| AspenTimes.com

The annual nonprofit wish list

Aspen may be a land of plenty. But it also is a land with plenty of needs — at the holidays and all year-round. So once again, we asked our local nonprofits what their No. 1 need is. The outpouring of responses — and the breadth of requests — always surprises us. It reminds us, year after year, that we can all make a difference to our neighbors in need. We hope you'll read this and give generously where you can. Here are their wishes, in their own words.

Editor’s Note: If your nonprofit is not included but has a wish, please email Jeanne McGovern at jmcgovern@aspentimes.com and we will add your request to our online story.

Anderson Ranch Arts Center

Anderson Ranch Arts Center wishes for a 15-passenger van that will be used for our programs. A van will help to expand the Ranch's reach downvalley for our children's art program, as well as transport students to and from locations for workshop field trips, off-site events and more!

Hannah Thompson, 970-923-3181 ext. 212, hthompson@andersonranch.org


The Art Base

The Art Base would love a new laptop.

Jocelyn Murray, 970-927-4123,




Ascendigo offers athletic experiences for kids and adults on the autism spectrum and is in need of sponsors to fund our buddies for our weekend program. Anything helps!

Ascendigo, 970-927-3143,



Aspen Center for Environmental Studies

ACES seeks a 12-passenger van to efficiently and safely transport program participants between ACES' four sites and off-site locations. ACES also has need for a two stage gas snowblower and a plow truck and/or plow attachment to maintain safe winter access to ACES visitor centers at Hallam Lake, Rock Bottom Ranch and the Catto Center at Toklat. Items welcomed new or used in good condition.

Christy Mahon, 970.925.5756,



Aspen Chapel

We broadcast our gatherings and special events over the internet, and we are looking for someone to sponsor the streaming side of our work. We bring people in from all over the world to talk about issues of peace, reconciliation and the transformation of consciousness. This goes all over the country, with visitors to the chapel tuning in from their homes. We have the ability to offer naming rights. The whole program costs $20,000.

Nicholas Vesey, 970-355-4243, 


Aspen Education Foundation

Top of our wish list is to maintain the teacher salaries and programs we fund. Please help us support extraordinary public education so that it is available to all students.

Brooke Bedingfield, 970-429-3626, bbedingfield@aspenk12.net


Aspen Film

Our number one need is an individual or business to help underwrite Aspen Film's new free outdoor screenings in Galena Plaza next summer. Any amount helps.

Susan Wrubel, 970-925-6882, swrubel@aspenfilm.org



Aspen Historical Society

Our wish list: Temperature-controlled storage to preserve aging films, including those classics of skiing from the '40s, '50s, '60s and '90s.

Christine Benedetti, 970-925-3721 ext. 102, christine@aspenhistory.org


Aspen Junior Hockey

Aspen Junior Hockey is grateful to provide our youth hockey players gear (from skates to a helmet) necessary to play the game safely and correctly. The AJH equipment room at Lewis Arena provides families a tremendous opportunity to save money by outfitting their son or daughter throughout their youth hockey career. This season, AJH needs support replenishing its stock of helmets, gloves and elbow pads.

Shaun Hathaway, 970-618-5093, 


Aspen Public Radio

Bose laptop speakers for remote editing sites: $99/set (would love two pairs!)

Carolyne Heldman, 970-920-9000 x10, carolyne@aspenpublicradio.org



Locally we support all of the GSAs at the high schools in the valley from Aspen to Glenwood Springs. We also support the Hope Center, which has created a counseling program for LGBTQ youth and their parents. We have created a film series in partnership with Aspen Film for the same youth programs. Specifically we could really use some help with video taping and editing services in order to create an "it gets better" video.

Kevin McManamon, kevin@rfglcf.com


Aspen Santa Fe Ballet

Wish list: $250 for ASFB's Folklórico Scholarships. Since 1998, ASFB's Folklórico has enriched the lives of children through free after-school instruction in Mexican folkloric dance. Folklórico now directly impacts the lives of 123 students, grades K-12 in the Roaring Fork Valley schools. The award-winning Folklórico ensemble performs regularly across the region and teaches artistic excellence, promotes positive youth development and encourages the crossing of cultural boundaries by students and their families. $250 would help cover the costs of folklorico shoes for five students in need.

Jessica Moore, 970-925-7175 x101, 


Aspen Strong Foundation

One wish: for every resident from Aspen to Parachute to take a Check Up from the Neck Up and keep up with their mental hygiene; 
 http://screening.mentalhealthscreening.org/aspenstrong #aspenstrong

Christina M. King, 215-833-5817,



Aspen Thrift Shop

We are in search of women willing to work 2 days a month. Give back to the community, have fun, and make new friends!



Aspen Words

As we look toward the 20th anniversary season of Winter Words, our number 1 wish is to provide more young people with access to inspirational authors and role models in the arts. A $5,000 gift will underwrite 200 student tickets to the Winter Words author series, helping us to encourage the next generation of writers.

