Monday, March 29, 2021

2020 Highland Living Magazine Mayor’s Messages

Highland Living Masthead

The following are my messages in the Highland Living magazine for 2020. This magazine is delivered free to all single family residences in Highland and is published by Best Version Media. These messages tend to be less newsy than my messages in the newsletter.

January 2020 Highland Living Magazine

What are the sources, then, of that state of mind which supports civilization? There are but two sources, education and religion. From them are derived the teachings of science necessary to give the requisite technical skill and moral ideals sufficient to support and advance civilization.”—Governor Calvin Coolidge, Amherst College Alumni Dinner, New York City, November 27, 1920

Governor Coolidge, who later served as President of the United States (1923-1929), also commented in his speech at the Amherst College Alumni Dinner, “What virtue would there be in choosing the good unless thereby the evil was rejected? There are evil forces at work now. … They can always be recognized by a direct appeal to selfishness and nothing else.”

One of the strengths of our community is unselfishness and service. For example, in 2019 one of our youth, Jonathan Daniels, organized a trail maintenance Eagle project on about 1 mile of trail in the Canterbury North neighborhood.

On the first day of the project about 20 adults and youth cut back the grass, weeded, and cleaned out and filled in the larger cracks with asphalt provided by the city. Later, Big Red Asphalt and more volunteers sealed the smaller cracks with a rubberized sealant. In all, 76 cracks were repaired by fellow scouters, friends and neighbors who donated 134 hours of labor.

Many thanks to those who, like Jonathan and his friends and neighbors, “chose the good” and spent time in service to their community. They applied the skills and morals developed at home, school, work, and church to support and advance our community. Such activities not only make incremental improvements to Highland, but develop friendships, confidence to do more ambitious projects, and a sense of pride in our community that is long-lasting.

Over the years our community has been blessed by residents taking action on their own. We have a great frisbee golf course, a bike park with jumps, a mountain bike trail system, volleyball courts, and enjoy our annual city festival. These and many other amenities and events are the direct result of volunteerism. I see this spirit of unselfish giving continuing in 2020 as we move forward on projects like an all-abilities park and others yet unimagined.

The city council (both the new and the old) and I wish you all the best in the coming new year!

February 2020 Highland Living Magazine

I recently finished reading a short book entitled 212° The Extra Degree. It begins:

At 211 degrees, water is hot. At 212 degrees, it boils. And with boiling water, comes steam. And steam can power a locomotive.

Raising the temperature of water by one extra degree means the difference between something that is simply very hot and something that generates enough force to power a machine – a beautiful, uncomplicated metaphor that ideally should feed our every endeavor – consistently pushing us to make the extra effort in every task we undertake.”

The premise of the book is one of life’s great truths; just a little extra effort can yield exponential results. January has passed us by and many of us will also have left behind some, but hopefully not all, of the lofty aspirations we had at the beginning of the year.

120 years ago this month, the British sent 1,700 soldiers backed by thousands of reinforcements to capture a hill (Spion Kop) held by Boer forces. After the first day of battle, the Boers abandoned Spion Kop in the dark of night. The Boer commander, General Botha, convinced 400 out of 1,000 soldiers to go back up the hill. At the conclusion of the next day, the Boers were convinced that they could not hold on and abandoned the hill. General Botha was again able to persuade a few to return with the promise that, “If they would persist, the British would give up.”

When the sun arose the next day, a handful of Boers found themselves in sole possession of Spion Kop. The discouraged and weary British had left even though they encountered 2,000 reinforcements as they marched down the hill.

Spion Kop and BoersB. C. Forbes the founder and publisher of Forbes Magazine said, “Triumph often is nearest when defeat seems inescapable.” I hope as the year progresses, each of us has at least one goal to which we are willing to apply the extra effort it takes to make a significant difference in our lives and the lives of those who surround us.

If you are interested in learning more about the battle between the British and the Boers at Spion Kop hill go to:

March 2020 Highland Living Magazine

One of my favorite business books of all time is In Search of Excellence by Tom Peters and Robert Waterman (1982). In it the authors recount an experiment in psychology in which “adult subjects were given some complex puzzles to solve and a proofreading chore. In the background was a loud, randomly occurring distracting noise. … The subjects were split into two groups. Individuals in one set were just told to work at the task. Individuals in the other set were provided with a button to push to turn off the noise, ‘a modern analog of control—the off switch.’ The group with the off switch solved five times the number of puzzles as their cohorts and made but a tiny fraction of the number of proofreading errors. Now the the kicker: ‘none of the subjects in the off switch group ever used the switch. The mere knowledge that one can exert control made the difference.”

