I've spent a great deal of time this past year thinking about Fresno, Clovis, and the communities that make up these two great cities.
Building communities in a city isn't always the easiest thing to do, whether through civic leaders, politicians, or the general population. Still, I will say Fresno and Clovis have done a great job in doing just that.
Fresno and Clovis are full of diversity, and I believe that's what makes these communities thrive.
Lately, I've been reading different takes on what makes a community more robust and more engaged, especially since we are coming out of the pandemic.
I found constant in all of the articles I read that a community isn't just about people helping people. Communities thrive because of economic factors, environmental issues, and, most importantly, how we help each other.
The obvious question I heard from some of the communities I interviewed in Fresno and Clovis was how we could affect economic factors that we can't control.
Water purification, drought conditions, air pollution, and other environmental factors take an absorbent amount of funding to fix. How can we help with that was community members concerns.
The community members I interviewed all had great ideas, but acting on them has caused other community issues.
When writing to a local politician or board member of a county agency and complaining, things would happen within the community, like more minor issues not getting resolved due to more significant issues.
That kind of response caused one community to back off and shut up and take the heat.
In this case, it made for confrontations within the community that didn't make it worth trying and fixing things.
Another larger community offered to help with the expenses of cleaning up a water issue only to get denied and told to stay out of the agency's dealings.
This negativity doesn't help build community engagement with county agencies as much as turn the population against them.
It raises the question, how do we help or make positive changes in our community?
With the drought almost in full swing, we are now on a watering schedule based on our address.
This causes distress for many community members who live for their lawns, gardens, and recreational fun like letting the kids play on a hot day under a sprinkler.
We're in a drought and going through some scorching days now, and running under a sprinkler when you don't have a pool is a beautiful idea, even for grownups.
But, doing that on a day when you are not allowed to water, but temps are over 100 degrees can cost you plenty in fines. Is it worth it? For some, that's a huge yes!
During this time, watering your trees is extremely important to keep the balance of nature working correctly in our neighborhoods. Still, again there are some severe fines for keeping our environment moving forward.
Trees are significant long-term investments for communities and their future growth.
They help with noise and air pollution. Trees provide habitats for local wildlife. Trees also help cool the areas around them and make for a better living environment for community members. Of course, all of this is at a cost on non-watering days.
Granted, during droughts, we need to turn our water usage down, but at what cost? It's one thing to lose your lawn to drought, but our trees are the lifeblood for our communities and should be saved.
In the end, it's up to us, the community members, to make things work. It's up to us to speak up and out to protect our cities, environment, and way of life.