Jamie Kravitz, 970-925-3122 ext 2#, 


Aspen Youth Center

In addition to financial gifts which will help keep our after-school and all-day summer programming forever free, Aspen Youth Center is in need of eight new Chromebook computers for our youth computer lab. These computers are used for homework but will also be used for new coding classes so the kids can learn about building websites and more.

Michaela Idhammar, 970-544-4133, 


American Renewable Energy Institute and the AREDAY Summit

At the top of our Christmas wish list is a worldwide transition away from the burning of fossil fuels, toward renewable energy and energy efficiency at the speed and scale necessary to usher in a new clean-energy economy. We are currently raising funds to purchase an electric vehicle charging station for Snowmass Village, to kick off our first ever AREDAY ELECTRIC Vehicle Show, June 22-24, 2017.

Chip Comins, info@areday.net


Carbondale Chamber of Commerce

Our No. 1 need would be volunteers for our POSSE. The POSSE is the volunteer and goodwill committee of the Carbondale Chamber, and helps organize Business After Hours, ribbon cuttings and other Chamber events, and represent the Chamber in a professional and positive manner.

Carbondale Chamber, 970-963-1890, 


The Chris Klug Foundation

Our wish is to eliminate the wait for the 119,000 people waiting for an organ transplant. You can support this effort by registering to be an organ donor on our website. We also need volunteers to help with our educational, nationwide outreach programs.

Lauren Pierce, 607-333-4814,



Davi Nikent, Center for Human Flourishing

We provide seminars, programs, events, retreats and films on topics of integral health. Our wish is for a graphic artist marketing person to assist in the development of a proforma for our larger vision — the establishment of a retreat center — A Center for Human Flourishing

Rita E. Marsh, 970-618-5879,



GrassRoots Community Network

Full HD transformation of the GrassRoots Community Studio at the Red Brick Center for the Arts. Eighteen-year-old studio equipment, technology from the last century, is worn out from the creation of over 5,000 community video productions. In order to continue serving over 100 local organizations and helping to connect our entire community for many years to come, the complete facility needs a technological transformation. $350,000.

John Masters, 970-925-8000,



HomeCare & Hospice of the Valley

Help us care for people by donating to our Compassionate Care Fund. This fund helps care for those that don't have the financial ability to pay for hospice care, palliative care or home health care for themselves or a loved one. Patients' ages range from a few weeks to those over 100. HomeCare & Hospice of the Valley is the only nonprofit end-of-life provider throughout a service area of 6,000 square miles. Since we began serving the Pitkin, Garfield and Eagle communities, not one patient has been refused care.

Roger Proffitt, 970-930-6008,



Jazz Aspen Snowmass

JAS is looking for new National Council and Band members to help us keep the music playing in our valley. JAS National Council members provide essential support for the organizations educations programming. Discounted National Council memberships are available until the end of the year. The JAS Band is a seeking new individuals to be a part of this exciting new level of JAS membership, encouraging philanthropy and social membership in young community members.

Andrea Beard, abeard@jasaspensnowmass.org, 970-920-4996


Lucky Day Rescue of Colorado


Rachel Hahn, 970-618-3662,




Our No. 1 need is money to pay for individual counseling for those struggling with grief and loss in the areas of Aspen to Parachute.

Allison Daily, 970-379-5276,



Preschool on Wheels

The mobile Preschool on Wheels Program is a partnership project of Aspen Community Foundation's Cradle to Career Initiative & Garfield Re-2 School District. Since 2012, Gus and Sunshine serve 120 preschoolers each year from Rifle, Silt and New Castle. A tax-deductible gift of $3,000 will sponsor a child for the entire year of preschool. $800 would support the cost of fuel it takes to get Gus and Sunshine to three daily stops. Walmart gift cards would help fund bus and classroom supplies.

Logan Hood, 970-925-9300, 


Red Brick Center for the Arts

Our wish is for artists to donate to our Jan. 17 auction!

Angie Callen, 970-429-2777,




Response needs volunteer advocates. These advocates support victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. They provide invaluable assistance on our crisis line and with follow-up services for survivors. Volunteers must complete 30 hours of training. Our next training is Jan. 16 Feb. 4; all sessions take place after business hours.

Christine Nolen, 970-920-5357, 


Roaring Fork Center for Community Leadership (RFCCL)

We need more people willing to "step up" to community leadership roles and opportunities in both political and nonpolitical organizations. We ask that you donate to RFCCL's scholarship fund to develop our communities next leaders or "step up" yourself by applying to be a participant in the RFL Class of 2018.

Andrea Palm-Porter, 970-922-6035, andrea@rfleadership.org


Shining Stars Foundation

We have a waitlist — and we need your help! In March, we will bring 70-plus children with cancer to Buttermilk Ski Area for eight days of high alpine adventure. We still have 34 children waiting for a sponsor. Will you give the gift of hope to one of these children today, and sponsor a Shining Star? Visit http://www.ShiningStarsFoundation.org to donate or learn more.

