Take baby steps. Eat the elephant one bite at a time. There’s no shortage of cute strategies when it comes to tackling a big, unwieldy problem.

Only — baby steps don’t get you far when you’re on the wrong path to begin with, and a whole lotta elephant goes rancid while you’re chewing those little bites. (Also, who’d want to eat an elephant anyway?)

These sayings allow us to roll up our sleeves, break up inertia and ease big-problem anxiety. Crossing the finish line is another matter entirely.

To that end we applaud the Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation’s Community Development Strategy and Coalition approach to several vital issues facing our region.

Thirty businesses, governmental units and nonprofit and philanthropic organizations pledged to share information, resources and funding access.

Their combined weight will point at ur- gent problems like the high cost of housing and transportation, children who are not ready for kindergarten, and the subsequent drop in the number of working families in the region.

Other goals, organized in categories of economic development, societal and environmental, include increasing the average wage, creating affordable housing, attracting more science- and technology-based companies to the region and reducing energy consumption.

The coalition will take stock of itself by way of a scorecard with identified targets to hit by 2030. They will use data, studies and community outreach to track progress, said David Mengebier, president and CEO of the foundation.

Forming the coalition is the easy part, he said.

“What’s harder is actually moving the needle on these kinds of societal, economic, environmental and development issues.”

Hard work lies ahead. All of the counties in our region — Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska and Leelanau — are places where average wages collide with above-average housing costs. The unsustainable trajectory has gutted many communities around the country.

But collaborations can move mountains, (and industrial parks and hydroelectric dams) and we have seen it, time and again in our own community.

Working together can turn rocks into pebbles, and pebbles into sand.

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