I was once invited to come to New England and see the fall Foliage.
The changing colors of the leaves on the trees in the fall is a peak tourist draw for their community and celebrates the beauty of nature with the beauty of their small communities.
Growing up in the Kanawha valley, I was able to witness the mountains changing colors from my own front porch.
Fall, where nature is ablaze with color and beauty, makes me think how we capture this same frame for tourism and pride in our state.
We have a beautiful landscape and people.
We have the inner beauty to match the outer.
But I am not sure we always see our own magic.
I have heard the frame that “we need to live within our means” repeatedly since I moved back to West Virginia.
We need to flip our mindset and start investing in making each community look like one that you would want to live and to provide the connection of each state to the infrastructure that matters – fresh food, good roads, telecommunication, satellite and internet access.
The internationally famous chef Anthony Bourdain recently visited this great state to film an episode for his TV show in McDowell County.
He was captured by the authenticity of the people he met and by their connection to each other.
He also noted that by portraying WV as a destination for others, whether his show would help or hurt the state’s future.
Would it change the fundamental elements of goodness, connection to people that have known each other for their whole lives without a lot of outside interference?
I submit that what West Virginia has is deeply embedded in our land and people and sharing this goodness with others will enable our citizens to give others a deeper sense of this foundation, while enabling us to create a stronger infrastructure for our state.
An exchange of the human values of hospitality and service will transform WV into a place that everyone will want to come.
We have a special chance to remind other Americans what we already know about the priceless gifts of beauty, nature, and timelessness of our mountains, trees and people.
We have an opportunity to make the world better by helping others understand what we benefit from each day here. In this way, we will also help our own people.