Craig Press Editorial Board: The future is ours, if we’ll have it
It’s been said so many times it’s probably reached the level of cliche at this point.
Craig and Moffat County are at a crossroads in the history of this place.
Supposing that all comes to fruition, and the coal business is done here within the decade, this city is standing on the precipice of a very uncertain future.
There’s reason for concern, certainly, about the viability of a place that’s about to lose its primary local industry. But there’s surely reason to believe that the future of Craig involves some kind of forward progress, if you care to call it that. It seems likely that, as ever before, any potential bust we may or may not experience in the near future will give way to a reciprocal boom in the slightly less-near future.
What that means is extraordinarily hard to predict, though of course there are plenty trying. Whatever new industry, or, more likely, industries, plural, fill the void left by the powerplant and the mines, it or they will take a huge hand in shaping the future of our community.
This isn’t the first time. When the powerplant came to town in the 1970s, there was substantial local resistance and concern over what it might mean for the demographics and makeup of the community. It’s funny to think about now, but folks who have been here since those days will recall that as much as we’re loathing the plant’s impending departure now, this community once rued its arrival decades ago.
It’s interesting to suppose that perhaps the next step might be reviled today and revered tomorrow. It’s a reminder to keep an open mind when we survey what might be coming.
But that history is instructive in another way to our present moment. Then, as many times in the past, the future of Craig was determined in large part by external forces. People and entities coming from outside of the community made the decision for Craig what this place would become.
It’s not hard to imagine that happening again.
Whether it’s investors from Silicon Valley or Boulder or Phoenix who stumble upon our gem of a place and decide to turn it into the next big Western tourist hotspot; whether it’s this or that power player industry that decides to take advantage of the relatively affordable real estate and the soon-to-be available skilled labor force; whether it’s something we haven’t even conceived of yet — it’s easy to suppose that Craig and Moffat County could once again be pointed in a direction by powers outside of our own control.
Of course one alternative is to aggressively resist change of any kind, and, in so doing, let this place atrophy without an economy to sustain it. We don’t think that’s the answer.
Instead, we suggest that Craig take the reins.
This isn’t easy, but if we want to be in control of our own future, it’s vital.
The truth is that some of what we fear from outside influences are real concerns — from encroaching politics to engorged street traffic — and if we want to keep any of that out, we have to supply a real alternative. Otherwise, the vacuum will be filled, as ever it has.
But some change can be good. The powerplant, though decried at the time, turned out to be a vital and positive cog in Craig’s community machine for decades. It’s entirely possible that what comes next can be, too.
But the point is it should be up to us to decide. We should point the way our community travels into the new era — because if we don’t, someone else will.
And that takes involvement. It takes speaking up. It takes listening, open minds, energetic activity and active energy. It takes paying attention.
And it takes all of us.
If you love this place, we encourage you to take a hand in building it. Not every community gets an opportunity like this at a time that it can seize it. The canvas of our future is ours upon which to paint.
Let’s grab some brushes.
The Craig Press Editorial Board includes general manager Sheli Steele; editor Cuyler Meade; and community members Amy Updike, Jon Miller and Dan Davidson.
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