Just this morning, while out for my usual walk, I ran into the crew taking down trees in the Xcel right-of-way on our property. Turns out, the crew boss lives in Conifer. I should not be admitting this, but he and I burned at least 15 minutes of rate payor time going on about what a wonderful ride it’s been living in this mountain community for the last 40 years.

We got caught up on the places we each have lived, why we moved here, working at Martin Marietta, and Steve Lichen. Neither of us have seen Steve in quite a while and hope he is doing well. Steve was the kind of guy
who left a trail of funny stories behind him. He just couldn’t help himself.

We went on about our days without ever exchanging names. Oh, well. We’ll probably never see each other again… or we could run into each other in Safeway tomorrow. What really mattered was enjoying one of the perks of being a longtime member of a community… immediately bonding with a total stranger.

To be honest, Holly and I have tossed around the idea of moving to Montana in search of a small town, that today might be like Evergreen was 40 years ago. We’ve even talked to friends about how fun it would be to all go together! Yes! However, the talk always ends up with the same question, “Do we really want to start over again?”

The rewards that can come with being a longtime member of a community must be earned. The rewards are not a right. Earning them takes a lot of work, dedication and patience. It’s not a simple matter of getting to know a lot of people, although that can achieve the “Cheers” atmosphere most of us crave.

The real rewards come from contributing and genuinely caring about your community. Contributing can take many forms such as volunteering, serving on boards, teaching, running a successful business, or simply being a good steward of the land you own. In short, you have to pay your dues.

Holly and I think we have learned lessons from bad examples here in Evergreen. We would use these lessons getting started in “New Town Evergreen” in Montana. First of all, we would use a lot of patience in getting to understand the new local landscape. So, it would be important to spend time just watching. We would try and figure out who the players are and where not to trample on local feet. We would try and accept what our new community needs as not necessarily what we want to provide.

We have seen too many bulldogs show up in Evergreen and immediately start pushing their vision of what Evergreen should be. Then, when they run into a cold reception, they leave town as fast as they blew in.

So, do we want to start over? Probably not. Sure, it would be nice to have a few less traffic lights, a few less people, and a few more people who believe as we do. However, this morning reminded me that what we have
here now is an awfully nice way to live.