For the past six months, nearly every conversation in one way or another turns to the topic of Kanye West. It’s been marvelous to sit back and observe the differing opinions about what the “Kanye Effect” means to the community. The constant hum of the rumor mill reminds me of a quote attributed to Mark Twain, “A rumor can get across town before the truth can get its boots on.” Never a truer statement.

While Cody is used to having recognizable individuals visiting or residing in our community, our newest celebrity certainly has drawn attention locally and on a larger scale. It’s interesting that just over a hundred years ago, our community founder was perhaps the most famous person on the planet, only to welcome a global superstar to call Cody home as well?

Since my first phone call with Mr. West last August to today, I’ve thought often about what his arrival means to our community and its future. It has certainly caused me to step back and reflect on where we are, and where we want to be as a community.

I think it’s an opportunity to think deeper and dream bigger. To start, I wondered who is this person, what are they about and “Why Cody?”  So I started with his name …

The name Kanye/ˈkɑːnjeɪ/ is a Yoruba name meaning “next in line to the chieftaincy”. It is also an Igbo name meaning “Let’s give” or to give honor, tribute. Further Kanye means “Once” or “One time”. It also means“together” or “togetherness” in the Nguni languages (Ndebele, Xhosa, Zulu) of South Africa.

Sometimes things just makes sense and through these simple definitions perhaps they do. When these are placed in context, often they begin making sense. And now, I can’t help but smile as I read these definitions from Wikipedia. Why? Because within each definition represents how our new resident will be very likely be an extremely positive influence for our community.

As a Leader – Over the years, Cody has been blessed to have an economy driven by a major employers which augmented our tourism economy. The early endeavors of Buffalo Bill, the large scale development of the Buffalo Bill Dam, early exploration and refining leading to Husky Oil and Marathon, and more recently Cody Labs, we have always had a large and active player driving growth in the economy. What we have as a community, whether it be public infrastructure, amazing medical facilities, or the host of diverse businesses can all be attributed to the presence of these larger companies. As they grew, our community grew to in more ways than just population.

Do Yeezy and Adidas-Yeezy represent the next business that will grow in shape our economy? Though the details are yet to be released, the simple fact that Cody is in this position is pretty incredible. It’s easy to see the positive impacts when our Mayor is a feature interview for the New York Times or iHeartRadio. It’s been said that there have been more Google searches of Cody, Wyoming in the last six months than ever before. While I can’t verify that statistic, it doesn’t take much to imagine from the drawing power of an individual who put 4,000 people in the Pow Wow garden with only three day’s notice. Early in his tenure, Kanye West has made a difference. People in a tourism community should see the benefit of that drawing power.

As a Giver –We’ve also seen the positive nature of Mr. West’s generosity. The simple acts of making contributions to beneficial efforts, agreeing to participate in local programs and involving local students in his musical productions are just a few demonstrations of West’s giving side. What seems most compelling is many of these are not based on requests, but from an individual who genuinely wants to play a positive role in the community. You don’t pick up roadside litter for the sheer fun of it!

This One Time – There are lots of moving parts in the world of Kanye West. One thing which we can provide is the ability to have quiet time – no noise, no distractions, no crowds, just quiet. That is one factor that he articulated in his reasoning for moving here. Try to imagine the constant barrage of microphones and cameras that the celebrities of today endure. It’s not difficult to imagine why one would be attracted to a place like Cody. As a community, our best way to support West’s future here is to let him be one of us, and enjoy his time here.

All Together – Watching the Yeezy and Adidas teams work is a marvelous thing. Smart people, hyper focused and intent on executing a plan. They know that if each person does their job, the effort will result in success. They understand working together and that many parts brought together make the end result much better. Imagine if we could all perform that way!

And this brings out the most salient point. Cody has been and always will be a community that embraces its future. Together, residents have weathered some really horrific economic times and rose above them to a higher level. In an early Cody Living article, I introduced the term, UbuntuI am because we are – the intrinsic belief that there is a universal bond that ties us all together. I think it is that, which adds to the special nature our community. And it makes me glad that Kanye West sees Cody as part of his family’s future. Let’s move forward and become a part of the next chapter in the history of Buffalo Bill’s Little Town in the Rockies.