Rosemary White, 970-726-8009, Rosemary@ShiningStars


Smiling Goat Ranch

Smiling Goat Ranch implements The Horse Boy Method — a tried and tested, scientifically proven method of gaining communication and re-patterning the brain for people on the autism spectrum, with ADD, ADHD, anxiety, and for veterans with PTSD using horses, movement and a natural environment. We provide our services free to all families, so our number one need is funding to cover our half-day sessions and to feed and care for our horses.

Sheryl Barto, 970-379-1383, 


Stepping Stones of the Roaring Fork Valley

We are looking for cash donations during the holidays and funding for our middle school drop-in center we are opening in the spring.

Kyle Crawley, 720-207-7646,



Theatre Aspen

Theatre Aspen is looking for a volunteer leader to be the organizer and chief cheerleader for all of our wonderful year-round volunteers.

Paige Price, 970-300-4307,



Two Rivers Unitarian Universalist

System for the hearing impaired to be able to hear services on Sunday.

Rev. Shawna Foster, 970-510-0442, 


Valley Life for All

We are interested in securing TV, radio and print ads to do a monthly informational message regarding "tips" or understanding inclusion for education and advocacy through a sponsored space or $1,000 marketing budget allowance.

Debbie Wilde, 970-319-1279, 


Wilderness Workshop

Our No. 1 need is a Hi-Res Digital Projector.

Rebecca Mirsky, 970-963-3977,


The outdoor recreation economy is choosing Colorado

Sunday, Nov. 11, wrapped up the third and final Outdoor Retailer show of the year in Denver. This trade show, which is the biggest of its kind in North America, moved to Denver at the beginning of 2018 from Salt Lake City.

When news came out in the summer of 2017 that this move was happening, it was a big deal, not only in Colorado but on a national level. Michael Hancock, the mayor of Denver, said this about the trade show's move to the Centennial State: "What this announcement proves is that Denver and the state of Colorado is indeed a global international player when it comes to outdoor recreational opportunities."

Now, 16 months later, Outdoor Retailer is fully at home here, and our outdoor economy isn't only alive and well, it's growing.

The words "outdoor" and "economy" may not seem like they naturally fit together. The visual of business men and women rushing around on Wall Street, juxtaposed by families ice skating on Maroon Lake in front of the Bells just doesn't make much sense. However, every activity we partake in outdoors is a part of the economy, from the gear and clothes we purchase, to the lift tickets we invest in, to anyone who may help us with our adventures along the way. At least, that's how the Bureau of Economic Analysis sees it. The government agency released its first-ever report this year, which measures the economic influence of outdoor recreation in the country.

The BEA found that the outdoor recreation economy in 2016 accounted for 2.2. percent, or $412 billion, of current-dollar gross domestic product (GDP). It did so well, in fact, that it even grew faster that year than the overall economy did.

When we zoom in on the outdoor economy in our state, it's clear that it makes a big impact. According to a state report released a couple of weeks ago, the industry contributed $62.5 billion in 2017 and now supports nearly 511,111 jobs statewide.

"This puts it as one of the top economic drivers of our economy," Gov. John Hickenlooper said at the unveiling of the report, accounting for 10 percent of the state's GDP.

From the looks of it, the outdoor economy in Colorado will only continue to grow from here. In August the VF Corporation, which is one of the largest companies in the industry, announced it will move its headquarters to Colorado, with brands like The North Face, Smartwool and Altra, to name a few, making Denver their new home next spring. This will add around 800 jobs to the area.

One of the main reasons both Outdoor Retailer and VF Corporation chose Colorado as their new home is because of the state's support for the outdoor economy, which comes from both sides of the aisle. It will be exciting to see how this support continues to bring more outdoor-related companies to Colorado. Hopefully the work being done in our state will also show the rest of the country the successes that can be achieved when we put the outdoors first.

Barbara Platts is proud to she gets to call Colorado home. Reach her at bplatts.000@gmail.com or on Twitter @BarbaraPlatts.

Do you know jack? Demand will draw organic superfoods here, even in winter

I held the door open for the woman behind me, and she recoiled. I wasn't offended, though; this warming tray on the buffet line very well might have been the lady's first encounter with jackfruit. The tropical ingredient, whose tender, yellow flesh resembles a cross between canned albacore tuna and pulled pork (chunky and swirling in spots, flaky or shredded in others) has become a popular meat substitute in U.S. cities in recent years. Fiber-rich and packed with vitamins and minerals, slightly sweet jackfruit has the texture of artichoke hearts and wears other flavors well, much like tofu.

While jackfruit smothered in barbecue sauce for DIY lettuce wraps seemed a fitting vegan lunch option at the Lead With Love wellness retreat held at the Aspen Meadows recently, it served as a reminder that national food trends are often slow to trickle into our isolated mountain town.

"We've been discussing making jackfruit tacos at Spring, however, it has been hard to source from our suppliers," says Spring Café owner Sabrina Rudin, when I ask if it's ever on the menu at her all-vegetarian, vegan-friendly restaurant. "I think that's why you don't see it much in town. Organic jackfruit is especially hard to find."

JÜS Aspen co-owner Landon Goldstone echoes this sentiment. "In Colorado, especially in Aspen, it's much harder to get some of these exotic fruits—jackfruit, soursop, dragonfruit…breadfruit…papaya, mango. When we do get pomegranates, they are often way overripe or underripe."

