Micah Mortensen is the 40 Under 40 Man of the Year. We invited him to answer the question, "What can Tucson do better to make the metro area an attractive place for young people to live and work?"
I love Tucson! It is my home, and I am a proud product of this community. As a kid growing up in the area, I spent my days playing small town little league baseball, taking scenic rides to Mount Lemmon and Sabino Canyon, witnessing a strong sense of patriotism and duty to country.
I cheer relentlessly for the Wildcats and will always be a Wildcat. Bear Down!
Tucson has always been good to me. I have never desired to leave it. It has that amazing sense of "home."
As we make decisions about the future of our community, an important first step is to identify our strengths.
The University of Arizona, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, our diverse business community, our unique natural beauty, our cozy college town feel, and our cultural and ethnic diversity are the foundation of our community. These are non-negotiable, untouchable.
We must fiercely protect them, adequately fund them, and use them to help guide us as we make decisions to ensure a brighter tomorrow.
The first step may be a guide, but it is meaningless without the devotion to invest in one another.
My experiences have taught me that investing time in others is critical to success. I have been shaped by many people in our community who have invested in me.
I stand on their shoulders: my parents, my family, my teachers, my coaches, my colleagues. I ask myself daily, how can I make my family better? How can I make my school community better? The answers continually come back to investing in one another and developing strong, lasting relationships.
It is that investment in others that binds us together and creates a community worth living in. Understanding that progress comes from compromise, discussion and listening to one another is paramount. We must practice the difficult task of getting along.
As we look forward, no doubt the engine of change is ever churning, and as we make critical decisions, let's hold on to what makes Tucson great. Let's strive to be an inviting community where the most talented, the highly motivated, and most innovative people desire to live. Our community is defined by the people who live here, we are our greatest resource. The health of Tucson hinges on our ability to invest in each other and to work together.
Micah Mortensen is principal of Desert Sky Middle School in the Vail School District.