The Taxonomy of an Identity

I love taking nature walks with my children in the Heber Valley and the fall season is arguably one of the most favorable climates in which to do so. Sometimes we walk the Provo River trails and other times we head for higher ground on any of the numerous and growing trail systems along the benches of the valley. As the children explore, we discuss the taxonomy or identity of the various life forms on the walk.

The children drink it up. I attempt to point out the unique characteristics of each plant and insect with a focus toward the traits that specialize them to their location. We discuss why some excel in one particular location and not in another. We try to connect the common threads that allow them to all harmoniously exist and create one balanced system.

It is beautiful to consider the complexity and diversity found in nature; with its perpetual struggle and the corresponding balance. Even with all of the daily strife and diversity, the local wildlife is still tied together with commonalities that bond them into a singular ecosystem.

I believe there is a parallel between this natural trend and the condensed community dwellings of Homo sapiens.

An individual city — or group of cities that collectively make a community — will have a wonderful variety of citizens harboring varying skills, opinions, beliefs and backgrounds that build a beautiful, albeit complex and diverse, network of humans. Similar to the uniquely-beautiful ecosystem that surrounds us, a world without diversity or struggle would be without interest and of little worth.

I believe a community’s blanket of identity is its binding element amongst all of the chaos of everyday life. Much like the climate dictating the specialization of traits in the natural world, this blanket of identity wraps itself around the core thoughts and attitudes of the citizens.

What is our identity as the Heber Valley? What do we want to be? What is our “brand?” Can we do better than the cliché coined by Mr. David Allen Coe as a community “… where bikers stare at cowboys who are laughing at the hippies, who are praying they’ll get outta here alive?” Certainly, if we are unable to get past petty labels, snap judgements and a brand identity of obstinate and hard-walled niches, that clichéd bias could be a possible future for us all.

Within the pages of this magazine we strive to celebrate the uniqueness and diversity of the residents of the Heber Valley. We believe that with recognition comes familiarity — and through familiarity and a willingness to change we can decrease stereotypes, prejudice and bias.

Autumn is a time of transition. The challenge I issue to the community this fall is to inventory your social fears; whether they be toward individuals, trends or changes. If you find that those fears have no merit or value, I encourage you to have the courage to change during this, the very season of transition.

Thank you for your continued support of Heber Valley Life magazine.

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