What happens to a community as it faces the changes that come with growth and change? As we’ve all felt the effects of Idaho being the fastest growing state in the nation, many of us have wondered what lies ahead for our community. Will wildlife still wander down Main Street? Will recreation still be as memorable? Will this valley still be the kind of place we all love to live, work, and play in?
This fall, at the Sun Valley Economic Forum, Dr. Jaap Vos gave a talk about the incredibly difficult conversation and community discussions that need to happen in the face of growth and change. This moving presentation was a highlight of the Sun Valley Economic Forum, and has prompted plenty of discussion.
In a recent “Our View” opinion from the Idaho Mountain Express, we’re reminded that we’ve had to navigate these hard questions before.
For Blaine County and its cities in the 1970s, adapting to change was a do-it-yourself project. Unlike nearly any other communities in the nation, they adopted zoning that kept commercial development off the highway, development off its hillsides and protected downtown vitality and livability. This is why the Sun Valley area is still no ordinary place. Will it remain so? That depends on us and the choices we make.
One of Dr. Vos’s key insights into how we can preserve our character is to think of the “green hearts” of our valley. The zoning to keep our hillsides open and highways undeveloped were key in preserving the “green heart” of the Valley in the 1970’s – what are the pieces of our valley that hold the living soul of this place today?
As we navigate the need for more infrastructure to accommodate the current and future needs of the valley’s residents, we need to understand where to tread carefully, to ensure that we don’t unwittingly loose our own community’s “green heart” and key to its unique character.
The program will be livestreamed and available to view later.
Dr. Vos is Professor of Planning and Natural Resources and Interim Director of the Environmental Science Program and Interim Department Head, Natural Resources and Society at the University of Idaho.
If you missed Dr. Vos’s talk at the Sun Valley Economic Forum, this is your chance to hear him and the talk that sparked so much community conversation. This event is part of the Thinking Globally, Acting Locally speaker series – a partnership between the Wood River Land Trust and The Community Library. In this series we discuss how we can take local action in the face of global and regional challenges.