Column: An update from your local AmeriCorps volunteer | PostIndependent.com

Column: An update from your local AmeriCorps volunteer

Cathleen Anthony
Staff Photo |

Sometimes I miss how easy the teamwork is in the fast food industry. Everything is cut and dry, assembly line style — everyone with their own assigned task to master, working in tandem.

Working with the local government has been nothing like that, and let us take a moment to be thankful for it. I like to joke about the idea that this is the first job I’ve ever had where I actually have to think.

Instead of the structured outline of how to do the job, now there’s an objective to reach, and the steps on how to get to it are up to the Greater Rifle Improvement Team (GRIT) and me. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just very, very different from what I’ve done in the past.

A large part of this thinking thing involves teamwork and communication. Every single person involved with GRIT has a different idea, a different opinion, and a different perspective from everyone else around them.

You could argue that this makes way for discord and continual conflict, but you’d be surprised at some of our productive discussions. Sometimes we do go around in circles, but hey, we’re still moving.

The other day I got into an argument with a really good friend. The crux of the debate was whether the common man has the right to think and be creative, or should that be left up to only certain individuals in our society. I was somewhat horrified when my friend stated that “regretfully, you cannot ban thinking … that still doesn’t mean the common man has a right to it.”

For the record, he thinks himself better than the common man, and in my opinion, that alone undermines any point he was trying to make.

In my experience, his mindset is misinformed. New inventions, methods and techniques have been created by all sorts of individuals who looked at the exact same thing as everyone else and just saw it in a different light. That new light comes from a combination of a person’s own knowledge and experiences, and since everyone has those, we all have the potential to improve the world around us.

It is a humbling and powerful realization to accept the fact that another person has just as much perspective and potential as we do. And it’s important to recognize that and encourage it. I hope and believe that GRIT is headed in that direction.

GRIT is about collaboration, communication and teamwork. It requires all of us thinking of different strategies for the sake of the same issue. What is the best way to increase Rifle’s economic vitality? There are so many answers to that question that I don’t know where I’d begin.

The important fact, however, is that most of those answers are correct. There is no cure-all solution, no miracle pill. We’re not commissioning a painting, we’re assembling a puzzle. It’s messy and complex, but when you sit back and look at it, you can hopefully see all sorts of groups coming together with that shared goal in mind. Collaboration and widespread participation is kind of the whole point; it’s just as much about the journey as it is about the destination.

As much effort as teamwork takes, GRIT has still been involved with quite a few accomplishments in the last season. Take a look:

The new way-finding signage is up along Railroad Avenue.

Garfield County supplied the additional funding we needed for the boat ramp rebuild. With the project fully funded, construction is slated to start in September 2016.

This past season of the Rifle Farmer’s Market continued to grow on last year’s success. Did you know that the market is not only home for local food and artisan products, but also a great source for individuals participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children? We’ve even been holding a lemonade stand the past two years to raise money for SNAP beneficiaries.

The New Ute Events Center is making great strides in community events. This past season saw performances by Lukas Nelson and Tab Benoit to nearly sold-out crowds. It also has hosted multiple receptions, parties and conferences. There are a great many more public events planned, so check it out the New Ute Events Center on Facebook, or go to http://www.utetheater.com.

Take note of the shop local campaign aimed at keeping your sales tax money in Garfield County. http://www.shopgarfieldcounty.com.

Follow the Greater Rifle Improvement Team on Facebook. We also got a twitter, @GRIT_MainStreet, just to shake things up.

My email list for all our GRIT partners is more than 40 contacts and always growing. Feel free to reach out to me to volunteer, get involved, and be part of the team. GRIT teamwork may not be as clear-cut as my old fast food job, but I know that I’m pretty grateful for that. It would be a disaster if we were trying to help this city the same way I used to assemble sandwiches.

This has been your friendly neighborhood AmeriCorps volunteer. I am, literally, at your service.

Cathleen Anthony is a member of the AmeriCorps Volunteers In Service To America branch and the assistant for the Greater Rifle Improvement Team. She can be reached at 970-665-6496 and canthony@rifleco.org.


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