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What my day really looks like

Newspaper: Teton Valley News & Valley Citizen

I’m surrounded by sticky notes. Most days are pretty mundane—buy stamps, return calls, sweep dog hair from under my desk…

As the Executive Director of Valley Advocates for Responsible Development, I can attest that there are no coded notes referencing my secret agenda as a United Nations double-agent. There is no map with thumbtacks marking properties targeted for government takeover. And there’s definitely no list of VARD-approved political candidates, because as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit community planning organization, VARD absolutely cannot endorse or campaign for elected officials – nor do we want to.

To clear up some confusion regarding VARD’s mission and work, here’s a look at my average day’s to-do list:

  • Listen to voicemails; return calls to concerned citizens hoping to make improvements to parkways, roads, or weeds in their partially built subdivision.
  • Meet with our volunteer messaging committee to brainstorm ideas for community participation, education, and involvement in drafting of the new Teton County Land-use Code.
  • Make more coffee. Staff meeting to plan for our upcoming Fall tour of working farms and ranches across Teton Valley.
  • Meet with banking team about methods and incentives for reshaping rural subdivisions around critical wildlife habitat.
  • Decide to skip lunch.
  • Finish my Power Point for our upcoming Conservation Academy for Realtors course, which will provide continuing education credits for realtors interested in conservation easements, open space preservation, and ecologically-minded rural development.
  • Review the latest design for “Dig Driggs Business Recruitment Brochure” which highlights the Driggs microloan programs and fiscal incentives for small businesses.
  • Outline upcoming VARD newsletter on the profound economic impact of wildlife and recreation tourism here in Teton Valley.
  • Notice that my office plants need water; don’t actually water them.
  • Go to the post office to mail personal thank-you notes to our 500+ local members and volunteers for their support and service.

Throughout the day, I pull on the expertise of my amazing and hard-working 4-member staff. I’m so thankful to work with folks committed to providing a welcoming, responsive, and ethical space where anyone can come for fact-based information on land-use planning in Teton Valley.

Our Board of Directors is also on-call to help with my many questions about how to address tough and sensitive community issues. Many of them have been involved with VARD since our beginning 13 years ago. Our board members own farms, homes, and businesses in Teton Valley. As a politically and demographically diverse bunch, they’re united by our shared belief that intelligent land-use planning is necessary to preserve the critical wildlife habitat, healthy streams, and rural character that drive our growing Teton Valley economy.

As this election season rolls around, I wanted to take this opportunity and clarify what, exactly, VARD does for the community. In return, I hope we all commit to holding ourselves above campaign dialogue driven by boogiemen and conspiracies. Our entire community will benefit from elections based on intelligent, fact-based campaign platforms focused on critically important issues. Let’s work together, play fair, and live well in this fantastic place we are all lucky to call home.

Stacey Frisk
Executive Director
Valley Advocates for Responsible Development

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