Our Shared Future: Investing in the Social Capital of Upton, WY
thesisposted on 2020-12-15, 00:00 authored by Scott Gerber
As in many rural Wyoming communities, the Upton, WY economy relies on the oil, gas and coal industries. As energy revenue wanes, the future of our community and others like it is unsure. Upton faces massive jobs losses and will need to transition jobs into other industries for our community to continue to thrive. However, Upton’s history indicates that it may be unwilling to embrace these changes. As a longtime resident, business leader, and community organizer in Upton, I have witnessed decades of continuing resistance to many community progress efforts. Although lack of interest, lack of funding, or lack of resources are often cited as the cause for our community resisting individual and group endeavors towards progress, there is an underlying lack of social support and collective effort towards community improvement. In order to better understand this problem, I use the Community Capitals Framework to analyze the community as a whole and develop a method and starting point for a solution. This project draws both from in-depth interviews with community leaders and business owners and empirical data from similar rural communities across the U.S. This Honors Capstone is a community engagement project that aims to spark investment in the social capital of the community by encouraging and leading stakeholders through a visioning process. This Capstone concludes that investment in social capital in Upton, Wyoming, through a community visioning process is the best first step towards a more resilient and engaged community.