[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Let me begin by saying that I don’t have the traditional background for this work – the majority of my life has been dedicated to music. I have a degree in music and have been performing and teaching for many years. In my life as a classical singer I passed the days studying stories and people, understanding nuances of language that we use to communicate, and watching the progress of cultures through the ages. It was my love for people, community, and the issues that impact them that brought me to music and it is that same love that brings me to Better Utah. Not everyone wants to make a career shift like I did to get involved, which is why at the end of this post you will find a list of ways to get involved in whatever capacity works best for you.
My story starts in Provo. I was born there in the late 80’s, lived in the Avenues and Provo for a time during the 90’s, but have spent the majority of my life moving around the country. In 2014 I moved back to Salt Lake County and quickly realized that this state has changed since my childhood; more people, more houses, more diversity. Seeing this change made me curious, so I started doing some research.
According to The Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute, Utah’s growth is projected to continue. We are slated to gain a Taylorsville-sized population every year for the next 50 years. With our developing tech sector and desirable outdoor recreation, one third of that growth is from transplants. There are many issues that face any growing population, and Utah is no exception. Our population is aging, our jobs are shifting from goods and products-based to knowledge and service-based, and eventually Ogden, Salt Lake, and Utah County will become one giant city. Rural areas and more populous areas alike will face their own unique struggles. On top of the statewide issues that are facing us, we are also experiencing extraordinary times nationally and globally.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”11228″ img_size=”large” add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center” onclick=”custom_link” img_link_target=”_blank” link=”https://unsplash.com/@solotravelgoals”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Understandably, this precipice of change that we find ourselves staring down is met with anxiety by some. There are enough issues we face on a daily basis – getting the kids fed and bills paid, doing well at work and somehow also finding time to pursue our hobbies, managing to force back the existential dread that occasionally consumes our brain power – that it is easy for overwhelm to consume us. When this happens, the first thing to get dropped from most checklists is civic engagement. The problem is, republics don’t work without the attention and engagement of the citizenry, and with so much inevitable change on the road ahead we can either take control of the future of our community with both hands, or we can leave it to the politicians, some of whom have shown that their own interests outweigh the desires of their constituents.
That being said, I can’t shake the optimism that I feel about the future of Utah and the United States, which I know will garner some rolled eyes and accusations of unrealistic sanguinity. Still, I cite discussions about everyday issues with fellow Utahns – so many of whom care deeply about the future and wellbeing of our state – as my source of optimism. When I attend rallies, listen to millennial political hopefuls share their personal stories and visions for the future; when I sit down with fellow mothers and we find ways to fix problems that we know will face our children, even if they don’t impact us now, I become convinced that, while the exhaustion is real, the human spirit is stronger. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”11229″ img_size=”large” add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center” onclick=”custom_link” img_link_target=”_blank” link=”https://unsplash.com/@eagleboobs”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]If you’ve never been engaged before but want to be involved in the path forward for Utah then you’re in good company. You don’t have to take on all the issues, just pick one or two things that you’re passionate about and then start showing up. There are no requirements for engagement. You don’t have to have a degree, experience, or the know-how to simply attend a meeting or rally. We at Better Utah have compiled a list of ways you can get involved with groups who are doing that work in Utah:
General groups to join –
Issue groups to join according to your passion –
Ways to take action and get involved beyond joining a group –
- Take “actions” posted by various groups
- Testify at the legislature about issues of importance to you and about which you have expertise or personal experience – reach out to Alliance for a Better Utah or Action Utah to get involved
- Write letters to the editor and op-eds – if you’ve never done it before you can get help from Alliance for a Better Utah or Action Utah
- Keep informed about the legislative session – keep an eye here and on our social media for regular updates
- Get involved collecting signatures for ballot initiatives
- Register voters with Voterise
- Help your community vote in November 2018
- Visit your legislators’ offices and make calls (find out who your legislators are here)
- Host house parties for community members running for office about whom you’re excited
- Volunteer for a campaign
As time marches on, it is essential that each and every Utahn become involved in the issues that impact them. We are the future, we are the change we’ve been seeking, and it all starts with a simple act of reaching out and having that first conversation. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Katie Matheson is the newest member of Better Utah, having joined as the Communications Director in December 2017. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]