Last week, likely on either Wednesday evening or early Thursday, someone chose to graffiti the new bike park with spray-painted swastikas and crude depictions of genitals. In all likelihood it was an ignorant kid who does not understand the power of their actions, nor the severity of the symbol. Yet, even with this rationale, my mind reels.
We live here in this valley surrounded by beauty. To our north quite literally is Paradise. We celebrate wildflowers, pagans, fairies, softballers, skiers, the first snowfall in October, the first aspen leaf in spring, bicycles and beer. Here in our bubble, we celebrate the individual and the collective. So when I see these marks spray-painted so crassly on the town’s newest effort in building joy, all I can be is confused. And outraged.
Because how dare someone, whether they be a visitor or local, bring such hate into our beautiful home? It’s a perversion of what we hold sacred, and whether it was done out of malice or just stupidity, we cannot let such actions stand. We’re better than this. Here, where many of us know most of us by name, or at least notoriety, we have to be.
This place has plenty of problems. There’s a real disparity between classes. The housing situation is a mess. Traffic, parking, alcoholism, recreational drug use, littering, lack of diversity, limited health care, over-use of public lands. I can accept and work with these as part of the tax that comes with living in an end-of-the-road mountain town. But painting a swastika within a rock’s throw of our Community School and walking away like a coward? It is unacceptable and intolerable.
I know for many people this has the potential to be an us vs. them incident. We’ll look at each other, and lay the blame on the kid from out-of-town who doesn’t mountain bike and can’t tell a lupine from a log. But what if it wasn’t? What if this was the act of one of our own? What then? And, more so, does it matter? Would our message to the perpetrator be different?
I have two young boys at home. At night after I put them in bed, I look out my window toward Mt. Emmons, the mountain on whose summit my husband proposed and whose name is written on my older son’s birth certificate, and I give thanks for this place, for the chance to live here and to raise my boys here.
Because, I believe, perhaps more than anything, that the place we call home shapes who we are, and what I want for my boys is for them to grow up kind and brave. I think here that’s possible.
We live in this community of celebration. Let’s stand together and remind the world that hate and ugliness do not belong in our home by showing each other greater kindness, and reminding those around us that everywhere there is beauty.
And a huge thanks to the Crested Butte parks and recreation department and the marshals for getting the graffiti cleaned up. It’s a busy time of year, and fast-tracking this situation is something we appreciate and applaud.