Brian Hamilton: Join the conversation in western Nevada County | TheUnion.com

Brian Hamilton: Join the conversation in western Nevada County

Brian Hamilton

The list reads like a "Who's Who" of western Nevada County. And, at the same time, also perhaps a "Who's Who?"

No fewer than 716 people made the list in 2018, joining what I'd like to think of as being the most-inclusive club in the community.

All it takes to become a member is to share your thoughts on these pages.

We published their names in print on Dec. 31, our annual tip of the cap to express our gratitude to those who helped further our community conversations by writing a letter to the editor or an "Other Voices" op-ed published in the past year.

But the vast majority of the ideas and opinions that fill these pages are those of concerned citizens compelled to contribute to the conversation in their community.

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As I scrolled through the names to count the number of contributors, I was struck by the familiarity of them — most all of them, in fact.

Of course, we easily recognize the names of the city council members and mayors, the supervisors, commissioners and other elected officials who often weigh in with their thoughts on issues of local interest. And the executive directors of our nonprofit organizations, as well as our civic leaders and service club members, also comprise a good chunk of the list, too.

But the vast majority of the ideas and opinions that fill these pages are those of concerned citizens compelled to contribute to the conversation in their community. And though they might not be household names, they're likely ones known by regular readers. That's because many of the 716 people on the list are regular writers, routinely seizing upon the opportunity to submit a letter or op-ed once a month. And they're most appreciated, as that's how our community forum largely remains focused on our own community.

Sure, we can spend 700 words on what's going on — or not going on, at the moment — in Washington D.C. Scrolling through your social media, you'll see no shortage of news out of our nation's capital and opportunities to offer your opinion on it, which many of us do on a regular basis. But it's the locally focused discussions that I most look forward to on these pages, as we wrestle with solutions to issues we face right here in our own backyard. There's no mistaking the level of interest in fire danger, economic development, housing and homelessness, water issues and cannabis regulations. Those are among the pillars of our newsroom's focus in covering the community, because we know how important they are and that the stories we write about them will be well read.

And we also know that further discussion of those topics on these pages only helps to offer a more well-rounded understanding of the matter at hand.

How does the news impact you? Raise your hand if you've had your fire insurance premiums hiked. Who's still using your cell phone as a hot spot because you can't get reliable internet service in our more rural areas? How many are combing through classified ads and Craigslist postings, looking for affordable options after landlords have put their rentals on the market?

Sharing your experience on these and other issues here in western Nevada County not only can help others facing similar situations — or provide a perspective to consider for those who aren't — but also might help those in power better understand the impact of their decisions and the need to consider more than their own ideology — or of those who supported their bid for office — in making them.

There are plenty of news stories ahead on all these fronts in coming weeks and months, and we hope you'll take the opportunity to share your thoughts on them in these pages, and in doing so join our list of engaged readers who help further our community conversations.

Brian Hamilton is editor at The Union. Contact him at bhamilton@theunion.com or 530-477-4249.

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