I attended the 12th Annual Viola Awards last evening and was again impressed by the diversity of the nominees and the different award categories. Named for Viola Babbitt, an ardent supporter of arts and education, this event was truly reflective of Flagstaff. There were individuals from numerous ethnic groups, different lifestyles, and all ages. The awards covered a broad range of categories including, but not limited to, education for toddlers to senior citizens, arts in it numerous different forms, science and STEM in its multitude of disciplines, and community activists who may champion commonly agreed upon needs or advocate social change within Flagstaff and our larger national perspective.
The diversity of award categories, nominees and attendees was also reflective of our regional community. Not only were Native people, African-Americans, Latinx, and Anglo present, but so was a sense of our natural world as expressed in the arts, music and science. We live in an incredible region that includes aspects of the Great Basin Desert, temperate pinyon-juniper forest, mountainous Ponderosa Pine and Canadian forests. This intermix of nature with human culture is reminder of what we need to preserve within our community and our country – diversity. The very foundation of natural systems that support human culture is the diversity of species, each fulfilling its own niche, each entitled to its own life, liberty, and pursuit of existence.
As we enter into our next election season, I ask everyone, regardless of race, religion, sex or political affiliation (including independents), to research the different candidates running for office. Then look to your children, grandchildren and beyond and ask yourself which of those candidates will be the best stewards in maintaining both human and natural diversity. Though not on the ballot, the consequence of our tabulated votes is the future quality of life for your current or future grandkids.