I’m new to Sandpoint. I moved here a little more than a year ago on a piece of advice from someone I barely knew at the time. Unlike many people who I have met here, I do not have a lifetime of history and experience in this place. Like many others who I have met here, I stumbled upon a truly unique and beautiful corner of the world that will be a part of my life from here on.
I like to tell people back home that Sandpoint has welcomed me with open arms. When I first arrived, I found the wonderful community here to be welcoming and genuinely interested in my personal story. This warmth, along with the astoundingly beautiful landscape surrounding Sandpoint, is what has made the last year one of the most special and memorable portions of my life.
In the midst of the ongoing debate about refugee resettlement, I do have to wonder if I would have experienced the same reception had I been a person of different color and background. I am a young, white, and relatively affluent man. Would my experience have been different if I were, say, a single black mother? Or a migrant Hispanic laborer? Or a Syrian father of three who simply wants a better life for his children?
I’ve noticed that the strength of community involvement here leads to a high degree of participation in “collective decision making,” or politics. I admire this, and it is one of the reasons that I find Sandpoint so fascinating. The current debate, however, worries me. This area’s history has a dark stain of bigotry and hatred. Good people, through massive efforts, managed to excise those powers, and I can see a growing tide of progress and prosperity being ushered in by openness to innovation and acceptance. It would be tragic to see this tide quelled by fear of the unknown.
I do not have a long history here, but I hope to have a long future here, and my hope for this future is that I am part of a community that embraces people of all colors, creeds, and origins.