A warning before I start – Lions Club Christmas Dinner at The Mogul starts in about 45 minutes, so you’ll be getting what you pay for in this week’s editorial.
Lot of weird stuff happened this week. Some of it is in the paper in the form of those accident reports on page six. Some of it not. Health events mostly. Involving folks whom I like who, statistically speaking, shouldn’t be having health events.
The beauty of small towns is that you know a lot of people. The tough part about that is that it widens one’s circle of pain, and each piece of bad news can’t help but take a little piece out of you.
For awhile there I was writing a lot of obituaries. I haven’t written as many of late. Not because people have stopped dying. More because if you want to write a good obituary, you really have to invest yourself in it. To do a good job just makes you sad and tired.
And we all have our own sad and tired allotment. Once you hit your limit, forget it. You gotta wait for the reset.
I’ve always laughed at my own inconsistency when it comes to others. While I really can’t stand people as a broad collective, I like most people individually. And I find I really like some people I don’t actually like.
But that’s too much to explain.
I attended the SRTI (Sustainable Recreation and Tourism Initiative) Virtual Wrap-Up on Wednesday, along with about 55 others.
What is the SRTI? Well, about three years ago, The Sierra Nevada Conservancy gave about $620,000 in Proposition 68 funds to the Eastern Sierra Sustainable Recreation Partnership. The SRTI is the project.
Within the SRTI, four subgroups were developed, focusing on 1.) identifying recreation projects, 2.) climate change, 3.) visitor engagement and 4.) project prioritization/implementation.
Over the past three years, 183 stakeholder ideas have been distilled down to 8 finalists. John Wentworth, Founder and President of MLTPA (Mammoth Lakes Trails and Public Access), presented those eight finalists on Wednesday, though seven of the finalists were initially announced back in October.
*Buttermilk Infrastructure and Recreation Planning Initiative
*Visitor Connection Program
*Regional Recreation Capacity
*Eastern Sierra Campground Improvements
*Eastern Sierra Towns to Trails Plan
*Dispersed Camping Mitigation: Camp Like a Pro
*Vulnerability in Eastern Sierra: Asset Inventory and Gap Analysis (related to climate change)
*Eastern Sierra Scenic Byway Analysis
So I’m looking at this list, thinking to myself, we just spent $620,000 to determine that six of our top eight priorities (Buttermilk Infrastructure and campground improvements being exceptions that strike me as tangible, on-the-ground projects, as opposed to climate change analysis) involve applying for further grant monies to do further analysis. Or involve soft-pedal “marketing” and “messaging” and that genre of crap.
Now when I say this to Mr. Wentworth, he gets all fired up. Takes it personally. Thinks that I’m always too critical (I am) and that the $620,000 was spent really wisely and effectively.
But really, we just have a difference in personality.
Wentworth likes everything laid out in a neat plan before he moves forward. He is a methodical general. And I give him credit for creating a very good sales pitch for the Eastern Sierra. The language he uses. The design/visuals. He knows how to throw a pitch that people who give money away want to swing at.
Myself, I like to charge ahead to give myself the feeling (or at least the illusion) of progress. I prefer to march down the path and make corrections and double-backs along the way versus making sure everything is perfect before I dare take a step. And I subscribe to former Mayor Skip Harvey’s approach in that it’s more important to fix potholes and plow streets and build checkdams and clean toilets than wallow in “visions.”
That’s the sad part. We all want to get paid to think. But the really valuable people are the ones who don’t insist on it – the thinking part.
As Wentworth said at the meeting, it was announced Wednesday that California plans to spend $1 billion-plus to expand outdoor access. Folks, we’re in the right place at the right time, crowed Wentworth. He used the term “generational investment” to talk about the money that’s going to flow to outdoor recreation interests.
So with all this momentum, with all the focus on the crowds we’re attracting and how to manage those crowds and train people to do the right thing, I asked Wentworth for the umpteenth time in a Thursday phone call why we need to spend so much money on marketing the area.
I mean, why do we need a Visitor Connection program? Don’t we already have programs which encourage/educate visitors to be their best selves?
Well, those are MLT (Mammoth Lakes Tourism), Mammoth-centric messages, said Wentworth, We need to communicate more broadly as a region, he continued. “Because they’re [visitors] gonna come here whether we market or not.”
Just a reminder. Final redistricting meetings are taking place this upcoming week at Inyo and Mono Board of Supervisors meetings. In Inyo, of the various maps introduced, I prefer the Native-majority district proposed by the Bishop Paiute Tribe (I believe it’s listed as map #6).