Validating Boise as one of America’s great places to live has actually become fairly easy. Given the city’s inclusion in a variety of “top city” lists in recent years, many of us find ourselves soap-boxing for Boise’s family and business-friendly nature. Rarely, however, do we as citizens get to push beyond advocacy and act in ways that bring real change. But that’s exactly the kind of opportunity that sits at our doorstep with the open-spaces levy proposition on the Nov. 3 ballot.
The natural beauty of our environment — including a quality freshwater source, which is not a given in today’s world — is what sustains our city’s lively ambience and satisfies area residents’ penchant for adventure. It’s no coincidence that Boise is known as one of America’s premier locations for active lifestyles in an urban setting: You can’t fake air quality to a runner, clean water to a fisherman, or a healthy ecosystem to a wildlife enthusiast — the pure open spaces legitimize the experience.
Working at a local law firm, I interact daily with Boise citizens and outsiders alike, and discussions about life outside the urban sphere are routinely highlighted with a tone of affection. That pride for our environment is why I, and many others, believe initiatives such as the 2015 open-spaces levy should be viewed as an opportunity to showcase our “communal character.” Passing a minor levy to protect natural resources is one way for Boise to ‘walk the walk’ when it comes to being committed to a healthy populous.
Even though the open-spaces proposition is an environmental issue, its economic effects will soon be apparent. When new businesses, for instance, survey cities to establish headquarters, each city’s political history plays a major influence in the final decision. Businesses want to find cities that push altruistic initiatives, because it shows that the people look out for each other.
New businesses also judge cities based on how zoning is managed, the balance in political and social issues, and general appeal to employees for life outside of work — all of which will be at-play with the open-spaces initiative. When it’s all said and done, a city’s personality reflects upon the brands of its companies.
Passage of the levy will also benefit industries such as food service, agriculture, health and beauty, and outdoors and recreation, all of which depend on clean and healthy environmental resources. Additionally, the open-spaces vote is crucial to setting the right precedent for younger generations. Sometimes we overlook the amount of influence our political landscape can have on the youth. When our young people see their progenitors band together for something meaningful, such as protecting the areas that nurture our city’s rustic charm, it can help them develop a positive outlook for the importance of government and public participation.
Like any good team, a city needs an identity built on values that have real integrity and manifest themselves in the day-to-day lives of its citizens. What better place to start than by preserving our pristine natural assets?
I’m proud to be a part of a city that is becoming known for continually making the right decisions. I hope a vote in favor of the open-spaces levy is the next chapter to be written for our history.
Thomas Banducci is partner and co-founder of the law firm Andersen Banducci.