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Embracing Change in Our Mountain Towns

In a recent ColoradoBiz piece about the pluses and minuses of tourism in Colorado mountain towns, I was asked to comment. The subtitle is “It’s a struggle to juggle identity amid change.”, Tourism brings economic activity to rural towns, but along with economic activity comes change.

Change Is Constant

The author of the aforementioned article states “… communities such as Pagosa Springs, Crested Butte and Gunnison, tourism trends may be at the mercy of nature: Dry winters typically yield a drop in winter visits. But tourism remains both the strongest and most consistent industry in those communities.” Some people want and need more economic activity in their home towns. However, there are many who fear change and prefer the size of their town remain the same. One thing none of us have figured out is how to make our mountain towns stand still. Last summer in Crested Butte, longtime mountain prognosticator Myles Rademan defined nostalgia as “yearning for a time that never was, while avoiding the future that seems inevitable.”

All of us living in rural mountain towns should work together to shape forthcoming change. Rademan explained that “familiarity breeds invisibility.” The longer those living in rural communities stay, the less they see of the changes all around. Planning and outside perspectives become invaluable. Gunnison County’s One Valley Prosperity Project is a great current example of a community working for the most beneficial change possible.

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