Editor’s Note: We are publishing some favorite past posts (unfortunate but necessary alliteration) so the time references might be confusing. Forge on.
There are so many things I love about living in Wyoming. Sometimes, in mid-April, when it’s snowing and 18 degrees, I lose touch with those reasons but they quickly return to me when the sun shines and the recently returned robins sing. One of the perks of being a Wyomingite is that the whole theory of six degrees of separation is complete bunk. That’s the notion that I am only 6 acquaintances away from being close, personal friends with Bruce Springsteen or George Clooney. Sigh. If only. No, I argue that in Wyoming it’s about 2 degrees of separation. You know it’s true. I’m not from here but the longer I stay (21 years and counting), the more I realize the veracity of it. They say that Wyoming is just one long Main Street but I think it’s more like one scenic cul-de-sac that has really great block parties involving broncs and bulls. How often have you had a conversation that sounds something like this: “Hi! My name is Fred Hickenbock! I’m from Shoshoni!” “Hickenbock? Are you related to the Evanston Hickenbocks? I think my cousin used to date an Edith Hickenbock. Any relation?” “You bet! That’s my mom’s brother’s daughter’s kid!” Am I right or am I right?
And perish the thought about trying to do something illegal or immoral without getting caught by someone who knows you in this state. Back to the cul-de-sac theory. Inevitably, if you are in a Dubois bar lifting a cold one with someone who is not your spouse, it’s a done deal that your Torrington spouse will find out about it before you return home. The neighborhood watches out for each other and no one is invisible.
In a Wyoming town, this 2 degree of separation theory comes in even handier. If you want to get something done or meet someone, it’s pretty much an assumption that you know someone who knows that person. Want to talk with a city councilman? Sure, you can definitely send an email or call and you should. But you probably also know his bowling buddies and can call one of them for an introduction. Want to know what the new business is going in on Main St.? Excellent chance that you know the plumber whose van is parked outside and can call him for the scoop.
Thanks for slogging through all this for me to get to the point. Once again, I really do have one. When we had our Bridges Out of Poverty training, Regina the trainer told us that every single person in that room had resources. They might not be educational or monetary but we KNEW people. People who knew other people. People who could enroll someone in a college class. People who could help with taxes. People who could decipher a medical bill. People who could fix a tire. Never underestimate the power of connections. You may not realize you have them until they’re requested but you do. And they’re hugely valuable to someone else who may not have the same connections. So when you’re asked to give back to your community or to contribute, don’t feel like you have to automatically reach for your wallet. Your connections are the most precious resource you can share. Because in this beautiful cul-de-sac known as Sheridan, Wyoming, neighbors look out for each other and if they can’t loan the cup of sugar, they introduce you to the family 2 doors down who has it. Be that person.