What does Colorado Springs want? Or more precisely, who is being encouraged to move here? We know the answer: Millennials!
The reasons seem compelling. A city without young people is literally dying. Who will start new businesses, fill high-tech jobs, form families, buy houses and lead the community into the future if not the young? Who will open cool new bars and restaurants, send their children to neighborhood schools, enter the Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon, clog Ute Pass on summer weekends and take over your favorite campsite? Millennials!
But what about us, the ignored and disrespected members of the Silent Generation? Born between 1927 and 1945, many of us hit the intergenerational sweet spot. We were too young to remember the Depression or fight in World War II and too old to get drafted during the Vietnam War. We were mostly obedient citizens who benefited from peacetime prosperity and growth. We kept our heads down, worked hard and many of us slid gratefully into retirement, blessed with savings, pensions, Social Security and paid-off houses.
Alas, our city now finds us sadly irrelevant, just a bunch of complaining oldsters who ought to shut up and get out of the way — the Millennial Express is coming through!
So what can we do about it? Let’s think of ourselves as potentially relocating corporations, asset-heavy entities that any small city seeking economic development would welcome. Colorado Springs is fine, but what could we get from a struggling city in the once-industrial Midwest?
Here’s my pitch, which I might send to 30 carefully selected cities.
“Congratulations! I’m glad to inform you that your city is a finalist for the long-anticipated Midwest headquarters of the Hazlehurst family. The family has a long and illustrious history, having settled in Colorado Springs in the 1880s when it was a poky little town of 8,000 inhabitants. Thanks largely to our efforts, it’s now a booming city of half a million. We know how to bring that kind of growth, prosperity and vitality to your city, and we’re eager to partner with you.
“Here’s what we offer. Our two-person family unit comes with three dogs, two Social Security accounts, one semi-employed journalist and a magazine publisher. We will sell or lease our current headquarters and buy a place in your fair city, which appears to have many eminently affordable run-down Victorians, our preferred option.
“Unlike many of our peers, we’re elderly party animals. We go out frequently, thereby supporting local establishments. Our entrepreneurial skills will revitalize your communications sector, create new employment and bring excitement and optimism to your city. Your fading downtown needs some TLC, and we know how to do it.
“We also have a large extended family of six grown children and 22 grands and great-grands, who will visit us from time to time, thereby creating a substantial economic impact.
“Our in-house economic impact analysis team estimates that we’ll bring well over $1 million in annual direct, indirect and induced economic impact to the chosen community. Sectors as diverse as veterinary care, traditional bars, home renovation, geriatric health, landscaping, auto repair and dog walking will benefit. And by embracing older entrepreneurs, your community will rebrand itself as a welcoming destination for many of us (never mind your notoriously severe winters and muggy, mosquito-infested summers!). Once our destination is chosen, we’re confident that our geezer peers will follow, ready to help rebuild and re-create your sadly diminished little city.
“We’re not asking for expensive tax breaks or special incentives. We’re old-fashioned Americans who believe in cash, and that’s what we want. We’ll load up the moving van tomorrow in return for a modest annual stipend of $50,000 during the next 10 years. Such a deal!
“We look forward to hearing from you.”
Is any Midwestern city dumb enough to accept our generous offer? And are we actually going to move? If the price is right, maybe, but that’s not the point. I’m just trying to get our ignored, underestimated and scorned generation back in play, and remind our now-cool city that we’re still here. And nope, I really don’t want to leave the city of my birth. As Dylan Thomas wrote:
“Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”