The perception that we don’t have control over our environment can have a negative impact on our productivity and mental capacity. I’ve seen the impact this can have in families, work, and community. When I look back at the quality of work done by my children when chores were “forced” upon them by a stern father vs. when we’ve agreed to work together and they had a measure of choice in the project. The difference was significant!

As a member of our community, I have seen a difference in resident attitudes when they understand how the system works vs. when they don’t – regardless of the outcome on an issue. Understanding how city government works is essential to developing a virtual “off-switch” aka believing we have some measure of control.. The same holds true for families, businesses, and other organizations with which we associate.

So how do you develop an understanding of the city government? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Attend city council meetings (generally held the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays of each month at 7 PM). You can also watch them on YouTube. Some are actually quite entertaining.
  • Visit with a council member or the mayor and ask questions. Contact information can be found on our website.
  • Come to the monthly “Meet with the Mayor” held on the 2nd Wednesday of each month at 7 PM in the library.
  • Get involved with one of the city committees (Arts Council, Friends of the Library, Highland Fling, Parks Commission, etc). See Programs and Activities on our city website.

Personally, I have been surprised at how much control or influence an individual can have when they take the time to get involved. I’ve seen the comments of one resident in a meeting change the council’s opinion on an issue. I’ve watched an individual turn a dormant committee into a vibrant group that benefits the city today. And the list goes on.

Experiment with the lesson of the off-switch and see how it impacts your family, business or our community. You may  be surprised, like I have been, with the positive results.

April 2020 Highland Living Magazine

Everything that is great in life is the product of slow growth; the newer, and greater, and higher, and nobler the work, the slower is its growth, the surer is its lasting success. Mushrooms attain their full power in a night; oaks require decades.” —William George Jordan, The Majesty of Calmness, 1902

Spring is here, as those of us with allergies are well-aware. Many Highlanders have beautiful yards with a variety of shrubs and flowers as well as gardens and fruit trees. These require years and countless hours of work to reach their full potential. The law of the harvest rules supreme; we only reap what we first sow. Plus, it goes without saying that there is also a lot of work between sowing and reaping. Our city’s heritage is one of hard work and persistence. You can read about our city’s history on the Highland Historical Society’s website.

Innovations in technology and its application in communications, retail, and entertainment have made it possible to go to a movie, shop, and have face to face conversations with people all over the world at the push of a button, anywhere, anytime. While these time saving innovations have value they can also detract from our ability to learn and maintain an appreciation for hard work, persistence, and patience. There is no easy button in marriage, raising a family, learning new skills, excelling in the arts or sports, and mastering ourselves. There is, however, lasting satisfaction and joy as we make progress on these journeys.

Recently, seminars were held in five North Utah County high schools, including Lone Peak HS, on two topics. First, the effects of screen time on the brain, body, and heart. And second, growing a healthy family and teaching our children to be emotionally self-reliant. Links to a recording of the seminar can be found on the Emotional Resilience and Self-Reliance Facebook page (Note, we recorded a session held in Highland on Nov 13,2021 which you can watch on YouTubel). I attended three of the five sessions and learned something new each time. If you weren’t able to attend I highly recommend watching the video.

I hope you enjoy April. It is a great month, where we can begin work on the gardens of our life.

PS: Although, the world can be tumultuous at times, there is always much for which to be grateful. Especially in Highland where beauty abounds and we are surrounded by wonderful people.

May 2020 Highland Living Magazine

Given all that has happened this year we issued the following proclamation for 2020. I hope you are finding joy and peace during this trying time.

2020: A Year of Hope

The mayor and council hereby proclaim 2020 as “A Year of Hope.”

We hope for an improved tomorrow and that we will overcome our present circumstances, emerging as a better people. Let us replace the term ‘social distancing’ with ‘physical distancing’ to remind us of the importance of being sociable and connecting with our neighbors, friends, and family.  By looking out for each other in meaningful ways, we contribute to our community, state, nation, and the world.

