Have faith in Chico

Don’t entrench—reach out

In her Guest Comment, Chicoan Nikki Schlaishunt offers the community a refreshingly hopeful perspective on the current recession and the fears it has induced. Money, she says, should of course be saved for the future, but it also should be spent in the present—purposefully, joyfully—as a profession of openness and a desire to communicate with and help out our fellow citizens. As she puts it, “An open hand allows us to unite, and united we are stronger.”

This is true everywhere, but nowhere more so than in Chico, where we have it pretty darned good, despite the hard times. The local economy isn’t invulnerable to a recession, but it can’t be ruined by one, either. With Butte County’s $500 million farming sector as its base, the area is broadly diversified, with such strong and relatively stable institutions as Chico State University and Enloe Medical Center providing additional solidity. Meanwhile, we’ve been largely spared the economic meltdown caused by foreclosures, thanks to the city’s careful planning and smart-growth policies.

That’s not to say we don’t, and won’t, feel any pain. There have been, and will continue to be, layoffs in virtually every sector, with the possible exception of health care. Our hope is that these can be avoided as much as possible via a collective effort to share the hurt.

City workers set a good example when they agreed to accept less pay across the board in order to forestall massive cuts and job losses. The rest of us—whether in private enterprise, education or government; whether owners, managers or employees—should try to support each other by working out similar arrangements when the alternative is so dire.

Most of all, we should remain optimistic and unafraid. If the recession encourages us to save more, fine. Americans certainly need to save more. But right now we also need to “let it flow,” as Nikki Schlaishunt urges. If we let fear keep us from spending any money, our local economy will only get worse, and more people’s livelihoods will be threatened. None of us want that to happen.

Have faith in Chico. It’s a great place to live, in good times and hard times.