My View: Notes from the Front Row (Opinion)
Welcome to the new South Shore.
Years ago, when I first moved to South Shore, we were pretty much a two-dimensional town; we were a gaming and skiing destination. And for the most part, that’s all we were for sure: the boaters, fishermen and some hikers, and a smattering of other activities, but for the most part, those two industry’s defined who we were both to visitors and those that lived here.
The South Shore tourism economy developed primarily around gaming and skiing was a second season, made possible by the development of Heavenly. Many were employed in these industries, and local businesses developed around supporting them and those employed in them. Our culture also reflected this. As the dominant employer, the gaming industry, for the most part, shaped the local culture, be it with events or entertainment, and community support. Casino and, to a lesser degree, Heavenly were the go places for your service club meeting holiday party or raffle prizes.
For a long time, it was a straightforward situation. But things have changed. The gaming industry has been significantly impacted by tribal gaming. At last count, there were over 55 tribal casinos in Northern California, and the impact on South Shore has been significant. Casino employment used to be around six to seven thousand; today, it’s less than half of that. But the most dynamic change impacting the economy and culture has been the addition of outdoor recreation and consumer interest aided by technology and innovation in land and water-based recreation products that have enabled this change. Over time I have witnessed not just the buildings but also the topography that shapes a community.
Over time the South Shore has evolved into a different kind of destination, from primarily a skiing and gaming destination to a much broader outdoor recreation and entertainment destination. One that reflects South Shore residents’ wide variety of values and passions. As the special event center comes online next year, it will be a punctuation mark to an entertainment shift and compliments all of the entertainment that has come alive over the past two decades, from concerts on the lawn at Valhalla to Live at Lakeview to Harvey’s concert series and dozens of local venues that provide entertainment. What’s emerged is a California side that has found its own identity different from the historical culture of the Nevada side and, when combined, makes all of South Shore a more exciting place to live and visit for everyone.
This cultural emergence continues to define itself even in small ways. Look no further than the pride colors painted on the sidewalk in the mid-town area or the recent scheduling of a multicultural festival by the city; overall, this new South Shore has become a more exciting and more prosperous place than the one I moved to years ago.
I know nowadays it’s so easy to order those books you were looking for from Amazon or download them faster to your iPad or Kindle. But don’t miss out on the enjoyment of browsing. Remember those afternoons or browsing through a bookstore and how interesting it could be. Well, you can still do it. We are lucky to have three bookstores where you can still do it. Don’t miss browsing for books at Cuppa Tahoe, Keynote Used Records and Books, and the Bookworks. I recently spent an hour browsing through Keynote and found several books I picked up. Bookstore browsing may be a lost art, but you can still do it here in South Shore.
It is a Wrap
As the dog days of summer begin to wane, election season is coming upon us. Many people will be running for the city council, including incumbents and potential newbies. I have always been fascinated by why people choose to run for office, and I have concluded that it’s one of two motivations whether someone truly wants to serve the community or is in it for their ego. (Ego is not necessarily a bad motivation for running for political office.) The challenge for us voters is to discern between the two. A good starting point for voters is to ask each candidate which of these motivations are people running for and make your selections from there — more on elections next month.
Carl Ribaudo is a columnist, consultant, speaker, and writer in South Lake Tahoe. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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