. Today, Moab is predominantly a tourist-based economy. Moab’s population is approximately 5,000 — smaller than greater Pagosa Springs — yet it is estimated that over a million people visit Moab each year.

It all began with a “can do” attitude. A can-do attitude flows from people believing in themselves and in their abilities and fearlessly pursuing their hopes, desires and dreams. That attitude gets to the spirit of the people we Americans are.

Let’s set aside our fierce defense of “the way it is,” let go of our fears of change and/or failure, believe in ourselves and a brighter future. Together we can create our future!

There is a poem that captures this idea:

If you think you are beaten, you are.

If you think you dare not, you don’t.

If you’d like to win, but think you can’t,

It’s almost certain you won’t.

If you think you’ll lose, you’ve lost

For out of the world we find

Success begins with a fellows will.

It’s all in the state of mind.

If you think you’re outclassed, you are.

You’ve got to think high to rise.

You’ve got to be sure of yourself before

You can ever win a prize.

Life’s battles don’t always go

To the stronger or faster man.

But sooner or later the person who wins

Is the one who says, “I can.”

— Anonymous.

Muriel Eason

This story was posted on February 28, 2013.