Colson: Stressed in Carbondale? No big whoop |

Colson: Stressed in Carbondale? No big whoop

with John Colson

File this under “Not really news,” but interesting nonetheless”: Carbondale has been identified in a recent study as the 10th most stressed-out city in Colorado, by a “content manager” at a website that exists to provide comparative information about credit cards to consumers interested in signing up with one credit-card company or another.

Note that I wrote “stressed-out” rather than the term used in the study, “stressful,” because there is a difference, and it is a difference that has eluded those who came up with this rather useless, silly little categorization.

The “study” comes from the deep thinkers at, which bills itself as not only a credit-card comparison site but also a purveyor of “financial education.”

Not sure how those bona fides relate to the topic of stress and city living. It is interesting, though, to see how our town compares to what CreditDonkey’s Cassy Parker names as the No. 1 stressed-out town in Colorado, Sheridan, an enclave of 5,600 or so souls in Arapahoe County next door to Denver.

Sheridan, I should note, was named for Civil War Gen. Phil Sheridan of the Union Army, and the town grew up under the influence of a former U.S. Army fort (Fort Logan) that now is a mental-health facility, whereas Carbondale apparently was named after a town in Pennsylvania by people who moved here from there in the late 1800s to be farmers and ranchers, according to Wikipedia.

Could those paired factoids be somehow linked to the stress of living in either place? Don’t know, do you?

According to the CreditDonkey website, Parker arrived at her conclusions based on data mining of statistics held by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, focusing on the odds of being a victim of violent crime, commute time to a job, average number of hours worked per week, the percentage of divorcées present in the community, and the percentage of income spent on housing.

Admittedly, not exactly scientific, particularly the part about the number of divorcées in a community. Parker seemingly did not differentiate between divorcées who moved to town after their split-up, and divorces that actually occurred in the town in question.

A pertinent matter, it seems to me, since the stress that leads to divorce might also lead one or the other party to get the hell out of Dodge as soon as the decree is final and move to a more congenial location like, say, Carbondale.

Is this how statistical data can be manipulated to say anything anyone wants?

Another column penned on the subject of the CreditDonkey study, by the editor of a paper I once worked for, seemed a little more put out by the study’s findings than I am, referring to the site as “Credit Ass” at one point.

Me, I prefer to look at it more positively.

For example, if dissatisfied citizens in other regions read that Carbondale is the 10th most “stressful” community in the state, they might want to think twice, or even three times before moving here. Which is OK by me, as I already am feeling a little cramped by the town’s burgeoning population.

This would act in welcome counterpoint to previous mentions in various media of Carbondale as one of the choicest places to live in the United States.

Then again, it is possible that people living in Sheridan, to take but one possible source of transmigration, might decide that being 10th on this nefarious list would be better than being No. 1, and they might begin to relocate in our direction en masse.

That, to my way of thinking, would not be a good thing.

Not that I have anything against anyone living in Sheridan, particularly since, as far as I know, I have never met a one of them and probably never will — unless they move here.

For the record, I don’t feel particularly stressed-out by my life here, though that could change if suddenly we were invaded by some number of stressed-out denizens of Sheridan, who likely would bring their stress and its causes with them.

The greatest stress-inducer we live with here, I think, is being located so close to the uber-wealthy of Aspen, and watching them live lives of fabulously peripatetic splendor while we struggle just to keep our noses above the water line.

It’s a problem for some of us, though certainly not all.

It’s also no one’s fault but our own, though, since we all chose to live here and have fun in the high country. And our proximity to Aspen is not, overall, a bad thing in my book.

All in all, I’d say Cassy Parker did us no harm with her silly little study, so there’s no foul.

But it’s not likely that she did us any good, either.

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