“Strong communities and counties aren’t made by real estate speculation or self-serving public policy. They are grown by the ideas, creativity, and the imagination of people who live there and by entrepreneurs and public servants who understand what needs must be addressed for the place to prosper.” (Strong Towns: A Bottom-up Revolution to Rebuild American Prosperity).
There are many problems in rural Pend Oreille County as is the case in hundreds of small, rural American counties. There are general economic, social and health concerns that all counties share and there are problems specific to each county.
One of the major problems I see in Pend Oreille County is a serious lack of trust with our public servants. Trust is a central part of all human relationships, whether one is a public servant, business owner or a community member. When that trust is broken, as it was with the proposed silicon smelter debacle and other situations, it takes more that super glue to piece it back together. Would you go back to a health professional that violated your trust?
This issue with trust cannot continue if we are serious about strengthening and building the health and well-being of our economy, environment, and providing for the needs of people who live here. We need to communicate, work, and build consensus together for the well-being of all. So where does one start that process? How do we build back that trust?
- First, we need a changing of the guards; we need public servants who understand the needs of the people who live in Pend Oreille County and someone who will listen and focus on those needs.
- In addition, we need public servants who understand that “urban sprawl and industrial development” are not the answers to social, economic, and environmental sustainability in our rural area.
- We also need public servants who understand that with limited resources we need to live within our means. In other words, you can’t spend money you don’t have.
- We need public servants who value and respect our natural resources as assets and a way of creating economic, social, and recreational opportunities.
- Finally, we need public servants who put Pend Oreille County residents and our neighbors first over their own interests or that of outside corporations and developers.
- It’s always “people first.”