Is it possible to be a member of a community without spending time in it? I at least don’t think so.
Is it possible to be a member of a community without spending money in it? I’d have to say it is possible. I’d even say it is possible to make money in a community without being a member of the community.
Spending time is just as important (maybe more so) than spending money in the local economy, tourists come to spend money and some time. Most of them bring in one time doses of money, not ongoing contributions. But they aren’t what makes a vibrant local economy, what makes the location a place tourists want to visit is the vibrancy of the locals. As locals we may not spend large amounts of money in the community but we do spend lots of time in our community and we are what flavors the experience.
Here in Colorado we’ve just ended our snow based tourism which is what some parts of the state are known for, those tourist dollars this year were not very big. Poor snow year, short snow season and as a result less spending from tourists. Sometimes we have backup events for them, but some people just do winter sports.
As we look forward to our summer season (hiking, biking, rafting, climbing) it means more dollars coming into our area from outside, with a greater variety of activities. The flow of currency into our community from tourism is important, but it isn’t what makes Durango great, that would be our locals and our location.
Now, back to our locals and how much time we spend in the economy. Meeting people, being involved and knowing what is going on in town in important, of course Durango makes this easy. In the Spring we have festivals with locally brewed beer, charities, food and time to hang out and chat with your neighbors.
It’s this social capital that is important, who do you talk to at the bar? Another local or a tourist? Depending on the bar of course it’s more likely to be one or the other. Another local and you’ll talk about the weather, and the beer of course. A tourist? They’re probably going to tell you how much they love it here and ask where they should go eat. Do NOT recommend the Applebee’s, that’s not a local experience. (Honestly, ask them how much they want to spend and what they want to drink- go from there)
With a low snowpack, we can also expect a low river year. What will that do to our economy? Slow it down? Force it to diversify? Economists love to make predictions on things like this, are they always correct? No, its a hazy bit of math/science/art- rather like predicting the weather.
Will a slow down in the economy force people to spend more time locally? I hope so, even small amounts of time in the community increases the cohesiveness of it. Small amounts of money circulated in the community many times, have large impacts.
Let’s all spend more time in our neighborhood/community/township this summer and make an effort to spend a little more in the same area.