Below is a Recent Article I wrote about the importance of local community involvement…specifically my community of Downtown Evergreen Colorado!
What it Takes for a Town to Exist
We’ve all done it. We visit a new place and instantly fall in love. I know I’ve done it because it’s why I live here. Evergreen is a very special place wrought with a rich history of agricultural settlers mixed with star studded vacationers and statesmen seeking refuge from the city heat in a mountain paradise. There is a present story that tells stories of children meeting the real Santa for the very first time on our own Main Street and strolling the charming shops and restaurants on any given evening. And there is a future story that is as of yet, unwritten.
There’s this tendency to think that there is some magic that creates a sense of place that is charming, inviting and comfortable. And that this magic somehow manifests itself on its own. I firmly believe in this magic, but I can assure you that it exists because of the people who work to create it every day. I see on a daily basis, visitors that revel in this magic on our very own main street. I also see folks who have been here since they were young, sharing their memories of being a youngster in a quiet mountain town. These memories are very much a part of this magic, and our town couldn’t be replicated anywhere without them.
But what happens when the pages of our memory book get tattered and torn? Who is there to repair the fabric of that holds this rich culture? It is easy to take for granted the thought that the charm of a main street like ours will last forever, but the reality is that this special magic requires attention and special care for it to survive, let alone thrive. It is not widely known to those outside the main street district that Evergreen is not incorporated. This means that there is no revenue to maintain our public places, much less create new places for a community that has grown over a hundred fold since this town was born. Property owners and shop proprietors do the best they can, as they have for decades.
The care and maintenance of our Evergreen magic is a big job though. Zoning ordinances are threatening the very existence of some of our cherished existing main street buildings. Infrastructure like sidewalks and parking is deteriorating (by the way, infrastructure always deteriorates – it’s a part of life). And then there is the desperate need for accommodating safe passage linking our important cultural resources from the lake to the library, the museum and the churches, and everything in between.
How can we keep up? A vision of not doing anything in hopes that nothing changes about our charming town is a vision of a town with boarded up shops and crumbling streets. The town is already changing as we do nothing to preserve it. Preservation requires action. This is why the Evergreen Downtown Business Association (EDBA) has created the Heart of Evergreen Economic and Cultural District (HEECD). A group of people who represent the business owners, property owners, and everyone who enjoys Evergreen at Large to be tasked with this responsibility. To be there to provide this special care and maintenance in greater ways and lessen the burden of those who have already been taken for granted for so long.
The HEECD vision is shaped by our community, not by a special few. We are a group of leaders that were voted to represent the town in all of its interests. We are business owners and residents here. Our sole purpose is to preserve the special magic that we all know to be here, and perhaps add a little more. That magic that is a delicate blend of history, culture, family and community. A magic that requires a place to exist. A magic that will quickly disappear if not carefully tended by those of us who really care about it. This is the shape and form of every community, and it is our responsibility.
Who wouldn’t want their children to know the joys of scampering to the local ice cream store, or the fudge shop the way we once did? Or better yet, to spend time enjoying those treats in a public park that we wish we had? I know I do. And that’s why I live here. And that’s why I am honored to have been chosen to serve on the HEECD board and help in some way to write the future story of downtown Evergreen. Not only to see it survive, but rather, to see it thrive. And not without the help of a little magic.