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!  

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

Margaret J. Wheatley