Every businessperson knows there isn’t enough time to think through decisions, that time for reflection isn’t usually scheduled during a hectic week.
The Jewish High Holidays are just that kind of time, asking us to stop and reflect, in a span of 10 days, on what happened last year and what we hope to accomplish in the next year. The yellowing aspen leaves remind us of this time as well; time for change.
Young residents cynically say we should keep Colorado Springs “lame,” that in fact nothing has or will change in this sleepy village just south of the vibrant Denver metropolis. Should we?
As a challenge, I suggest four ways in which we can overcome our lameness and think of ourselves as potentially good enough, if not great. Yes, it’s about conceptualizing first and then doing, the way we offer a business plan to be executed later.
First, we should acknowledge past grievances to overcome them. Enough with the political bickering between Mayor Steve Bach and City Council. Unless they want to compete with the low approval rate of Congress, they should change.
Bach should meet with each councilor alone (with a therapist in tow?) to air old concerns and a civil environment if not outright trust. If the Truth and Reconciliation Commission worked in South Africa after apartheid, it can work among our leaders.
Second, whatever has gone on in the past with Utilities, it’s time to think to the future of our young entrepreneurs, those who care about the air they breathe and want to ensure a bright, healthy future for their children.
Why is CSU the “other” rather than “our” very own utility? Our best interests should be on their minds rather than threats of rate increases; as stakeholders and outright legal owners, we should determine Utilities’ future.
Looking around the country at every utility enterprise, we quickly conclude: Coal is out, renewable energy is in; old plants are out, efficient new ones are in. It’s not complicate to figure out how to be stewards of our environment — just common sense and goodwill.
Third, let the City of Champions come forth and bring fresh air to our stale old city. Despite bickering and power moves, despite concerns about wasting money and raising taxes, what else can transform the old warehouse district into a viable center? Look northward to Denver and see what it did, with city leadership and financial support, to renew various areas that were moribund, from crime scenes to party spots. Been up there recently? It’s alive!
The parts of this grandiose plan: Air Force Academy, which will take care of its allotted share; UCCS, a state entity that can be counted on to take care of its future. Dick Celeste will lead the effort on behalf of the Olympic Museum. So what’s left? One-fourth of the total, and we can’t find out how to handle it?
Fourth, I have proposed for years (to different heads of the Convention and Visitors Bureau) to copy Colorado’s mountain towns. They somehow managed over the past decade to transform their heavy reliance on the ski season into a year-round programming that brings visitors every weekend for different festivals.
Breckenridge, with about 5,000 residents, hosts over 1.5 million guests annually. Can Colorado Springs, with 500,000, at least match that? I proposed to have something called “100 days of summer” (to Karen Palus, director of Parks, Recreation & Cultural Services — with no response). Here’s the plan:
Starting sometime in May or June, continuing to late August or September, we should have an event every day in Acacia Park downtown. It would range from farmers markets to local bands, poetry reading and silent-movie projection with a live piano player, all the way to street chalk paintings, mimes and puppeteers. You name it, we can do it.
Who’ll fund this? I suggest we ask local individuals and business to contribute $500 for each day, thus completely underwriting the 100 days; some things will require less, some more, but $500 daily average should cover the costs.
I volunteer to fund two days. Is anyone listening? Does anyone care?
These are just four ideas that I’m sure others can improve. These are just some reflections that deserve to be heard and debated, just as I’m sure others, younger and smarter than I, can offer theirs.
What forum can they use? CSBJ? Social media?