Five lessons from a difficult week

A consensus means that everyone agrees to say collectively what no one believes individually.

-Abba Eban

It has been an interesting  and somewhat difficult couple of weeks.  Patience does not come easy for me. Sometimes things progress much too slow to suit me.  Trying to come to consensus, within various groups, in order to act can be a bit agonizing.  I generally work pretty well in teams and committees.  Give me patienceHowever I think I must learn to have more patience and tolerance with the process.  You’ve probably seen the tee-shirt or posters, “Lord, grant me patience, but PLEASE HURRY!”  I need that.  The more I work with governments, public policy and yes, politics, the more I find I need patience and endurance and maybe a touch of fortitude.  I have always been told that the “Devil is in the details.”  Yet it is important to look at the overall, broader picture.  It can be a difficult balancing act to look at both the details and the  thirty-thousand foot level and see them both with equal clarity. 

Admittedly,  a good part of the difficulty lately was of my own making. I am an information junkie. I love digging into things, and trying to ask questions – although sometimes I am afraid I am not asking the right questions at the right time. Not long ago I did ask a question, which I believe was the right question.   I received an answer from a trusted professional and I accepted it at face value.  Consensus within our group was reached, based on the information at hand.

Later, I received some additional information that made me reconsider the consensus I acquiesced to earlier.  Unfortunately, it came too late to be of much use, although I lobbied for a 11th hour change, it simply was not to be.  Will it be important in the long run?  I have no idea.  However, it has fortified five lessons learned.

 Lesson one is that I should trust my intuition. If it doesn’t feel right, it isn’t right . . . at least for me.

Lesson two is that information and advice given is colored by ones perspective, in spite of every effort to be objective.  That perspective must be taken into consideration when evaluating the information. In my case, those presenting information and opinion on the best course of action were coming from vastly different sides of the issue.  Yet to make the best decision, both of those viewpoints needed to be heard and weighed. Often it seems, when making group decisions, divergent opinions are not always present, not voiced or not heeded.

The third lesson is to continue asking and asking and ASKING  clarifying questions to try to develop understanding –  not only of the issue but of the people involved.

The fourth is that it is ok to not go along with group think.  This fits a bit with lesson one.  As Dr. Martin Luther King said,

Cowardice asks the question, is it safe? Expediency ask the question, is it politic? Vanity asks the question, is it popular? But conscience ask the question, is it right? And there comes a time when we must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because it is right.”

Mike Myatt, a columnist for Forbes and a trusted advisor to Fortune 500 CEO’s put it another way,

“Groupthink is a very dangerous practice. It stifles innovation, discourages candor, disdains dissenting opinions, and mutes the truth. If what you seek is to neutralize your advantage by dumbing down the insights, observations and contributions of your team, then by all means default to consensus thinking.”

The fifth lesson is simply never quit trying.  Thomas Edison said it best,

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”

I will keep asking questions – hopefully the right ones at the right time and, if necessary,  slow the process down in order to seek viewpoints from all sides of the issues. I will keep trying to find the best solutions for issues within our town. I won’t always succeed but I won’t quit.

 While I generally do try to stay neutral and present the facts – albeit from my perspective – I am learning that at times I will need to take a stance, and it may not be the popular one – but it will be the right one for me.

There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays!

There’s No Place Like Home For the Holidays!

I have some veAlbum Coverry warm and fuzzy memories of Christmas as a child.   My brother and I joke that we are both “only children” because of the age difference between us – 17 years.  Like Frosty the Snowman, there must have been some magic in the water in Leadville in the early to mid 1950’s as my Mom, and several of her friends found themselves expecting babies several years after their older children came along.  At any rate, even though I have a very dear sibling, my memories of my childhood Christmas’ do not include him as he was either in the service or in a warmer climate with his new little ones. 