As we work through today’s challenges, remembering the lessons we’ve learned will bless tomorrow. These include:

  1. The importance of those who serve in all walks of life; from grocers to doctors and nurses, from truck drivers to engineers. In sum, our interdependence on each other.
  2. The value of being prepared and the joy that comes when you are therefore able to help others.
  3. Our reliance on faith in a better tomorrow and the hand of Providence to guide us, especially when the way is not clear.

We believe that many of the solutions developed to address the issues we face today will benefit our community and the world in the future.  We are so grateful to those whose faith and persistence created them.

When physical distancing restrictions are gone, we hope to move forward enjoying stronger and more meaningful relationships, because of the way we stayed connected and supported each other through this challenging time. There is a bright future ahead that includes a deeper commitment to serving and respecting each other.

June 2020 Highland Living Magazine

Many in our community are facing unexpected challenges at this time. We are navigating uncharted waters. Last month I wrote a letter to graduating high school seniors who are also  moving into new territory.  I’d like to share it with you as all of us are in a graduate level course on dealing with the unforeseen, from which we will also be graduating.

Dear Graduate

I want to congratulate you on completing a personal milestone, graduating from high school! There will be other milestones in your life, but this one marks a passage from general preparation for life to more serious and focused educational endeavors as well as service opportunities.

The world today is different than it was a few months ago. While there are negative aspects to our present circumstances there are many positive ones. For example, who else will be able to tell their children and grandchildren that the entire world paused to honor your graduating class, the class of 2020!  On a more serious note, service opportunities abound. You also have the chance to watch and participate in positive societal changes that would not otherwise be possible in such a short period of time.

There is a bright future ahead for you! One of our Highland residents, Jeff Dyer, co-authored a book entitled The Innovators DNA. In it, Marissa Mayer, a former Google executive, states “Creativity, in fact, thrives best when constrained.” I believe that due to the constraints we are under today, some of which may be long lasting, you will use them to come up with creative ideas that will bless you, your family, our nation and the world for years to come. I look forward to hearing about them.

Calvin Coolidge, the 30th president of the United States, made the following statement:

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. ... Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'press on' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

Based on my life experience, this is true. If you will use this graduation as an inflection point in your life and make the commitment to persist in your personal ambitions, you will experience success. Plus, if you include service to others in your life’s journey, joy will be a frequent companion.

My best wishes to you as you embark on life’s great adventure. Remember, a positive attitude will help you navigate all of life’s challenges and speed bumps.

Let’s make an extra effort to be kind to our families, neighbors, and especially the youth. A smile and a kind word will help brighten the world for everyone.

July 2020 Highland Living Magazine

There are more people in this world hungering for kindness, sympathy, comradeship and love, than are hungering for bread.”, —William George Jordan, 1902

Recently we held a public discussion with Ronell Hugh, an black member of our community: Police Chief, Brian Gwilliam; State Representative, Brady Brammer; Nicki Brammer; Alpine City Mayor, Troy Stout; and myself. The focus of our conversation was understanding each other's experience with racial bias, then discussing what we can do to build a more racially inclusive community.

During our conversation, Ronell shared with us experiences with bias he’s had in Highland and throughout his life, the chief reviewed department policies with respect to bias and use of force, plus we all chimed in with different observations and experiences. It was a wonderful discussion.

I love the joint op-ed co-authored by President Russell M. Nelson and leaders of the NAACP. I believe our conversation and the direction we are headed are reflective of this statement from it. “Unitedly we declare that the answers to racism, prejudice, discrimination and hate will not come from government or law enforcement alone. Solutions will come as we open our hearts to those whose lives are different than our own, as we work to build bonds of genuine friendship, and as we see each other as the brothers and sisters we are — for we are all children of a loving God.”

We all hunger for kindness, sympathy, and comradeship. Let us move forward with kindness and sympathy for all as we continue to improve ourselves and our community.


August 2020 Highland Living Magazine

There are more people in this world hungering for kindness, sympathy, comradeship and love, than are hungering for bread.”, —William George Jordan, The Power of Truth, 1902

Churches in our area have organized to ensure that a local food pantry, Tabitha’s Way, continues to receive donations during this challenging time. A huge thank you to all who are participating in this very worthwhile endeavor!

