Plant, Harvest, Taste

GUIDESTONES ARE TYPICALLY DEFINED as a sort of celestial clock recording the passage of events or as a stone marker acting as a guide for travelers. The mission of Guidestone Colorado echoes this sentiment. The name “was chosen to honor past and present leaders who have dedicated themselves to building healthy and resilient communities through …

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Inspired Innovation at FREIGHT

Burro at Freight Leadville

FREIGHT, the fully restored 1884 Leadville depot, is host to a variety of public gatherings. In fall and close to the holidays, you can spend a Sunday afternoon at their community market to enjoy both the historic space and shopping.   Party Priestess Elsa Tharpe said, “FREIGHT has always been the “yes” place — meaning …

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The BVStrong Dinner

Building Community Since 2014

By Mike Rosso
Photos by Lee Robinson

There had been heavy rainfall in the days leading up to a visit to Agnes Vaille Falls by the Johnson family of Buena Vista on September 30, 2013.

Agnes Vaille, on the southern slope of Mt. Princeton near Nathrop had been a popular spot amongst tourists and locals alike due to the relatively short hike to the scenic, cascading waterfalls. But tragedy struck that fateful morning when falling rocks from a cliff shelf above the falls triggered a huge rock slide, nearly 100 tons, which rained down on the unsuspecting family of six.

A witness, Adam Rogers watched with horror as the family was buried under the car-sized boulders and he ran the 1 1/2 miles down the trail to call for help. By the time first responders arrived at the scene, all members of the party were hopelessly buried under the rubble except a thirteen-year-old girl, Gracie Johnson whose screams caught the attention of rescuers and was dug out from the rock debris. Unfortunately, her father Dwayne, a local electrician and part-time assistant Buena Vista High School football coach, and her mother, Dawna, a track coach at the high school and part-time waitress had perished in the slide, along with Gracie’s sister, Kiowa-Rain Johnson, 18, and two cousins, Baigen Walker, 10, and Paris Walkup, 22 who were visiting from Missouri. Gracie’s father had the presence of mind to push her to a bigger rock, shielding her and likely saving her life.

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Exit Stage Left: The Demise of A Community Theater

By Elliot Jackson

Every community gets the community theater – if it gets one at all – that reflects it in some way. Its beginnings, its tenure, the choices it makes along the way in which plays to produce, which performers to feature, what sort of audience it is trying to attract and, finally, its exit from the community stage, all say something about the nature of the community itself.
Salida’s Stage Left Theater Company has made the decision to close its doors after its September 2017 production of John Patrick Shanley’s Doubt, and this decision reflects an ironic fact about Salida itself: that despite its growing reputation as an “arts town” – its status as one of the original Colorado Creative Districts, for example, its numerous arts and crafts festivals, or its many galleries featuring local potters, painters, sculptors and photographers – many of these artists are noting that it is getting more and more difficult to produce their art here.
The reality that theater is a collaborative process, dependent on many people working together in tandem, who may or may not be getting paid for their efforts (mostly not), compounds the difficulties that theater artists face. The other reality is that with the best will, or the best volunteers, in the world, running a theater company is hard work. “I ran myself into the ground trying to keep financial flow going, and then keep everything else going,” says Devon Jencks, the current Creative Director of Stage Left. “We needed more people who knew how to tap into the community – we were exhausting resources everywhere.”
Jencks stresses that money to put on productions never seemed to be as much of an issue as finding enough people to do everything that needed to be done, whether it be acting, providing backstage help, or serving on the Board of Directors. “The young people don’t have time – they’re working three to four jobs just to try to make a living. The retirees say they want to help, but then when you call on them, they’re out of town!”

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Watershed BV: A Small-Town Hub

In 1937, the U.S. Forest Service built a ranger station on Main Street in downtown Buena Vista. It remains the only historical downtown ranger station in Colorado. It served its purpose for the Forest Service until the 1970s when it became a Chaffee County health clinic. For the past 20 years the building has sat empty and unused despite the location next to the old State Highway building (currently the Trailhead) and near the intersection of Main Street and Colorado Avenue.

“It was like ‘70s wood paneling, pink carpet,” said Rick Bieterman, as we sat in what used to be the garage of the old ranger station. “And so we came in and ripped all that stuff out and found this brick under all that paneling. And these floors are the original plywood floors that we just sanded down, took the carpet off and just went with it.”