 Thumbing through an old photo album might find a picture of me and my Mom decorating the tree while Charlie Brownlistening to Bing Crosby croon White Christmas and No Place Like Home for the Holidays on the record player.   There might be a snapshot of me in my brand new flannel nightgown, handmade by my aunt, munching Christmas cookies and watching A Charlie Brown Christmas on our black and white TV.  My Dad probably had an 8 mm home movie of me sledding, on my brand new Radio Flyer sled down the street in front of our home. 

My Dad alwaysSled 2 made sure our house was the best decorated in the neighborhood complete with a well lit, lifesize Santa climbing into our chimney.  I had a pink flocked Christmas tree in my bedroom that always had a little surprise under it on Christmas morning – mostly to keep me occupied for a few minutes and let Mom and Dad get some sleep.  Many Christmases I also had a little tree outside my bedroom window and in the morning, I could go outside to find reindeer prints and little foot prints of Santa’s Elves in the snow.   And snow . . . lots and lots of snow !  When you live at 10,200 feet, it is understood that you WILL have a white Christmas!

And there was always church.  Raised as a Catholic, midnight Mass was part of our Christmas, complete with the hymns, the candles and the incense.  When you are little it is hard to stay awake during midnight Mass.

Not all Christmas’ were perfect however.  One Christmas my Dad was very sick.  At that time children were not allowed to visit patients in the hospital and it seemed like he was in the hospital for a very long time.  I remember sitting in the waiting room of our very small hospital, surrounded by festive lights and decorations but feeling very sad and quite alone.   When my Mom finished visiting, she would take me to the window of his room so I could wave to him and throw him kisses.  Thankfully, due to our hometown doctor, Dr. Kehoe, taking a big chance to perform an experimental surgery, my Dad recovered and came home to us later that winter. Drew & Mac watching Fireworks BLT 2

Many, many years have passed.  I have children and grandchildren of my own. This year our family and extended family took a pre-Christmas trip to Walt Disney World.  I love WDW.  I enjoy seeing the wonder my grandkids eyes as they watch the nightly fireworks with my oldest granddaughter who is five declaring, “Its a miracle!”  I enjoy the fantasy, the rides and the warm weather!  Yes, we missed the 12 to 18 inches of snow and the deep freeze that followed.  While you all were shivering, we were seeking cool drinks and shade in 86 degree weather. But I especially love being surrounded by family. 

We are now home and preparing for Christmas.  We are running behind this year.  The intention was to get everything done BEFORE we left to go visit the mouse, but alas . . .” the best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry” – especially when they involve a particular mouse.  This weekend is for baking cookies and finishing up things.  The tree and most decorations are up thanks to my son and his fiancé.   It will be a relatively quiet Christmas for us this year as another son, and his family, are staying in Texas to start some traditions of their own.   That is good.  Traditions are good. Memories are good.  Being home for the holidays is good!  And great things will be coming in 2014.

Here is wishing everyone a most wonderful Christmas season that is full of love, family, rest and renewal.  And as the Irish say to bring in the New Year, “may your right hand always be stretched out in friendship but never in want.”

 

The Value of Community Service – Rest In Peace Former Governor John D. Vanderhoof

This post is a reprint of a Facebook post from Linda Vanderhoof, the daughter of John D. Vanderhoof, former Governor of Colorado from Glenwood Springs.  Please keep the Vanderhoof family in your prayers.  Governor Vanderhoof was a great community man who knew the value of contributing and serving.

John D. Vanderhoof

John D. Vanderhoof

“Thursday Evening a great man left this world. A member to the WWII Generation, he served in the USN Air Corps in the F$F Hellcat in the Pacific Theater earning multiple medals including The Navy Cross & the Purple Heart. Like so many men of his generation he came home determined to build a better America than he was born into. He convinced his war bride and his father to start a sporting good business in a sleepy little tourist town, Glenwood Springs Colorado. Later His brother would join them in opening up a banking business. He raised 2 children, and entered politics. He served 20 yr in the House of Representatives, many of those years serving as Speaker of the House of Representatives. He was elected to the office of LT Governor in 1970 and later ascended to the office of Governor of The Great State of Colorado in 1972. When he left office he led Club 20 (an organization the works promotes the economic & political goals of Colorado’s 20 western Slope Counties) for many years. He married his real soul mate Ruthie.

