We posed the question, ‘Why Is It So Flippin’ Hard to Live in Tahoe-Truckee… And what are you doing about it?’ A bunch of you answered. Many Kudos and Thank You! To whittle the pile down, Moonshine staff sorted and selected the top 10. A panel of five (unpaid) judges read these and chose the winners…. Congratulations to our Grand Prize winner Beth Ingalls! And the Runner Up Regina Curry! Congratulations ladies, you done good! (Several of the judges suggested we hire you.) Please enjoy reading their eloquent entries. Also see the Honorable Mention entry from Mark Kircher.
Bit by Bit
When I first read the headline for the writers contest, it made me grin. It was as if someone had finally addressed the elephant sitting in the middle of the room. It’s difficult to live here, everybody knows it, yet people don’t seem all that inclined to talk about it. You simply find yourself with a group of people one day, asking, ‘hey, where’s so and so, I haven’t seen them in a while,’ only to find out they up and moved to Reno or Auburn or someplace where they have a fighting chance of making ends meet. It’s sad, but then you and your friends pause, as if taking a moment of silence regretting the loss of yet another who succumbed to the harsh economic life of the Tahoe Truckee region. This place has a way of breaking you down.
It’s no secret we are not a self-sufficient economy. Locals don’t create the economy, it is created by external forces, therefore making us dependent upon tourism. Similar to other resort towns, we have failed to create a sustainable market for ourselves – the very people that live here each day. Our housing prices are through the roof and building codes and permits are so stringent and costly, few can afford to build even a modest home. As housing prices continue to increase, more and more locals get pushed out. Affordable housing is scarce and even then you’re sadly labeled as ‘pitiable’ and nobody wants you living next to them anyway since you are now the reason their home has decreased in value. Most businesses, both public and private, provide wages that are incomparable to urban areas and rarely offer benefits. Daycare is virtually non-existent compared to most cities, and what is available is so expensive one hardly breaks even after working all month. Local restaurants and retailers charge exorbitant prices for food and clothing without placing a high enough emphasis on exceptional customer service or employee retention.
Living here is hard, no doubt about it. Just think about the two sets of tires we all need for our cars (studded and regular), snow removal, driveway sealing, roof shoveling, double pained windows, re-staining your house every two years, replacing one’s windshield every summer, shoveling your driveway and walkway, bears in your garbage, ordering wood for your wood stove or paying the gas bill for your gas stove.
I know I make this town better by living here. I refuse to move away simply because my money could go further in another town. I continue to buy locally, hire locally and I’m a good neighbor and friend. I make others feel special every day because I’m blessed to share this beautiful town with them. I don’t believe this area will achieve greatness and some sense of equality with one big overhaul. It becomes great when a lot of people do a lot of little things well, over and over. I will continue to do my part….want to join me?