From the pages of
The Sublette County Journal
Volume 5, Number 6 - 10/5/00
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Thoughts on Change and the Future

I was recently asked by a friend to fill in the blank seven times for this sentence: In 2025, I want Sublette County to be __________.

This exercise turned out to be much more difficult than I anticipated. At first, I could fill in the blank easily with shallow answers, but the questions and counterpoints kept coming, and pretty soon I was deep in the morass of thinking about our future. I'll admit, I'm still there - I haven't worked it all out even in my own mind. In the end, I'm not ready to complete my assigment - I'm still working it out. All I can offer right now are some of the thoughts and ideas that have kept my mind and soul busy as I've tackled this job ...

Preserving this fragile, hard to define thing, which is our sense of community, is the most important thing we can do to make Sublette County a great place to live for generations to come.

Sublette County, and especially Pinedale, have to be family friendly. This means young families have to be to able to buy homes here -communities are stronger when families are able to own their own homes , the county must remain a safe place to raise kids (low crime), the schools must be excellent (accountability), and there has to be good paying jobs (economic diversification into manufacturing or technology).

Sometimes I'd like to stop the clock and just keep the county the way it is now.

We have to find a way to welcome newcomers, but at the same time expect them to accept and embrace Sublette County's character. They can't just be takers - they must participate in and contribute to the community, but without always wanting to change Sublette County to be like the place they came from.

Pinedale is threatened by a 900 pound gorilla named "tourism" and the "lifestyle" industry of real estate development, private jets, and expresso bars. These might leave us with our great scenery and clean air, while stealing the town's soul and robbing us of our uniqueness. We've got to keep this gorilla under control.

I don't like the development of a class system between the rich and everybody else I'm seeing in the north end of the county. We've always had wealthy people here, but you never could tell who they were. The new rich moving here flaunt their wealth by arriving in a private jet, building a 6,000 square foot trophy home, and giving huge donations to fundraisers as if they can buy their way into our community and good graces. Don't they know that many people here struggle to make a living? Where are their manners? I wish all the millionaires and billionaires would pass through and buy property somewhere else unless they truly want to become part of our community, and not just take from it two or three weeks a year.

The harsh side of life here - whether it be nine months of cold winter wind or barely being scratching out a living - bonds us together like glue. We all have something in common - we've made the sacrifices, endured the cold, made it through the long winters and hard times. We've all stuck it out.

We can't stop growth, but how do we grow and not become like everyplace else? How do we remain unique and special? No franchise stores or restaurants? No more chain motels? No trophy homes?

I don't want this place to get too complicated or fancy. I like eating a cheeseburger delux with black coffee at the counter in the Patio or Wrangler. I like old beat up pickup trucks with rifles in the window and dogs in the back. I like my daily trip to the post office - I hope we never get at home delivery. I like the limited choices we have for shopping. It makes it simple, and simple is good enough.

I'm saddened by the "get what you can while you can get it and then get out" mentality I come across every so often in people who have lived here a long time. It's easy to be critical of the newcomers who've bought up our community, but what about the oldtimers who sold it?

God this country is beautiful. We must keep it so.

Hunting and fishing are more than weekend recreation. They're an institution, and a huge part of our culture. Blaze orange is cool!

I like cows and hay meadows and barbed wire fences and dusty Friday night rodeos and the neat way ranchers talk and the wholesome, genuine idea of making your living from the land. I hope my grandchildren can have ranch kids in their class just I did. Ranching is a huge part of our rural character today, not just a relic of our past. I want to keep agriculture here.

Sublette County has such proud heritage. This is a very progressive county with one of the most diverse economies in the state. We are in a very fortunate position. Let's not squander it.

Clearly, it's not possible to stop change or growth. But is it even possible to direct it? It's like trying to herd cats. People who fight change always lose. But can we reason with it, and maybe nudge it a little in different directions?

When I think about the future of Sublette County I'm often filled with frustration, sadness, dread and anger. I resent these feelings. I'm sick of them. They are so reactive. I want to be proactive. Instead only seeing the bad things change is bringing, I want to look for the opportunities and seize them. How do we do this?

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The Sublette County Journal, PO Box 3010, Pinedale, WY 82941   Phone 307-367-3713
Publisher/Editor: Rob Shaul