Yet as consumers discover and embrace the benefits of eating more fruits and vegetables and fewer animal proteins, certain plant-based foods may become more readily available to supply demand, Rudin says.

"There is a push to find more meat 'alternatives,'" she explains. "We know that soy proteins and isolated soy proteins really don't benefit the body. People are turning to jackfruit, which mimics pulled and jerk meats, and veggies like shiitake mushrooms—great for 'bacon'—or eggplant to make 'ragu.'"

Jackfruit in particular was forecasted as a "superfood of the year" in 2017, according to Pinterest, Parade, and even PETA. When Whole Foods Markets named "tacos" as a top food trend for 2018 in its annual report last fall, it mentioned meatless options such as "jackfruit al pastor," available in more than 175 locations. The Basalt store prepares it on occasion. When I call to inquire, I'm told that jackfruit is included on the recipe rotation every couple of months, next on the schedule after the new year.

At Spring Café, tacos and scrambles seasoned with other meat-like veggie fillings are perennially popular, Rudin says. This summer customers went crazy for a new veggie "chorizo," made in-house from sunflower-, pumpkin- and flaxseeds, quinoa, spices and sun-dried tomatoes. Ditto for heart of palm "ceviche." Currently the Spring Café kitchen team is creating new vegetable-based, soy-free winter dishes, "for all our vegetarian diners but also for our meat-eaters who want the texture and strong flavor of their favorite taco or burger but want to experiment with a plant-based lifestyle," Rudin says.

(To be clear: Spring Café does serve organic, non-GMO tofu and tempeh, but not highly processed soy protein or isolated soy protein.)

As expected, price is a major factor in sourcing. Goldstone receives 100 cases of organic strawberries and bananas every Monday at JÜS. "Strawberries go from $20 a case in the summer to about $40 a case—double in price—in winter," he says. "Strawberry season is short. We try to get local strawberries (to freeze onsite)…you don't want to freeze them (too far in advance), though. They'll get freezer burn."

Winter poses an additional challenge: "Sometimes when it snows the trucks don't come," he says. "We scramble to get organic produce from Clark's and City Market but half the time the organic produce is the first thing that sells out in stores."

Still, Goldstone admits that sourcing organic ingredients today is easier than it was when he opened JÜS with co-owners Mark d'Emden and Tamara Petit in February 2015. "Big vendors—US Food, Sysco, Shamrock—three years ago didn't have a large organic section," he notes. "Now they are huge into the organic market. They have seen the light."

While that's good news concerning the Aspen availability of organic foods, which research shows are more healthful than conventional counterparts containing pesticides and genetically modified organisms (GMOs), the shift has an ironic consequence: It negatively impacts smaller producers.

"A lot of the local farmers in the past three years have closed down," Goldstone shares. "They can't keep up with the pricing of the bigger vendors. We try to use local because smaller farmers do grow a better product—Two Roots Farm, Harper Kaufman grows some of the best kale I've ever seen. But the bigger companies make it so we can have 300 juices a day (at JÜS), versus when we started and we'd sell out within five hours of being open. We are all organic; we could only get a certain amount of stock."

Likewise, Spring Café is a 100 percent organic operation. And Rudin is optimistic that more of the lesser-known, exotic ingredients will become available as diners demand such options. Similarly, the global organic food and beverages market is projected to rise at a stable rate of nearly 14 percent until 2021, according to research firm TechNavio.

"I think people in Aspen want to feel nourished and healthy," Rudin concludes. "There's a high demand for plant-based food but also need food that fuels and energizes. We try to honor that balance with generous portions, nutrient-dense ingredients and hearty dishes."

Soon Spring Café will unveil a variety of coconut milk-based stews, soups like hearty black bean and curried squash, and possibly hearty plant-based entrees such as eggplant, mushroom and lentil Bolognese and mushroom skewers with Thai peanut satay sauce. JÜS is launching its winter menu (turmeric-infused nut milk, hot drinks, soups, hearty sandwiches and salads) any day now, too.

Just don't expect to find jackfruit at either spot…yet.


Mull It Over

So it is a bitter cold late fall day in the Rockies and I must admit that I feel like something warm to heat up not just my fingers and toes, but my soul, as well. A regular glass of red wine simply won't solve my dilemma so my thoughts have turned to … mulled wine.

WHAT? you ask. Warm wine? This, from a guy who consistently talks about wine being served at just the right temperature? A guy who will send back a bottle in a restaurant if it is deemed too warm for consumption?

Hear me out: wine is an "of the moment experience." And every once in a while, say Christmas in London or a cold winter's day when the wind is whipping across the Alsace, or even a raw day in the Rockies, a warm or cooked wine with several spices is just what the doctor ordered. Though I doubt many self-respecting Bordeaux-collecting doctors have ever ordered mulled wine. It's just not in keeping with their one-percenter profiles.