For me, William Jordan’s quote regarding kindness, sympathy, comradeship and love implies the need for another type of pantry, a compassion pantry in Highland, which we need to restock frequently.  Every time we smile at someone, call to say hi, write a thank-you note, spend time with a friend, or help a stranger we nourish the soul and make our city and the world a better place.

Based on all the good works I see in Highland, the shelves in our compassion pantry are not bare. Isn't it nice to know the words of St. Francis of Assisi still ring true today: "For it is in giving that we receive." Thank you for making Highland a wonderful place to live.

September 2020 Highland Living Magazine

I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” ―J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

Lord of the Rings I wish it need notI am very glad to live in Highland where our response to current circumstances has been positive. We are using our time well! This summer we donated over four bins of food to the Tabitha’s Way Food Pantry as part of our annual city celebration. We took the time to organize and participate in a parade for an assisted living center and the Utah State Developmental Center (where residents with mental and physical handicaps reside). Residents have chipped in and helped clean up parks and trails, distribute water conservation flyers, and helped their neighbors in many ways.

While conflicts in the nation and world are part of the daily news menu, here in Highland it would seem that many understand Arthur Brook’s and the Dalai Lama’s comments from their March 12, 2019 op-ed in the Washington Post.

As is the case with all big problems, within this crisis lies an opportunity. Polarization contains the seeds for personal excellence and spiritual advancement.

“To begin with, the solution is not for people simply to agree with each other, or to prevent disagreements from occurring. There is nothing wrong or inherently destructive about having ideas that differ from those of others. On the contrary, disagreement is necessary in a pluralistic society to find the best solutions to problems. The ability to disagree freely is one of the great blessings of modern democracy.”

In Highland, while we have many with strong opinions on a variety of subjects, we are most often able to use the dialogs which ensue to create better solutions to problems. For example, at a recent council meeting strong views were expressed about building an access road to the Ace Hardware parking lot from a planned development to the south. The fire department felt the access was needed to improve safety and some council members and business owners felt the increased risk of accidents in the parking lot outweighed the fire department’s concerns. In the end a decision was made to install drivable landscaping that would allow the fire department access in an emergency but prevent normal traffic from flowing through the parking lot. This was a win/win solution brought about through effective disagreement.

As we continue to model behaviors that allow us to disagree without being disagreeable we will be examples to our children so that they are better able to solve the problems of tomorrow through constructive disagreement.

October 2020 Highland Living Magazine

Everything that is great in life is the product of slow growth; the newer, and greater, and higher, and nobler the work, the slower is its growth, the surer its lasting success. Mushrooms attain their full power in a night; oaks require decades.” ―William George Jordan, The Majesty of Calmness, 1900

Highland is a relatively new city (incorporated in 1977) but its roots go much deeper. The first homestead claims, in what is now Highland, were filed in 1869. According to the 1970 US Census, 208 people lived in the Highland area. Fifty years later we are now approaching 20,000 residents. We are currently growing at a rate of about 2.3% per year and will reach build-out within five to ten years.

As we’ve grown we have managed to retain a community that residents believe provides a great quality of life and is one that they want to stay in for a long time. Resident surveys over the last five years show that over 50% of us believe that Highland offers an excellent quality of life and another 45% of us say we have a good quality of life. Also, about 50% of us plan on staying in Highland for twenty or more years while another 25% plan on being here at least ten more years.

What do Highlanders love about our community? It could be our 360 acres of open space, 23 parks comprising 97 acres, over 22 miles of trails, our fishing pond, and/or 1 camp ground with room for 5 to 8 tents. I’ll bet many of you didn’t know we had a reservable campground near the mouth of the canyon (see the city website for details). It could also be our library with its delightful staff and great programs, the amazing Highland Arts Council, our talented Highland Children’s Choir, or brilliant Timpanogos Symphony Orchestra. Or maybe, just maybe it could be our wonderful friends and neighbors who take such good care of us. I want to thank those who took time to comfort my wife and me at the passing of my father. One of my wife’s friends went above and beyond. Her family mowed our lawn, picked our peaches, and weeded our flower beds while we were away from home. For me this, above all else, is what makes Highland special.