 

This was my father, John D. Vanderhoof.  The greatest lesson he taught me was the importance of service.  He always told me we must give back to our community.  It did not matter how.  If one taught church school, participated in the PTA, volunteered at the local food bank, a summer reading program . . . It did not matter . . . It was just important that we give back to our communities.

 

In his 1st State of the State Address he ended with a statement which I can only paraphrase.  He told us to “leave Colorado a better place than we found her.”   He would advise all of us to extend that concept to our neighborhood, our hometown, our state and our great nation.  If we want a better life for our self and those who follow, we must follow the lead of The Great Generation, and put the well being of all ahead of our own.  We must spend some of our time and energy serving our communities.

 

Please keep my family in your prayers and consider pondering on my father’s wisdom.  I believe we would all be better if we listened to it.”

Top priorities for Glenwood . . .are there others?

At the end of a recent blog post http://wp.me/p3S5Sv-3v I asked the question, “What do you think are the three top priorities that Glenwood should be addressing over the next 3 years?”   Some of the responses I received were expected and some were surprising.

 As promised, here are the results I have received thus far.  I have put them in alphabetical order, so there is no ranking involved.   Along with the larger categories are a few comments associated with the items.

Small beach on Roaring Fork River in Confluence area

 

  •  Authenticity
    •         Offer a more authentic experience for Glenwood visitors
    •         Emphasis on natural outdoor experience and healthy recreation and living
    •         Promotion of visual and performing arts
  • Communication
    •         Find ways to increase communication with citizens
    •         Innovative and multiple ways to communicate
    •         Develop methods/techniques/means for citizens to talk with elected    officials, boards and commissions
    •         Ongoing dialog needed – citizens get frustrated and give up
    •         Make information easily and readily accessible to the public
    •         Increase transparency
  • Confluence Redevelopment
    •         Make this are area that pulls the town together
    •         Make this a focal point for Glenwood
  • Economic Development
    •         Long-term, sustainable economic development needed
    •         Shared vision and strategy
    •         Public-Private Partnerships
    •         Work within the community to define direction and priorities
  • Housing
    •         Expand in-town choices
    •         More inventory needed in core areas
  • Leadership
    •         Identify and develop leaders in the community
    •         Determine how to get new, different, younger people involved
    •         Improve the working relationship between City staff, elected officials, boards and commission
    •         Expand communication, cooperation and collaboration with other governmental entities within the region
  • Long-term Fiscal Health
    •         Develop strategies for dealing with an increasing demand for infrastructure, services and long-term operations/maintenance
    •         Seek ways to increase efficiencies in providing services
    •         Increase the cooperation between community development and capital improvement planning
    •         Identify efficient patterns of growth

 Grand Ave by Sacred Grounds 4-5-13

  • Mobility/Transportation
    •         Improve connectivity of local network
    •         Improve bike/pedestrian facilities on existing streets
    •         Improve coordination between land use patterns and transit system – regionally
    •         Complete the Grand Avenue Bridge to maximize the benefit to Glenwood Springs and the entire region
    •         Make the hard decisions to improve north/south travel through Glenwood with an eye on practicality and the chance of it actually getting to completion
    •         Develop a Regional Transportation Master Plan
    •         Development of  Midland Avenue as an alternate route is waiting to happen
    •         Completion of South Bridge is critical
    •         Need an 8th Street connection to Midland Avenue
    •         A 14th Street connection to Midland Avenue is needed
    •         27th Street Bridge must be improved

 

6th Street Looking East Spring 2013

  • North Glenwood
    •         Currently blighted but new bridge alignment provides motivation for a new vision
    •         Has the location, infrastructure, businesses, entrepreneurs and property owners to partner with City
    •         Need to identify leaders to make this happen
  • Performing Arts Facility
    •         Focus energy on planning for the best possible facility in the best possible location

My intention is to make this an ongoing list and to address each item in upcoming posts.  Do you have additional items that should be added to this list?  Would you like to comment on any of the suggestions?  If so, please do!  You can comment on this blog or submit a comment via the form at the end of the blog.  Thanks to all who contributed and I hope to be able to continue the conversation with each of you.

