Embrace the future

There’s been some discussion among the movers and shakers in Northern Nevada: What’s the next big thing? We’ve asked this question more times than we can count in this newspaper.

Well, there are things we first need to recognize in order for our community to move forward: Gambling and construction are over for a while. They may return, particularly if the community moves beyond them for the short term, but they’re gone for a while.

That’s not necessarily to say the tourist economy is gone, although again, it’s going to suffer.

When movers and shakers analyze where this city needs to go, they and we need to recognize what brings people here now, and not just to visit, but to live. What do Reno and Sparks have that make this community unique? It’s those qualities that will lead us and our standard of living into the next century. We get to decide, but eventually we have to commit to an idea or a variety of ideas as a community.

How about a list of things that have brought us here: 24-hour lifestyle; friendly people (due to, in part, our service industry); temperate weather; access to mountains, lakes and deserts; winter and summer outdoor recreation; educational opportunities; retirement lifestyle; jobs.

Jobs. Again, the jobs the largest numbers of people came to Reno for were the jobs provided by the gambling and construction industries. The people who came for these jobs will leave with their failure. One family at a time.

The other side of the coin of what makes people come to stay is, what makes people who were born here—talented and driven people—leave?

Inevitably, their reasons for leaving fall under the umbrella of “better opportunities elsewhere.” Think about all the young people in your own life who left town. Wasn’t it often for better cultural prospects elsewhere? Maybe better educational opportunities, but it’s even rarer that they leave with a solid plan for more money.

So, what do the great minds in the editorial department of the RN&R think is the answer? Our answer is a question. If the various governments, churches, businesses, nonprofits and citizens ask themselves this question before taking action on any topic, this region will move forward.

The question is this: Does this decision improve the cultural life of people who already live here?

That means, particularly, government must stop using citizen’s money to enhance tourism and construction, and use our money to make the community a better place to live: Change the requirements for cabaret licenses. Stop charging fees for cultural events in the parks. Build performing arts spaces throughout the city. Enhance access to natural wonders instead of allowing private ownership to cut it off. Give tax breaks to businesses that display art. Give tax breaks to businesses that employ local musicians. Public art commissions should go to local artists for local art.

If the Truckee Meadows wants to become a place people will want to visit, it must become a place people want to live. It’s a reassignment of priorities by the powers that be, and if we build a community creative and active people love when they’re off work, the industrial and business opportunities will follow.