PC newcomer finds sense of ‘commonality’ here
November 26, 2010
Record contributing writer
Young Han played a pivotal role in the passage of Proposition 2, the open-space bond that garnered a whopping 72 percent "yes" vote earlier this month. The affable 27-year-old created the "yes4openspace" website that served as a clearinghouse for information on the bond proposal and garnered well over a thousand hits during the run-up to the election.
Han built and put the exceptional user-friendy website online within a week after attending a planning meeting of the Basin Open Space Advisory Council in early September. He had lived in the Basin only a month, after moving from Salt Lake City, before he took up the banner for open space and trails.
"I’ve lived all over the country and the most wonderful places to live are where people have shared interests and values," explains Han, adding, "I found that sense of commonality very soon after moving here." An avid bicyclist and runner, he says the trails system surrounding the Kimball Junction area was part of the allure of the place.
Han has indeed lived in a lot of places. He was born in Renton, Washington, the only son of South Korean immigrants Kyu and Myung Han. He grew up and went through school in Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace, Washington, both bedroom communities near Seattle. He has a younger sister, also named Young. "There’s a lost-in-translation story behind this," Han laughs.
His father worked as a welder in the Seattle shipyards, while his mother worked as a custodian at the University of Washington. "Despite their rather unexceptional lines of work, they managed to create what felt like a solidly middle-class upbringing. I grew up in a pleasant neighborhood in the northern suburbs of Seattle and both my sister and I went to college," says Han.
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When that time came, Han chose Hamilton College, a liberal-arts school in Clinton, N.Y. He earned a bachelor’s degree in economics there in 2006. Since then, he’s lived and worked in Ohio, Washington, D.C., Vancouver, B.C, Seattle, Salt Lake City and, from late last summer, Park City.
Han currently works in Salt Lake City and Ogden for the Utah Schools for the Deaf and Blind as a research analyst. "My duties are fairly diverse, but primarily I develop databases to track the progress of students and trainers, as well as collect data for federal-grant reporting," he says.
Still in his 20s and eager to make a difference, Han is exploring the possibility of a Ph.D. in economics at the University of Utah. "I consider economics the language of power. I want to focus on economic geography, how economic ‘actors’ are distributed in time and space and how that changes," he says.
Han still has a newcomer’s take on the state. "Moving to Utah was quite a culture shock," he observes. "After living in Salt Lake for several months, I decided Park City would be a better fit for me. This town and Summit County have a wonderful combination of worldly flair and rustic tranquility. People around here value both and recognize that neither can exist without conscious efforts to promote and preserve them. There’s a degree of shared intentionality here that you don’t find in most communities."
Han’s impressions of his new home town help explain his eagerness to help out with the Proposition 2 campaign. "I felt a little presumptuous, even uncomfortable because I just jumped right in," he says. "But wherever I live, I want to be part of the solution to problems. When you move to a place you like, you want to try and help preserve the ethos of the place."
Han has clearly demonstrated both his talent and his commitment to area open space and trails in the short time he’s lived here. It’s all in a day’s volunteer work for one of the Basin’s newest residents.
Steve Phillips is a Park City-based writer and actor. Send your profile comments and suggestions to him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Favorite things to do: "I love to run and bike for exercise and as a kind of meditation."
Favorite foods: Han is a vegetarian. Tofu, avocados, cabbage, beets and blueberries are among his favorites. "I like Ethiopian and Cuban dishes, hard to get in Park City."
Favorite reading/authors: Books and articles on social and environmental sciences; poetry by Stephen Dunn, Jeffery McDaniel and Mary Oliver.
Favorite music/performers: "I’m a big fan of folk, bluegrass and country/western genres, but fairly eclectic in my listening habits. I like Wilco, Tracy Chapman and, locally, The Band of Annuals."
Bucket list: "I want to live abroad for a few years."