I am pleased to have been selected by the Sonoran Institute to attend the Glenwood Springs Community Development Academy which will be commencing Monday evening, September 16th.  I hope to tell you about some of the discussions as we progress through the eight week journey to make Glenwood Springs even better than it is now.

Are we operating in a silo?

clip-art-cows-762211

Are our boards and commissions – and maybe even City Council – operating in a silo?

I invite you to read my second article published in www.PlannerWeb.com.  I welcome your comments!

http://plannersweb.com/2013/09/are-your-boards-territory-folks/?goback=%2Egmr_2463680%2Egde_2463680_member_272594505#%21

 

What are the top 3 issues facing Glenwood Springs?

Glenwood Springs Courtesy Glenwood Springs Resort Association

Glenwood SpringsPhoto courtesy Glenwood Springs Resort Association

 

I apologize to anyone – all three of you – anticipating a more regular blog over the last 10 weeks.  I have returned to work full time to my day job and my other “civic” duties after my hip surgery.  However, the one thing that has suffered most is this little blog.  I have several items in queue for this blog but they are not quite ready yet.  So, I will shamelessly promote another project that I have undertaken.  Over the next year, I will be writing a series of articles for an on-line magazine, PlannersWeb.com geared toward citizen planners.  The articles will cover some of the issues that Glenwood Springs, the Planning Commission, the Transportation Commission and City Council are facing. The idea is to make the connection with other citizen planners and municipalities that are tackling similar issues.

So, I give you the introductory article for PlannersWeb.com.  As I have said before, I am a blatant promoter of Glenwood Springs . . . and I hope you agree with me that we live in a truly unique, beautiful area.

http://plannersweb.com/2013/09/glenwood-springs-an-introduction-to-a-rocky-mountain-small-town/

I am also changing the hosting site of this blog and so you may see some changes in how it looks over the next weeks.  This is a huge challenge for a technologically incompetent person like me, but will be worth it in the long run.  If you get emails about new posts, and you don’t want to get them, please let me know as I am trying to refine the mailing list associated with this blog.

This is a busy, exciting time for Glenwood Springs and for me and I am happy to be able to share it with you!  But first, a question.  What do you think are the three top priorities that Glenwood should be addressing over the next 3 years?  I will share my findings with you very soon!   Feel free to comment on this blog or comment via this form:

Big Fuzzy Lap Dog

Daisy

For those of you who read my last post http://ourtownglenwoodsprings.com/2013/06/24/the-wolf-lurks/,
my monstrous wolf was more of a very friendly very big dog that wants to sit in your lap – kind of like my Goldendoodle.

I just wanted to give you a quick update. My hip surgery was a week ago today. Things are going well. Moving around on crutches I am not a patient person so I want the healing process to move quickly. I guess I over the next few weeks I will learn patience – like it or not!! I feel a bit out of the “community loop” but hope to catch up soon. Feel free to update me – easiest is email ktrauger@rof.net as I am having some difficulty with my cell phone. Best to everyone.

Momentum

8th and Grand 6-15-13

8th & Grand Ave, Glenwood Springs

I am a “play by the rules” kind of person.  I am the one in the office that loves the thought of creating policies and then developing procedures to follow.  Maybe this is one reason that I am drawn to serve on the local Planning Commission . . . that and I drive my family and a few others crazy with my never ending passion for planning . . . everything . . . gardens, vacations, dinners, cleaning  . . . whatever.  What I have learned over the years is that, for me, the planning is the fun and easy part.  Getting it done  . . . well that is another story.   Herein lies another problem.  I am also a bit of a perfectionist.  Ok, you may not know that from looking at my garden, or my home, or my blog.

