Get virtually involved in your community

By Mary Jo Coulehan
Pagosa Springs Area
Chamber of Commerce

With the majority of special events having been canceled, board meetings no longer take place in person and even families changing their communication methods, how do you stay engaged in the goings-on of work, life and community? 

Most people are engaging virtually.

 You’ll hear many people say, “I can’t do another virtual meeting”; however, virtual communication is actually an efficient and informative way to stay updated and engaged. 

How can you do this locally?

This coming weekend is the 69th Archuleta County Fair. The Archuleta County Fairgrounds would have been filled with tents, games, activities, a barbecue and, of course, the livestock show. Not so much this time. Remember that there is no public admission to the fair this year. However, you can virtually participate. One positive offshoot of this pandemic is that the fairgrounds will now be connected to high-speed Internet. 

Taking some of the money not being used for traditional fair infrastructure, the organization has committed this money to upgrading broadband and holding livestock events virtually. The improvements made do not affect just this year of the fair, but will improve the fair and change the way we participate in the livestock auction for years to come. 

If you have traditionally gone to the 4-H barbecue, have a nice dinner at home on Aug. 1 and donate virtually. Go to https://www.archuletacountyfair.com/. This is the county fair website and you can participate in many ways. There are donate buttons for the 4-H barbecue, the livestock auction and youth add-ons. 

The livestock shows and auction will continue. Only family members will be allowed to attend. If you spent $20 to go to the barbecue, now just go online and make this same donation. It is critical to the continued success of the organization. The money raised sends our youth to leadership camps and competitions. No standing in line at the serving table this year — just the ability to continue to support our youth. 

There is a tutorial on the website on how to participate in the livestock auction and how to donate to the youth add-ons. Being at the fair and seeing people that you may not have seen in months or even since the last fair is important to our being social. However, the other component is the continued support of our youth and agricultural programs. Be a part of the fair virtually and just give your friends a call and keep in touch.

Community meetings

Another virtual advantage is staying informed about community issues. There are many avenues to engage. Previously, not many people wanted to go to a boardroom and sit there for hours. Now, you can engage in community information virtually. 

The Town of Pagosa Springs and Archuleta County hold their meetings and work sessions virtually. 

While preparing dinner or perhaps taking a break from your daily routine, you can plug into a government meeting. No need to worry if your makeup is on or if you’re dirty, having just come in from working outside. 

In the recent town mask mandate discussion, more than 100 people were able to listen in and weigh in virtually. Council chambers would never have accommodated that many people. Yet, the public could listen and speak — virtually. 

Important topics are discussed at all of these meetings. We now have the ability to engage in the discussion and obtain the information in a more timely manner — virtually. You can sign up for town and county meeting notices through each of their websites. You will then receive a notice of the meeting invite and agenda. 

Take an hour away from traditional TV and plug into community topics that shape our community.

The Pagosa Springs Community Development Corporation (CDC) has monthly meetings that are open to the public. Every month, there is a topic discussed that affects the well-being of our community. Presenters representing the monthly topic are on hand to discuss the issues, what steps are being taken to improve possible obstacles and the future of this infrastructure. 

CDC meetings are held the second Wednesday of the month at 5:30 p.m. and are open to the public. The upcoming topics to be discussed are: August — education; September — water; October — urban renewal authority development. The CDC encourages the public to listen in and learn more about what affects economic development in Pagosa and how we can work together to make our community stronger economically. If you are interested in any of these topics, log into the CDC meeting. 

Those interested can access the CDC website at www.pagosaspringscdc.org. Navigate to the Knowledge Base tab and click on the CDC meetings and agendas from the drop down menu. The agenda will give the log-in code for that meeting. 

There are more ways for people to connect to our community now. Much less driving, much less sitting in a board room, many more ways to listen in and engage. Have you tried to connect to the community virtually? Use this communication tool to also teach your children about civics and community. Virtual isn’t all bad. It may become tedious, but it is also very impactful and easy to use. And think of the gas you’ll save.

This story was posted on August 3, 2020.