DeFrates column: Get involved in Glenwood
A massive strip mine looming over our valley. Another bank elbowing small businesses out of the downtown core. Endless construction on Seventh Street. A dearth of locally sponsored events. Affordable housing options long-extinct. Constant parking struggles, crumbling canyons and so, so many potholes.
All of these stories have been written across the page of Glenwood Springs in recent, or ongoing sagas. If we don’t like them, we should be filling the page with something else, and not complaining after the ink has dried.
Across the Rocky Mountain region, enormous changes are on the horizon. Population growth, climate change and America’s schizophrenic relationship with outdoor recreation and extraction industries all create uncertainty for the future. As a city in the middle of it all, Glenwood Springs should be rooting itself as deeply as possible in a strong sense of identity. We need a sense of self and a shared purpose strong enough to weather both literal and figurative storms, grow gracefully from inevitable change, and shape our own future.
In this lovely corner of the world, our choices are only going to get harder. So who will be the ones making those choices?
Most of us engage with the city only as far as is necessary to go to work, pick up dinner at City Market, go home and complain about Midland Avenue potholes to our friends. Or maybe discuss how that one pothole on Blake and 23rd might actually be opening a portal to another dimension. … Anyway.
A few civic-minded and motivated people do play an extremely active role in the city, but at the moment, those people make up only a fraction of the population. Far too many residents, myself often included, have taken a passive role until something happens that upsets us. Then, long after the public hearings and planning committee meetings are over, voices shout at each other across social media, ranting about whatever just occurred which even slightly resembles change.
Making the difference we want to see, whether it is in our town or elsewhere, should be proactive and not reactive. So much energy is being wasted by people who get involved only to point out the faults and complain after the fact. Glenwood Springs needs more diverse leaders, and more voices, who build positive community through their unique passions.
When it comes to looming threats where loud voices could still make a difference, Glenwood Citizens’ Alliance is organized and active against the RMR strip mine, which will leave a scar on the skyline for generations. The BLM will be inviting public comments, and now is the time to get involved.
If you are not a protester by nature, or if you are not worried about a 320-acre strip mine and over 300 trucks on the roads, find a way to build up the city through your unique abilities and perspective. Look at the ladies who organize the farmers market every year. They decided it was something the community would enjoy, so they literally took to the streets, and the event has become a vibrant staple in downtown.
It takes time, yes, which we all have very little of, but there are still ways to get it done. The city has a planning and events coordinator who can help with logistics. Then residents can apply for a town grant to get their idea started. We need more youth sports leagues and kid-friendly programming. We need the ghost walk back, and the Mountain to Valley run. What happened to our triathlon, and what if we hosted an Overland event or mountain bike race series? I hope Zumba in the park is coming back this year, and that we all support the Under the Bridge concert series.
Not an organizer? Volunteer your time on the board of some great local nonprofits. More detail oriented? Look through the list of committees in city government that might need your input, like Planning and Zoning that needs warm bodies and a fresh perspective.
If you have no way to make those time commitments work, and believe me, I understand, at least bookmark the website for the upcoming Glenwood Springs City Council agenda. Take 10 minutes every other week to scan through upcoming discussions for items of interest and send in your comments if you can’t attend a meeting. Write a letter to the editor to bring attention to an upcoming issue if you feel strongly.
Our city has too many blank spaces in which outside interests can write their own stories. We need to stop being surprised and offended by the change that is coming to our world. We need to stop wasting time complaining and undermining each other on social media, and put that energy into creating a strong, diverse and resilient culture of this town.
As residents of Glenwood Springs, it is only our own fault if we don’t like what is happening in our town.
Lindsay DeFrates is a freelance writer living in Glenwood Springs. She can be reached at http://www.roaringforkwriter.com.
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