Romer: Instead of tearing down bridges, we need to keep build more (column) |

Romer: Instead of tearing down bridges, we need to keep build more (column)

Travel journalist and author Rick Steves states that “my goal isn’t to be ‘right’ all the time but, rather, to learn with an open mind, to consider new solutions to old problems … and to become involved with helping confront challenges more wisely.”

I find this to be a relevant concept in today’s world, to both our local and national political environment. Shouldn’t we all be in the problem-solving business? That requires an open mind when addressing our challenges.

Easier said than done, as societally we tend to operate from a position of fear rather than from a collaboration. That said, it is easy to be scared these days despite the fact that fear makes you deaf, dumb and blind.

Paraphrasing personal and professional coach and consultant Bruce Kasanoff from Ikigai Park City, our world today changes at a moment’s notice. The market might drop dramatically or have a huge jump. Not long ago, we were moving toward nuclear war with Korea. Unrest was spreading in the Middle East, the European Union was falling apart. And, perhaps one or more of your friends lost their jobs. But fear causes tunnel vision. You either run blindly, or stop reacting normally. Operating from a base of fear makes it much easier to make bad decisions.

So, how do you cope with so many perceived or real threats? The trick is to build more bridges rather than to tear them down. Instead of being divisive, search for common ground. That includes building more — and stronger — relationships.

Steves and Kasanoff are aligned in their thoughts and comments as they share a common theme: It is important to focus on issues that matter, and to be open minded in how we address our challenges. This needs to be done in a collaborative manner, working to create strength in numbers due to stronger relationships.

Global Trade Impact

Consider global trade. The administration’s new tariffs threaten to spark a global trade war. Canada, Mexico, the EU and China have already retaliated or announced plans to retaliate with billions of dollars in tariffs on American made products.

Tariffs imposed by the United States are nothing more than a tax increase on American consumers and businesses, including manufacturers, farmers and technology companies, meaning we will all pay more for commonly used products and materials. Retaliatory tariffs imposed by other countries on U.S. exports will make American-made goods more expensive, resulting in lost sales and ultimately lost jobs here at home. This is the wrong approach, and it threatens to derail our nation’s recent economic resurgence.

Tariffs are simply a fear-based response to an age-old problem; working together with other nations on fair trade rather than retaliatory tariffs would likely create better outcomes for the price of things you and I buy.

Consider local examples such as housing. The Eagle County Housing Task Force consists of public and private stakeholders working to increase the overall supply of resident-occupied homes in the Eagle River Valley. One of the group’s goals is to ensure resident-occupied homes are an essential component of the region’s infrastructure.

Our community has made great strides in approving numerous attainable housing developments through zoning, financing, and collaborative public-private partnerships. This hasn’t occurred by accident — and while we have a long way to go, there are numerous examples of projects in from Vail to Gypsum that will help move the needle in a positive manner to address this community challenge.

From national to local challenges, collaboration works. Fear doesn’t. Let’s continue to find ways to build more bridges.

Chris Romer is president and CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership, the regional chamber of commerce. Learn more at

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