Editorial: An Open Letter to Cheryl Kilday

Congratulations on accepting your new job as president and CEO of the Spokane Convention and Visitors Bureau. I know you didn’t ask, but here’s what I think creates the distinctive outdoor character of our mid-size metropolis.

Spokane doesn’t have Central Park, Niagara Falls, The San Juan Islands, or the Grand Canyon. But the absence of one of the eight wonders of the outdoor world doesn’t hurt us. You see, in Spokane nothing may be spectacular, but everything’s amazing.

Mountain bike trails on the South Hill bluff? Amazing. A half-a-dozen climbing crags on different kinds of rock minutes from downtown? Amazing. A river that cuts through the city and provides both whitewater and fly-fishing? Amazing. Great resort and backcountry skiing within an hour or two of town? More lakes than anyone can name? Road biking on the Palouse? An ever-improving parks system with dedicated funding? All amazing. A general lack of crowds and over-development compared to other outdoor meccas? Also amazing.

But historically we haven’t done an amazing job of letting people know what we have here. If you live here long enough you start to get blasé’ about the variety of outdoor activities and their great accessibility. You can start to take Spokane base-camp for granted. And there are Spokanites happy not to share our little outdoor secret. I don’t need to tell you but a locals only attitude isn’t going to jumpstart our economic development.

Pumping our strengths will. We have a wide variety of outdoor recreation and terrain in close proximity to our urban core that is as good or better than any other mid-size city in the western United States. And Seattle, Boulder, San Diego, Santa Fe all wish they had our cost of living.

Which brings us to Rock Shox, the bike suspension company. Years ago they were considering a move to Spokane but when they came to visit no one could show them where to mountain bike. They relocated to Boulder instead. Never again I say.

Welcome to Spokane. You’ve got great job in a great town with great staff and community support to help you carry it out. If you ever need someone to help show folks what an amazing outdoor scene we have, I am happy to put myself and each and every one of our 25,000 readers at your disposal.

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