Decline of civic involvement affects more than politics


The news of the demise of the Community Concert Association of Cody/Powell after 75 years is sobering, as it drives home the idea, that without local participation, more and more events and programs will soon go the way of the dinosaur.

Citing a lack of manpower and finances, Jonene Geile, president of the concert association’s board, said younger members have failed to take the initiative to keep the concert series going, or even attend the concerts. Despite opening up the concerts to students for free and offering an eclectic range of music over the years, young people are staying away — and that doesn’t show signs of changing.

“It was a very hard and tenuous decision,” Geile told the Tribune recently. “But we feel it was the right decision.”

The right decision, but a sad one nonetheless. And it’s a reminder to enjoy what we have before it’s gone.

Though we’re only halfway through, March has been a busy month in our community in terms of events and meetings; a quick glance at the community calendar highlights a variety of knowledge-based presentations and public forums. For example, an event Tuesday night at the Cody library featured an illustrated lecture by award-winning author John Clayton, part of the Northwest College Writers Series. Friday featured a performance by the dance troupe Catapult at the PHS Auditorium, presented by the Park County Arts Council.

And this coming Tuesday, NWC will welcome the return of National Geographic adventure writer Mark Jenkins, who will present “A journey into the ancient Namib Desert: Rock paintings, a vanished people and water scarcity.” Part of the University of Wyoming’s “World to Wyoming” program, Jenkins’ presentations have become a signature yearly event at the college, and never fail to entertain or engage.

Without community support, however, events like Jenkins’ presentation and the other items mentioned will slowly fade away. It would be easy to blame advancements in technology and mass media for the decline in community participation; why leave the house when everything you could want or need is at your fingertips or on the touchpad of your phone? Even when we’re out in public, our phones are a way to disengage from those around us. A quick glance around a crowded restaurant easily proves that point.

But the fact is, generational differences exist, especially when it comes to community involvement. Many of the audience members who attend events like the Community Concert are seniors, those who grew up in an era before iPhones and the internet. A youth movement is needed to ensure the survival of community events and public forums and lectures, as well as continued attendance by those who currently make these events a part of their lives.

For a community the size of Powell, we are fortunate to have a rich and diverse selection of events and concerts to choose from, usually on a weekly basis. But unless we take active steps as community members to take advantage of these opportunities, much like the Community Concert Association, they will slowly fade away.