Cross section of community gathers to talk local values
Written by Mark Reaman   
Wednesday, 13 November 2013
More and better communication a goal

The first step in a new community movement to seek shared “community values” was held at Maxwell’s on Monday morning. Crested Butte town manager Todd Crossett and Mt. Crested Butte-Crested Butte Chamber of Commerce director Dan Marshall welcomed more than 70 people to participate in the three-hour meeting.


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The bottom line is that those at the meeting generally felt that things like the non-profit sector of the community along with summer tourism, volunteerism, regional ground transportation, access to the open space and wilderness, the school and education systems in the north end of the valley are all things that work well.
On the list of things that “need some work” to function better, the group highlighted the air transportation system in the valley, the lack of a pool and recreation center in Crested Butte, the slim opportunity for good jobs, winter tourism, a need for better collaborative efforts between all the entities from Gunnison to Gothic, and the state of the public restrooms at the Four-way Stop.
“This is meant to be a safe venue for broad community discussion,” Crossett explained to the participants. “Since I’ve been here I have heard people say they aren’t being listened to or heard.”
We want to create a format to get people together to communicate and as a result, make better decisions.”
“We are trying to seek out common community values,” added Marshall. “What is it that draws people here and keeps them here? We don’t want local businesses to look at local government as a ‘them.’ We want people to be able to work together, even when they disagree.”
After a series of “ice-breaking” and team-building exercises, the group got out their sticky notes, broke down into small groups and compiled a list of what they perceived as values in the area. Not unexpectedly, things like family, friends, open space, a safe community, art, passion, fun, the ability to be a unique individual (and unique community), the outdoor life, education, ranching, faith, and the small town atmosphere all went on the white board of common values.
From that foundation, the group made a long list of things that worked well in the community and a longer list of things that could be better.
Almost every group listed the school system as a major plus. “It’s like getting a private school education in a public school setting,” summarized participant Jason Napoli of his group’s observation.
The variety of activities available for summer tourism was overwhelmingly highlighted as a plus between things like a growing festival scene, myriad outdoor opportunities and events like Alpenglow. The spirit of the Crested Butte BOZAR in helping to keep the town small and in scale was mentioned. The growing number of trails came up as a positive as well as a thriving arts community, the lack of a mine on Mt. Emmons, the healthiness of the town residents and the good judgment used by local law enforcement.
On the negative side, some said the town hasn’t decided what it really wants to be. “Is Crested Butte a ski town? An arts destination? A mountain bike town? A retirement community for 22-year-olds?” said Kim Bosler as spokesperson for her group. “The town is shifting from a place that once attracted ski bums to one that is now bringing in families and telecommuters. Our group said we need better opportunities for long-term, economically viable jobs.”
Specifics from everything from declining winter tourism, the lack of an active senior center in town, to the lack of a pool (and rec center) and need for better relationships with ranchers over summer recreation were cited as areas of potential improvement. Defining measures of success with points other than just money was also mentioned.
One group thought tourism was getting to be a bit too much in the town. “Too much of a good thing is too much of a good thing,” was the catch phrase; it was suggested that a reduced scale of tourism and its ramifications should be considered.
The need for more economic diversity and less summer congestion was mentioned. A theme brought up more than once was the relationship between the ski area and the community in general. Most felt there was room for improvement.
When the facilitators asked for dots to be placed on the issues most in need of addressing, the top three appeared to be an improvement in the regional air program, a desire for a recreational center/pool and the need for economic viability and good jobs.
In conclusion, Marshall and Crossett said similar meetings would be held in Mt. Crested Butte and Crested Butte South.
“We will compile the information and get it out to the public,” said Crossett. “Through that process we will determine the next steps.”
“The next question is ‘Why?’” said Marshall. “We need to drill down to why things like the non-profits work. And then develop long-term strategic thinking in an overall view of the community. We want this process to be a living process and document.”
Marshall said a follow-up meeting would be held before the end of the year.
“We hope to continue to have effective discussion meetings like this on a somewhat regular basis,” added Crossett.