|Some of us seeing over the hill. Thank you to my friend Andre Van Hall, a community steward and CEO of the Denver Athletic Club, for this image|
Our conversation with Dr. Bob Loevy, a forty-year professor of political science at Colorado College, and Jan Martin, recently reelected to her second four-year term on the Colorado Springs City Council was a highlight of the weekend for me. They reviewed for us developments that resulted in a political environment more defined by pessimism than optimism, and allowed fiscal troubles to compound to the point where the city would be defined, both nationally and internationally, not by its stunning location on the flanks of Pikes Peak, but as the city that couldn’t afford to keep the street lights on.
That notoriety contrasted starkly to economic development success stories in which the business community led Colorado Springs to attract and retain important institutions such as the Air Force Academy, the headquarters and many training facilities of the U.S. Olympic Committee, and the Colorado Springs campus of the University of Colorado, a school built on donated land and housed in buildings built with community-generated funding.
Dr. Loevy and Councilwoman Martin were frank in their descriptions of a community that had lost its sense of community; a city where, for some, a voluntary $300 annual payment to power the street light near one’s house was preferable to a tax increase, averaging $200 per year per home, that would turn on all street lights, open the city’s closed swimming pools, and take care of neglected parks.
Their refusal to give into the narrow mindedness or ignorance that leads to such thinking was inspiring and much more in keeping with Stegner’s reminder that it is our ability to cooperate and create, not our ability to go it alone, that sustains us in Colorado. As the state continues to deal with the complicated and contradictory web of laws confounding our ability to plan fiscal policy, their story, I hope, is one that defines our Colorado Experience.