By Jan Martin
After eight years of spending every day worrying about the details of running a city, I’m enjoying taking some time to get reacquainted with the Colorado Springs I love. Although I’ve attended countless events, been on the inside circle of local politics and know all the movers and shakers, I’m enjoying taking a fresh look at the city from the “outside in” rather than the “inside out.”
When I left City Council, I knew I’d spend a few months in the “wilderness” wandering around, wondering what to do next and reassessing my own personal priorities. Rather than trying to force my next adventure, I’ve decided to keep wandering for a while as I look for new opportunities.
Last month I attended my first Young Professional monthly networking event as the community leader for the evening. Jon Severson, the founder of the YP group, asked me to attend after we’d had coffee and I heard some of his exciting and stimulating ideas he’d like to pursue. I didn’t have high expectations but thought it would be a fun way to spend a few hours.
Much to my surprise, I was offered a seat at a table when I first arrived (thank you, Jariah Walker) and ended up sitting in that spot all evening as several young men came up to me to talk. We talked about life, relationships, jobs and why they had chosen Colorado Springs.
I always like to ask people why they chose to move here as it’s a good indicator of what’s right in Colorado Springs.
During our conversations, the common theme was jobs. Many of the young people I spoke to were underemployed and looking for opportunities. I tried to probe a little to hear what their passions were as when you find a job that matches your passion you will literally bounce out of bed in the morning eager to start your day.
None of them had a difficult time explaining their passions to me. As a matter of fact, I was pleasantly surprised as they became animated and excited to share with me what they really wanted to do. Whether it was working with nonprofits, sustainability or starting a business, I could see them come alive as they shared their passions and dreams.
I left Jose Muldoon’s that evening more energized than I’ve been in a long time. I think I have found one of my personal priorities that will help me once again focus where I want to spend my time.
My years of work in the community has left me with countless relationships, personal friendships and a thorough knowledge of how our city works. If I can use that experience to help connect and open doors for young people in our community, then I want to do that. Often all they need is a nudge or one door opened for them that they will run through on the road to finding their own success.
Along the way, I also want to encourage the young people to get engaged in Colorado Springs. Their energy and passion is invigorating and brings a new dynamic to the countless tables where I’ve sat discussing the same topics over and over again.
For the past several years we’ve talked about wanting to engage young professionals and build upon the community that exists here. But talk is cheap, and we need to do more than just say we want a vibrant young professional community.
Each of us with experience needs to grab the hand of one of the community’s young professionals and open a door for them.
Just one hand, one door and we’ll be headed in the right direction to mold the young professionals into the fabric of our dynamic community.
We’ll be better off having them involved and engaged with us as a community. And I guarantee it’s a step in the right direction.