Bye for Now

A couple months ago, I sat down in the audience with some women I didn’t know before a speech in Mt. Crested Butte. I introduced myself briefly and laughed as I acknowledged, “Yes, I’m that Aleesha—the one that works at the newspaper.”
“You’re a woman with a lot of opinions,” said one matter-of-factly, but not unkindly.
I suppose that’s true.
When I first sat in the editor’s chair at the Crested Butte News, I was flabbergasted about what I would write on page two every week. I couldn’t imagine that there was enough fodder to warrant a weekly commentary, even though I’d watched former editors do it for years. Of course, I was wrong. In a place like this, where community members care about what’s happening, there’s always something to write about.
My opinions have been based wholly in wanting Crested Butte and Gunnison County to be the best community to live in the United States. But mostly it’s nit-picking because this is a really great place to live.
As we move into the future, I believe the deep concern that spurs debate and editorials is where Crested Butte’s success will lie. We will flourish by throwing our arms open to a diverse quilt of new community members and showing them the magic of living here.
Personally, I’ve been very fortunate to have some of the best guides in Gunnison County to show me why being here is full of wonder, sense of place, and community. Not least among them are the people that started the Crested Butte News from scratch—Melissa Ruch, Edward Stern, Jill Hickey and Than Acuff. Their hard work and leadership have created an instrument to record Crested Butte’s best moments and I’m grateful to each of them for their mentorship. It was a great honor when they selected me as editor of the publication into which they’d poured so much sweat and tears. In a very real sense, they let me take some ownership of what was theirs.
In the same vein, I believe legendary mine opponent W. Mitchell is right. During his speech this summer, he said our strength will come by giving each person permission to protect this place—we should make everyone that walks into town a kind of gatekeeper.
But he wasn’t sure how citizens would pass on that gate-keeper role. I think we do it through our actions–by welcoming every new person that drives up Highway 135. Crested Butte will succeed by conveying the beloved title of “local” onto everyone who wants it.
As a bit of business, you’ll continue to hear from me for a few more weeks, even though I won’t have office hours at the newspaper. After watching local politics for the past six years, we felt I was in a good position to endorse candidates and issues before I move on.
There’s a part of my heart that thought it would always live at the head of this draw and of course, I know I’ll be back. Being a “local” in Crested Butte is something that stays with you.
As I walk down the road, I’ll hum a song that’s both happy and sad—my heart full of blessings bestowed in the most beautiful place on earth.
 -Aleesha Towns

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