Guest opinion: Optimism, inclusion and gratitude in a year to remember — or forget |

Guest opinion: Optimism, inclusion and gratitude in a year to remember — or forget

Optimism, inclusion, and gratitude … those were the tenets I pledged when I was sworn in nearly three years ago: principles to live and govern by. 2020 has challenged us all, threatened our health, security and confidence. It is hard to stay positive amid a torrent of health, economic and social crises, but collectively we have shown our fortitude, resilience and adaptability. 2020 will be a year to remember — or forget — but I believe there are better days ahead.

Optimism: Winston Churchill said, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” COVID has taught us to adapt and reimagine. Tourism has been hit hard, but it gave us a glimpse of what Park City was like in the hallowed ‘old days’ before the steady flow of tourists and events. In recovery, we have an opportunity to re-tool our economy to better align with our residents. Our service workers have been hammered, but the community has been generous. Small businesses have been strained, but local support, a wave of new homeowners, and CARES funding have helped lessen the damage. Sales tax has plummeted, yet local government has adapted, expanding online services and discovering new tools for virtual participation. COVID has been tragic, but it has upset our norms and possibly cleared a path for positive change.

Inclusion: A community is only as strong as its most vulnerable. Park City’s economic health depends on tourism, and tourism depends on service workers. They are our front lines, facing the greatest risks of exposure, and have little safety net. Many of our service workers are also immigrants, facing additional cultural and legal barriers to thrive. The pandemic has likewise strained the mental health of our youth and seniors, who especially struggle to adjust to isolation and restrictions. Fortunately, recent discussions on equity have built awareness and capacity to embrace the need for diversity and value our underserved populations. Mending our social ills starts by acknowledging our differences, our biases and building empathy and compassion for all our community members. Our country may be divided, but our community does not need to be. In these chaotic times, let’s be mindful, seek out those in need and remember our kindness.

Gratitude: Thanksgiving is a time to express gratitude, and I can’t think of a time when expressing gratitude has been more important. I am grateful for the honor of representing this beautiful mountain town as your mayor. I am grateful for a community that comes together in times of need. I am grateful to live in a community that wants to be better, to do better, and with such strong community values.

As we move into this year’s holiday season, I implore you to protect our community and our livelihood by adapting your traditions and only gather with your household. “Staying safe to stay open” has been our creed, and we must stay the course. Show your thanks and love to our front-line workers, police, active military, health care workers, teachers and bus drivers by being extra careful and reducing everyone’s exposure. Please, my friends, stay safe, stay healthy, stay optimistic, be kind and be grateful! Happy Thanksgiving.

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