Archive » March 27, 2008
ON THE RANCH
By Nancy Crawford-Hall, Publisher
As a communication device attempting to talk with the residents of the valley on issues of importance to them, we, as “the Journal,” try to bring you information in a timely fashion. What I sometimes feel is missing is an ongoing dialogue between us on those issues.
I am always grateful when you stop me on the street or in a store or drop by my table at a local restaurant to tell me how much you enjoy the paper and how much you are learning about what is happening around you that you never knew existed. I always encourage you to write us to tell us your thoughts and opinions, but I realize that, often, life is just moving too fast to sit down to compose a letter.
We all have some serious issues facing us as a valley, as a county and as a nation. These issues are often exactly the same, although covering increasingly wider ranges. I am sure you are all very aware that, this autumn, we hope to choose a new leader for our nation.
It is very entertaining to watch the various factions try to convince us that they are better than the others. Unfortunately, the vast majority of our citizens do not have the time to research the various candidates to determine the facts of their candidacies and whether this person or that would more closely reflect their own view of the world.
In times past, when life was not quite so complicated, one could refer to a variety of news sources to acquire information on which to make a decision.
Today, however, it is pretty clear to most people that the vast majority of news sources are badly biased, to the point that, as in many countries where news is censored, we have very distorted reporting in which opinion is being presented as news. This is sad, as many are not even aware that this has happened and think that the major networks still present news based on the facts, all of them, good and bad. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case and, therefore, one must be careful to note when supporting data is provided that makes it more reliable.
As a county and, more specifically, a valley community we have some increasingly urgent matters to consider and about which to make decisions.
I have written about our visions for this valley and how we would like to see it progress into the future. I would like to explore some of the thoughts you have expressed over the last few months and look at whence they might come and why.
Obviously my perspective on these issues comes from a very long residence here — over 50 years — but I don’t think that there really is a substantive difference between long time residents and those who recently arrived. I may have been witness to many changes over the years, but beyond the numbers and a couple of huge shifts in the occupations of the residents, there are still vestiges of the life I am used to.
The first major shift occurred when I realized that the majority of residents were no longer involved in agriculture, as they had been when I was growing up. In fact, they were primarily urban people who had been born and raised in urban settings with 24-hour stores on every corner and home delivery of fast food.
I didn’t even realize we had such services until an employee talked about meeting some delivery person “at the grey church” because the deliveries never extended out as far as we were.
I also had attended a meeting where one new resident requested some 24-hour stores because that was what she was used to.
The request was met with boos, but I wouldn’t doubt that others in the audience were wishing the same thing would appear. I guess it’s hard to explain to someone who is used to noise and traffic at all hours of the day and night that traffic after dark, particularly after 9 or 10 at night, is particularly bothersome to people raised in a rural setting. It all has to do with the differences in what times are active working times and what times are, hopefully, for sleeping, or at least for resting.
Most agricultural people tend to follow the sun and get up very early, when the sun rises, and retire when the sun goes down. This is because of the nature of their work, which requires sunlight because it is, for the most part, done out-of-doors.
Also, gyms sprang up for people with sedentary jobs since they no longer got the necessary exercise in their daily work the way agricultural people do. Joggers and bicyclists appeared on the side — and sometimes in the middle — of the roads, to the amazement of longtime residents.
The local feed stores now carry more dog and cat food than food for large animals, and they no longer carry baling wire or twine.
Furthermore, we have been discovered, quietly, by Hollywood and other well-known people who have found our little bit of serenity and anonymity to be very desirable. We have quite a number of what I call aero-commuters now. These are people who work someplace else, whither they fly to on Sunday evening or Monday morning, returning Friday evening for the weekend, thereby increasing our air traffic. In the same vein, we now have things flying in the air, such as hang gliders and the occasional experimental aircraft, to the astonishment of humans and animals alike.
Some new residents simply don’t understand the impact their flying machines have on livestock, and they don’t realize the devastating consequences when panicked horses, cattle and other large animals run through fences to get away from such strange things.
The second huge change that has come to our valley has been the success of the casino. For better or for worse, it is here, and it has had a profound impact on all of our lives, some good, some bad. Yes, the casino provides jobs and puts some money into surrounding communities — that is a very good thing. Yes, some individuals have benefitted enormously from the new-found wealth. But we can only hope that positive things are happening for those who should be helped.
Some in the community have expressed concern over the size of the casino and hotel, because they are out of scale with other buildings in the valley, and over the increase in crime and traffic. Many have voiced alarm at the increasingly hostile rhetoric emanating from casino leaders regarding their intent to “buy back if they have to” what they consider ancestral lands.
Although that project seems to be well on its way, I would question whether anybody has a right to claim ownership of ancestral lands. If that were the case, I would immediately ask for Santa Rosa Island back, as my great-grandfather bought it in 1901, and perhaps reach farther back to claim some part of Ireland!
As I was winging my way back last week from the Big Island of Hawai’i, I was thinking about the valley and what it was that was so special about it. Naturally, it has been the center of my universe all of my life, but looking at it from a distance I was reminded of what makes it different from other locations.
Friends had called me while I was away and told me how the valley was especially green this year. Now, I don’t know how you would quantify that or if you even could, but that said something to me.
Even though these were people who had lived here many years, there was something special about this year’s spring.
I arrived back in the valley just prior to midnight, but as soon as the sun rose the next morning, in spite of a three-hour time change for me, I got up and looked through the window at the pasture around the house. Yes, there did seem to be particularly bright green grass everywhere, not very tall, but, oh, so pretty.
The leaves on the oak trees were shiny and all of the spring bulbs were blooming. Even the native wildflowers had begun to bloom in great profusion! The turkeys were fluffing their feathers showing off their glorious colors and the calves were growing bigger with milk and grass; we spotted big-eared rabbits and a bobcat looking for a squirrel lunch, and we had three new foals on the ground so far. Sounds like spring to me!
So, how important is this vision to you? Do you feel that the reason or reasons you moved here are slipping away?
Do you think you can have an impact on the future of this valley? Are you willing to expend a reasonable amount of energy to sustain the effort to maintain the rural character of this area?
Is that even what you want, or would you rather just move on to some other undiscovered place?
I can’t answer most of those questions for you. You will have to do that for yourself. But I can answer one of them for all of us.
Yes, you can have an impact on the future of this valley, if you are willing to help those who have been doing a lot of work on your behalf. I am well aware that the American Revolution was fought by just 11 percent of the population — I have to remind myself of that periodically — but it is asking a lot of your neighbors to make them carry the whole burden.
It also is not acceptable to use fear as an excuse for not doing anything. That just makes the worst-case scenario inevitable.
It is my responsibility to give you the information so you can make informed choices. It is your responsibility to stand up and support the future of your community.