Barbara Lucks
Columnist
Snowmass Village, CO Colorado

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May 29, 2012
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Barbara Lucks: Wind, fire, politics and homelessness

I hate wind. I really hate wind. The wind has been blowing hard and steady in Mack for three days now. There's a layer of fine grit on everything. I'm imagining Mount Daly will sport its "Utah Pink" hue the next time I'm up in Snowmass, that is, if there is still any snow left on Mount Daly.

Everyone I talk with is concerned about the snowpack, the water table, the drought and especially the fire danger. We've been under a Red Flag Warning more days than not, which indicates conditions so windy and dry that any ignition whatsoever could burn up the county.

Agricultural officials are advising that ditch water may have to be restricted this summer. It's probably a great time to be a water attorney.

The edgy weather seems to go with an overall edgy culture that seems to have lost many of its soft curves and gentle spring breezes. Understandably, turf-protection in business is way up. Embezzlement is booming. According to my forensic CPA friend, employee theft has surpassed shoplifting in inventory shrinkage.

I mediate for the small claims court in Mesa County, and in four years I've seen the flavor of many cases change from reasonably negotiable business disputes to downright predatory attempts. Like suing your sister. My volunteer job has gone from challenging to depressing.

Politics is polarized. The economy is polarized. Many workers older than 50 have been jettisoned by economic change. For the first time in my life, several of my friends and relatives are having a hard time finding work.

The little courtesies seem all the sweeter during rude economic times. A business that successfully crafts a culture of courtesy during edgy times is not only refreshing, but really smart. I'd rather bank on courtesy and thoughtfulness than cutthroat competition.

I never thought I'd nominate a big national chain for getting it right, but Dress Barn gets it right. My 87-year-old mother reports she had the best retail experience of her life shopping at Dress Barn for the "right thing" for a grandson's wedding. My mom must use a walker or a wheelchair, but Dress Barn has handicapped equipped dressing rooms. Better yet, their business model of personal shopping assistance meant the staff asked about what Mom likes and how much she wanted to spend, and brought dress after dress to her until she found the perfect one.

I allow myself two trips a year to dress barn, and I look forward to them for weeks. The store has customers of all ages and sizes. A concierge at the door directs each customer to a personal assistant who is trained to quickly identify customer preferences and present stock accordingly. I have never felt pressured. It's a great service, the clothes are beautiful and reasonably priced. "Inspiring women to look and feel beautiful" is the corporate mission.

The Grand Junction Police Department is in HOT pursuit of the homeless. The Homeless Outreach Team is shooting for the ambitious goal of ending homelessness in Grand Junction in 10 years. It is not true that most are homeless by choice. The current rude economy has changed the face of homelessness, and that tragically includes an increasing number of children.

When the police department accurately assessed that the legal system is not an effective way to address the root causes of homelessness, they formulated another approach. They treat the homeless population as neighbors who need some help getting a fresh start. The specialty team is knowledgeable about local programs that provide emergency meals and shelter, and a stable platform for job training and addiction rehab efforts. The team also coordinates with resources out of the area, especially if the homeless person has roots or kin in that area.

Perhaps the best refreshment is to get far from the madding crowd. With pricey vacations out of many budgets, camping is enjoying a hey-day. For a particularly elegant camping experience, contact your Snowmass neighbors Mark and Linda Chapdelaine at Aspen Airstream Rentals (aspenairstreamrentals.com).

You've probably seen their cream-puff, doll-baby Bambi Airstream at the local concerts. It's the one with the upscale upholstery and flower boxes. They'll even cater the grocery stock for you.

Courtesy may be the best windbreak yet.


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The Aspen Times Updated May 29, 2012 04:41PM Published May 29, 2012 04:40PM Copyright 2012 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.