Keep Tahoe kind (opinion)
On Wednesday I had the opportunity to attend the 20th annual — and my first ever — Lake Tahoe Summit. As a reporter at Tahoe Daily Tribune, my usual role is to relay facts and the opinions of others; but right now, I want to talk about feelings.
As I sat in the crowded arena outside of Harveys listening to the leaders of California, Nevada and the United States talk about how special Lake Tahoe is and why it’s so important to preserve, I was overcome with emotions — with pride, love and gratitude for this community and lake.
To paraphrase what California Governor Jerry Brown said at the summit, Lake Tahoe’s beauty transcends politics. It has brought together people of all political persuasions in a joint effort to restore and preserve this treasured region.
Whether you’re a Democrat, Republican or Libertarian; a visitor, local or recent transplant; we can all agree that Lake Tahoe is special. It’s a place worth loving, and a place worth saving.
“This place is spectacular because it is one of the highest, deepest, oldest and purest lakes in the world,” said keynote speaker President Barack Obama to a crowd of 9,000.
“It’s been written that the lake’s waters were once so clear that when you were out on a boat you felt like you were floating in a balloon. It’s been written that the air here is so fine that it must be the same that the angels breathe. So it’s no wonder that for thousands of years this place has been a spiritual one. For the Washoe people, it’s the center of their world.
“And just as this space is sacred to Native Americans, it should be sacred to all Americans, and that’s why we are here: to protect this special pristine place, to keep these waters crystal clear and the air as pure as the heavens, to keep alive Tahoe’s spirit, and to keep faith with this truth — that the challenges of conservation and combating climate change are connected.”
Around me people cheered and I even saw some wipe away tears. If I’m really being honest, I was one of those people.
This experience at the Lake Tahoe Summit reminded me of something very important. Regardless of who you are voting for; irrespective of your status as a local, vacation home renter or second home owner; and looking past your upbringing and economic situation; we all have something in common. We love Lake Tahoe.
We know that the turquoise waters surrounded by snow-capped mountains and acres of forests are something to be revered. We treasure days spent out on its trails, slopes and waters.
So as we go into election season, and as we debate and discuss issues pertinent to our community like the Loop Road Project, affordable housing, commercial development and vacation home rentals — or even when the line at your neighborhood grocery store triples on weekends — keep this in mind. Despite our differences, we here in the Basin all share something in common and deserve each other’s respect.
Remember, keep Tahoe kind.
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When April 22 or Earth Day rolls around each year, it causes many people to reflect on the state of our environment and consider how to protect our planet.