Long ago I spent a Christmas in the Cotswolds. It was almost like a fairy tale with thatched roofed houses and impossibly beautiful bogs and hillsides outside the quaint towns. But it was colder than a witch's bosom. A deep, damp, chill-you-to-the-bones cold.

Anyway, each afternoon before the sun went down the owner of the B&B where we stayed, that would likely be an AirB&B these days, would put out a plate of traditional cookies and a steaming pot of mulled wine. In the oh-so-perfect saucers and cups there were a pair of cinnamon sticks. When the wine was poured over the sticks the whole room smelled like cinnamon. It was just so … Christmas-y.

And obviously I am not the only one who feels this way. If one goes online and searches the internet for "mulled wine recipes," over 6 million Google sites suddenly appear. Only 4 million show up if one searches gewürztraminer. To be fair, the number is over 32 million for chardonnay, but you get the point. People like mulled wine.

The majority of the recipes are pretty much the same, though in this day and age many people often use slow cookers to make their mulled wines. The basics are a full bottle of red wine, an orange, a half-dozen or more cloves, and cinnamon sticks. You'll also likely need some kind of sweetener like honey or maple syrup, maybe a pod or two of cardamom, a bit of brandy for fortification and star anise for decoration. Have you got all of that in the pantry?

As this is a wine column, the first thing you'll likely ask is, "What kind of wine?" The answer? A cheap one. That's right, the nuances of anything expensive will be lost once you put all that stuff in it. You're really just looking for the flavor of a big wholesome red wine "mulled" with the flavors of the other ingredients. An $8 bottle of cabernet or South American malbec will do just fine for your mulled wine.

So, how do you make mulled magic? It's actually insanely easy once you have the stuff. Ready? OK, open the bottle of wine and pour it into a pot. Slice an orange in rounds. Put all the stuff you want into the pot, some oranges, cinnamon sticks, a couple of tablespoons of honey, a quarter cup of brandy, then turn the stove top to medium-high and let it heat until it just starts to simmer.

Then turn the temperature on the stovetop back to simmer and let it sit for anywhere from 15 minutes to 3 hours. You can stir it a couple of times if you like, but the only real way to botch this up is to let it boil. Do not let your mulled wine boil. All that will do is burn off the alcohol and leave it a little limp.

Drop a couple of the orange rounds, a couple of the star anise and a cinnamon stick into a cup or mug for garnish and pour in the mulled wine. It will be hot and tasty, but most of all it will warm your bones and put the aromas of spice in your nostrils.

It may not be the way a wine connoisseur normally consumes their juice, but there is something special about this way of consuming a bottle of wine that is just so … Christmas-y.

Even on a cold November day in the Rockies.

Kelly J. Hayes lives in the soon-to-be-designated appellation of Old Snowmass. He can be reached at malibukj@aol.com.

Scenes from the season

Offseason offers a relaxed time of year to connect with community and spend time in intimate settings prior to the hyper holiday schedule just around the corner. A few such events of note include a recent fall fundraiser at Phat Thai, a happy hour at Hooch and the fabulous production currently taking place at the Aspen District Theatre.

On Oct. 24, Ascendigo Autism brought staff and supporters together for Fall Fest at Phat Thai in Carbondale. Guests enjoyed drinks, hors d'oeuvres, a raffle and learning more about the nonprofit's important work for autism awareness. All proceeds from the event were earmarked for Ascendigo's Winter Adventures Program. Save the date for its upcoming Ascendigo Aspen Blue autism benefit event over Presidents Day weekend on Saturday, Feb. 16, at the Hotel Jerome. http://www.ascendigo.org.

Aspen Art Museum (AAM) senior curator Courtenay Finn was celebrated amid colleagues and museum patrons Nov. 9 with a surprise gathering at Hooch — one of her favorite haunts when not immersed in researching and planning contemporary exhibitions, meeting with visiting artists, collaborating with the education team and more. Since her arrival in 2014, at a busy time coinciding with the opening of the AAM's new building, she has curated numerous exhibitions. These include solo shows by Mickalene Thomas, as well as Yto Barrada, which is on view through Dec. 2, and one of my personal favorites, The Blue of Distance, which spanned photography, drawing, sculpture, and sound to explore the color's "uncanny relationship to absence." She'll return after the holidays for her swan song, a show by artist Margaret Kilgallen opening Jan. 12. Her new post is with the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland where Finn has been appointed chief curator.

The fall production by Aspen Community Theatre (ACT) filled the Aspen District Theatre last weekend and returns for shows this Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. and a Sunday matinee at 2 p.m. "Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," a musical with book by William Hauptman and music and lyrics by Roger Miller, is based on Mark Twain's classic 1884 novel, "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn." Founded in 1975, with the purpose of enriching the lives of our community, ACT is one of the longest-running companies still doing live theater in Aspen and offers a lens on the wide breadth of talent throughout the entire Roaring Fork Valley.


To reach May with invites and insights, email allthewaymaymay.com

Three Aspen High School golfers among those recognized on national signing day

The journey to get to this point involved a lot more than putting pen to paper, but that's all Aspen High School senior Jack Hughes had left to do to officially become part of the University of Colorado men's golf team.

