Ask the right questions….

“Do you know who I am?!” 

So asked our congressional representative when she was booted from a Denver theatre for inappropriate behavior last week. Yes Lauren, we do. You appear a horny vaper seeking attention at any cost who seems to have little interest in the seriousness of your job but bathes in entitlement while showering division throughout our congressional district that includes this valley.

A more thoughtful question might be, “Do I know who I am?” That might be a bit too introspective for Ms. Boebert who, until she realized her obnoxiously entitled behavior was caught on camera, simply lied about her actions.

Do I know who I am? For me personally this past week, I was a guy who went to a lot of meetings and events. All those gatherings could be seen as centered on asking the community question — Do we know who we are — or who we want to be?

As the seasons change, fall is perhaps a good time to reflect on who you are individually—or who we are as a community. The days cool down and become shorter. The pace of life slows down. The opportunity to be in nature before the snow flies is paramount. It is a good time to breathe and reflect.

Local people are working to determine who “we” want to be with the proposed Whetstone workforce housing project. Initial discussions at two citizen meetings last week indicated we want to be a community that provides security for the people who have chosen this place to live and work. We want to be a community that honors not just the ability to have a roof and bed close to a job but also honors the desire to participate in the outdoor lifestyle. We want to be a place that provides a potential path for an individual to arrive as a ski bum and then transition to having a family and eventually become a community elder. Details (and of course costs) are what the current meetings are focused on. Good stuff.

The Crested Butte Transportation and Mobility Plan generated a long council discussion last week. There’s no shortage of trying to determine who we want to be in that evolving draft plan. Overall, it currently reads to me that the town wants to use more rules and regulations to push CB toward a place where a car is not convenient but there are alternatives to vehicles. The plan wants to regulate more things so that hopefully people here connect more with one another. Sounds ideal, aside from the increase in regulations.

If not careful, the plan could go off the rails (if only we had rails!) and turn us into another Breckenridge experience that is harder to get to. It’s easy to fall for big city solutions to our small-town issues. Of the six “success measures” evaluated in the latest document, four were noted that “keeping our rough edges and polish only when necessary” as neither accomplishing nor not accomplishing that goal but labelled as “it depends.” Red flag alert! To me, just the phrasing, “keeping our rough edges and polish only when necessary” seems tritely polished in a calculated way. Crested Butte funkiness is organic, and I doubt planning for funkiness results in funky.

Using that “rough edges” metric to make decisions is a change from what the community used in the past to determine future direction. The guiding questions used to be, “will this work for us?” or “does this action make the town/valley good for the people living here now?” If so, we’d move forward, the community members benefitted, and we attracted kindred spirit tourists that liked what we liked. Of all the success measures and guiding metrics in this plan, doing “what is best for the people living here now” should perhaps be 1A.

Frankly, adding more regulations to a community of people that came here in part to get away from regulations should be done judiciously. They are sometimes necessary but how does adding stricter regulations over alleys, prohibiting snowmelt to keep sidewalks free of ice in the winter, expanding rules for parking permits, eliminating parking spaces at Third and Elk, make our lives better? Start there. I have opinions on all those issues, and I know others do too. But whether it is this plan or the budget or housing workers, I would suggest the town leaders consider shifting from asking “how do we keep our rough edges” to asking how a decision will “benefit the people here now.” Of course, the priority would be the residents of town followed by the rest of us in the North Valley and beyond.

While in reflective mode, let’s understand it’s not all rainbows and unicorns here and we can’t ignore the hard questions. I attended the Project Hope luncheon last week. An impressive event centered on supporting local women (and men) dealing with domestic violence, sexual assault and other tragic situations, Project Hope is a normally under-the-radar organization doing the good work in a dark place. With help from the local health community, law enforcement and other citizens, Project Hope is stepping up to help those who need it in the most desperate of times. Can women experience tragedy here in the postcard of a resort community? Unfortunately, the answer is yes and thank goodness there is a dedicated group of people ready with resources to help those struggling with the unthinkable.

Watching the RTA board having to discuss how to ensure that public buses are safe for the entire public is another chink in the blue sky of our postcard community. 

Should it even be a question that people can expect to ride a bus and not feel emotionally threatened? Yes, but that’s not always the case. The RTA board is working to figure out how to make that happen. Policy discussions over what a driver can “broadcast” on the bus are taking place, as is the 2023 discussion over what pronouns to use in their documents. 

Do you know who I am? Do we know who we are? Where do we want to go? How will this help my neighbors? The question used to consider our future should focus on what makes this place better for the people living here now — and not the future lift op who is still in high school in Arkansas or the frat boy in Boulder looking to experience a bonfire on mushrooms. 

I for one appreciate how Vinotokians asked the hard questions and seriously changed in part what the festival is these days. Embracing and expanding the more public family-oriented and introspective elements is inspiring. The autumn equinox officially arrives this Saturday at 12:50 a.m. Take a tour of the various Vinotok altars that are sprinkled around CB before then and think about who you are. Think about who “we” want to be.

Like the seasons, we as people and a community are always changing. I like that this place changes in some respects and have played a part in making some previous changes (even through new regulation). Change is going to happen, but there is nothing wrong with checking in this time of year to ponder the right questions to guide the right change. 

—Mark Reaman

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