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Opinion: Grand Valley’s private & public sectors join forces to effect change

Robin Brown
WHY WE LIVE HERE
Free Press Opinion Columnist

My week started out with bears, ended with flamenco, and was jam packed with magic in between.

I received a call from Scenic Elementary School alerting the walkers that there had been a bear sighting on the wooded trail to school. Following the phone call, I received texts, Facebook messages, and phone calls from other moms — both alerting me to the bear and making plans to walk the trail together during pick-up and drop-off times at school.

I found the whole thing rather amusing — some mothers did not — but was most struck by the fact that the school’s secretary knows all the walkers; plus, all the walking moms also know each other well enough to call or message one another when needed. In the chaos of our busy lives, I am continually thankful for the community that came with the school that we stumbled upon three years ago when we moved into our neighborhood.



As for flamenco, I ended the week sitting in the new upper balcony of the Avalon Theatre listening to a fabulous flamenco performance that gave me chills by Palmas Guitar Duo. While enjoying the show, I recalled a conversation I had with a friend about the “cultural desert” they perceived the Grand Valley to be. I wish they had been sitting next to me during that performance, as well as the poetry reading by Frank Coons and Luis Lopez, followed by the deep canyon sounds of a local group, Bone Tree.

And packed between the bear and the flamenco during Avalon Theatre’s Grand Opening festivities (Sept. 17-28) were many moments that made me pause to appreciate our valley:



The “1812 Overture,” performed by the Grand Junction Symphony to a sell-out crowd at the Avalon Theatre, made me weep;

Grand Junction Visitor & Convention Bureau introduced a calendar of events longer than my arm at a recent Task Force meeting;

Enjoying my kids’ reactions to their first concert at the Avalon;

Ducking into the patio at Le Rouge to escape a sudden downpour and seeing our beautiful Main Street through the eyes of happy tourists;

Falling in love with a 1957 Cadillac Coupe Deville at the Fuoco Motors Downtown Car Show;

Showing a mother an engraved rooftop paver, purchased in her name by family members as part of the final fundraising push for the Avalon;

Planning the next West Slope Supper Club with friends who have the same vision I have for this valley to become a food destination;

And an anonymous donation that helped the Avalon Theatre Foundation reach our fundraising goal.

We, as a community, are so focused on job creation, improving schools and quality of life, and finding ways to increase sales-tax revenues that sometimes we forget to sit back and appreciate what we’ve already accomplished.

Economic-development groups spanning private and public sectors are hosting forums, writing plans, and creating marketing campaigns to solve our problems. In an election year, of course, the call for change and the demand for answers becomes more desperate. As we see the rest of the state rebounding, we become more distraught about lack of movement locally. We also come together in many different ways to effect change. As some hunker down and just wait for energy to come back, others are working hard to grow existing industries such as tourism and outdoor recreation, while still others are working to create new industries through Colorado Mesa University and Grand Junction’s Business Incubator Center.

We throw ourselves into causes, as well, and we invest heavily with our time, passion, and money to make wishes a reality — to make the valley a better place to live, work, and play. We have moments of elation when we see the fruits of our labor come to fruition, and we have moments of frustration when things don’t go our way.

It was only during Avalon Theatre’s reopening celebration this past week that I allowed myself to sit back and appreciate our community’s many accomplishments — the very things that attracted my family in the first place: A new Safety Center, the Fruita Recreation Center, Stoker Stadium, a growing Colorado Mesa University, Operation Uplift, Art on the Corner, the Colorado Riverfront Trail and the Avalon Theatre just to name a few.

On the horizon is the development of Las Colonias Park and a new-and-improved math and science center. Plus, the private sector is producing better wines, local festivals are drawing bigger crowds, and we’ve moved past trying to promote ourselves as a mountain-biking destination … because we are a mountain-biking destination.

Jobs, a healthy economy, better schools — these are important things that will continue to plague us unless we work together to improve them; and some amount of hand-wringing is important to accomplish big things. However, pausing for a moment, or even a week, to celebrate and appreciate the things we do have is something I recommend to everyone.

After all, it’s why we live here.

When not fundraising for the Avalon Theatre, Robin Brown coordinates special events for downtown Grand Junction. She’d like to hear why you live here. Contact her at robin@westslopeevents.com.


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