It hurts my heart to watch families and individuals with long histories in our valley, who have a sense of place and have contributed to the fabric of our communities, leave for financial or social reasons. They have sweated, built relationships, and defended this amazing land and its special character. This valley is far more than a private playground.

Remember our extraordinary selflessness and courage moving animals and people to safety when dangerous wildfires charged down on us? How we have expressed immense gratitude to our first responders? Remember how often we hold fundraisers or volunteer for those struggling with health or financial crises? How we appreciate our healthcare providers during this pandemic? This valley shines in the face of adversity.

If we can’t help our workers, employers, teachers, or first responders, who are we?

Like many, I have a resume full of numerous service jobs over my 35 years here. It is a struggle. However, this is an opportunity to embrace our grit, kindness, and generosity. We choose to be here because our valley fills our souls, because we care deeply for each other. For those who are new to our communities, join us with a positive open mind. And for everyone, please be civil and respectful.

Sen. Michelle Stennett, D-Ketchum, represents District 26 in the Idaho Legislature.

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