Civic Engagement: Vail Style
Last month I acknowledged some of the many civic organizations that are committed to making ours a better community.
Civic engagement has been of interest to me since I researched it as part of a larger dissertation (unfinished). French author and political theorist, Alexis De Tocqueville, noted back in the 1830’s that democracy worked in America due to the propensity of Americans to develop civic associations. These associations, and the volunteerism inspired by them, generate what has come to be known as a form of social capital. Specifically, when groups join together and respond to a social need, there is a distinct benefit provided to the community. Robert Putnam, authored a significant book called, Making Democracy Work: Civic Traditions in Modern Italy. In this work, Putnam concluded that civic involvement alone can bring significant benefits, financial and otherwise, to a community. In other words, a universal wealth which benefits us all.
Our area has a strong sense of community and participation in civic involvement. Small, seemingly unrelated actions and events indicate this to me. For instance, there is the example of how our community came together in response to several tragic events, and the subsequent spiritual and financial support that assisted those in need (page 7). Or how graduating seniors had their trip disrupted, but because Culver’s, Pizza Hut and local donors came to the rescue, the trip was able to take place after all (page 5). Finally, there is an act as simple as a mother with her family taking the time to clean up trash on the side of the road (page 10).
The choice to do something – small and large, recognized and unseen – is what helps build the quality of life that we all appreciate. We are grateful for the many people whose actions continue to develop our community.