The Importance of Place

Community matters! We recently addressed the power of people in defining a community’s character as people truly represent the heart and soul of a community. But community can also be defined by its “sense of place” as well. 

Much has been written and said about the vibrancy of a community. Yet how do you define it? As we all see the world through a different lens, it’s somewhat like picking the cutest kitten. It’s not something that you simply see, it’s also something that you hear, smell and feel. When it’s right … it’s right.

Cody seems to have a strong sense of vibrancy. We hear it often from visitors to our community. So, what is it that makes it so? Is it the American flags lining main street? Awesome historical storefronts? The Museum or the Irma Hotel? Perhaps it’s the clean and well-maintained public infrastructure?  Chances are it’s more than any one of these things. But rather, it’s a blending of all of these, and a whole bunch more.

As you reflect upon what you really like about Cody, and maybe a few things you don’t, consider their role in the bigger picture. As an example, Cody has quite a few city parks. Even if you don’t spend a lot of time in them, it’s hard to discount the value they provide to the many families that do. The same holds true for other defining features of our community such as the Rec Center, the Library, the Hospital or even the new bronzes scattered around town. Each of these features speak to the people who pass through our community – and speak volumes. For our community, the sum of the parts is much greater than the whole.

Which causes me to reflect on how Cody gained this sense of vibrancy. As you might expect, it didn’t just happen. Somewhere in our history, the citizenry reflected on the community, what they liked and what they felt was needed to make it even better. Through their vision, their engagement, their hard work and dedication, we enjoy today that which they created. Our forebearers paid it forward. They saw what had been done for them and they wished to make it better for future generations.

In mid-October, hundreds of Cody residents weighed in on what they liked about the community and what they wanted to see in the future. The Community Review process identified several themes that bear a direct correlation to the “sense of place”. In this highly positive and pro-active forum, participants identified the many strengths that this community holds. You couldn’t help but feel good about the community while listening to people speak of the things that they love about the area. 

The list on the following page is largely drawn from the Community Review. As you reflect on this list and match the icon to the corresponding description, I’d ask that you think about the sheer number of awesome features that exist in Cody. Often, it is easy to take for granted all we have – so take a moment to be grateful for those. Next reflect on those that didn’t make this list – simply because there are so many! In my opinion, our “Sense of Place” is made manifest in its people first, and second by the many, many iconic features that define us.

As the Community Review takes its next steps, be aware that the things identified no one entity is responsible. We all play a part in our community’s vibrancy and our future! Take part!  


Icons of Cody

Cody is blessed with many world class attractions and features making it a great place to live and to visit.  Can you match the Icon with its correct description? 

_______ Cody Stampede Rodeo
  1. Completed in 2018, this icon was the first accessible playground for all ages and abilities to enjoy
_______ Irma Hotel
  1. What started as 1, has now become 5.  Established in 1917, this icon memorializes all that’s the west – it’s history, art, culture.
_______ Cody Rec Center
  1. When completed in 1910, it was the largest of its type in the world.  At 325 feet high, it was also the highest.
_______ Cody Regional Health Care 
  1. This icon is actually upside-down.  During some major earth movements, this feature actually inverted and slid over 30 miles.
_______ Buffalo Bill Center of the West
  1. Includes about 8 miles of developed trails, a pump park and skills trails for recreationalists.
_______ Buffalo Bill Dam and Visitor’s Center
  1. A mere 100 years old last year, this event is the only nightly event in the summer of its kind in the world!
_______ Shoshone River
  1. This icon is a combination of hundreds of frozen creeks with vertical drops from 100 to 300 meters in length.  It is the highest concentration of ice routes in the continental U.S.
_______ Stock Center 
  1. This log structure housed the original Buffalo Bill Museum.  Now serves as the Cody Chamber -Visitor Center.
_______ Hoodoo Ranch
  1. This winding icon follows the escape path of a famous free roaming band of Nez Pierce Indians.  Another remarkable drive through our beautiful Cody Country.
_______ TE Ranch
  1. This iconic mountain is the rumored burial place of Buffalo Bill and certainly one of his favorite features.  It forms the east boundary of the Buffalo Bill reservoir.
_______ Mummy Cave
  1. As the largest employer in Cody, the icon serves as a major economic driver for our community and strong supporter for the health and wellbeing of our residents.
_______ Mentock Park All Inclusive Play Park
  1. This gem was constructed in honor of our Founder’s daughter and remains a mainstay of downtown Cody.
_______ Beck Lake Bike Park
  1. This 100-mile waterbody was formerly known as Stinking Water.
_______ Southfork Ice Falls
  1. Owned by Buffalo Bill, this icon is known for the log ranch house headquarters.
_______ Buffalo Bill Scenic Byway
  1. Discovered in 1957 and studied in 1962.  This icon was the burial place of “Joe” who passed around 800 A.D.
_______ Chief Joseph Scenic Byway
  1. Framing the southern skyline of Cody, this is the largest mountain mass in the entire Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Its highest point is over 12,000 feet.
_______ Victor J. Riley Arena
  1. Sure, we’re in a cold climate., so why not have an indoor winter sports arena.  One more icon of Cody done through the generosity of its citizens, primarily its namesake.
_______ Cody Heritage Museum
  1. This icon is approximately 250,000 acres and was founded by A.A. Anderson, friend of Theodore Roosevelt and Buffalo Bill Cody.  
_______ Cedar Mountain
  1. This roadway was one of the first early trails to Yellowstone.  Our founder truly enjoyed this route and used it often to his favorite hunting grounds.
_______ Carter Mountain
  1. Of the historical icons of Cody, this one tells the tales of many of Cody’s prominent families from its own historic main street location.
_______ Heart Mountain
  1. This icon was built in 2001 to accommodate the growing need for year around recreation.  The project was funded entirely by private contributions.  


 “There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.”

Margaret J. Wheatley