I know I am not the only one glad to leave 2020 in the dust. At Sierra Business Council we talk a lot about turning challenges into opportunities, about implementing actionable steps that don’t just temporarily solve one-off problems but offer alternative ways of doing business, interacting with the environment, and existing in the Sierra to mitigate what causes those problems in the first place. As an organization, we’re proactive rather than reactive, and our goal is to build a region that is as well.
No one saw 2020 coming, though. Over the course of the last year, everyone has been asked to react to the unexpected, the unimaginable. I started my position on March 18th, just a few days after Sierra Business Council’s president instructed all employees to work from home to slow the spread of the virus. I was forwarded Steve’s email, told to come by the office for a few quick hours of onboarding and paperwork, and sent home to start working.
Almost a year later, we’re still mostly remote. I feel like I’ve spent a few short months in this role and at the same time, decades. Simple things like gathering in the break room, getting coffee with coworkers, or workplace potlucks are a thing of the past. People around me talk about returning to normal, and honestly, I can’t quite picture what that will feel like.
Looking back at 2020 with the new year laid out before us feels a lot like driving along with my eyes on the road. Every once in a while, I catch a glimpse of the view in my rearview mirror. It’s distracting, and wish I could see it better and spend time analyzing it, understanding it. Maybe even pull over and snap a photo of it. But I need to keep looking ahead, my momentum moving forward as I anticipate oncoming traffic and bends in the road and shift my eyes to what’s next.
The coronavirus pandemic irrevocably changed life in the Sierra, changed life everywhere, and there’s no denying that. But here in Truckee and in most of California, approximately one-third of our healthcare workers have access to the first if not both injections of the vaccine. My 96-year old grandma in Placerville received her first dose this month, and I am counting down the days until I can see her in person again. Hopefully, it will be a matter of months before the rest of our essential workers will receive their doses. Hopefully, business as usual will resume, and boom.
A new administration will take office in less than a week. The California legislative session is underway and SBC is optimistic about advancing our policy priorities. Our partners in climate action are building local capacity, launching community surveys in Nevada County and conducting greenhouse gas inventories in the Tahoe Basin. SBC’s forest resilience and management solutions are gaining traction, becoming even bigger priorities statewide. We are having collaborative and cross-sector conversations about sustainable recreation and the impact of COVID on tourism in the region. We’re distributing grants and loans to get the region’s businesses through winter. We’re looking at the Sierra’s region-wide vulnerabilities so that we can forecast long-term hurdles and proactive solutions.
As we focus on what we can do, on the work that’s ahead of us in the new year, let’s acknowledge that distracting and heartwrenching view we still hold in our rearview mirror. Let’s even point out that we’re not yet through a similar landscape to what we see behind us. But let’s also keep our eyes on what’s coming up down the road.