Give our youth a chance – and a voice
June 1, 2011
Another year of Aspen High (and valley) graduates! Kids graduating from their hometown high school – it’s beautiful.
Aspen is a great place to grow up, a great place to call “my hometown,” but how easy is it to make your lifetime hometown? Everyone of these kids has a different dream, but for those who dream of a home and a fulfilling job in their hometown, Aspen can be a tough nut to crack. Except for a lucky few, I think it’s all about housing and jobs for these kids.
When I say “jobs,” it is not a sneaky code word for construction, growth or expansion. It is about community sustainability, diversity and opportunity. I encourage the joint planning and zoning commissions to adopt language in the “Economic Sustainability” section of the Aspen Area Community Plan (which currently doesn’t use the word “jobs” in the body of the policy section once) that captures the following three points regarding jobs:
1. Explore methods to help young adults including entrepreneurial “fairs,” internships, job-training venues and resident-based commercial and/or incubator spaces.
2. Seek ways to inspire jobs at every level of the economic scale, particularly emphasizing those opportunities for young adults.
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3. Explore attracting clean “industries” to diversify our valley economy and provide meaningful new occupational and educational opportunities for all our valley residents. EG industries like fitness, wellness, education, journalism, renewable energy – perhaps piggy backing on existing institutions.
One measurement of a great community is how it provides for its own and does it have a true multi-generational population and a system that provides each generation with the necessary opportunities and diversity to inspire its residents to be a part of its community forever. We can definitely do better for our graduates and we should. Good luck class of 2011 – there are very few 18-year-old voices in the public process fighting for your causes – join us and your voice will be very loud indeed.
Aspen, Aspen High School graduate 1976