Vail Daily column: A call for civility
Ryan Summerlin November 7, 2013
“The reports on my death have been greatly exaggerated” — Mark Twain
Much like Mark Twain’s reported early demise, the reports of the impending doom in Vail (related to the golf club remodel and renovation) and Beaver Creek (related to the proposed on-mountain experiences) and throughout Eagle County (due to recreational marijuana) are also greatly exaggerated. Regardless of the outcome, it is highly likely that our community will be just fine as these issues work their way through the court system.
It’s important to mention that Vail Valley Partnership doesn’t have an official position on these projects or issues as these specific issues are municipal (or quasi-municipal) issues that must go through the various planning committees and other steps.
Although we have no position on the pros and cons of these issues and projects, it is worth mentioning the rather unfortunate negative local environment these issues have created. The current ugly rhetoric belongs in bigger cities or at a national political level as opposed to a constructive dialogue within our community.
The bully (and that’s really what this recent name calling trend is) always looks worse than the bullied. Legitimate criticism is helpful and constructive, and by hurling insults you only hurt your cause.
REASONABLE People Disagree
Believe it or not, ardent supporters or detractors of any project or political issue, reasonable people can disagree.
Too many in our community seem eager to take sides on these issues by framing the issues under a false premise of “us vs. them.” While providing feedback and being passionate about projects is a good thing, and often helps create better outcomes (see Solaris as a prime example), it is unfortunate that civility has taken a back seat to emotional finger pointing and name calling.
We can — and should — do better and hold ourselves to higher standards.
Despite the rhetoric we’re subjected to in the letters to the editor or in various other communications, people advocating for updated facilities does not automatically mean that they are against second homeowners.
Enhancing the visitor experience — at the Vail Golf Club or in Beaver Creek — is not mutually exclusive of providing a wonderful place for our homeowners and visitors alike.
It is highly unlikely anything in our valley will be destroyed by these projects; after all, a key premise in business is to do things that result in an enhanced customers experience, and/or create new demand and/or increase customer loyalty.
Will of the Voters
Similarly, the upcoming marijuana regulations are unlikely to create a huge influx or retreat of tourists. Respecting the will of the voters related to marijuana legalization doesn’t make someone the devil reincarnate. A key premise in a representative government is (at lease conceptually) to respect the will of the voters. Marijuana is already here (and has been for years and years); regulating it in a proper manner, and letting the free market work as it always does, will likely help manage this issue to the point we’ll look back in a few years with a sense of amusement that this was a hot-button issue.
Differences are important
All sides need to accept that it’s perfectly acceptable — dare say, even appropriate and expected — that we’ll often have differences of opinion on how to best accomplish our various missions, and that the missions of our municipalities, our county and our businesses (large and small) are centered around being best in class providers of services to their stakeholders.
Assume good intent from these groups as they work to accomplish their goals. Recognize that no matter your viewpoints on a project or an issue, it’s feasible that reasonable people might have a different view and know that it’s highly unlikely you or your interest group will be completely satisfied with each outcome.
When the outcome isn’t to your liking, remember, there really isn’t the need to call people names in an effort to make your point — be it “rino” or “edu-crate” or “nimby” — and in fact this behavior probably plays better in Washington, D.C. than here in the Vail Valley.
Be Kind, Act Respectfully
This community is better than the petty name-calling which has taken hold recently. I encourage everyone to recognize that kindness and respect are better tactics than the stone-throwing that has taken place recently. Step back from the emotion and assume good intent from your elected officials, local governments and corporate interests alike. Recognize that you (this applies equally to all sides) do your issue no favors and often hurt your credibility when you resort to name-calling to support your position on an issue.
The bully (and that’s really what this recent name calling trend is) always looks worse than the bullied. Legitimate criticism is helpful and constructive and by hurling insults you only hurt your cause.
Keep in mind another quote by Mark Twain, “Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”
Chris Romer is president and CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership.