A multitude of community representatives attending the inaugural meeting of the Almanor Basin Community Consortium listen as Chamber of Commerce President Susan Bryner introduces the idea of a community-wide collaboration to address the needs and issues of the Lake Almanor area. About 70 folks, from virtually every sector of the community, shared concerns and possible solutions for the area. Photo by Gregg Scott

Local partnerships seek local solutions

The inaugural meeting of the Almanor Basin Community Consortium was held the evening of Nov. 13 at Clifford’s Restaurant in the Lake Almanor Country Club.

The first question people ask is “What is the Almanor Basin Community Consortium?”

Well, consortium is a Latin word, meaning “partnership” or “association,” normally anassociationof two or more individuals, companies or organizations with the objective of participating in a common activity or pooling their resources for achieving a common goal.

This was the goal of the Lake Almanor Area Chamber of Commerce and the Lake Almanor Community Foundation when they invited over 70 representatives from 18 different sectors of the community.

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“The intention of the Consortium was to secure a commitment from different industry and organizational areas to begin and encourage communication that will lead to a sector-wide collaboration on the needs of our community, “ said Susan Bryner, Chamber president.

“It is our hope that this collaborative effort will yield new perspectives and creative approaches to our common issues and allow us to leverage the resources we have for a greater impact and change that is needed and necessary to grow a healthy community,” she added.

Leaders representing areas including arts and entertainment, business and financial services, community service organizations, the environment, education, churches, health and wellness, hospitality and tourism, housing, recreation, public safety, public agencies, retail, the trades, workforce development and local government gathered to share ideas and offer solutions.

The consensus of those in the room was that dramatic, community-wide progress on solving area issues will require the engagement of all sectors pulling together in the same direction.

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Some of the major concerns identified by attendees that currently affect our area’s quality of living and the well-being of its residents are a declining population with an aging demographic, the need for affordable housing, greater community involvement and more year-round activities for all ages.

Other issues brought up included government over regulation hindering private and public sectors, the cost of doing business becoming prohibitive with minimum wage hikes, the inability of families to live on minimum wage, the lack of year round employment, the social-emotional needs of a growing number of children, and the lack of a skilled labor force.

“Unfortunately, we are no different than many other rural communities across America who face a myriad of problems that leave their town and surrounding area declining rather than growing and prospering,” said Katherine Sansone, vice-chair of the Community Foundation.

She went on to say, “Where we hope to be different is that we are doing something about it as a community. The next step will be how to address these issues as ‘a team’ rather than single entities.”

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This initial Consortium was intended to jump-start communication across all segments of the community leading to a collective approach to projects or issues that otherwise might be addressed by a single individual or organization.

The original intent of the gathering was to take it slow by first initiating communication and then setting goals and implementing those goals through collaboration.

It seems, after the Thursday night meeting, the overall viewpoint is one of urgency for many issues.

“Slow might be too little/too late while we continue to lose more of our youth, our families, our population and fail to address the needs of those who remain in a timely and efficient manner,” was one comment offered in response.

Bryner and Sansone were excited to hear that attendees expressed a desire to work together and wanted to get started.

Bryner closed the Consortium meeting saying, “It is by all of us showing up, sharing and engaging that change will come to our community.”

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Sherrie Thrall, supervisor for District 3, commented after the meeting that she was very impressed and pleased by the number of community representatives that had come to the meeting and the common issues they had raised.

Along with Sansone and Bryner, she mentioned that each of those community “sectors” could probably gain even greater support by selecting a spokesperson for their respective areas of influence and meet with others that share common immediate goals.

The Community Foundation and the Chamber of Commerce have people willing to assist in facilitating cross-sector meetings or discussions if desired. For assistance, email [email protected]

The next full Consortium meeting will take place in April of 2020 with plans to meet twice a year thereafter.

The focus of these meetings will be a continuing effort as a group to share the needs, challenges and projects within each of our community sectors.