I've been visiting family on the East Coast as the financial crisis unfolds. These are "interesting times" unlike anything my baby-boomer generation has ever seen. It's quite unsettling.
But having a little distance on Amador County is also a good reminder of this often-forgotten fact: Amador County's economy is tied to regional, state, national and global economies. We don't exist in an economic vacuum.
That's important to remember as people look to Gold Rush to "save" Sutter Creek and a new committee looks at revitalizing downtown Jackson. Things are tough all over, not only in our small towns.
I picked up some information in my home town that I plan to share with the Jackson committee. The downtown here, which was thriving when I was a child in the 1960s, started to die with the birth of malls in the 1970s. Efforts to make it more mall-like simply sped its demise.
Now, after years of decline, and subsequent years of effort to revitalize the historic business district, downtown is coming back to life. People are revamping the beautiful historic buildings. There are new small businesses, professional offices, a brewpub, ethnic restaurants, new housing, and night life for the first time in years. And the group heading the effort has just finished market studies intended to help determine which businesses are needed to make the downtown even more of a go-to (and live-in) destination for locals.
It didn't happen by accident, and it didn't happen without some missteps. But people have persevered, and it appears they're on the road to success. I don't see any reason we can't do the same in our small towns. But it may take a while, especially in these interesting times.