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Our View: Sorrow and celebration

Sometimes “all the news that’s fit to print” seems to be bad news. Monday’s slaughter of innocent people in a Boulder grocery store is just the latest example.

Our hearts go out to the families and friends of the victims, and to all those traumatized in past mass shootings in our state, who are certainly re-traumatized each time such events occur.

The litany of gun violence in recent years in Colorado, offered by Sen. John Hickenlooper, is shocking: “Columbine, Arapahoe, Platte Canyon, STEM School Highlands Ranch, Planned Parenthood, Aurora – and now Boulder,” Hickenlooper said in a statement. “More needs to be done to prevent dangerous weapons from falling into the wrong hands. Enough is enough.”

We wholeheartedly agree.

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: We are not anti-gun, but we are anti-gun violence. Effective gun safety measures must be enacted to help stem the violence.

Yet in the wake of this terrible event – perhaps even because of it – we must look to the good that is happening in our community and our country.

For one thing, more and more of us are getting vaccinated against COVID-19. The many volunteers (especially organizer Karen Zink) who initiated and ran the vaccine clinic at the fairgrounds for weeks deserve our thanks. The staff of San Juan Basin Public Health, notably director Lianne Jollon – who has taken so much undeserved criticism for her stellar work – also deserves our gratitude.

For many of us, freedom from the persistent anxiety about getting infected is now as contagious as coronavirus.

Which brings us to the downtown restaurant “bump-outs” open now and coming soon. They’re another sign that Durango is making a comeback from COVID-19, and we urge everyone who feels safe to do so to share a meal (or meals!) with family or friends at their favorite food establishments soon.

Let’s keep wearing our masks and following social distancing protocols to protect each other; the finish line is in sight.

Another thing we’re celebrating is the confirmation of Deb Haaland, former Congresswoman from New Mexico, as secretary of the Interior Department. It’s long overdue to have a Native American at the helm of Interior, which exercises control over our natural resources and public lands and is responsible for the nation’s relationships with tribal groups.

Haaland’s behavior under the pressure (and sometimes hostility) of her confirmation hearings is evidence of her wisdom, humility and patience, all of which will be necessary to her success at Interior.

We know it will be difficult; Native Americans especially may have unrealistic expectations of what she will be able to accomplish on their behalf.

Still, it is with great hope that we anticipate her leadership on climate change and public lands management, so crucial to our local and regional economies and to our love for the outdoors.

“At my confirmation hearing, I said that we all have a stake in the future of our country,” Haaland said upon taking office. “No matter your political party or zip code, your ancestral heritage or income level, we all must take the formidable challenges that lie ahead seriously, and we will take them head-on, together.

“I am proud and humbled to lead the dedicated team at Interior as we seek to leave a livable planet for future generations. Together, we will work to advance President Biden’s vision to honor our nation-to-nation relationship with Tribes, address the climate and nature crises, advance environmental justice, and build a clean energy future that creates good-paying jobs and powers our nation.”

Here, here.

Grass is turning green, even under the remnants of dirty snow left here and there. Find something to celebrate!