Hughes, along with two of his teammates and senior swimmer Davy Brown, were recognized Wednesday during a signing day celebration inside the AHS gymnasium.

"I've worked extremely hard and put in a lot of hours to get to this point to become a Buff, but now I'm ready to work even harder," Hughes said. "These three boys up here, we've all earned it. We worked very hard and to have it pay off in front of the school and our family is really full circle."

Hughes finished second in the Class 3A state golf tournament last month, leading the Skiers to their first state championship in the sport. Finishing 13th at state was AHS senior Dawson Holmes, who sat to the right of Hughes during the celebration Wednesday, which was the first day of the open signing period for non-football sports.

Holmes is headed to the College of Charleston in South Carolina, which has a strong NCAA Division I program. Holmes had gotten pretty close with former Cougar coach Mark McEntire before he left to take over at Middle Tennessee State this past summer. Thinking the Charleston offer might be off the table, the new coaching staff, led by Mitch Krywulycz, reached out and assured him there was still a roster spot awaiting him.

"My grandparents live about two hours south, so I've spent a lot of time down there and Charleston had always been one of my top choices," Holmes said. "Between the state championship and getting into school and signing to play college golf, it's a pretty big weight off my shoulders."

Rounding out the college-bound golfers is AHS senior Colter Zwieg, who will play for NCAA Division III powerhouse Methodist University in North Carolina. In May, Methodist won its 12th national championship, which is tied for the most in Division III history.

"It was awesome to see all the work finally pay off and sit up there with those boys," Zwieg said. "This, I'm sure, will sink in when I get home and I actually start thinking about what it means and what it means for the future. It's just all the work finally pays off."

Both of the AHS golf coaches were in attendance Wednesday. Assistant boys coach Don Buchholz, who had also been the head coach for the girls team in the spring, recently announced he will soon be moving to Florida after having called Aspen home for the past 46 years.

Head boys coach Mary Woulfe, who has guided AHS to the past 10 regional championships, always is the first to commend the work Buchholz and the players have put in over the years to make Aspen into the golf powerhouse it certainly is.

"How incredibly proud can I be as a coach of the character they have shown, the fortitude, the grit and the amazing accomplishments?" Woulfe said. "And the humility with which they've all done it — it's amazing. And we are still waiting for that banner to get hung."

Brown, who spoke about her commitment Tuesday, will swim for Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction.


Aspen Princess: Wildfires have a way of reminding us how small we are

"Tell me you're not heading toward Sacramento," my mom said, her voice tight with concern.

"More like crawling toward Sacramento," I lamented. "We left San Francisco over two hours ago and have been in stop-and-go traffic the whole time. Who leaves for a 17-hour drive during rush hour?"

She told me there was a massive wildfire burning near Sacramento and insisted I call highway patrol to make sure the highway was open all the way through. I have to admit I did panic a little, knowing what can happen on major California Interstates when something goes wrong.

I was once stuck on this very road, Interstate 80, for two hours outside of Truckee when there was a major multi-vehicle accident, which is how accidents on these major highways go. It makes you think hard about things like mortality, luck and timing. You think, "What if I hadn't lost my keys and spent a half hour looking for them this morning?" You wonder if the time and place of your death really is somehow preordained. How else can you explain chance incidents like this one that randomly extinguish so many innocent lives, just like that?

I remember being struck by the way Californians take crises in stride, with most people out of their cars, sharing magazines, food and drinks. There were people reclining on the hoods of their cars as if it were a day at the beach and not a matter of being totally trapped and totally helpless for a very long period of time.

I would see this same nonchalance in the face of earthquakes, mudslides and yes, wildfires. In the years I spent living in San Diego, wildfires would happen every year during the Santa Ana winds, and no one really seemed to flinch.

"The 5 is a firewall, bro," they'd say, referring to Interstate 5, the major 12-lane freeway that is essentially the only way into or out of the area where I lived. They refer to all the highways that way, "the 405" and "the 101" as if they are living things, which they kind of are. Not only did I worry that these fires that would indeed jump right over the freeway, but that if anything catastrophic ever happened, that there would be no way out, which is what happened in Palisade.

The fire in Palisade makes the Lake Christine Fire look like a little, itty, bitty, teeny-tiny fire by comparison, and yet for us, it was huge and all-consuming. We were faced with what to pack in one bag (though truth be told our house looked like it had been robbed when I crammed all of our artwork, valuables and other mementos in the back of Ryan's truck in a total panic on the Fourth of July before we fled town, not even having been formally evacuated).

Still, it was enough to stick with me for weeks afterward. I would see the orange haze of a sunset and squint to make sure it wasn't a fire. Or morning fog would, to my mind, look like smoke. I had nightmares about fires and big airplanes flying too low and helicopters crashing into roads for a while, too. Though my husband will tell you I have a very intense dream life that tends to irrationally infect my psyche for days afterward. I think it has something to do with being creative and having open channels in the mind or some such thing. When I ask him what he dreamed about, he'll usually say, "Black." Apparently, his conscience is quite clear.