November 2020 Highland Living Magazine

Gratitude is thankfulness expressed in action. It is the instructive radiation of justice, giving new life and energy to the individual from whom it emanates. It is the heart’s recognition of kindness that the lips cannot repay.”, ―William George Jordan, The Power of Truth, 1902

So far 2020 has been a trying year for many. Highland has not been exempt, but we have residents who manage to brighten the lives of their neighbors, friends, and in at least one instance, people all over the world. For example, leaders of a local congregation recently produced a fun welcome-back music video for their members. In just three days the video had over a quarter of a million views and reached people all over the world (Australia, Canada, England, Germany, Poland, and Switzerland to name a view countries).

400 years ago, this December, the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock where they would build a settlement that would be a founding pillar of our great nation. They experienced many hardships; over half of those who landed initially died the first winter. On the other hand, there were miracles as well, such as Squanto, an Indian they encountered in 1621, who just happened to speak fluent English and served as an interpreter between the Pilgrims and Indians.

While their challenges were immense, their achievements have shined for centuries. Calvin Coolidge closed a speech on the 300th anniversary of the Pilgrims’ landing at Plymouth with these words:

Plymouth Rock does not mark a beginning or an end. It marks a revelation of that which is without beginning and without end—a purpose, shining through eternity with a resplendent light, undimmed even by the imperfections of men; and a response, an answering purpose, from those who, oblivious, disdainful of all else, sailed hither seeking only for an avenue for the immortal soul.”

Perhaps, in the future similar words could be penned about Highland residents who persevered through the challenges of our era with shining purpose. We have many positive examples of cheerfully leading others through difficult times such as our Highland music-video friends. This Thanksgiving season I am so thankful to live in a community filled with wonderful residents who by their actions make Highland a great place to live.

December 2020 Highland Living Magazine

It was November of 1775. General George Washington was holding a staff meeting with his officers near Boston to discuss how to get the material and equipment his troops needed to take Boston before British reinforcements arrived. Henry Knox, a 25 year old newly appointed artillery commander, had a problem- he had no artillery! However, he did have a plan which he presented at the meeting.

Colonel Knox wanted to travel 300 miles to Ft. Ticonderoga, which had been captured from the British earlier that year, and return with the cannon which were at the fort.The response from his fellow officers was not what he had hoped. The attendees were unanimous in their opinions: “Impractical, absurd, and foolhardy. Don't waste time, effort and money on this crazy and impossible scheme. You have obviously overlooked certain facts, you would be traveling in mid-winter, in an area where there are few roads and trails, snow covered mountain ranges, dense forests, rivers and lakes that would have to be crossed. You would need wagons, sleds, boats, oxen, horses and men willing to risk their lives in sub-zero temperatures. Impossible!” Washington, however, gave Knox the go ahead.

Fast forward to Christmas eve, several weeks later:

Colonel Knox was with his men at Glens Falls, New York. They had retrieved the 58 cannon weighing 160,000 lbs. from the fort and traveled in boats down Lake George. The scow (small boat) carrying most of the cannon had nearly sunk twice, the men had been forced to transfer the cannon to other boats and repair the scow while standing in freezing water..

Knox and his men were now waiting for snow to fall to continue their journey using sleds (it would have been nearly impossible to haul the heavy cannon using wagons). The Colonel was concerned that any delay would allow the British reinforcements to arrive in Boston and defeat Washington’s attempt to retake it, but had faith that it would snow soon.

When the men arose Christmas morning, two feet of snow was on the ground. They had received their Christmas present and now would attempt to bring General Washington his. They would be challenged every mile by cold, snow and rain, thawing, rivers, dense forests, steep hills and roads to be cleared.

The cannon arrived in Cambridge, MA on January 25th 1776. Having completed the impossible task, Colonel Knox and his men had made it possible for Washington to now force the British to evacuate Boston.

This holiday season, many may feel they are faced with a mission impossible to push through difficult circumstances. Please remember that faith and perseverance can prevail against long odds. Our nation’s history is filled with stories of dedicated men and women completing seemingly impossible endeavors. This season let us be hopeful for our community, state, and nation and look for ways we can apply our talents and faith to help make the world a better place.

Click here if you’d like to learn more about Colonel Knox’s journey.

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