Wonderful people, safe and livable communities, an incredible lifestyle, world-class health care and a respect for and engagement with the natural environment that you don’t find in the big urban areas. I love that we can be on a river, on a slope, in the woods or in the desert in less than an hour. It’s incredible. The sense of community is also something that you just do not find in many parts of the country. It’s friendly, it’s neighborly, people get and stay involved, and there’s high impact with that community engagement. And with all of that, we also get most everything you would want in a big city without the big-city inconveniences: great schools at all levels, vibrant Downtown spaces, fantastic restaurants — and I’m just getting started!
I may be taking liberties here, but I love our annual Art in the Park event in Julia Davis Park. Every fall, I look forward to that amazing event. I have gotten in the habit of drafting my kids and piling my grandchildren into strollers (although this is getting harder and harder to do!) and spending at least the better part of a day there. Every year, there is something new to pique my interest. But I will also say that Art in the Park is a great example of what I mentioned in my first answer. It is a perfect example of community engagement and involvement, given all the partners and sponsors that join with the museum to put the event together. It’s where I see all my friends and neighbors that weekend. It’s accessible, safe, fun and just a perfect snapshot of our life here.
I’m going to recommend books in two categories.
“Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard” by Dan and Dean Heath. The Heath brothers have generated some of the best business thinking and writing in the country in recent years, I think, and with this one they have shared some very important lessons about how to address BHAGs – big, hairy, audacious goals. For me, they build on that BHAG thinking that James Collins and Jerry Porras began in 1994 with “Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies.” In the more than two decades since that seminal book, there has been terrific disruption in some of the biggest areas in our society: media, education and health care come to mind. The Heaths’ work is timely and insightful.
And then, anything by our incredible, Pulitzer Prize-winning neighbor Anthony Doerr! I’m a big fan.
I would develop public transit between Canyon County communities and Boise destinations, especially the airport and the Downtown area. The growth throughout the Treasure Valley is continuing, and we expect that to be a long-term pattern. The more we can connect our job centers, our population centers, our transportation centers, at this point in time, the more we can avoid some of the thornier problems we have seen in those areas that did not have this foresight. So much of this has to do with fundamental infrastructure, and we’ve got great minds at work on these challenges. It’s another area in which we will be well-served by the close, collaborative culture and trust-based relationships that we enjoy here. I’m confident we’ll find and implement the solution
The people. One way or another, most of my observations have had to do with the amazing people and the remarkable communities they have built. Families who have lived here for generations have graciously welcomed folks who have moved here from all over the country, and I will say that I have been one of those beneficiaries of the very warm welcome. And what seems to happen is that the resulting culture has carried through that gracious hospitality along with a real openness to new ideas, new ways of doing things and an appreciation for variety that you don’t see in other communities. I don’t know that everybody appreciates what we have here, and they really should.
I try to take in our natural beauty by walking on the Greenbelt and hiking in the Boise Foothills. The Boise River is awesome in every season, but I have to tell you that watching it rush by on its way, ultimately, to the Pacific Ocean after the very intense winter we’ve just experienced has put everything into perspective for me. And for an equally wonderful but very different view, watching the lupine and other wildflowers explode into color in the spring along the trails above the city will always lift my spirits and refresh my thinking. The Greek philosophers may have been the first to note that we can’t step twice into the same river; I think of that in terms of our natural environment, which seems to change every minute!
The Idaho Botanical Garden. Incredible. Every time I visit, I find some new plant, some newly planted area, some new feature. The concerts, the spring bird and wildflower walks, the classes and events all just add to the variety there.
The Spirit of Boise Balloon Classic. A late-summer must. It’s hard to know which is better, the balloons or the kids’ faces as they watch the balloons!
The Idaho Shakespeare Festival and Gala. Every year is better than the last. How is that even possible?
So those are standing favorites. Also on my favorites list, but something I can bring to all the others, is the egg salad sandwich at the Roosevelt Market. I am not kidding around here! This is a magical sandwich, seriously good food. I love everything about this little neighborhood store.
I’d like to think the project can help to perpetuate the spirit of inclusiveness I’ve been a part of here and that I’ve tried to express in this piece. That spirit of inclusiveness, the fact that together, we are the Treasure Valley, has really been the underpinning of the culture, I believe. And that culture, along with our natural environs, is what has driven everything else: the development of a healthy and varied economy, very reputable and successful businesses and public entities, respectful and thoughtful planning and a smart and hard-working citizenry with a shared sense of commitment to community.
Skip Oppenheimer and his family exemplify everything that is great about the Treasure Valley. Skip is a successful business owner and philanthropist who has lived a life in service to others. What he has done for our region and its residents would far exceed my allotted word limit. He has approached all his endeavors from a position of community-mindedness. But it’s not just Skip. The entire family, in all directions (siblings, parents, children, aunts, uncles) is community-minded. The Oppenheimers are incredibly smart people, but funny, charming and humble as well. It has been a real treat for me to get to know them, spend time with them and work with them in their many multiple capacities with St. Luke’s and in our community. They have built a lasting legacy in our area, and we all owe them a great deal.
St. Luke’s and the executive team appreciate our involvement with our community’s other institutions, including the Idaho Statesman. This initiative on the part of the Statesman has been a great opportunity to collaborate with the folks there and with others across the region to shine the light on all the great things going on in our area. Quite often, we don’t take time enough to focus on successes and achievements, and this effort has provided just such an opportunity!
Literacy is freedom – the freedom to learn, explore and imagine new worlds, new concepts and new ideas. Promoting education increases the well-being and health of our communities and provides new and better career options for our residents, who then give back to our communities. We also know that literacy is one of the “social determinants” of health; there are correlations between literacy, education and one’s state of health. So we can draw a pretty direct line between literacy and a better state of health. Literacy then becomes a component of community health, something for which St. Luke’s as a committed community partner is responsible. I don’t know if this is an “aha moment” so much as it is an affirmation of the value of the project and the sense of community it has reinforced.
It is so very gratifying to see the groundswell of support for the conveniences that make health and healthy experiences more accessible. I think people are really interested in health and in optimizing their own health, and that they just need community partners to lend a hand in that effort. These benches support health and healthy activity, and I’d like to think we’ll be able to position them in those neighborhoods and communities that right now might have less access to walking paths or tracks or other outlets through which physical activity might come. St. Luke’s has done a similar thing through partnerships with schools and other not-for-profit community partners; we are better together, and the benches symbolize just that.
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