Once the temperatures dropped and news that the Lake Christine Fire was finally, totally out, I think we all began to move on with our lives, as people do. I remember when someone created the "Lake Christine Fire Forever Grateful" page on Facebook, I wondered, honestly, what they would post once the fire was out.

Sure enough, the last post (at least before the California fires broke out), was Oct. 8, with the announcement that the Lake Christine Fire was, at last, 100 percent contained.

But in the past couple of weeks, people have been posting there about the California fires with photos and stories and ways to help. "Memories of July all come flooding back when you hear of another community battling fire," wrote one page member. Another posted a link to a fundraising effort for a Roaring Fork Valley local living in Paradise who lost his home — so there's that.

The Camp Fire in Paradise burned 135,000 acres as of Wednesday morning, destroying 7,600 single-family homes and killing at least 48. The Lake Christine Fire burned 12,588 acres and no one was killed. Three homes were destroyed.

I remember having a conversation with a friend of mine who lives in Northern California during our fire and she had said as much, that our fire was relatively small. I was deeply offended. Our fire may not have been on the same scale as California wildfires, but it certainly was bigger than any wildfire I'd ever experienced. It was a mile from our home and for many of my friends, visible from their living room windows. And besides, who wants to have a "my fire is bigger than your fire" argument, anyway?

I think the conversations most of us are having around these fires has to do with the undeniable damage to our planet that we're witnessing in our lifetimes. Or that our exponentially growing population officially feels out of control and unmanageable, especially in a place like California where rush-hour traffic between San Francisco and Sacramento goes on for 200 miles.

It brings to the forefront our humanness, and the oh-so-painful reminder of how small we are in our existence, but also how much impact our actions have on a larger scale. It is a paradox that deserves more careful consideration. Maybe at the very least, these fires will unite us in that.

The Princess is feeling wistful today. Email your love to alisonmargo@gmail.com.

Breckenridge Town Council votes to remove controversial trail troll

Citing public safety concerns, Breckenridge Town Council is ready to say goodbye to Isak Heartsone, an art installation that’s been a runaway success with visitors, but whose popularity has also rankled residents living nearby.

The 15-foot wood troll sits about a mile up the Wellington Trail in Breckenridge, built there for a summer arts festival that ended in August. The original plan was to leave the troll in place as long he could withstand the elements and wasn’t vandalized. Enough town council members were ready to cut the troll’s lifespan short on Tuesday, however, that he’ll soon be coming down.

Exactly when it might happen was not announced at Tuesday’s council meeting.

Since the festival, the troll has been drawing large crowds, and the throngs of troll-seekers have caused numerous problems for some of the nearby homeowners, who’ve been dealing with illegal parking, littering and a severe a loss of privacy since the troll came to life, among other issues.

After some of those homeowners voiced their complaints, council had decided to keep the troll through the winter and reevalute the situation in the spring with hope that some of these issues would subside with mitigation efforts and colder temperatures.

That hasn’t happened, though, said Councilman Jeffrey Bergeron, who originally supported keeping the troll but has visited the site on multiple occasions and said he witnessed some of the safety hazards himself.

“I might, at this point, feel comfortable rolling over on Isak,” Bergeron said Tuesday.

In deciding to remove the troll, council repeatedly applauded Breckenridge Creative Arts, the organization that put on the festival and paid Danish artist Thomas Dambo $40,000 to create the troll, for hitting “a homerun.”

While council members said they didn’t want to discourage the the group from doing things like the troll in the future, they also felt like the sculpture is now presenting public safety issues and has “run its course.” Council members called this “a learning experience.”

The decision to remove the troll wasn’t unanimous, but the two biggest supporters, councilwomen Elisabeth Lawrence and Wendy Wolfe, both said they weren’t ready to “fall on a sword” to keep the troll.

Lawrence also didn’t want to announce any definitive date for removing the troll because, she worried, doing so could ramp up the troll traffic until the sculpture can be removed.

Carbondale and Colorado Creative Corridor win state grant

Carbondale and four other mountain towns are proving that it pays to work together when it comes to promoting tourism.

The Colorado Creative Corridor, which includes Carbondale, Paonia, Crested Butte, Ridgway and Salida, received $25,000 in matching grant funds from the Colorado Tourism Office to promote a 331-mile route through the Western Rockies.

Each of the five towns will contribute $5,000 to the marketing effort, bringing the tourism promotion board’s budget to $50,000.

“We are delighted to receive a second year of funding from the Colorado Tourism Office to fund this initiative which supports rural destinations,” said Andrea Stewart, executive director of Carbondale Chamber of Commerce and Carbondale Tourism. “Tourism is a critical pillar of Carbondale’s economy, and we believe this PR and marketing campaign will help many local businesses thrive thanks to more tourism dollars.”

The Colorado Creative Corridor launched in July 2018 as a collaboration of the tourism boards and chambers of the five towns. The group received the same amount of matching grants from the state a year ago, and the new funds will be used to continue the promotional efforts. That will include content development, website work, paid advertising, promotion of events and distribution of maps of the region to Colorado welcome centers.

