Hopes and Intentions for 2022



December 31, 2021

paulfolkphoto-instagram-1127-ig-17942085097447627It’s New Year’s Eve, so as we get ready to countdown the final moments of 2021, let me be one of the first to wish you a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year! In last week’s column, I took the opportunity to reflect on the past year and to express my gratitude for all the blessings bestowed upon me in my move to Sedona. Today, I turn to sharing my hopes and intentions for the days ahead.

To begin, I hope that the true partnership that exists between the City of Sedona and the Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau as the official Destination Management Organization for the greater region can continue, and that the divisive attempts by those who wish to pit one organization against the other cease. Our joint commitment to this community has never been stronger, as demonstrated by the day-to-day collaboration I experience in dealing with wake of COVID-19 as well as the unintended negative consequences of state-levied policies. We are better together, working to manage – and might I offer, mitigate – visitor impacts across a spectrum of issues from traffic, trash, trailhead congestion, and tension among our place consumers, over which we have no control. The fabric that is community is being ripped apart at the seams by the lack of affordable and workforce housing due to the rise of whole home short-term rentals. The result, a lack of socio-economic diversity in our city, decreased enrollment in our public schools, and a workforce crisis that has curtailed hours of operation and in some instances promoted sales of businesses and closures.

I hope by saying this out loud, that I manifest it into the world. Be kind to one another. The holidays for many are not merry. For me, it was the first without my mother and having lost my father twenty-five years ago, my first without the two people who brought me into this world. With the current housing crisis, increasing homelessness in the Sedona Verde Valley, and the exponential rise of behavioral health issues such as anxiety and depression exacerbated by a continuing global pandemic, you never know the story of the person standing next to you in line at the grocery store or waiting on you at your favorite restaurant. If you yourself need help, the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) Yavapai County’s HELPLINE is 1-800-273-8255 or for additional resources visit www.namiyavapai.org/if-in-crisis.

On December 15, nearly forty nonprofit representatives gathered for the chamber’s quarterly Nonprofit Leadership Roundtable discussion about how to create a culture to foster volunteerism. As many of you in nonprofit management know, our volunteers are our lifeblood. We could not do what we do without them. So selfishly let me say thank you to the Sedona Chamber’s thirty volunteers who give of their time, treasure, and talent to ensure all those who come to visit this special place feel welcome. Although it is the last day of the year, it is not too late to give to a local charity, and thanks to the Arizona Charitable Tax Credits for qualifying charitable organizations (QCOs), you can donate and receive dollar for dollar off your tax liability with a maximum of $400 for single / $800 for married filing joint. To find a QCO visit azdor.gov/sites/default/files/media/CREDITS_2020_qco.pdf. I hope you will consider giving be it monetarily or of your time.

Last week I was humbled to sit among my peers at a Community Leaders Luncheon held at the Verde Valley Senior Center at the invitation of APS Northern Arizona Division. Mayors, municipal staff, chambers of commerce, Yavapai College SBDC, and nonprofit community leaders from throughout the Sedona Verde Valley shared how their organizations are working to make life better for those we serve. It was truly inspiring. I hope to continue to come together to find regional solutions with these colleagues in what appears to be an unpredictable year ahead.

Finally, I want to thank you for following me here. We have accomplished much together in 2021. I hope you will stay with me and support the chamber, its partners, and our work in 2022!

-Candace Carr Strauss,