Saturday, April 20, 2019
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Getting real with the fantasy…

As generally outlined in last week’s CB News, I am a supporter of Crested Butte hosting the major special event on the horizon (MSEOTH) in early September. Based on the little anyone seems to really know, I think it could be weird enough and fun enough and interesting enough to reflect this town.
But because of how it has been handled by the town and its reps, the MSEOTH is a MESS (a Major Effin’ Sh** Show). The rollout in this community has been awful. Despite some early assurances to the contrary, I think there was no intention to have a local informational rollout. I think the idea was to keep it a secret into September. Bad move.
I thought it understandable to give some breathing room to the proponents of a big event and the town staff to work out general details of a concept signed off by the council in April. However, that was three months ago. The event is now three weeks away. Springing final details on the citizens of a real town at the 11th hour and 50th minute is so inappropriate and just lame. It didn’t have to be that way. So what was the consequence?
As a result of that dropped ball, the fear of the unknown has taken over some segments of the community. Instead of taking time to clear up confusion, the event liaisons have seemed to stop communicating—at least with me, with the residents likely to feel the most impact and with the businesses not directly receiving financial benefits. So the chips are falling where they will.
Was it realistic for a major multi-national company to come to a little mountain village and think their presence and plan would be kept a secret? No. They kept it on the down low for several months but they and the town apparently didn’t take advantage of that quiet time. Are they living in a fantasy world? Well, yes and that is attractive in some regard and could be reflected in the event. It could be really, really fun for everyone or a good excuse to camp in the backcountry if it isn’t your cup of tea. I want to see a blue elephant on Elk Avenue.
But the bottom line is that this is a real town and not a soundstage. A real town has rules, regulations and process in place to be transparent with its citizens and protect those who live and work here. To think those could be bypassed until the day of the event was ludicrous. Real people deserve real respect. That could have been done with a real outreach effort by the town and applicant. It would have taken real work but would have calmed real fears brought about by real secret tactics. Personal contact, the ability to listen to concerns and an effort to forge an honest partnership instead of a cliquey divide would have served everyone better.
It seems that since more and more about the event has become public, and people connected the dots in the News, the localized social media hype has blown up. Facebook is rife with references including Adweek articles about beer commercials. There are at least grains (or hops) of truth in probably all of it. And thus there is a real question about the event even happening here. 
Based on the concept outlined in last week’s paper, I hope it happens. With some trust in the town staff, I think it can be pulled off here in a good way to the benefit of everyone, including the proponent. But it is time for real transparency and information. 
The council has made no official approval but certainly gave the wink and a nod to the general concept months ago. For them to pull the plug at this late hour would be pretty rude and lame. So as the surmountable details get fixed, the council and their representatives in my opinion should reach out to the people. All the people. Then hold the public hearing, evaluate the details to make sure the event falls within the lines of the original concept, make the rules clear, get a chunk of change, protect the town assets and let everyone have a great September party. And when it’s over, let’s all have the debate of, “is this what we want?” It could have been done better and more professionally months ago and I hope it can still be done today. But it is time to meld reality with a fun fantasy.

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