Mon, Aug. 03

Commentary: Pandemic silver lining a more unified, understanding community

Jennifer Wesselhoff

Jennifer Wesselhoff

My position offers me a unique privilege to hear from all different types of people. Over the past seven days I’ve heard from so many different perspectives about how this crisis is impacting them, and what they think community leaders are doing well and not so well.

The opinions are as diverse as they are numerous. I’ve heard from businesses who have shuttered their doors, can’t afford to pay their employees and are at risk of losing their life’s work; from businesses who are still open and are desperate for customers; from people who are upset that some businesses are still open.

I’ve heard from employees who have been laid off and can’t afford to pay their rent or mortgage; from employees who haven’t been laid off but are worried that they are in danger of getting sick.

I’ve heard from locals who want to keep the trails open, or who want to close all the trails, or some who want to keep the trails open for themselves – while prohibiting visitors.

We’ve heard from visitors who are disappointed that they had to cancel their trip that they have been looking forward to for years. From people who just wanted to say thanks keep up the good work and from people who have said that we’re “killing businesses” and “giving the middle finger to employees who are still working.”

I’ve read opinions about community leaders who are acting too fast – or moving too slow. Some saying that our organization cares only about visitors and some even going as far as to say that we are anti-business and anti-tourism (that was a first for me).

I’ve been called to resign for being irresponsible and greedy and I’ve been hung up on. And, I’ve heard from many just saying thank you and keep up the good work.

I feel fortunate to be in a professional position where people feel comfortable enough to contact me and tell me exactly what they think. Not all of them nicely, but nonetheless, sharing their thoughts.

My point in telling you all of this is:

1) to show that there are a lot of different people impacted by this pandemic and people are hurting and scared.

2) that so much of what we’re asked to weigh in on is out of our hands and in the hands of federal leadership and the Governor and

3) that every single person that I’ve heard from cares deeply about this community.

I’m taking solace in knowing that the silver lining might be a more unified, more understanding Sedona -- with a stronger sense that our community is deeply interconnected and must be in alignment to achieve long-term viability.

If that’s the silver lining that keeps me going then I’ll take it.

Jennifer Wesselhoff is the president/CEO of the Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau.

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