Focusing on the positive with local housing, trash and communication

During an off-season happy hour last week, a long-time resident of Crested Butte who has always a rented a place in the North Valley saddled up to the bar and suggested I write something positive on page 2. Ouch. I feel I try to get out the good word while still being realistic that not everything is all rainbows and unicorns. Specifically, he wanted me to help let people know there are good landlords out there and his landlord is one. 

This 40+-year community member relayed that while it might not have been the best thing in the world to not have bought something in the valley a few decades ago, he is extremely grateful that his landlord has not raised his rent in years. In fact, my happy hour companion said he insisted on a rent increase. 

“There are a lot of good people out there and in my case, the generosity of the people that own the place where I live has allowed me to stay here,” he noted. “That, on top of the people who continue to put me on the schedule to work when I’m not a regular really is helpful. I don’t want to have to leave this place and those are just two examples of people and their positive actions that are allowing me to remain in this place. Look around here – this is family and while I have started to investigate places I might go that I can afford if the situation changes, I am extremely grateful to be able to be in Crested Butte under my circumstances.”

I know there are many people who are under far more stressful housing conditions and worry every day about their rental being sold. Some wake up wondering if they’ll have to move and leave a place they love. But there are people who are helping to keep community intact. Some probably can afford to not raise rent because it doesn’t matter to them if a renter pays $800/month or $1,800/month. Other landlords suck it up a bit because they have good renters who take care of the unit and contribute to the town. 

So taking the advice I received over a beer, I agree and people should hear about the fact there is some good, positive energy out there in the free-market housing pool and I want to help spread that word. Those people deserve accolades not just from the renters who are surviving an increasingly tense housing situation, but from the entire community. After all, it is the entire community that benefits from having good people be able to live near their jobs or just be able to stay in the community and remain part of a changing town that can always use some experience and wisdom from those who have been here awhile.

Staying in the positive frame of mind — let’s talk trash. In this case, the new town trash cans. They appeared suddenly last week throughout town and are whimsical works of art. Colorful, varied, painted and designed by adults and kids, the trash cans add another small piece of Crested Butte unique to our town. I am loving them.

There are 24 garbage and recycling receptacles painted by four local artists and the Crested Butte Community School third grade class. There’s the mental health assistance can, the don’t litter cans, the chill out cans, the learn about mushrooms cans, and others. Trash cans will use lasers to let the right people know when it is time to be emptied (trippy), so in theory, the somewhat disgusting overflow of garbage we all saw too often last summer should not happen as much this year.

The mobile art on the Mountain Express buses has always made me happy. Finding a blue rock with a timely message in a weird place has always made me smile. The Wheels of Intention is another fun thing to happen upon. Having fun local art on our trash cans adds to that part of my happiness quotient.

We seem to be in the off-season period of open houses. In just the last couple weeks there have been the CB transportation plan open house, the Red Lady Land Exchange open house, the county contractors open house and the Whetstone affordable housing developer open house. To me, these represent the local governments and officials making real effort to reach out to the community in general and provide information about what’s on the horizon. 

I didn’t go to them all since I go to a lot of meetings in my life already, but I appreciate small town officials making honest small town effort to at least provide opportunities for small town residents to provide small town feedback on the small town issues swirling around us. It won’t stop a few people from coming in at the last minute to protest some policy decision, but kudos to the local officials for making sincere attempts to involve the public in public policy. 

And finally, I don’t know about you, but it sure seems like a lot of things in the last few weeks have been harder than they need to be. Naturally I popped on the Googles to do deep research on Mercury in retrograde — and sure enough, Mercury retrograde is in place until May 14. The positive news is that we emerge from this period known for delays, frustrations, miscommunications and technological mishaps in just a few days. Thank goodness. Things should be smoother starting this Sunday, Mother’s Day. And just an FYI – there are two more such periods this year. They take place August 23—September 15 and December 13—January 1. 

So there we are in the land of positivity. Not everything is all rainbows and unicorns all the time—heck, local law enforcement is investigating two people found shot to death 20 miles west of Gunnison on Monday, so bad stuff happens here too —but that is an anomaly here in the valley. I am glad for the happy hour reminder and productive advice to help spread the word that there are indeed rainbows and unicorns among us.

—Mark Reaman

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