As we move into summer this year we all seem to be talking about what we have been through and how things are finally beginning to feel “normal” again. We have certainly been extremely negatively impacted, along with the rest of the world, as we have lost loved ones, lost employment, and seen businesses decline or be shuttered completely. Students lost valuable classroom time and extra-curricular activities and we experienced an alarming uptick in mental health issues.
Recognizing this, we should pause to also appreciate how much living in Tulare County has been a blessing in these unprecedented times. We have an abundance of outdoor space to enjoy with incredible natural beauty. Much of this space remained at least partially accessible giving residents some breathing room. We have seen people from more urban areas visiting in large numbers as soon as regulations allowed. They have been seeking outdoor natural recreation spaces and a change of scenery from the quarantine experience along with, perhaps, a little more sense of calm.
Our main economic driver is agriculture which is essential to life and, therefore, could never be completely shut down. The medical and governmental sectors are also strong employers in the county and adapted to continue operations helping reduce the number of layoffs we experienced. The abundance of food produced here was and is a source of aid for those who have been the hardest hit by the shut-downs.
I continue to feel fortunate to be a resident of Tulare County for all these reasons but also because of the strong sense of community we share. We all witnessed community members looking out for one another as things got bad. Food and clothing distributions, sheltering operations, employers adjusting to avoid or lessen layoffs and a surge in all forms of volunteerism are all signs of a strong community.
There are many things we can’t wait to get rid of now that a sense of normalcy is returning. I do, however, hope we don’t ever lose the community-mindedness and kindness we have seen demonstrated through these tough times. Along with wonderful natural resources and the best farmland in the world, that is what makes Tulare County a great place to live.
Dennis Townsend, Supervisor