‘We’re stronger when we work together’

Two moms striving for a better community find common ground in event center proposal

Backer of community center throws support behind event center after healthy debate

By Andreya Krieves

Raising a family in Grand Junction is a privilege. My two young sons will grow up experiencing the outdoors as a part of their everyday life and in a place where residents are involved in developing their community.

My kids get to see that if there is something here that people don’t like, then people stand up together and work to make it better. I’m excited that they’ll learn that such involvement is not just a privilege, but also an opportunity and a responsibility that those who live here take seriously. Here, we can be catalysts for improvement as long as we’re willing to step up and do it.

It was with this spirit of involvement that I became an active member of PLACE (People for Local Activities and Community Enrichment). This is the group of residents trying to bring a community center to Grand Junction. I volunteered because I’d love to see a place where my boys, our neighbors, parents, and grandparents can go and connect with one another, to move, learn, and play together. 

With these lofty goals of involvement, togetherness, and community, I must admit that I felt nervous, even skeptical, when the event center started getting lots of attention. I was worried that if the group involved in bringing an event center was successful, that people wouldn’t still be willing to support a community center.  

Then, PLACE met with the residents in the event center group. We asked questions, we shared our concerns, and had an open-minded conversation about goals for our hometown. We left the meeting and went back to our corner to discuss and debate some more.  These are the trappings of a healthy community discussion: listening, questioning, and debating. 

It turns out the two groups have a lot in common. Members of both are working to improve our community, and volunteering their time to rally neighbors behind the creation of places for people to come together. We all recognize that we’d also like to have well-funded schools and feel safe in our community. Support or success for one effort shouldn’t mean the failure of another. We are stronger when we work together — we have greater resources, access to ideas and expertise, and we are better equipped to deal with challenges as they arise. Ultimately, PLACE decided to support the events center, but more importantly, to support the many efforts from our neighbors out there who are working and volunteering for the good of the whole community.

I am thankful for all the efforts to improve our city and for the people behind them. It’s time we come together as a community and support one another. And if we disagree on how to do it, then I hope that we will collectively agree to listen, discuss, and debate with open minds. We have that opportunity this weekend at an open town hall discussion today (Sunday) from 4-6 p.m. at the Avalon. The event center and community center teams will be there and eager to meet you.

Let’s make it happen together.

Andreya Krieves is a member of PLACE.

Rec center, other amenities hinge on community approving ‘income-generator’

By Jodi Niernberg

I remember the day clearly; the usual western Colorado sun was shining while I was running with a friend. We pushed our young sons in strollers and talked about usual mom stuff. But this time, we also discussed the proposed event center and community center efforts.

I support the event center. My friend is a community center advocate. Some view the two projects in competition, an “either or” scenario. We smiled at the fact that many assume we are on opposites sides — rivals for the same money. But we have so much in common, wanting similar things for our families and wanting the best for our community.

As we ran, we debated the merits of our own particular project. I know city residents want and need a community center. I also know that such quality-of-life projects require city funds for construction and operations, just like a park. Unfortunately, the sad but common city response is, “we just don’t have the money.”

How can I help my friend and others in the community who want a community center to preserve the quality of life we all seek and our children deserve? I chose to help by fighting for an income-generating project. An event center brings money into our economy, mostly from non-city residents. We must have the foresight to support income-generating projects so such projects can strengthen the city’s economy and become a magnet for out-of-town visitors, spending money and generating city tax dollars. Only then will the city “say yes” to Grand Junction’s desire for quality-of-life projects without sacrificing funding needed for police, fire, roads, etc.

Even though my friend and I work for different projects, we work for the same cause and same goal — a better place for us and our children to call home. Without income-generating projects, quality-of-life projects suffer. So does our quality of life. We need to change pessimism to optimism. We need to work toward changing the historic Grand Junction narrative from “no” to “yes.” We can have it all — we just need to start believing in ourselves and saying “yes.” I truly feel the “yes movement” will be contagious. It just needs to start and now is that time.

I hope your vote is “yes” for the event center and thus support for a community center.

Jodi Niernberg is a member of the committee pushing for passage of Referred Measure 2A.


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