Last month, a few of us at Sheridan Community Land Trust received scholarships to attend the annual Land Trust Rally in Minneapolis. We came back with the overwhelming feeling that nationwide, communities that invest in their values are holistically healthier communities.
The most inspiring speakers at the rally told stories of change: how their land trusts gave disadvantaged high school youth a sense of local pride and ownership through their summer trail crew program; or how the trusts helped a rancher protect and honor his family’s rich heritage on the land; or how their organization built a new interpretive trail through the woods. And after each project, the community was richer and better for it. Sound familiar? It does, but why?
It’s simple, really. Great places don’t just sprout up without great people. As a community, we share values of family, heritage, hard work and authenticity. We also share characteristics of compassion, support, and caring. Not to mention, our community is brimming with organizations that are chasing values, not dollars to keep this place the way we love it while curating the way it grows.
This is a result of and a recipe for a community that can dream. Big or small, mountains or creeks, canyons or prairies, ranchland or wildlife habitat, ranchers, runners, bikers, birders, youth, elders and anyone in between. We’ve dreamed to protect and enjoy what we’ve inherited while leaving it even better for those who come after us.
So this holiday season, we hope you will join us in dreaming a little extra about what you value, what you love and what you want for this community. But, full disclosure — chasing your dreams might become your newest vice in 2017 — and our community will be richer and better for it.
Katie Belton is a communications and design professional working with the Sheridan Community Land Trust.