“Our vision is to pop that back wall out – it’s really just a plywood wall – and put a garage door back in to open it up to all we’ve got going on outside, too.” Bieterman has been remodeling the property since he and his wife, Katy Welter, bought the building through a government auction in January of last year. They plan to make the necessary functional renovations while keeping the character of what it was in the ‘30s and ‘40s. They hope to register the building as a local historic landmark. Bieterman and Welter have turned the space into a hub for community events and business incubation, which they call Watershed BV. 

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The Fremont Connection

Residents of Fremont County can now log on to a new community website for news, issues, opinions as well as cultural content and other items of interest.

Fremont Connection is the brainchild of Kristina Lins, Bob and Kay Parker, Dan Grenard and Gloria Stultz, who felt the county was not well enough served by the local media and decided to take matters into their own keyboards. The team has been working on the concept since last fall and launched the site in early April. The website is quickly gaining readership as well as contributors and offers a variety of content aimed at, but not exclusively for, Fremont County residents.

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A healthy community

Letter from Andy Burns

Community – November 2006 – Colorado Central Magazine

Colorado Central,:

George Sibley was quoted in High Country News October 2: “I judge the health of a paper and its community by the quantity and quality of the letters it gets….”

I notice lately that Colorado Central has a heck of a lot of letters, many of very high quality. I’m writing this one to add to the quantity.

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It takes a village?

Brief by Central Staff

Community – August 2006 – Colorado Central Magazine

A study commissioned by Breckenridge’s town government about youth in Summit County brings to mind the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.”

The 31-page study noted that many local parents lead relatively non-traditional lifestyles. People who moved to the mountains during the 1960s through the 1980s (and seemingly even today), were part of the “immediate-gratification cultures,” says the consultant, Lynn Johnson.

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Another mountain town doesn’t want to be Aspen or Vail

Brief by Allen Best

Community – April 2006 – Colorado Central Magazine

Yet another town doesn’t want to be like Aspen or Vail.

The comparisons were provoked by the property acquisitions of David J. Brown in Pagosa Springs and surrounding Archuletta County. The Durango Herald, which is headquartered 51 miles to the west, reports that Brown has spent $12.5 million buying 14 parcels in downtown Pagosa during the last two years, plus 12 other parcels outside the town, including some ranches with distinctly larger price tags.

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How to build a ghost town with great views

Essay by Auden Schendler

Community – April 2006 – Colorado Central Magazine

A TEACHER FRIEND of mine just shook the change out of his trousers to buy and then fully remodel a dump in Telluride, Colo. The house cost $1 million, and it was the cheapest thing going. I didn’t ask about the cost of the remodel.

At the same time that my friend was assembling his financial house of cards, citizens voted to condemn a huge chunk of open space at the entrance to the town. The vote was widely understood as support for preservation over development, a triumph of environmentalism over greed. But it wasn’t, exactly.

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At the movies

Column by George Sibley

Community – February 2006 – Colorado Central Magazine

CAN YOU BE a real town if you don’t have a movie theater?

That’s a question Gunnison has been asking itself, with the consensus being that the answer is no.

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Problem Solving

Column by George Sibley

Community – November 2002 – Colorado Central Magazine

“Problem solving” in the West has historically been a matter of applying science and technology to “tame the land” and make the wild West more people-friendly. This problem-solving process has significantly rearranged a lot of western ecology, especially in the vicinity of surface waters. It takes a real enviro-purist to see all of these changes as negative, and a deliberately obtuse “Wise-User” — blind to obvious system overloading and desertification — to see all of them as positive.

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Good Gossip Builds Stronger Communities

Essay by Steve Mandell

Community – April 1999 – Colorado Central Magazine

WE ONCE LEARNED MORE about a town from one good piece of gossip than from a year of polite conversation. Few things revealed more about a town than the last two or three rumors to have made the rounds down Main Street or through the town hall. Gossip exposed our fears, disclosed our prejudices, and generally revealed our collective dark sides. But it also illuminated whatever creativity and imagination existed below the surface.

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A Reading List

Sidebar by George Sibley

Community – April 1995 – Colorado Central Magazine

Berry, Wendell. Sex, Economy, Freedom & Community. A collection of essays from America’s post-urban Jeremiah, the best of which refute traditional arguments about the smallness of small communities. But don’t read it for the sex.

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Can community be more than a marketing buzzword?

Article by George Sibley

Community – April 1995 – Colorado Central Magazine

Two factors make the idea of “community” almost impossible to talk about intelligently today: 1) everyone thinks he or she knows what it is (and that it’s quaint), and 2) everyone thinks he or she is part of one (or wouldn’t be caught dead in one).

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