*Note: This audio essay first aired on KRCC (Colorado Springs’ NPR affiliate, 91.5 FM) on December 17, 2020. The link to the program is here; the audio file and the text from the essay are below.

Hey you with the green Colorado “Native” sticker — scape it off. It’s not cool. 

Where you were born is a geographical fact that has nothing to do with who you are or what you can contribute. You might as well rock a bumper sticker with your birth hospital on it.

In the land of the pioneers, place of birth doesn’t impress anybody. 

It’s what you do while you’re here. Our congressman’s from Kansas. John Elway’s originally from Washington state. And William J. Palmer – our founding father – born in Delaware and raised in Pennsylvania. 

What matters is passion for the place, for Pikes Peak. Do you care for Colorado? Are you proud to call yourself a Manitoid, even if it sounds like a certain kind of health concern?

Of course, “Native” probably rose in response to the opposite slur: “townies.” I first heard it when I went to a “townie” bar owned by a guy with a glass eye that looked everywhere but at you. 

“Townies” doesn’t represent the lifelong locals I’ve met here. My daughter’s kindergarten teacher, our mechanic, the neighbors and small-business owners — all are great people. They’re not “townies.”

Newcomers bring energy, investment, and a sense of public duty (often through military service). Established residents bring experience, equity, and a deep sense of community. 

Our common denominator is every night we choose to lay our heads on pillows here. And when we do, we dream of a better life in the shadow of Pikes Peak, for however long we’re blessed to be here.

Be good, be well, be the one who listens when someone needs a kind ear. Until next week, no matter what, climb on.

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