One Stone/Boise, Idaho
‘Rise: Voice of a New Generation captures the story of One Stone, a one-of-a-kind, student-led high school in Boise, Idaho, that is reinventing education and changing the balance of power to put students in charge of their own learning. Follow the story of one of the only schools in the country run by students who are exploring a new way forward where their voices shape the future of education and the world.’
It’s exciting to see how this documentary authentically captures our voices as well as this moment in One Stone’s history.
— Lili Serio, One Stone Learner
As term ends, a commissioner considers legacy,
Larry Schoen looks back at a career in public life
by Mark Dee
Idaho Mountain Express
“I think elected office is immensely challenging. And I felt that, on a personal level, I needed that sort of challenge. I needed to try to live up to my ideals of public service.” Larry Schoen, former Blaine County commissioner
Schoen, who is 63, has had time to consider how a self-described private man transitioned to so public a life in Blaine County. And, he’s had time to consider his motto, which he attached to that career like a goal more than a decade ago: “To leave office with my integrity intact.”
He sat through plans for rampant growth, and saw them hollowed by the global belt-tightening of the Great Recession. He presided during natural disasters, fires and floods that wolfed up swaths of the Wood River Valley in quick and angry bites. He worked on wolves themselves, and other environmental fights that pitted interest against interest. There was Bowe Bergdahl, and the frenzy that swept through Hailey afterward. There were debates with Idaho Power, and Deer Creek and Camp Rainbow Gold—and thousands of other rulings, small to most everyone but the world to those involved, the discrete decisions that make up a career in politics that, at times, surprised Schoen himself.
“I’m a very private person,” he said. “You won’t find a Facebook page for me. You won’t find a lot of personal information out there. I hate having my picture taken, and I’m not very good at remembering people’s names. I’m not the sort of person you’d think of as primed for political life. But I think government service is important. I think elected office is immensely challenging. And I felt that, on a personal level, I needed that sort of challenge. I needed to try to live up to my ideals of public service. ‘To leave office with my integrity intact’—it all goes back to that.”
He turned 18 in 1973, a draft year at the ragged end of America’s involvement in Vietnam. It was a lottery—just luck that his number wasn’t called. Today, with the safety of decades between then and now, he wishes it was.
“I never did military service—I always regretted that,” he said. “I felt that at some point in my life, I needed to do some sort of serious public service. In a way, on a personal level, running for public office was my way of compensating.”
If his work as a reporter helped him explain policy, his life as a farmer helped shape it. He’s tried the three main modes of American living—urban, rural and suburban—and his view for the future of Blaine County is steeped in that experience.
“Hardly anybody has put as much effort into reading things, and parsing language,” said Len Harlig, a former county commissioner who remains a close observer of Blaine County politics. “He’s absolutely meticulous, going through materials to make sure they are correct, and accurate. He brought an efficiency to ordinances. His viewpoint was thorough, exhaustive and unaccepting of any comment not based in vigorous research. Even when you reached different conclusions, you never doubted the effort.”
His environmental record can match anyone’s in the county, according to Harlig, whether that meant advocating for conservation, or securing easements for open space and recreational access, or updating recycling and solid waste.
But Schoen describes himself as a progressive, and a pragmatist. Those combine to form a view of government that is closely tied to customer service, and much of his legacy—from internal communications, to organizational structure, to budgeting procedure—is, like the engine of any operation, hidden under the hood.
“As a county commissioner, Larry was a consummate professional,” said current board Chairman Jacob Greenberg. “His journalism background meant he was our go-to person to articulate policy.”
“Some of the most desirable and valuable communities in America have some of the strictest zoning—thought-out zoning codes that try to project the present and future values of those communities,” he said. “That’s especially true of small ski towns in Europe. And that’s why they still have their charm. We don’t want to lose our charm.”
Maintaining it was part of the Blaine County 2025 planning effort that Schoen participated in during the mid-2000s, as a member of P&Z. Back then, elected officials prepared for an unending boom. There was talk of two new towns—one by Gannett, another at Timmerman Junction. Projections envisioned the population swelling to 80,000 people in 20 years. Soon, Schoen thought, development pressure would burst out into the unincorporated county like champagne past a cork.
“I don’t know that they are all on the same page,” he said. “People acknowledge certain common values, like the need for affordable housing, the need to preserve our public lands and recreational access. The conversations really haven’t been had in a long time. Ketchum is doing its thing. Sun Valley does its thing. Hailey’s doing its thing. We need to work on a regional equation. If people are opposed to increased density in cities, but there’s development pressure, there’s only one place for it to go, and that’s out in the county. The question is, do we want to turn it into a suburbanized area? That’s a question for the community. The community needs to answer.”
