Despite changes, sense of community remains strong
by Michael S. Coburn, Sublette Community Partnership
November 12, 2008
Preliminary results from the Community Satisfaction and Quality of Life Survey indicate a slight drop in community satisfaction among long-term residents compared to a decade ago. Despite this drop, community satisfaction remains high amongst respondents. During August and September 2008, 43 long-term residents from across Sublette County were interviewed to assess their overall community satisfaction and quality of life. The primary purpose of this survey was to assess if and how residents’ community satisfaction and quality of life have been affected by the current oil & gas boom within the county.
While overall community satisfaction has diminished, 79% of respondents reported still feeling Very at Home within Sublette County. Thus, while respondents were dissatisfied with many of the changes which have occurred in the county, they remain strongly attached to the county and its communities.
When asked what the greatest changes within Sublette County have been over the past 8-10 years, nearly half of respondents mentioned newcomers and their perceived lack of friendliness. Furthermore, respondents of the survey believe that the newcomers have changed the county for the worse. However, most respondents believe that the character of the newcomers is either strong or mixed, which suggests that the sheer number of newcomers and not the newcomers per se are the source of frustration and dissatisfaction.
Respondents were also asked to enumerate the positive and negative aspects of living in the county, People/Friends/Family along with the Physical Setting are considered the most positive aspects of the county by respondents while Newcomers and Traffic were considered the most negative. Interestingly, the negative aspects of the county provided by respondents were nearly
exclusively corollaries of industry/growth; conversely, all positive aspects of the county were non-industry/growth related. Growth Management is considered to be the most salient issue for the county in the next five years by respondents.
Overall respondents indicated they were doing better financially than a decade ago; however, age was found to be inversely related to current financial status, that is, the older the respondent the worse off they were financially. Interestingly, responses were constant across all other demographic variables, including whether one lived in the north or south county.
By and large most respondents indicated that their community well-being had been negatively affected by environmental impacts due to oil and gas development and that social relations within the county had been degraded—with many respondents indicating there was a palpable tension within their communities.
Finally, while the majority of respondents have been tolerant of growth to this point, many indicated that if growth continues along a trajectory parallel to the past five years, it will significantly augment the negative impacts experienced by residents. Moreover, while most indicated that they were currently satisfied; several respondents noted that a slight increase in perceived negative impacts would substantially affect their desire or ability to remain within the county.
The goal of this study has been to provide community planners with a resource with which to make informed decisions to meet the challenges of the county, and lessen the transition period for all residents. Therefore, in the coming months newcomers will be interviewed in an effort to assess their community satisfaction and quality of life and how this compares to long-term residents. Thanks to all residents who volunteered their time and opinions to this study, your time and efforts are greatly appreciated.
This report will be available online at www.sublette-se.org. For questions please contact Michael Coburn firstname.lastname@example.org.