Letter: Old Power House option helps small businesses
Old Power House option helps small businesses
Dear Mayor Skadron and members of the Aspen City Council:
My name is Lady Fuller and I’m part of the Old Power House team. I haven’t spoken until now and I was the one sitting behind all the folks giving public comment the other night.
I am a serial entrepreneur, a dedicated mother and a passionate resident of Aspen. I also am the one responsible for bringing Dave and Duncan together to create the triumvirate of a co-working space for start ups, a media lab and a brewery.
I moved here in late 2009 from San Francisco where I started my first company. Since arriving in Aspen, I’ve worked in three different office spaces. I was at 520 E. Cooper, 720 E. Durant and now at 418 E. Cooper above the Red Onion. My “office shuffle” is a result of being asked to move out each time for a higher paying tenant. Most recently, I have been given notice that Mark Hunt has bought my building and that I need to move out as he’s moving his personal office into my space. I’m now contemplating renting office space in Willits since my six employees and I won’t fit in my house. And I am one of the lucky ones.
Prior to being a mother, I lived down the street from the Exploratorium in San Francisco for 10 years. While I never visited the Exploratorium (largely because it was a tourist attraction and I didn’t have children at the time), it is a lovely science center in a romantic city similar to Aspen. It is true that the science-center proposal is an intellectually safe proposal; however, I know that increasing the level of our children’s science exposure is the job of our wonderful schools. Wouldn’t this concept be better used as a school resource on campus, especially during the flex time after school is out in the afternoon?
I am reluctant to admit that my children are wildly overprogrammed. When they aren’t sledding, skiing, biking or running around our neighborhood, we are taking them to gymnastics at the Red Brick, ballet at Santa Fe ballet, art class in Basalt, nature classes at the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, swimming at the Aspen Recreation Center, piano lessons at home and karate at the Aspen Business Center school. While I’m sure they and I would love to add visits to the Aspen Science Center to this list, I can’t see us going there more than once a month max. Multiply my family by the amount of families with children that are the science center’s real target market and you simply don’t have enough critical mass to support the concept.
My friend Arjun Gupta, a longtime technology venture capitalist who is invested in many co-working spaces in the Bay Area and involved with the Aspen Institute, has expressed interest in working at the Generator when he is here. Imagine the benefit of just his energy and resources coupled with the youth and energy of Aspen residents. Imagine young kids in Aspen visiting the Generator, meeting with mentors and interning with some of the small businesses there. My husband gets asked to mentor kids all the time because there isn’t enough local businesses to go around, both in variety and number. Imagine out-of-town executives having a one-stop place in Aspen to provide advice and investment to help business grow locally, so they can feel a closer connection to the people that live here year round. Imagine older citizens stopping by to help critique a new business plan or presentation. Imagine the TV studio as the gateway to the rest of the world and the brewery as a place to hash out new ideas, form partnerships, take a break from work and celebrate successes.
We all want Aspen to evolve into a community where people of all walks of life can live, work and thrive. Now we have a chance to move closer to that dream. Let’s think with our hearts and make that dream happen.
With appreciation and gratitude,
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Basalt’s Hailey Swirbul was officially named to the U.S. cross-country ski team for the upcoming Winter Olympics in China. The 23-year-old will be a first-time Olympian and joins seven other women on the team that was announced Thursday by U.S. Ski and Snowboard. The Olympics begin Feb. 4 in Beijing.