Ray Bryars: By focusing on western Nevada County’s community, we can do better | TheUnion.com

Ray Bryars: By focusing on western Nevada County’s community, we can do better

The headline on the Oct. 28 article in The Union by Gil Mathew caught my eye: “What can we do to ensure our economic prosperity?”

Who would not be intrigued to find the answer to this one?

Well I hate to disappoint you, but after some discussion about comments from Senior Economist Dr. Christopher Thornberg at the ERC annual Economic Summit, there was no answer to the question. Dr. Thornberg suggested that until we ask the right questions we will never receive the right answers.

Well now, didn’t we learn this in grade school?

I don’t have a PhD, but I do have the ability to “observe” and to consider where our community might benefit from some changes. I do think that “community” should be top of mind when any economic decisions are made and I see good things happening that give me confidence that we can make the changes we need to make to benefit us all.

First I’ll point to all the great things that the City of Grass Valley is doing to improve community parks, add trails and make walkable, bikeable streets that contribute to a family focused environment. We can also laud the business owners and master gardeners for their great work in making Grass Valley’s downtown an attractive and truly great place to spend time.

Nevada City is right up there with their support of sidewalk improvements, maintaining parks and adding trails — Sugarloaf trail coming soon — yeah.

So where might the community benefit from other changes?

Here’s the observations of this community senior: As time goes by I notice more and more seniors are aging out of their homes. Often the husband or wife, usually the husband, passes on or loses their ability to maintain their property. I see this in my volunteer activities where seniors are property rich, but cash poor. So poor that they qualify for assistance with daily needs such as food and fuel.

An Other Voices column on Nov. 1 by Mary McClain highlighted the situation for medically frail residents during the recent power outages. Many had no heat and if they needed oxygen had to hope that they had a cylinder available. Some did not have family or friends available to help with their needs. I believe our community can do better.

So here’s where the “observations” turn into “opportunities” that may just make us more economically prosperous. Not that it’s all about the money, but a healthier community could result.

We have a large number of seniors living in homes they can’t afford to maintain, often living alone, requiring assistance from social programs funded by non-profits and taxpayers. Is there a better way? Maybe — could there be state or county programs that would help families to make better housing decisions so they can move to more appropriate accommodation at an earlier point in their lives that could potentially provide a better quality of life in their later years?

Many seniors live alone in three or four bedroom homes, while young growing families live in cramped accommodation. Finding a way to free up existing homes could be a win-win for the community and the economy.

I wish I were smart enough to figure out how such a program could be managed, but I’m not. I did however want to put something out there to hopefully activate the brain juices of others who might pick up the thread.

So Gil, how about a future article with the headline: “How can we continue to improve the quality of life in our community?” I believe that it’s not just economic prosperity.

If we make community our focus, a better quality of life will result.

Ray Bryars lives in Nevada City.

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