An interesting dynamic between the old and new exists here in Sheridan. Residents here embrace the Old West — cowboys, rodeos, small-town friendliness, wide open spaces and fierce independence. They also strive to keep up with the new — technology, industry, growth and best practices imported from other places.

I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve heard somebody say, “They’re not from here.” It’s said in a derogatory tone, as if that person’s choice to live here for any length of time shorter than “born-and-raised” makes his or her opinion on community happenings less important than an individual who has never lived (or sometimes never visited) anywhere else.

That isn’t to say that people who have spent very little time in Sheridan should to tell the locals how to do things. It takes time to understand the nuances of a community and why things are done certain ways. But, leaders shouldn’t shoot down good ideas just because of who suggests them.

With so many businesses in Sheridan growing, residents must get used to change. It’s hard. Change makes people uncomfortable. It raises questions of values and priorities. But, experts stress the need to step outside your comfort zone. If you aren’t uncomfortable, they say, you aren’t growing.

Change doesn’t have to mean giving up what everyone loves about Sheridan. The community can keep that small-town charm, brag about the best rodeo around and even maintain the wide open spaces and fierce independence. But change is inevitable and one of the most painful expressions to dreamers is “well, that’s how we’ve always done it.”

Sheridan boasts a friendliness not all communities can claim. But that descriptor rings hollow if the ideas of those who haven’t lived here their entire lives are ignored. Those who are new to town have invested in Sheridan. They’ve made a choice to be here. Sure, some of their ideas may not fit with Sheridan County’s values, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be heard and considered.

As Sheridan continues to grow, community members and leaders alike should listen with open hearts and open minds. If you notice that you are uncomfortable, reflect on why. Maybe it’s the kind of discomfort that allows for growth and positive change. You’ll never know if you aren’t willing to listen.