One Village

“One life With each other
Sisters, Brothers

One life, But we’re not the same
We get to, Carry each other
Carry each other…”
—U2

Under the old “It takes a village…” concept, Crested Butte and the north end of the valley is definitely a high mountain village. Made up of some usually interesting and often goofy individuals, this is a strong community. And going beyond the old adage, this village does more than just help raise our children. The village supports each other’s families. The village comes to the aid of those in need. The village is deep and broad and connected. One may ski the backcountry, kayak the rivers or ride dirt bikes. One may read poetry, act on stage or dance. We can have different passions and we don’t always have to agree (see the last four issues of the News) but together these individuals make a solid village and it is that village that can help keep things in perspective.
Yeah, there is some tension between some high-profile lightning rods in the community at the moment. Yeah, it is harder to make a living here as skier days decline. Yeah, the airline situation isn’t optimal and we could use another couple hundred inches of snow while the lifts are still turning. These are all serious, stressful and real issues, but…

There are two big buts referenced in the News this week. Longtime local and bus guy Steve Lawlor is battling cancer in Chicago right now. He discovered a lump about a year ago and it’s gotten worse since. Steve would probably rather be driving or supervising bus loops up and down Gothic Road when it’s snowing three feet and blowing 50 miles per hour than doing rounds of chemo in Chicago, but instead he’s dealing. Let’s keep things in perspective.
A soccer fundraiser will be held March 11 at the Community School to help Steve with his bills. It will run like the one held last year for our friend Stephen Gardener who also was dealing with cancer.

And then there’s the Lamar-Alvarez family. Eight-year-old Cash Lamar came down with a sudden, freak infection about a month ago that put him on life support machines in a Denver hospital. His dad Craig is a local teacher at the Community School. His mom Roxana has worked in interior design, restaurants and art. Cash’s sister is Paloma. They have basically been ensconced at the hospital for the last month. Since then, a gazillion local businesses and individuals have participated in fundraisers to help the family. Given a rough local economy, that in itself is pretty impressive and pretty wonderful. One business and one person at a time have chipped in and added to the growing pool of contributions.
I went to the fundraiser at Maxwell’s last Sunday night and it was amazing and it was filled with perspective. A live computer feed from Cash’s hospital room showed a family holding up pretty well in really unfortunate circumstances. There were hundreds of silent auction items from local businesses and they all appeared maxed out on the bid sheets. Musicians from age six to 60 played the event. Tyler Hansen opened his set with U2’s “One” and it spoke to the evening. One local character put a four-figure check in my hand to get to Roxana. One of Cash’s friends greeted people at the door. One of Roxana’s friends thanked the crowd for showing up and supporting. Hundreds of people of all ages and backgrounds, as individuals and as one very large family mingled for hours in the caring energy.
Beyond Sunday’s event, one local high school student has written a song for Cash and sold it on iTunes with all the proceeds going to the family. I just heard of one guy who has spent the majority of his time in Denver supporting the family. Friends and strangers from here and all over the world have been there to listen, help and support, both in person and on Facebook (Love for Cash).

It all speaks to the heart of this village. No one wants to deal with these life-threatening situations. Obviously, we’d all rather play in the mountains and enjoy life in our high valley playground instead of dealing or seeing our friends and neighbors deal with real life calamity. But what Cash and Steve, their families and friends are going through is real. And real life doesn’t stop just because we live in a magical mountain village.

So, when you think it’s hard making it here (and it seriously can be) or when you are tired of seeing your buddy called out in the paper… put it in perspective.
And remember that we are all living in the same village. Ultimately, we are all one family. One individual at a time can make a difference but together, this village is proving, again, that there is such a thing as a positive Crestitude. Nice work sisters and brothers. Thank you.

—Mark Reaman

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