TRYP Column: Tahoe’s Flood of Civic Engagement

 In TRYP Members in the News

By Troy Matthews. Printed in Tahoe Daily Tribune, March 8, 2107

I think it would be an understatement to say the last couple months have been interesting. For all the complaints about 2016, from weather to politics 2017 has roared in with a fury that won’t be denied or forgotten.

As a relative newcomer to Tahoe, I can say that I think I now understand winter. Taking two hours to dig out of my driveway and then still having to go to work and be productive has been an education. Having a sump pump break in the middle of a flood has been an education. And seeing the overwhelming Tahoe community response to come together and help each other out has been the most inspiring.

Now I understand why people care about each other so much here; why we are such a giving community. We have to be. Sometimes it’s just us, on our own. My neighbors have helped me through this winter without a moment’s hesitation. The city and county staff who worked non-stop for days to plow our roads and kept this town functioning have been heroic. A special shout out to the maintenance staff of the Lake Tahoe Unified School District for how they have performed this winter to keep our schools safe.

Winter will show the character of a people. Dark days bring out the best in us.

This is also true in politics. I have always believed that the enemy of democracy is complacency. Whatever side of the political spectrum you align with, it is far more important to get involved and make a stand, than just to sit back and complain about a rigged system.

The flood of community engagement over the last months has been as overwhelming as the weather. Tahoe people are showing up and applying for city commissions and for boards. Tahoe people are writing letters to the editor and speaking up during public comments at City Council. Tahoe people are running for office and starting grassroots organizations and working together to be the change. Tahoe people are engaged. Let’s keep it up. Sometimes it takes a winter to show people who they are and what they are made of. The test is: Do we let that spirit subside when the sun comes out again?

I am honored to be the new director of civic engagement for the Tahoe Regional Young Professionals (TRYP). In taking this position, I was worried that 2017 would see a lag in civic engagement due to it not being an election year. My fears in that regard have all but subsided.

Over the next few months, TRYP Civic Engagement will continue our Tahoe Town Hall series to engage in a community dialogue about some of our most pressing issues. We will be out in the community in hopes of educating and engaging our young professionals, and Tahoe locals of all stripes. As always, the issue that is most important to you is the issue that is the most important to us. So let us know what you want to talk about.

The passion of Tahoe is inspiring. Let’s keep the conversation going.

Troy Matthews is the director of civic engagement for the Tahoe Regional Young Professionals (TRYP). He serves on the Lake Tahoe Unified School District Board of Education. To contact Troy regarding a Civic Engagement topic, question or discussion, please email TahoeTRYP@gmail.com.

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