Every Meter Matters Because This is the Place

by Mary Christa Smith
Images by Tom Kelly

Wildflowers blooming in Albion Basin at the Alta Ski Area in Little Cottonwood Canyon, Utah form a patchwork of color. (c) 2015 Tom Kelly

Wildflowers blooming in Albion Basin at the Alta Ski Area in Little Cottonwood Canyon, Utah form a patchwork of color. (c) 2015 Tom Kelly

My father tells the story of how he and my mom came to Salt Lake City in 1967 from Louisiana by way of Berkley.

He was interviewing for a position at the University of Utah and flew into SLC late one winter evening. When he awoke the next morning and stepped outside, it was a quintessential Utah bluebird winter day – with 2 feet of fresh fluffy snow. He thought, “wow, they’re going to pay me to live here? I’m in.” And they have been here for close to 50 years.

It doesn’t snow like that anymore in Salt Lake City.

When I was a child, growing up in the 70’s, we didn’t have the air quality issues that we do today.

Yes there was inversion, the cold air stayed low in the valley, while the warm air rose. This natural weather phenomenon covered every twig and branch in a coating of tiny, sparkling, geometric crystals – nature’s intelligence made visible. I lived on the east bench, and in the morning the valley was covered in a fluffy white cloud, and I would descend into this fairy land as I walked to school.
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The air is now so filthy in Salt Lake City it is unsafe to breathe.
Last year, I saw the beginnings of the dirty inversion in the Snyderville Basin in Park City.

I love Utah and I love Summit County – I have lived here my entire life.

I enjoy traveling, and I always recognize how fortunate I am to live where I do. The natural world has always been an organizing principle of my life – from childhood camping trips with my family, to hiking, biking, skiing, and all the wonderful ways to play that are part of living in Summit County.
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 This is the place that we have all chosen to make our home, to raise our children, to recreate, work and make a life.

The Mormon pioneers entered the Salt Lake valley on July 24, 1847, and they knew that this was a special place – a place where they could create Zion – heaven on earth. We all understand at some intuitive level, that when we are surrounded by the beauty of creation, of the natural intelligence of the creator, that we are able to access the divine, to access grace, health, peace, and inspiration.

One of the key tenants of the LDS faith in particular, and of westerners in general is the value of self reliance. That it is better to be able to provide for ourselves rather than to be dependent upon others. Work, take responsibility, manage your finances and solve problems. Transforming our energy paradigm offers us the opportunity to put our love of place, our care for our friends and family, our connection to the natural world and our deepest held values, into action.

A rainbow shoots skyward from a red country barn on a farm in rural Marion, Utah. (c) 2015 Tom Kelly

A rainbow shoots skyward from a red country barn on a farm in rural Marion, Utah. (c) 2015 Tom Kelly

If you are seeking ways to put your love of This Place into action, I invite you to raise your awareness regarding your consumption of energy, the consequences of that consumption, and the simple steps you can take to use less, and use better.

85% of the electricity in Utah is generated by burning coal – which affects our air and water quality
Park City uses 4x’s the energy of the average Utahan
Utah has some of the lowest building standards in the country – our homes are wasting energy and money, polluting the air and water.

Focus on efficiency as a practice of self reliance.

You will save money on your utility bills, become less dependent on the utility companies to provide for you, as well as practicing wise stewardship of the natural world. 40% of the energy we consume is wasted through inefficiencies. Energy efficiency represents the greatest potential fuel source – and it is Net Zero – which means it doesn’t produce any new emissions. There is more energy available through efficiency than through coal, natural gas, oil, or solar. Greater than any other single source.

What matters is that you act. There is nothing as powerful as an idea who’s time has come. Every meter matters – especially yours.

 

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