That was the sage advice from former Chronicle and Pilot editor Lee H. Ervin during the wedding reception of former Crested Butte News editor Eddie Stern last weekend in Denver. Lee lives in New Mexico now and as part of his job he interviews older people.
He said women tend to be healthier than men as they age but the key to healthy aging for both genders is to “keep moving.” That sounds like pretty good advice and all you have to do is look around at the people aging here and those growing older in say, Ohio. There is a difference between the 82-year-old who walks, bikes or skis in Crested Butte and the 72-year-old who waddles into the Columbus Golden Corral for the early bird buffet.
Lee was talking about individuals but since it is Tuesday and I can’t write about the Elk Avenue slurry seal debacle without continually shaking my head, laughing or crying, I’ll make the cheap and easy editorial move and build on Lee’s advice for Crested Butte.
“Keep moving.” There is really no such thing as a healthy community that never changes. Being stagnant leads to being boring and sluggish. It is good to move.
Our tourism-based economy is about to go off for about two months. No one will describe the coming summer as stagnant in the short term. But that is part of our problem. Crested Butte depends on giant economic peaks that strain our infrastructure and are then followed by giant dips that make it precarious for local businesses to make it. In the long-term, that template can be stressful.
So in an effort to “keep moving,” Crested Butte is adding to its traditional outdoorsy image and attractions. A new organic focus on arts and education is helping to keep us moving beyond the Old Faithfuls of mountain biking and skiing. That is healthy.
Right now there is an effort to look at the big picture here through the One Valley Prosperity Project (OVPP). That effort is gathering information and is actively promoting a community dialogue to perhaps help this community to keep moving.
Unlike some, I don’t anticipate a panacea to come out of the OVPP. So far the OVPP indicates that those living here like it here. We all wish we made more money here. We all don’t want to become just another stereotypical tourist town in the mountains.
Of course, the details of any final plan are where there might be real tension. Some will lobby for more, more, more, while others will argue for a return to the slower paced “good old days.” I have always said the OVPP could save a lot of time and money by having someone from each side of the divide, say an Eric Roemer and a Sue Navy, sit down and come up with a plan. If they can agree on a direction, then odds are pretty good that everyone could.
Some organizers in the OVPP claim that the final plan will result in a common core baseline upon which every decision in the valley between now and infinity can be based. That won’t happen. Healthy communities need good representatives and leaders for the times to step up and set a direction. That usually happens in elections when the people decide who gets to sit down and map out the next leg of the road trip. Chances are if someone goes too far afield, they won’t get put back into local office. That usually keeps everything moving in manageable doses.
Crested Butte is constantly changing and that is part of the dynamic of a healthy community. It “keeps moving.” People come and go. Those relocating here now are doing so for reasons different from those who came here 20 years ago. I’ll go out on a limb and say the biggest game changer has been the Crested Butte Community School. Having a quality K-12 school in a wonderful place with a ski resort is a major draw to those who can afford it. And more and more people are figuring that out.
I do think the OVPP can end up being a valuable tool. While healthy communities need to “keep moving,” they also need solid foundations and the OVPP might be able to provide some of that foundational focus. A continued good community needs both young and old people living in it. Rich and poor should be able to rub shoulders. It needs workers either living near or having easy access to their jobs. They need good schools, good opportunities for community dialogue and good opportunities for local businesses to succeed. It needs to actively protect its special attributes. The OVPP might help reinforce those community elements.
Decisions in the future won’t be based entirely on an OVPP study from 2015. They will be based on those who step up to help keep a community moving in a direction that is healthy at the time. That requires thoughtfulness and an ability to stay nimble. The OVPP can provide a snapshot of needs and wants at this particular time and that is useful, but not a miracle cure for the few things that ail us.
“Keep moving.” Good advice. How we move is up to those living here at any given time and have the most influence on where we end up.
Lee must be moving a lot. He still looks good in his grandfather years. And a quick shout out to Eddie Stern and his new wife, Ellen. They chose last Friday to “keep moving” and take a major life step. It seems a good, healthy choice. That is all any individual, couple or community can really ask for—healthy choices based on the decision to keep moving.