Basalt lightens up with plan for Gnome and Fairy Home Building Zone
Basalt has been tangled in heavy-duty political bickering lately, but a councilman has an idea for speedy action on an endeavor that could lighten the town’s mood.
Councilman Auden Schendler is championing the creation of a Gnome and Fairy Home Building Zone in Basalt.
The idea was inspired by some personal experiences. His son Elias, 8, has collected gnomes for a few years and has built the collection to 39 of the small humanoid creatures. They are scattered in the Schendlers’ yard in Basalt.
“We’ve become that family,” Schendler said with a laugh.
Elias was even featured in a July article in Parade Magazine about people who collect things. Since then, the Schendlers have heard from people all across the country about gnome collections.
A “gnome camp” at Rock Bottom Ranch also enthralled Elias. Children built small homes out of natural materials in the summer camp class at the facility, owned by the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies.
Coincidentally, Schendler was hiking with some children recently in Maine when he came across a Gnome and Fairy Home Building Zone that featured numerous small, natural homes. He wants to bring the idea to Basalt.
He presented the concept to the rest of the council Tuesday night, complete with a prototype sign for the proposed zone. The sign starts off reading, “Remember that fairies and gnomes do not like to disturb nature.” Then it lists a handful of rules such as use only dead, natural materials; make a structure that blends with the landscape; and make a home that’s no larger than 1 cubic foot.
Elias and his friend Zealand Lane, both entering fourth grade at Basalt Elementary School, made a short presentation to the council advocating for creation of the home-building zone.
“Part of the goal of council is to get things done quickly,” Schendler reminded his fellow board members. Acting on this request could show citizens that the town government is responsive, he said.
More importantly, he said, a Gnome and Fairy Home Building Zone would be a “free and fun activity that engages kids with nature.”
Town Manager Mike Scanlon jumped on the idea, maybe a bit too enthusiastically, Schendler quipped at the meeting.
Scanlon said he appointed town Public Works Director Boyd Bierbaum “head gnome” and asked him to scout possible sites for the home-building zone. Three sites will be presented to the Parks, Open Space and Trails Committee for consideration. It will recommend a site to the council.
Elias predicts that gnomes may show up at the future village, according to Schendler.
“You don’t think about gnomes, but they’re like a common language for people,” he said.
Given the United States is in the throes of a constitutional crisis, now isn’t the time for debates over who’s pictured on American currency and who’s memorialized with a statue on public property, two prominent historians told an audience in Aspen on Saturday night.
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