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Two Years and Counting

Essay by Ed Quillen

Colorado Central – March 1996 – Colorado Central Magazin

Two years we’ve been at this, and it would be pleasant to announce that Colorado Central is progressing in accord with the business plan that our high-powered start-up consultant prepared in 1993.

But there was no business plan. The idea was to get up and running, and then play it by ear. So many projected enterprises get bogged down in start-up paperwork, along with lengthy and passionate discussions about office furniture and letterhead design, that they never get around to doing business.

Our guiding principle was simple: Produce the magazine we’d like to read about the place we live in. Since we hate jumps (“Please turn to page 327 and thumb through all the aromatic ads on your way”) in other magazines, we don’t have jumps. We despise blow-in cards, so we don’t send them to subscribers. We like lively writing about places, people, ideas, and events we know of or should know of — so we publish what we like.

We also had goals: to produce an interesting and informative magazine that builds a sense of place, a regional community, and a local culture.

Thus Colorado Central would perturb anyone who expects a consistent political or cultural course. Case in point: we ran a series of articles about a 1970s hippie commune, written by a participant; a few months later, reminisces of church camps, written by the 1990 Republican candidate for governor.

That could represent an editorial direction which bounces from pillar to post. But that variety does represent Central Colorado, where you could find a commune next to a church camp, or a clothes-free hot springs resort down the road from a prison, or Wise Users and Earth Firsters in the same café.

That’s one charm of this area which should be preserved and enhanced. In more populated zones, a New Age believer can go months without encountering an evangelical Christian. A Green can avoid Republicans. Poets don’t stop to chat with Rotarians. Right-to-Lifers never meet Pro-Choicers.

This lack of contact makes it all too easy to believe that “people who don’t think exactly the way I think are weird, perhaps even evil, maybe even less than human when you get right down to it.”

I don’t think the problems of the world will be solved if people just sit at some table and talk out their differences, since many differences are too deep and fundamental to be resolved by any amount of communication. But if we know what our neighbors care about, then we might find ways to live together peaceably while working toward goals we hold in common.

The contrived divisions make an election year so galling. Candidates make all manner of accusations about their opponents, but is anybody really in favor of dangerous streets? Or bad schools? Or the exploitation of children? Or decaying neighborhoods? Or more divorces? Or uncontrolled spending? Lower incomes? More lay-offs? More bureaucrats and more restrictions? More drive-bys and fire bombs? Filthy air and polluted water?

Yet these social afflictions continue, in part because we are so busy suspecting our neighbors of being “soft on drugs” or “hard-core gun nut” that we ignore the goals we hold in common.

Thus, we try to focus on what the 40,000 people in Central Colorado might hold in common.

In ways, that makes Colorado Central a difficult publication to market. It would be much easer to sell advertising and subscriptions for a niche publication aimed at “extreme recreation zealots” or “leading-edge computer addicts,” or ” hunting and fishing enthusiasts.”

We hope our “typical subscriber” likes to read, exercises a vibrant sense of humor, and possesses a profound curiosity about the past, present, and future of this part of the world. But while I can easily envision “the Cosmo girl” or the “young man who reads Playboy,” I can’t tell you the income, hobbies, or habits of “the typical Colorado Central reader.”

That deficiency may explain why, after two years, Colorado Central has grown to an awkward stage — verging on too big to be a hobby, but too small to be a real full-time business.

In the hope of passing this stage, we have persuaded Sue Conroe to work with us part-time as marketing director. She grew up in Salida, left to get a degree in journalism and to explore the wide world, and returned a few years ago to be manager of the local chamber.

Sue left that position last year to join the exciting world of Central Colorado underemployment — part-time work at KVRH, her own enterprise to facilitate conventions and workshops, and now, also applying her talents and experience toward a better Colorado Central.

She joins Clint Driscoll, who has been advancing the cause in Buena Vista since last fall.

During our two years, many have helped to sell this hard-to-market magazine, and we thank them all. It’s not easy to persuade advertisers that one small publication is worthy of their support, especially when there are so many other publications hereabouts, most of them aimed at quite specific market segments.

And while I’m expressing gratitude, let me thank these advertisers: Clear Light Carpentry, Creekside Books, Cut-No-Slak Construction, First Street Café, Salida Building & Loan, and the Victoria Tavern. They were in our first edition, and they’ve appeared in every one since. And thanks to Mike and Shelley at First Street Books — they bought the first full-page ad ever in Colorado Central.

One more thing. If time flies when you’re having fun, then making Colorado Central must be a truly exhilarating experience. It sure doesn’t seem like anything near two years.

— Ed Quillen