Construction and community |

Construction and community

Red Card Roberts

Last week, a colleague of mine I hadn’t seen in a while asked me to join him for lunch. He had a meeting in Park City and wanted to catch up afterwards. “Sure!” I responded, followed by some restaurant options.

A few days later, we were sitting at our table, glancing at menus and exchanging the normal pleasantries:

“How are the kids?”

“Any summer vacation plans?”

“What’s the latest gossip in your office?”

Though I’ve known him professionally for years, we don’t often find ourselves casually conversing over a meal. I assumed our conversation would be work-related, surface level stuff. Shortly after placing our orders, however, he said something that felt like a small punch to my gut.

“I haven’t been up to Park City in years,” he started. “It’s really lost its charm. It looks just like Draper.”

“But we don’t have an IKEA!” I wanted to shout as proof Park City is not as soulless as he had suggested. Instead I frowned my disapproval and focused on the options for dessert.

Most of us who consider ourselves locals reject the idea our quaint, colorful little mountain town is anything but a quaint, colorful little mountain town. Even if we fear it’s true, we’ve managed to push thoughts of characterless sprawl from the jaded corners of our mind.

We’ve convinced ourselves all the traffic and construction and chain stores do not mitigate our love for the place we call home. I imagine it’s a bit like a mother whose just been informed her son was caught shoplifting at a discount porn store — There’s a mixture of shame, denial and too much love to believe the worst.

But hearing my coworker state what I have long refused to admit really knocked the wind out of me. It actually put me in a funk for a few days, wondering if I should cash in on my house and settle in another mountain town that hasn’t yet been ruined by all the people who want to settle in it.

And then, something uniquely Park City happened. And it reminded me that despite all chain stores and growth and congestion, we still live in a special place where relationships and reputations and taking care of other locals matters.

I got a call from a producer in Chicago asking me to help her with an upcoming video shoot. “I can’t get anyone to return my calls,” she told me over the phone. “I’ve been turned down by multiple locations and my crew arrives in two days! I’ve got nowhere for them to shoot!”

As the person in charge of securing a location, interviews, props and arranging all productions details, she was panicked. I explained to her it was spring break and it’s been a good snow year. Businesses are booked and film crews are often an inconvenience, especially with such limited notice.

“But,” I said, “I work closely with a few locals who can help. I will reach out to them.”

Within a few hours, we had a location confirmed, a shot list approved, and multiple businesses pitching in to help with our needs.

When I sent an email informing her of all this, she was as ecstatic as she was dumbfounded. “I worked for weeks to get this to come together and nothing happened. How did you arrange all this in a few hours?” she said.

I thought about that for a minute and realized it had nothing to do with me, and everything to do with Park City. A place where locals still help locals. An “I’ve got your back” understanding that is unique to our town. Many of the business owners I called didn’t know me, but they trusted someone on the other end of a 435 area code. And the ones that did know me, know I’m equally good for a return favor. It all worked out because we have a bond in this quaint, colorful little mountain.

And no matter how many more corporate franchises and shopping centers are built, locals who love this town are what make this town. And that’s something you won’t find in Draper.

Amy Roberts is a freelance writer, longtime Park City resident, and the proud owner of two rescued Dalmatians, Stanley and Willis. The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer. Follow her on Twitter @amycroberts.

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