Opinion: The power of connection, explained by a ‘talker’
WHY WE LIVE HERE
Free Press Opinion Columnist
Those of us with school-aged children in Mesa County’s District 51 schools sat (or maybe suffered) through parent-teacher conferences last week. I cringed through our daughter’s conference with her kindergarten teacher from my little, tiny chair as she very sweetly informed us that our daughter talked too much, not that this was a surprise.
My fairly quiet husband turned to stare at me as I mumbled something about her coming by it honestly while I attempted to tuck my knees under the table. Was it really necessary to sit at these tiny tables? I had flashbacks of report cards year after year that read, “Robin is a great student, but she does have a problem with talking in class.”
I am a talker. I can fully admit this. I, also, come by it honestly — coming from a long line of talkers. My mom, hands down, talks more than anyone I know. She is famous for getting off an airplane and telling you the life story of the complete stranger that sat next to her on the flight. It’s amazing what people will tell her. She actually got my husband his first job in Grand Junction by talking to a stranger on an airplane. True story. My dad is also absolutely the loudest person you will ever meet in your life. He doesn’t have an inside voice. So, I never had a chance.
I am, however, attempting to help the gene pool. I married a quiet man, which gives my children some hope. So far, my son seems to be taking after him, but my daughter appears to be following in my talking footsteps. We’ve had to institute “talking time-outs” with her for the past three years.
And while I may be feeling a little defensive, it’s important to recognize the power that a simple conversation can have in connecting people and building community. A simple conversation can spark a great partnership. Whether it’s a first date or a start-up business, talking creates opportunity. Multiple conversations with multiple people lead to bigger and better partnerships and opportunities. I might have a good idea, but that idea grows into something I couldn’t have imagined when I discuss it with more people.
I joke that there are really only two degrees of separation in the valley, and even that’s probably a stretch. You can easily reach anyone you want through somebody else if needed. This makes getting things done incredibly easy, and you can get away with things in the valley that would never work anywhere else. Need some media attention? Pick up the phone and call a station. Not only will someone answer, but they’ll send someone to cover your event that very evening. Want to get published? There are multiple local publications that will publish your story or article whether you have experience as a writer or not. Need to reach everybody? Put up a billboard on Patterson Avenue. I’m not kidding. Nobody is out of touch in the valley. Presidents — be they hospital, bank or university — are all easily accessible. If you can’t get a meeting with them personally, you will soon run into them in a restaurant. Just bide your time. Eventually you pass everyone at City Market.
Which makes being a talker in this community such as asset. You can easily accomplish great things by talking to people. A simple conversation with Josh and Jodi Niernberg, owners of Bin 707 Foodbar, lead to the creation of the West Slope Supper Club (a pop-up dinner party concept that promotes the Grand Valley as a food destination, while raising money for a good cause.) Josh and Jodi source much of their produce from Field to Fork CSA, owned by Jessica and Scott Washkowiak, in Palisade. Jessica and Scott host an annual hoedown harvest celebration each year for their CSA members and asked Bin 707 to cater it. The catering conversation lead to West Slope Supper Club hosting the event, as well as incorporating Mesa Land Trust as the nonprofit recipient in order to raise awareness of their mission — to save agricultural lands. Everybody wins. Multiple local chefs came together, including Nick Santos from Cafe Sol and Zane Lawson from The Cowboy and The Rose Catering, to feed more 300 guests. Kannah Creek Brewing Company, Peach Street Distillers, and Mesa Park Vineyards pitched in as well, and the result was a menu sourced entirely from Colorado; plus a whole lot of happy families were thrilled to attend an affordable, family-friendly community event that promoted our valley as a food destination, which was the original conversation that got the ball rolling.
The hoedown certainly didn’t solve the valley’s economic woes. It didn’t create new jobs or increase hotel occupancy rates. However, it did build community. Maybe it resulted in a new play-date between moms. Maybe a first date was scheduled. Maybe Mesa Land Trust got a few more volunteers, and Field to Fork got a few new members. And maybe two people discussed a new business idea that is blossoming right now.
All because a few people talked too much. It’s why we live here.
Robin Brown is the owner of West Slope Events, an event management company that promotes the Grand Valley as a great place to live, work and play. She is also part owner in West Slope Supper Club, which promotes the Grand Valley as a food destination. Share your comments with her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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