Reflecting on 15 years at the chamber and how we move forward as a community
Vail Valley Partnership (VVP), a 501c(6) nonprofit organization, has been engaged in the community since the early days of Vail, starting in 1964 as the Vail Resort Association. It is an honor to play a role in fostering regional economic vitality through our role as the chamber of commerce.
I recently read a brief story that serves as a parable that anyone can likely relate to, which caused me to reflect on my 15+ year tenure at Vail Valley Partnership (VVP) and the changes that our community and our organization have seen over that time. It is human nature to jump to the next project and look forward to what’s next rather than looking back and learning from our past experiences. This story caused me to reflect a bit.
The story follows: “During my sophomore year in college—my first time living anywhere that wasn’t my parent’s house, my car, or school dorms—my roommates and I noticed that the dryer at our place wasn’t working anymore. As an obsessive 20-year-old, I could have given you a blow-by-blow beta on my latest passion project. But I had no idea what was up with the dryer, so I rang my dad, who told me to call a repairman. The repairman showed up, opened the closet door to the stacked unit, peered inside, and then gave me a look.
“Do you know what a lint trap is, son?” he asked.
“Uh, a what…?” I said.
“A lint trap—where all the lint from your clothes goes,” he said. “Well, yours is overflowing. Badly. You need to clean it each time use the dryer.” With that, he began to pull out fistfuls of lint, stuffing them in a trash sack. Then he handed me the bill.
Sure, I could have saved $90 by cleaning the lint trap myself, but I had no idea that this “lint trap” existed nor that it needed regular cleaning, because, well, someone else had always cleaned the trap. I didn’t know what I didn’t know.”
This story shows that the solution is often easy and rather common sense, but the fact is you don’t know what you don’t know until you either figure things out yourself or someone more experienced shows you the way.
With that, I’d like to offer a few simple things that aren’t so simple that resonate with me as I look back on the past 15 years I’ve spent at the chamber and look forward to the opportunities ahead of us in the next 15 years.
Change takes time, but as Ferris Bueller says, “life comes at you fast”. Individuals, organizations, and communities need to build the foundation to allow for successful adaptation to the change that is inevitable. Community resiliency is an intentional effort and the choices we make today will define us in the future.
Government is not always the problem and conversely is not always the solution. Good government invests in the health of its community. A poor government often ensues from a lack of transparency and accountability. Government should be a responsible partner in solving community issues, but they cannot do it alone.
Team spirit matters in organizations and communities. There are two types of people: those that tear a community apart and those that can build it up. It is important to continue to find ways to build our community.
Eagle County is a remarkable place, with real challenges. How we tackle these challenges (housing, transit, mental health, early childhood, and workforce) will define our long-term future.
Chris Romer is president & CEO of Vail Valley Partnership, the regional chamber of commerce. Learn more at VailValleyPartnership.com