The funny thing is that I am not alone – apparently.  In my short tenure – four years – with the Planning Commission and in working with other municipal committees, commissions, councils and personnel, I have come to realize that the planning, the visioning, the dreaming is the easy and fun part.  It is the roll-up-your-sleeves, grab a shovel, get your hands dirty putting those dusty plans into action that is infinitely more difficult.  Why is that?

Part of it is that we are all, to some degree, perfectionists.  We want whatever we do to be the Martha Stewart dinner party, the perfect vacation that our family will always remember, the garden that the neighbors oooh and aaah over.  For some of us, when the weeds start  taking over the garden, or the dust bunnies start reproducing in the corners, we throw up our hands and quit.  Things are not quite as easy as we envisioned.  We give up.

The other issue is that, whether you really want to admit it or not, we generally have a desire to be liked and to please people.  Face it, whether you are dealing with a family or a group of citizens, you are not going to make everyone happy all the time.  In fact, you will probably irritate almost everyone at one time or another.   Making decisions and taking a stand is quite frankly hard work.  My job as a Planning Commission member is aided by a few things, ordinances, codes, and laws – all those things I find comforting in their structure.  However, these same things  – and the beaurocracy that can be associated with it can be stifling to the most productive of those among us.

For many years I have heard the term “political will.”   “All it takes is political will.”  Maybe.  Is that the same as political power?   But “power” is a strong word that brings visions and potential of abuse.

Last week at the Glenwood Springs City Council meeting I heard another word – perhaps one more fitting to the events happening in Glenwood Springs right now.  That word is “momentum.”  Councilor Todd Leahy used it to describe what is happening in Glenwood Springs right now.  He is right.  Glenwood Springs is in a unique position at this moment in time.   I have rarely seen the synergy between entities that have never been at the same table before as I have in the last few months. We have CDOT, Union Pacific, RFTA, Garfield County,  city staff and city council, along with others,  in various stages of planning and doing . . . working on the hard stuff . . .  the stuff that forges long term agreements and clears the way for perhaps one of the most exciting times in Glenwood Spring history.  Will it please everyone? Not a chance.  But in my opinion, we would be negligent to miss this chance to get something done!

More Questions than Answers – and many thanks!

I have received some great feedback from various folks in the community – and amazingly enough, not everyone agrees with me! I welcome that and I hope that we can continue to grow this dialog. Chris McGovern, a former member of the Glenwood City Council and the Transportation Commission has posted a comment that I intended to fully respond to this evening – but life had other plans. I will respond and continue to discuss the Access Control Plan, the subject of Chris’ comment in the next day or two as it brings up issues that concern many people. I also have a couple of people interested in doing a guest blog, and I hope to get those going in the next week or so. So, if you are reading this and have an opinion, please let me know. You can comment or you can email me with your guest blog. Please include a way for me to easily contact you for any questions or clarifications. My email is ktrauger@rof.net. I would love to hear from some more of the Citizens to Save Grand Avenue. I encourage others to continue to bring issues that cause trepidation to this forum. I would be especially interested in hearing from business owners along Grand that will be most impacted by the bridge and/or the access control plan. Sandy Boyd, co-owner of Glenwood Sew had a great letter to the editor in the Glenwood Post Independent today. As a young advertising rep for the, Glenwood Post, I remember hearing this discussion from the business community in the late 1970’s and 1980’s. Some wanted a “bypass” and some were adamantly against it.

For those of you who really would like to see a bypass/alternate route, please give me some information. Where would it come from? Would it be from exit 114 (West Glenwood) or exit 116 (the main Glenwood exit)? Would it be down Midland, the Rail Corridor (along the east side of the Roaring Fork River) or in anothe location? Who have you talked to about your vision? CDOT? Council? or is the group Citizens to Save Grand Avenue planning to present a plan? Have you considered how to get this vision into the STIP (Statewide Transportation Improvement Program) for funding? Right now, I have more questions than answers, but I will keep asking and I hope folks will keep talking!