More on the Pyramid

By Martha Quillen

In honor of Colorado Central’s 20th birthday, Mike asked me to revisit the cover story I wrote for the first issue. Times change; that’s as apparent and expected as the sunrise. But upon rereading the March 1994 issue, I realized that the changes we anticipate are not necessarily the changes headed our way.
In 1994, Ed and I sounded absolutely sure that growth and prosperity were just around the corner. And so did the people of Crestone.
By then, quaint mountain towns were already home to a mix of old-timers and urban and suburban escapees. But wherever they’d come from, people tended to stay because they liked the simpler, laid-back quality of rural life.
But change seemed imminent, and people in our region worried about losing their peace, quiet and open space. We had eyed the wholly transformed mining towns of Breckenridge and Aspen, and the sprawling suburban corridors spreading out from Denver and the Springs, and thought we knew what was coming.
In those days, there was a national tendency to grouse about conformity, and how Americans were becoming sedentary couch potatoes. Or homogeneous office workers. Or smug suburbanites.
And some people who lived in small mountain towns, especially the old hippies, worried about whether we would all become greedy, golf-obsessed, minivan-driving yuppies who couldn’t go camping without generators or feel safe without security gates.
In retrospect, such worries were a trifle optimistic. Twenty years later, Chaffee County is just starting to experience growing pains, and Saguache County seems as lonely, isolated, and awesomely scenic as ever. And the money that we expected to tempt us into such a transition has yet to come our way.
As it turns out, newcomers and tourists don’t necessarily stimulate conformity. On the contrary, Salida seems to have developed into a hiking and mountain biking mecca. Leadville, Fairplay and Saguache focus more on their own unique roles in Colorado history. Buena Vista offers a bit of everything with a dose of Christian values. And Crestone? It contributes the exotic.
My first cover article for Central, The Great Pyramid of the Arcturians, examined a proposal to build a 396-foot-tall pink granite pyramid near Crestone. The finished building was supposed to have seven levels, four entrances and thirty chambers, including a crystal chamber. The interior would be decorated with carved ceilings, pillars, walls and 12,000 pictures depicting all of the major religions of mankind.
According to the Trinity Foundation of New Mexico, the plans for the building were being channeled to Dr. Norma Milanovich, their inspirational spokeswoman, by Kuthumi, the Ascended Spiritual Master who advised Madame Blavatsky and the American Theosophical Society back in the 19th century.
Milanovich said she’d been in contact with celestial beings and extraterrestrials called Arcturians for years. And not to be left out, “Jesus, the Christ, who is also known as Sananda on the higher realms,” commanded all of them.
This time around, Kuthumi’s message was to build a pyramid to act as an antenna to transport the enlightened from the third dimension into the fifth dimension, and thereby save the world.
As the plans would have it, the completed pyramid in Saguache County, Colorado would be the Twelfth Wonder of the World.
At the time, Crestone appeared to be on its way toward becoming a major center of enlightenment. The tiny community was purportedly the home of a vortex and a good place for geomantic convergence events. The Manitou Foundation had already helped numerous religious groups build spiritual centers near Crestone, and the community had already rejected a proposal by famous actress, author and New Age devotee Shirley MacLaine, who wanted to build a spiritual healing center there.

Even though Crestone leaned toward New Age ideas, neither the town nor Saguache County wanted to be overrun with spiritual tourists. But new proposals kept coming their way, and the scope of some of them worried residents.
The idea of a pyramid that would surpass any in Egypt or Mexico in grandiose intent was particularly unpopular.
But one of the most notable factors in the pyramid discussions was the community’s attempts to remain civil and non-judgmental. And that penchant for civility didn’t just apply to the pyramid proposal. Saguache County residents – old-timers and new, spiritual pilgrims and ranchers, farmers, loggers and artists alike – were trying to set aside their differences and work together on common causes. They had subsequently gotten together to protest water grabs and flyovers, and virtually every person I talked to for the pyramid story – including a county commissioner, cowboy poet, newspaper editor, several reporters, numerous businessmen and many artists – veered away from the subject of the pyramid and into the subject of cooperation, respect and getting along.
And so, for the most part, Crestone tried to say no to the pyramid without  ridiculing the idea or disparaging the presenters.
Manners, no less. How old-fashioned can you get? But such is not the modern mode of politics. From Washington, D.C. to little old Salida, the current trend is to accuse, bluster and blame the other side for everything.
And the issues?
The popular issues today are the other side’s bad attitude, negativity, greed, cheapness, ignorance, arrogance, extravagance, immorality or pigheadedness (which for obvious reasons doesn’t draw many of your opponents to your side).
Some people turn to spiritual healers when they’re upset, others to counselors, ministers or booze. I embrace a lot of things – walking, ice cream, mountaintops, but books are my addiction. So in the last twenty months, I’ve read at least a dozen primers on grief – even though alcohol probably would have worked better.
Those books are pretty good at making you see that your pain is normal, but they don’t alleviate it. Many of them, however, warned against something that I started seeing again and again when I watched news shows, Congressional hearings and Salida City Council meetings. And it occurred to me that it might be excellent advice for would-be politicians:
When someone is upset and is trying to tell you why, it’s important that you don’t try to fix them – because people who are upset don’t want to be fixed; they want to be heard. So when someone is grieving, it’s best not to tell them what they’re doing wrong, or thinking wrong – or what’s wrong with their attitude, personality or existence.
And it only stands to reason that if people who are grieving don’t want their loved ones advising them, people complaining about the city probably don’t want the city telling them that they’re being unappreciative or negative. And likewise, city administrators probably won’t respond well to hearing about their attitude or alleged incompetence when you’re making a complaint.
It’s simple, really;  if you want action – instead of just another uncomfortable political boondoggle that ends in a stalemate – the trick is to stick to the subject, whether it be bills, or water, or dead trees. Yep, it’s simple, but also, oh, so difficult.
It really would be great, wouldn’t it, if we could just build a big, pink pyramid where celestial beings could meet and greet and resolve all of our problems?

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