October marks my first anniversary as president and CEO of the Park City Chamber/Bureau after 20 years in Sedona, Arizona, and 14 years as leading its chamber and tourism bureau. Learning about Park City, our people, culture, fantastic resources and formidable challenges is both exciting and gratifying. I’ll share a little of what I’ve learned, and I welcome your feedback.

It’s evident Park City has a great desire to protect our small-town character. The openness, willingness to help others and relaxed attitude that define our daily life also describe what makes close-knit communities so special. The undercurrent of “Aren’t we lucky to be living here?” infuses a subtle joy into daily interactions.

Nevertheless, people yearn for a deeper bond — the feeling that comes from knowing the people who run the restaurants, coffee shops, bookstores and sporting goods shops we frequent. Or when you walk down Main Street or attend an event, having plenty of chances to stop and chat with familiar faces at the booths or stores.

This is one reason behind the “Small Town Stories” we publish each week in The Park Record. The series introduces you to people you may see all the time but haven’t met. For example, did you know Erica and Randy Winzeler of Atticus Coffee and Teahouse met as guides on the Green River? Or that Ronnie Stout’s family (of Ritual Chocolate) ran a Salt Lake City confectionary more than 100 years ago? The stories give you context that (I hope) helps you start a conversation the next time you stop in. You can read all our Small Town Stories on our blog at parkcitychamber.com.

I learned Parkites are dedicated to a sustainable life to assure future generations an unspoiled environment, stable climate and strong economy. We are helping drive that mission, launching a process to produce a sustainable tourism plan. The focus on tourism will complement the community’s “Vision 2020” sustainability initiatives and the support of Summit County leaders, including the Chamber/Bureau board, for the Utah Climate and Clean Air Compact, will not only help the planet but aid vulnerable ski and tourism communities. We’ve contracted with the Global Sustainable Tourism Council to assess Park City’s status based on more than three dozen sustainability criteria. We will soon take the results public and lead conversations on creating a sustainable tourism industry — including a survey to assure comprehensive public input.

Parkites desire a deeper understanding of the fast-moving issues that seem to come at us from different angles every day, such as the lack of affordable housing and the shortage of workers insidiously affecting our economy and quality of life. We recently hosted a panel discussion on workforce scarcity where we heard innovative ideas, such as developing a county-wide workforce housing coalition. Our Housing Expo, co-hosted with the Park City Board of Realtors, brought together agencies that help find reasonably priced housing with hard-working people who can’t find housing they can afford. It is a heartbreaking situation to witness, and we are committed to staying involved.

I only have space to mention these three takeaways from my first year, though I can’t end without mentioning the warmth of the people who have made me feel so welcome, the mind-boggling beauty of the mountains, the thrill of the skiing and outdoor lifestyle and the sheer happiness that fills my heart waking up in Park City every day. Thank you!