February 2, 2023 |

Your personal story about living in Wyoming, whether it ends happily ever after or not, could wind up in front of state lawmakers and have an impact on future policies.

Two University of Wyoming professors are collecting stories from residents, and they’ll be in Carbon County next week. Dr. Jean Garrison is a co-founder of the Malcolm Wallop Civic Engagement Program. The group is traveling the state collecting stories about opportunities or barriers distinctive to each community. Professor Garrison is compiling first-hand accounts of everyday life, both the good and the bad.

Dr. Jason McConnell, also a co-director of the Civic Engagement Program, is working with Dr. Garrison on the project.

The program is named after the late Wyoming Senator Malcolm Wallop, who died in 2011. After serving in the state legislature for seven years, Wallop was elected to the United States Senate. He served three terms, retiring in 1995.

Dr. Garrison said the Civic Engagement Program is named after Wallop because he believed in having an open dialog between the government and the people.

Through a series of public meetings held around Wyoming, the Civic Engagement Program is collecting photographs and stories about life in the Cowboy State through the years. Dr. McConnell will host the upcoming meetings in Rawlins and Saratoga. Dr. Garrison said anyone with a story to share is welcome to attend.

Once stories and pictures have been collected from each community, Dr. Garrison said she and the other members of the Civic Engagement Program will compile the data into a map. She added that her group may revisit certain areas to collect more data.

The program started by requesting photographs from people, and asking what they represent. Doctors Garrison and McConnell have begun assembling a catalog of life in this area of the country. Dr. Garrison said the idea is to share the information with educators.

Dr. Garrison and the other members of the Malcolm Wallop Civic Engagement Program are targeting specific areas of the state to amass as many life stories as possible. She said Wyomingites have many shared experiences.

Dr. Garrison said most people who submitted picture essays expressed pride in their small communities and love of the outdoors. She said the most common disadvantage people see about living in Wyoming is a lack of available housing.

Dr. Garrison said the Malcolm Wallop Civic Engagement Program’s goal is to share information and ideas about life in the state. She said her hope is for legislatures to take the collected data into account when drafting state policy.

Residents of Carbon County may attend the community conversation meetings next week. From 5 – 6 p.m., on Thursday, February 9th, Dr. Jason McConnell will be in Room 1 of the Carbon County Higher Education Center, located at 1650 Harshman Street. The next day, Friday, February 10th, Dr. McConnell will be at the Saratoga Public Library, at 503 West Elm Avenue, from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. All dates and times are weather dependent.

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