It’s time for us to rethink Ridgcrest

Guest Editorial

It’s time for us to rethink RidgcrestIn the winter of 2021, as a community we kept getting teased by the weather report saying we would get snow in Ridgecrest. My family was hopeful and addicted to hearing Alexa give us the most recent weather update. I however, sat through all of winter with the “realist” perspective, and was quick to say - no. No, it wasn’t going to snow. It snowed just two years before, and it wasn’t going to snow in Ridgecrest.

By March, I found what started as a contrarian joke, taking on the realist perspective, had shifted my whole outlook. I was discouraged. I was saying no all the time and it seemed to be my static mantra that winter. So, when the weather report began to indicate that it might snow on my birthday in March, I decided I would change my perspective. I would hold and proclaim the “it’s gonna snow on my birthday” excitement.

That March, I found myself in a position where I needed to rethink what I was clinging to, it’s impact on my family, my work, and my general outlook on life.

I’m the Executive Director at the Ridgecrest Chamber of Commerce. If you’ve heard me talk about the Chamber or seen any of our social media posts, you’ve probably come across the statement: Building Community Strengthening the Economy. This simple statement is drawn from our mission. For over 75years the Ridgecrest Chamber has championed these through our community and small businesses.

Regarding strengthening the economy, the Chamber has provided important information throughout the recent earthquakes and pandemic to our local businesses. For 35 years we have hosted the Economic Outlook Conference. And just this past February brought 14 leaders from our community to share about their particular industries and experiences along with an economist who reviews the national, state, and local dynamics impacting Ridgecrest.

But in the 21st century, what does it mean to build community?

Coming out of Covid restrictions this seems like an important question and a difficult task to undertake. How do we bring people with diverse backgrounds and perspectives together? How do we inspire one another to come together when division seems easier?

I have recently been reading a book titled Think Again by Adam Grant. In it he encourages us, his readers to think again how we are approaching a wide range of ideas and topics and understanding the power of knowing what we don’t know.

One of the key questions I keep hearing Grant ask is in regards to our willingness to learn from others and rethink our long-held positions.

Grant encourages us to look at life, at all of our positions, as scientists. Scientists are willing to evaluate everything, even the things one holds dear and true. A scientist does not cling to outdated information but is willing to run the test again. A scientist rethinks the angles and is willing to investigate from a new direction.

Historically the Chamber has brought business professionals from all industries together. They network. They rub shoulders. They get to know one another. We still do this. We host luncheons, conferences, and other networking gatherings.

When I first assumed my responsibilities here, I spoke with one of our seasoned members about the connections that used to take place. I learned there were industry specific small group breakouts. While competition sometimes builds animosity, these individuals were seeking to support one another.

I wonder, in our current climate, what does building community look like? Are we willing to learn from one another? Are we strong enough to quiet ourselves and listen? Are we willing to rethink our positions?

A few months ago, the Chamber partnered with the Hospital for a “Come Together Tuesday.” I was invited to share a few things, and one element that I remember was about the opportunity to come together as one community.

Building community does not ask one to forgo beliefs and perspectives. Rather it is an opportunity to recognize our deep need for one another.

When we build community, when we come together, we position ourselves to recognize our reliance upon all who live and work in Ridgecrest. This includes the service workers at the hospital. It includes our frontline workers who put their lives on the line – day in and day out. It includes our teachers who faithfully care for the next generation. It includes those who sustain our restaurants, hotels, and shops.

When guidelines and mandates are instituted, whether we agree with the decisions or not,

When we feel frustrated, which we all have at different times throughout this season,

I hope we can slow down, rethink, and remember that Ridgecrest Rocks!

Throughout this season, in order to build up our community, we must remember our neighbors, the teachers, nurses, waiters & waitresses, are doing the best they can in the midst of a difficult season. In order to build community, we must each day extend grace. We must listen. We must be humble. We must rethink what we know and how we interact with our neighbors.

Grant tells us we must think again.

Sometimes, thinking again, is returning back to what we already know. My kids have gone through our Sierra Sands School District where they were introduced to Character Counts and the six pillars of character; Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring, Citizenship.

Perhaps these six pillars of character are precisely the rethinking we need as we live life together. These principles are not merely for children, but for every one of us who longs to see a better world.

In this polarizing time, where it is easy to dig our feet in and point fingers, let’s bridge the gap and remember how great our country and community are. Let’s remember how supportive our neighbors have been. Let’s rethink what it means to build community.

Throughout the winter of 2021 I held on to the mentality that it wasn’t going to snow in Ridgecrest. Then I was convicted as I felt discouragement blanket my outlook. But in March, I intentionally shifted my perspective. With excitement I declared “it’s gonna snow on my birthday.” My kids laughed. They had their hopes crushed all winter. They in turn asked, “why would it now snow on your birthday?”

Well, let me tell you, on March 11, 2021 it did snow in Ridgecrest! It didn’t stick, but the snow fell. We laughed, we called friends, and we jumped in the car to chase it around town.

I think building community is a lot like this. Building community takes hope. And sometimes building community requires us to rethink.

So, I leave you with this one thought. Are you ready to join me in building community?

Tim Smith, Executive Director Ridgecrest Chamber of Commerce

Story First Published: 2022-03-11