I grew up in Golden. As a kid from Golden’s “north-side” of town, I can tell you a few interesting facts We kids had lots of opportunities to find innocent mischief. We had so many adventures …
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I grew up in Golden. As a kid from Golden’s “north-side” of town, I can tell you a few interesting facts
We kids had lots of opportunities to find innocent mischief. We had so many adventures in just a few block radii from where we were students in the historic Mitchell Elementary on 12th Street, to the “Five and Dime” store and Foss on Washington Avenue, to the Golden Recreation Center (now the Golden Library) and along the creek.
Golden was just small enough to know we were safe and know we’d turn out just fine even though we were latch-key “free range” kids.
We knew that our local community members looked out for each other.
After graduating Golden High School in ‘94 I was so excited to leave my quaint hometown to explore the world. Before long I had travelled internationally and lived coast to coast. What I can tell you from this experience is that moving away made me appreciate Golden so much more, leading my husband (also a Golden-native) and I to scamper back here 15 years later to raise our three kids and support our aging parents.
Since moving back to our hometown, what I can tell you is that I still wake up each morning feeling grateful to begin my day with my family safe and sound, surrounded by the beauty of Golden, the people that make it special, and my work day serving the mission of the Golden Civic Foundation. My hopes are that my kids feel the same type of civic responsibility, connection and pride to their community just as my civic-minded parents taught me to feel growing up in Golden.
Now fast forward to a crazy 2020 ... one of my close friends and colleagues nailed it when he said that the “high tide” of good times over the past few years has allowed us to coast along; so much so that we’ve let down our guard with things going so well. Now that we see this past year’s “low tide,” some of the sharp rocks are surfacing.
Part of my job, mixed with my passion for Golden, is to really keep my ear to the ground. I am fortunate to have multi-textured connections here not only to the folks that were my family and close friends growing up in Golden but also to my newer connections with government, nonprofits and businesses. What I can tell you is that a recent trend lately is community members asking me: “Do you feel like Golden is changing?”
It is important that, as a community, we talk about the “elephant in the room.” Having spent countless hours talking with a wide-range of community members, I can solidly say that the answer is “YES, Golden is changing!” That said, change is okay, normal though not always comfortable. In talking about change, I think it’s important to keep the following points in mind:
1. The character of Golden was built from the “roll up your sleeves” attitude of self-reliance, integrity and the importance of community. We come together and do whatever it takes because we believe in our community, its members and its pioneering spirit.
2. We should rely on the knowledge of our Golden elders to be our mentors. While we may think we know better than the “old-folks,” their inherent historical knowledge is solid, proven and well-earned. We should embrace our “elder knowledge” whenever we can through story-telling and lessons learned for both present and future generations.
3. We’ll get through the peaks and valleys. We’ve done it before and we’ll do it again. I’m confident of that.
All this said, what I would challenge all of us is to be critical thinkers – not just assume a position on a topic because it’s the most “shiny object” on Facebook, NextDoor or elsewhere. I challenge you to really read between the lines on some of our most important community decisions. Now more than ever, the most important thing we can do is elevate each other and create a community-centric environment for locals to sustain, enhance and revitalize the very reason we all moved to Golden in the first place.
There are several ways to do that.
Get involved in Golden! One of my very close mentors, Marv Kay, states it so well that “Volunteerism is the price you pay for the space you occupy.” We are a very fortunate community that there are endless opportunities for individual efforts that can truly make an impact for our families now and in future generations.
Watch and question the agenda items that come forth to City Council. If you agree or disagree, our City Councilors’ jobs are to represent their constituents, not just the squeakiest wheels that will publish something publicly on social media.
Be kind to one another and lead by doing. It’s a very stressful world out there right now and it’s easy to say hurtful things especially where there are so many platforms on which to do it. Before you dash off a comment, I would challenge you to take a deep breath. You may disagree and think that it’s important to dictate to others of what they should think or believe. But in the end, we’re a special community, and it’s okay to have a difference of opinion. A community that can politely discuss, debate and embrace their differences is the reason that we all moved to this special, welcoming small-town community in the first place.
Golden is a special place. Period. Please embrace this message and act in the best interest of what is for the good for Golden.
Heather Hahn Schneider is the Executive Director of the Golden Civic Foundation.
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