The Colorado Creative Corridor’s mission is to invite tourists to visit lesser-known recreational spots and experience mountain towns in a different way. The group developed a map of the area around the five towns, designed by Carbondale artist Laura Stover, and itineraries of suggested activities.

The Colorado Tourism Office awarded matching grants to 23 organizations for 2019, ranging from small awards of around $11,000 to $25,000, the maximum amount.

Carbondale and the other four towns are designated as creative districts by the state, making them eligible for certain grants to help attract greater artistic and entrepreneurial energy. The Creative Corridor is the first collaboration of designated creative districts that have begun working together to promote tourism.

Carbondale Tourism spokesperson Sarah-Jane Johnson said the Colorado Creative Corridor came about as the town was trying to find creative ways to promote tourism.

“The funding for most tourism marketing that we do comes from lodging tax,” Johnson said. With relatively few accommodations, Carbondale began looking for ways to tap into funding from the state tourism office.

When Carbondale received the creative district registration, it seemed natural to collaborate with other local mountain communities with the same designation.

“This is the first real collaboration of creative districts to promote tourism offerings,” Johnson said.


Sean Beckwith: An illustrated debate

One of the best aspects of being a real comic book fan is the arguments they create. Who's the better detective: Batman or Dare Devil? (Batman.) Who's the better underwater hero: Namor the Sub-Mariner or Aquaman? (Trick question, they both suck.) If you had to pick one power, what would it be? (Spidey abilities or Wolverine's regeneration.) Marvel versus DC, who wins? (Marvel, unequivocally.)

You can be a fan of superheroes without having flipped through amazingly illustrated pages, but it certainly helps to have Comic Book Guy-level knowledge to back up your positions.

Some people have superhero fatigue due to the endless stream and popularity of the Marvel universe movies — and some DC flicks, most notably Batman. However, for those of us who grew up drawing Spider-Man and Wolverine in the margins of school notebooks, the theater takeover is worth reveling in.

It's a credit to the hard work of many in the field of comic books, but none more than the godfather, Stan Lee. While his legacy for Marvel Comics — and who created what — is complicated, the outpouring of love for Lee, who died Monday, is remarkable.

Instead of an ode to the man, like so many popping up on the internet, here's a hypothetical list of which Marvel heroes would ski or snowboard. In the spirit of an early opening to ski season and the culture of comic books created by Lee, it seems appropriate.


We'll start off easy because nothing says entitled skier better than entitled leader of the X-Men. Allegedly orphaned at an early age while living in Alaska, Scott Summers spent some time at an orphanage in Omaha, Nebraska, before being taken in by Professor X as a teenager and moving to upstate New York. Ski weekends in Vermont were definitely on the agenda.

Captain America

The WWII vet theoretically could've spent time with the 10th Mountain Division, and for the sake of this debate, I'm going to say he did. That and the fact that snowboards weren't invented yet means he's absolutely a skier.

Jean Grey

Skier. See: Summers, Scott, her longtime boyfriend and eventual husband.


Snowboarder. When people picture Peter Parker, they think nerdy outcast, which is accurate, but he skateboarded in "The Amazing Spider-Man" movies. Because he's my favorite superhero and I also snowboard, I'm just going to assume he's a snowboarder (and ignore how bad those movies were).


My affinity for Logan wants me to give him the same Spider-Man treatment, but he's incredibly old. Also, he doesn't get tired. That skillset, coupled with a short fuse, makes for a perfect backcountry skier, outscaling and skiing peaks in very remote areas.


Being from the South, some part of me thinks she's skied in jeans before.

Human Torch

Even though the Fantastic Four were left out of the MCU because Fox attained their rights and ran the quartet's spaceship into the ground, we do have a clip of Chris "Johnny Storm" Evans — before he was Captain America — snowboarding. It may be the only redeemable part of those movies solely because I can use it to make my point.

Black Widow

One can only assume the Russians included the biathlon as part of her training. I've made this point before, but the only logical reason to know how to cross-county ski and shoot targets is because you're an assassin, which she is.

Iron Man

Upper class and rich but with a rebellious streak? I can't separate Tony Stark from Robert Downey Jr. enough to picture him on a snowboard. Plus, a young RDJ definitely looks like the kind of guy who'd challenge Stan Darsh to a ski race.

Rapid fire to end it: Jubilee, talented Asian American gymnast from Cali, definitely snowboards; Storm too classy not to ski; Silver Surfer is already on a board; Gambit snowboards but not very well; Bruce Banner definitely skis, but "Hulk snowboards"; the acrobatic Beast snowboards; Mr. Fantastic and Invisible Woman ski; Elektra skis, preferably on her home continent of Europe; Venom — specifically Tom Hardy's iteration — snowboards; and Professor X probably skied before his accident but absolutely crushes adaptive skiing.

Enjoy the slopes and … EXCELSIOR!

The Lit Life is going biweekly after this week because Sean Beckwith will be writing another biweekly column with the esteemed Ben Welch for The Aspen Times Weekly. Reach Sean at sbeckwith@aspentimes.com.