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Editorial | Ask what you can do for your city | Rich Elfers
“Plan with the end in mind.” This is one of the seven points in the book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey. I think it applies to the recent decision by voters to go with the King County Library System rather than keep control of our own library. There were two different and competing visions for Enumclaw in that close vote. Consider the two perspectives, because how Enumclaw will look 20 years from now will depend on which vision is accepted by the residents.
The vote represents democracy at its best. Both sides wanted to “save” or “keep” our library. Being the pro-statement chairman, my concern was to make sure we had a library for Enumclaw. For the con side, their concern was to keep our independence through local control of the library.
If we were both honest I’d have to say both used fear to influence the voters: fear of having no library and fear of losing local control. Both sides wanted to do what was best for the community. For the “save” side it meant moving in new untried directions, moving toward interdependence with a broader world. For the “keep” side it meant not changing the ways things have been for the past 90 years, believing by not changing we could keep Enumclaw the way it has historically always been and keep the outside world out.
The reason we, the pro side, were in favor of KCLS annexation was because we saw the world changing all around us. We believe that we either adapt to the changes on our terms or get swallowed up in urban sprawl like Bonney Lake, Maple Valley and soon Black Diamond. If we don’t plan with the end in mind, then we lose the one element that we still have, but which has all but disappeared from America’s cities – a sense of community and cooperation. At least a majority agreed with us.
I have come to the realization that a few active, vocal and organized citizens can bring positive change to the community. We only have to look at our new artificial turf at the stadium and the passage of KCLS annexation for recent examples of this.
Planning with the end in mind means we citizens must step up to the plate. We are the ones who will decide what our town will look like 20 years from now. It only takes a few people to bring about major change in a small town.
The responsibility for change lies with each of us harnessing our love of this community into positive action. That will require risk taking, the desire to work for a common goal and the willingness to donate some of our time to make it happen. You can be one of those people.
Planning with the end in mind demands commitment. Either we will grow as a united community or we will decay. The choice and the responsibility are ours. To paraphrase John Kennedy, “Ask not what the city can do for you, but what you can do for the city.”