Schoen’s personal answer is written across his land. He placed a conservation easement on the property curtailing its ability to be developed; those acres will never be subdivided.
“I would judge his view of county government as that of a purist,” he said. “He interpreted it as it was intended, and was fair in its application.”
Schoen: “When I talk to students, I tell them if you’re going to enter elected office, your main goal shouldn’t be to get re-elected. It should be to do what’s in the best interest of the community. To uphold the law. In a very dynamic, engaged county like ours, that will leave some people happy. Others won’t be. Eventually, that catches up with you.”
“There are roles I’ve been able to play because I was a county commissioner. I’m proud of the connections I’ve made, what I’ve been able to do. This job’s been immensely rewarding—for me personally, and, I hope, for our community.”
Solstice is Friday, December 21 at 3:22pm Mountain Standard Time
Full Moon is Saturday, December 22 at 10:48am Mountain Standard Time.
Solstices are always about a powerful s gift from the old into something new. This one is no exception. They are important times to release the past and to gain some clarity and set some intentions for the future.
Sun Valley Institute, “advancing economic, and social resilience in Blaine County with models and programs that are scalable and replicable nationally.”
Mother Lea at Emmanuel Episcopal in Hailey, Idaho reminds us that 1% of a 24 hour day is 14.4 minutes. If we use that time every day to be a ‘lamp, lifeboat, or ladder [Rumi] we will create change.
Idaho State Senate Minority Leader
Michelle writes, “After nearly three hours of debate, the Senate voted in favor of a measure that creates reporting requirements for complications that may have resulted from a pregnancy termination. The measure includes making linkages between terminations and 40 other medical conditions that may be experienced by a woman over the course of her life. The listed conditions include health complications that are seen in both men and women including comas, heart attacks, and strokes. Additionally, physicians who fail to comply with these reporting requirements face stiff fines and potential loss of license. Those who debated against the measure see it as a tremendous act of government overreach, <especially considering that no other surgical procedure in the state has similar reporting requirements.> These include a woman’s race, age, number of children she’s birthed that have lived, and number who have died. The bill would create an incredible expense for the Department of Health and Welfare, and ultimately taxpayers, to implement. I signed onto a bipartisan letter asking Governor Otter to veto the measure.”
The next day I left for the fields where silence reveals to the soul that which the spirit desires, and where the pure sky kills the germs of despair, nursed in the city by the narrow streets and obscured places.
[photo: Picabo, Idaho]
Republican Idaho Gubernatorial candidate Tommy Ahlquist spoke at the Senior Connection in Hailey, Friday, Sept. 29th, as he continues a 44-county state tour in 44-days. He talked about his three-legged platform focused on jobs, education, and healthcare.
Idaho’s Medicaid Gap & Compare/Contrast to Other Gubernatorial Candidates Brad Little and Raul Labrador
Idaho Governor in a Politically Polarized Nation
Trade/Vocation Education in Idaho
Four-Day School Week & Improving K-12 Funding
Senior Connection Medicaid Comment
For more information about KTEC/Kootenai Technical Education Campus mentioned in question #3, visit ktectraining.org.
Help fund the festival to keep it in Hailey, Idaho.
The annual Wood River Valley event started in 1977, and with competition from other festivals, it has become increasingly difficult to finance the festival and keep it viable in the valley.
There’s an online funding event account at: https://www.gofundme.com/savenrmusicfest
The 2-day festival takes place the first weekend every summer in August at Hailey’s Hop Porter Park.
“Climate Change Dynamics” by Russ Brown
Thurs., Oct. 8, 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm
*Aimee Christensen/ Sun Valley Inst. for Resilience
‘Join us for a special presentation on “Climate Change Dynamics” in partnership with the Environmental Resource Center (ERC). This program, led by Russ Brown, will begin with an introduction to the history of our planet’s climate cycles. The presentation will then move into an in-depth exploration of the Earth’s three most recent major climate changes, their effects on Earth’s life, and what this ultimately means for the future of our world. After this engaging 45-minute presentation, Aimee Christensen, Executive Director for the Sun Valley Institute for Resilience, will moderate a Q&A.
Brown has a B.S. and M.S. in Chemical Engineering from New Jersey Institute of Technology and has previously worked for several corporate and national laboratory research organizations such as the Allied Chemical Corporation, Idaho National Laboratory, and Argonne National Laboratory. He has also served as the President of the Idaho Alpine Club, Idaho Environmental Council and Greater Sawtooth Preservation Council.’