Guest Opinion: Small souls in sacred places
This valley can be tough. Sometimes it feels like something you have to survive.
Yet, since 1887, that’s exactly what the Historical Coke Ovens at Cardiff Glen in Glenwood Springs have done. For 131 years they have survived weather, development, the Silver Panic of 1893, greed, and the feckless nature of humans. That is, until recently.
This historical site, south of Glenwood Springs, has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1996. The site is unique because in 1887 it was home to some of the valley’s first pioneer families and immigrants who worked as coal miners and farm hands.
However, over the past few months, someone decided the site isn’t special at all.
I don’t know why someone would graffiti this area, but allow me to speak directly to the individuals responsible so that I may offer them an invite. Here it is: please leave. Go find yourself. Go find something worthy to defend. Go find something pure and unfathomable to worship. Most of all, find your story and your purpose and let it inspire you to solve problems instead of creating them.
You defaced private property. You are not an artist. You are a potential felon and when you are caught, expect possible jail time, fines, restitution, and worst of all, the eternal ire of a vibrant group of historical preservation activists in Glenwood Springs. Good luck explaining that to your employer when they Google you or find it on your background check. But that isn’t your biggest problem.
Your problem is that you don’t understand the consequences of your acts of disrespect. I imagine you, sitting there, you and your small soul in this sacred space, desperate to leave your mark on the world. Please understand that this valley and its buildings, rocks, walls, bridges, trees, trash cans, signs, concrete barricades and historical sites are not your canvas.
In 2004, First Lady Laura Bush, under the U.S. Government Program created by President George W. Bush, designated Glenwood Springs as a Preserve America Community, which protects our historical landmarks from people like you. In 2009 President Obama signed legislation to make it a permanent program. The designation also serves as an economic driver for Glenwood Springs in terms of tourism dollars.
So, two Presidents on opposite sides of the fence work to protect our heritage, but all you do is litter and loiter.
I’ve noticed you leave a lot of yourself behind: cigarette butts in dry brush; a bullet casing from a .30-06 rifle, liquor bottles, drug paraphernalia, receipts and other items that required me to return to the site with gloves, a 50-gallon trash bag, and my Subaru. Volunteers from the Glenwood Springs Historical Society routinely use their own time and money to clean up your mess. It confirms a long-held belief of mine that the key to fighting and solving crime is a careless criminal. But that’s not your biggest problem.
You have a soul problem. You disrespect people, history, nature, and damage things that do not belong to you. And while investigations may fail, karma doesn’t. Next time you invite yourself onto private property armed with a can of spray paint, know that you have picked a fight with the universe.
Lastly, when you leave, take this native wisdom with you. It travels beautifully through time and across borders. This valley does not belong to any of us. We belong to this valley. The only thing it demands in return is for us to obey its rules. It asks that we are honest, kind, hardworking and that we have a healthy respect for the area and its people as we honor its past, respect what it offers and leave it better than we found it.
Perhaps that is all that any community asks of us.
Kim Doose is a sixth generation native of Glenwood Springs and New Castle. She was former chair of the Historic Preservation Commission for the city of Glenwood Springs. The Commission is responsible for Glenwood Springs being recognized as a Preserve America Community. Anyone with information regarding this crime should call the Glenwood Springs Police Department at 384-6500.
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