SOCIAL-PSYCHOLOGICAL ADVANTAGES

One of the most intriguing perceived advantages identified by Valley stakeholders was the discovery that they see the potential for social-psy­chological advantages. A verbatim sequence of one of the SLV stakeholder interviews illustrates this point:

The sun is readily abundant in the valley. This is the land of cool sunshine. It’s colder than heck in the winter but we do get a lot of sun, so. there are actually some advantages I understand from being at this altitude and this climate for concentrated solar be­cause we don’t overheat such as you would say in Death Valley. That’s my understanding, I don’t know if that is totally accurate, but I see that as a benefit. I think….and this is a real intangible, I don’t know if you know this, but the San Luis Valley has five of the poorest counties in the state and this is something to be proud of.

Interviewer: Something cutting-edge….

Stakeholder: Yeah, and, well, it puts a different face on the San Luis Valley as far as people on the Front Range come through here and don’t understand the beauty of the place because either you love it here or you hate it, but a lot ofpeople from the metro areas are like, oh my God, how can you live in a place like this, and a lot of people who live here don’t appreciate what they have, so I think changing our perception of ourselves…! mean this could be….and that’s why I have a concern about….if they come and build everything and then take everything out of the valley, if they could just come and build everything and share some of that. it’s kind of like Los Alamos, you’re familiar with Los Alamos? Well, it has the highest concentration of Ph. D. ’s in the country, so if some of that technology comes here and some of the people, some of the subject matter experts, and some of the industry associated with it, for example the manufacturing of the actual. whether it’s instrumentation, maybe it’s just like a silicon chip, I don’t know what it is, if they bring industry with it that is associated with it and turn this into….it can’t be the Silicon Valley, but more value – added than putting the stuff here and then taking everything out.

Interviewer: … somehow there is a local involvement in that there is some kind of manufacturing capability and interest that stays in the valley. Is that the idea?

Stakeholder: Yes. That they’re committed. that they become a valued business and they are committed to the sustainability of our valley. I don’t think the majority of the citizens in this valley want to change. We don’t want to be another metro center. We don’t want to be an Aspen or a. we’ll never be that, but we want to sustain the quality of life…

Interviewer: Why not?

Stakeholder: Because the quality of life that is here is that we are not Aspen, we’re not Vail, we’re not Denver, we’re not Boulder— that’s the quality that needs to be embraced by a business that comes here and understood by a business that comes here. One of the unique things—and this is part of our mission, to enhance and maintain the unique culture and heritage of the Valley because of the strong Hispanic influence, the Native American influence, the Mormon influence—the history of the valley needs to be under­

stood by companies that come because the majority of the people who live here like it the way it is.

Another Valley stakeholder put it this way:

If you look at demographics of the Mississippi River Delta that compete with the San Luis Valley for a poor economic situation, the valley itself is a distressed economic area. What would be the impact to the rest of the world, the rest of the United States, the rest of Colorado, if the poor San Luis Valley pulled itself up by the bootstraps to where it becomes the first renewable valley in Amer­ica? There would be entire vital reach in the ecosystem, the whole dynamic of its own future is suddenly 100% renewable energy. Now that’s an opportunity to erase at least one level of myth of what you are as opposed to what you aren t. It is a way for people to socially elevate themselves to be able to walk into any store….

Interviewer: A source of pride.

Stakeholder: It is a source of pride. I mean a little of it is that I don’t like the rah-rah, go purple and white, fight-fight story. but there are aspects about being able to tell folks that with existing infrastructure, existing people, existing talent, existing local mon­ey, that you became the first 100% renewable bio-region in the nation, that the headwaters of the Rio Grande is 100% renewable.