In 2018, let’s throw out the surface labels in the Pikes Peak region

*Note: This essay was published in the Colorado Springs Gazette print edition on December 31, 2017. It can also be found online here.

I don’t always do it. But I scrolled through the comments in response to a recent opinion column of mine on the giant blue frame in the Garden of the Gods (may it rest in peace). I read them all.

This time, there were a couple that pierced my armor. One called me a “military carpetbagger,” and another said I “haven’t lived here long enough to have a stake in this issue.”

Both are worth a moment of thought. Just how long does it take a resident to gain “a stake” in local decisions? When does a “carpetbagger” become a “local?” And what is the right balance between the wishes of long-term residents and ideas of relative newcomers in a city? Continue reading “In 2018, let’s throw out the surface labels in the Pikes Peak region”

Big blue frame reaction is misguided anger

*Note: This essay was published in the Colorado Springs Gazette print edition on December 19, 2017. It can also be found online here.

It’s been almost a week since the 12-foot-tall blue frame appeared at High Point in the Garden of the Gods, and the sounds of fury have been deafening. “Shocking,” “mistake,” “an eyesore,” and “piece of junk” were just a few of the negative comments in response, spurred on by a local movement to “TakeDownThatFrame” and a popular online petition.

One thing is clear: the digital horde wanted Big Blue gone. And yesterday, they got what they wanted. The city had it removed.

My view is the frame was an earnest mistake. I live within a mile of the Garden and run there at least twice a week, which means that if the giant blue rectangle had stayed as planned through 2018, then I would have been forced to see Big Blue well over 100 times this year.

But then again, it was done. It had already been drilled into the rock. Continue reading “Big blue frame reaction is misguided anger”

Social dynamics key to a community’s economic growth

*Note: This essay was published in the Colorado Springs Gazette print edition on December 4, 2017. It can also be found online here.

While about 50 million Americans traveled recently for the Thanksgiving holiday, my family stayed put. Normally, as a military family, we’re on the road for the major holidays. One year it’s Christmas in Utah to see my wife’s family and summer break in Minnesota to see my relatives. The next, it’s the other way around.

But not this year. We stayed local, and several neighbors graced our table for the big feast of gratitude. Two are exceptional writers and educators, another’s a lawyer, one a linguist and cybersecurity expert, and another is a retired professional ballerina. An impressive crowd, they collectively share a descriptive term – they’re “Anywheres.” Continue reading “Social dynamics key to a community’s economic growth”

Suggestions to preserve and protect iconic Manitou Incline

*Note: This essay was published in the Colorado Springs Gazette print edition on November 30, 2017. It can also be found online here.

For some, it’s a once-in-awhile brutal workout. For others, it’s just a steep hill next to a hippy, happy town. For others, it’s a daily obsession.

But to all, there’s no doubting the Manitou Incline’s value as a unique community asset. As the region’s most loved trail celebrates its official grand reopening on Dec. 1, we should set aside a moment to think about how best to protect and preserve this one-of-a-kind trail. Continue reading “Suggestions to preserve and protect iconic Manitou Incline”

Some heroic veterans have four legs

*Note: This essay was published in the Colorado Springs Gazette print edition on November 11, 2017. It can also be found online here.

While Veterans Day typically conjures up images of gray hair, cemeteries, and the flag flying through fall leaves, maybe our minds should make room for a different kind of combat soldier.

Manitou race proves politics can be decent

*Note: This essay was published in the Colorado Springs Gazette print edition on November 3, 2017. It can also be found online here.

We’re now repeatedly reminded that Americans are intensely divided: a recent poll found “seven in 10 Americans say the nation’s political divisions are at least as big as during the Vietnam War” and a writer recently opined that too many believe “politics needs to be weaponized to be enjoyed.”

Not in Manitou Springs. You may not have heard, but there’s a tight race for mayor. Incumbent Mayor Nicole Nicoletta, elected in 2015 to a two-year term, seeks another on Tuesday against a challenge from long-time resident and retired lawyer Ken Jaray. Continue reading “Manitou race proves politics can be decent”