Love and hate…

There is so much happening so fast right now that it can be overwhelming. It is easy to feel lost as changes we can’t control sweep over our little piece of paradise. It might help to take a deep breath and remember to ask the question — how does a change help (or hurt) the community in general? There are some things I love in that realm and others I hate…but we all still have the chance to help guide the change.

I love this latest announcement from the Mount Emmons Mining Company that makes clear it doesn’t want to mine…at least not on Red Lady. While I’m sure there is a bottom line financial component to the move, the company appears to really be hearing the concerns of the community about a molybdenum mine three miles from Elk Avenue. It feels like the mining execs know they are stuck with the remnants of an old mine and are responsible to make sure it doesn’t screw up the valley. That’s appreciated and hasn’t always been the case with previous owners. I understand that the details have yet to be settled but this announcement by a company that makes money through mining about taking steps to prohibit mining is something to love.

I hate what happened to Colorado’s Elijah McClain. I love that an independent report released this week refutes the official lie that originally came from Aurora officials and makes clear he should still be alive today. By all accounts he was a happy kid who played violin for abandoned cats and dogs on his lunch hour at a nearby animal shelter, and ended up being killed by Aurora police while walking home from the store. I hate everything about that. I hate that the cops stopped him without a reason. I hate that they kept using painful restraining tactics when it wasn’t necessary. I hate that paramedics injected him with ketamine. I hate that the city hasn’t fired or arrested the cops and paramedics involved and tried to gloss over the incident. That’s just systemic BS and tells me investigators either didn’t look at the body cam video or they fell back on protecting the cops who should be charged with murder. I hate everything about that situation except that the independent report released this week makes clear that Elijah McClain did not deserve to die. Now, there needs to be accountability. And that matters to all of us in this country, this state and this community.

As a property owner on a budget, I hate the idea of a $100 million tax increase but love that the Gunnison school district administration is setting up a committee to look over its proposed expansion plan that may or may not find its way onto the ballot next fall. With the quick changes we all see happening in the valley, I would expect voters that have money and kids – a lot of the people moving here now – would vote to approve such an expensive school expansion. But that could punch the middle class in the gut with a lot higher tax bill that could translate to higher rents and higher prices in restaurants and shops. I am not yet convinced we need all the things in this initial plan but could get behind a vetted proposal that improves things for all families in this community. We are starting that vetting process now and I love that superintendent Leslie Nichols is organizing a public process to look deeper into the details before trying to sell a vote.

I hate that so many Republicans including our Congressional representative now seem to be embracing the idea that the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol was a little blip from the past that doesn’t really mean anything. And many of those same Republican leaders like Steve Scalise and Josh Hawley continue to spread what is now being called the Big Lie that Joe Biden stole the election. Actually, based on Republicans in charge of the various elections, it is quite clear that Donald tried his best to steal the election. For major political party leaders to support the ruin of this Republic in order to pay homage to a cult figure is something to hate.

I love the emerging opportunities sprouting in the valley for affordable housing. There are a number of possible government projects in the works as well as potential with incoming free market developments. From the North Village in Mt. Crested Butte to Gunnison Rising east of the county seat, there is the potential to add deed-restricted and affordable free market housing to our community. Like with the mine announcement, the details are not yet clear but with some creative direction and guidance, there is a chance to do something here in a different way that keeps the overall community diverse and interesting for all economic levels. Let’s not look back in 10 years and hate that we missed a unique chance to keep this place a community.

I’ve said before and will again say how much I love how the county has handled the coronavirus pandemic. The leadership team hasn’t gotten it all right but it has stepped up and actually not been afraid to lead. Our neighbors in charge of dealing with this weird virus have made decisions that have kept our valley relatively open. We seem to have set the standard on how to keep businesses open and kids in the classroom. Decisions have been made with seriousness and compassion given the changing tide of an unknown disease. I love that we live in a place full of creative and strong people. It is another reason to really like it here.

Look, there will always be change in this valley and it sure is coming really fast at the moment. Some change is good and some change is influencing the place to be just another pretty mountain valley with little unique character. I hate that. Now is the time to shape the changes whether you love it or hate it. And we are lucky to still live in a place where every individual can actually help do that so get involved and channel your feelings to guide what is coming. What do you love?

—Mark Reaman

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