Opinion: Six degrees of separation in Fruita | PostIndependent.com

Opinion: Six degrees of separation in Fruita

Mayor Lori Buck, with Aaron Smith of Camilla’s Kaffe in Fruita, knows many of the downtown business owners by their first name.
Heather Portenier |

Fruita is chock full of interesting people with wide and varied backgrounds. One my favorite things to do is to sit outside on Aspen Street, drinking coffee with my friends and meeting new people. I am always amazed that the theory of “six degrees of separation” holds true, even though in Fruita it’s more like “three degrees of separation.” For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, it goes something like this: any two people on Earth are six or fewer acquaintance links a part. Inevitably, someone knows someone that you know, come to think of it, maybe that’s “two degrees of separation.”

Whether it is on a weekday or a weekend, you will not be disappointed. There is, however, one rule: be friendly! Smile at everyone and say “good morning.” You will find a wonderful sense of community and feel like you have found a place where you belong.

To further the experience, show up at the same time for several weeks in a row and get to know the faces of the other “regulars.” Before you know it, you will be having a conversation with someone who has lived all over the globe, but found “home” in Fruita. You might also run into your neighbor (who you keep meaning to get to know a little better, but life gets in the way — after work, you’re tired, you get home, and you close the garage door until it’s time to do it all again the next day).

It is interactions like these that really set Fruita aside from other communities. I have had conversations with visitors who are envious, and I am often asked “What makes Fruita so special? So unique?” My answer is always, “The people that live here.”

In Fruita you will receive what you put out; and more often than not, just making eye contact and smiling is enough to create an opportunity to meet someone new.

There is also something to be said for accountability and its effect on behavior. I have lived most of my life in Fruita, but in my 20s I lived on Colorado’s Eastern Slope. During this time I became very … well, let’s just say aggressive. I was a nameless, faceless individual absorbed in my own life. It was a gradual transformation; and, at the time, I did not understand its impacts.

When my family and I moved back to Fruita while in my 30s, I realized I needed a serious attitude adjustment however. As crazy as it sounds, things like not tailgating, making eye contact with people and even smiling were simple behaviors that I had to get used to again.

Throwing on a hat and sweatpants to “run” into the grocery store isn’t likely to happen anymore either; I know I will likely see 20 acquaintances, including 10 people I haven’t seen in decades, and probably my high-school boyfriend. That’s Fruita!

I truly believe this small-town accountability makes Fruita a friendlier place than most. Knowing our actions have consequences makes us more apt to “behave.”

My message to Fruitains: smile, embrace, and entrench yourself in all that we are.

Lori Buck is a Fruita native and current mayor.

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