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Real world is knocking

Dear Editor:Here’s the deal on the immigration problem. Whenever a large group of people of a different culture – whichever people from wherever – rapidly converge on an established community, the community’s culture changes. Its original beliefs, traditions, values are compromised, enhanced or both, but always they are first diluted. It doesn’t take an advanced degree in social sciences (though I have one) to figure out that too many, too fast can upset a community psychologically, sociologically and politically.I’ve been here long enough (eight years in total) to know that locals feel very deeply about their community and have been deeply involved in its shaping and molding. To many, Aspen and the upper valley is an ideal, a special way of living, a way of making sense of the world, maybe even a way of shielding oneself from the world. The valley has certainly changed in the years since I first lived here in the mid-1980s. When I listen to stories of Aspen in the ’60s and ’70s, it makes me wish I was born 20 years earlier. But make no mistake, the changes happening now and in the near future are happening faster, and will happen exponentially.For example, among the peoples pouring into the valley is a substantial population of Catholic-practicing Latinos who believe birth control is a bad thing and having large families is a good thing. Unless this group assimilates to the ways and practices of the established community, you’re going to see one heck of a population explosion over the next 10 years and beyond.In this way, the immigration issue relates closely to the overdevelopment issue that has been the subject of Aspen Times editorials recently, and to the congestion issue Paul Andersen wrote about in his column a month or so ago. I agree with Mr. Andersen, council is probably wasting money studying the Entrance to Aspen, again. Even if a better entrance option exists, it won’t alleviate traffic – it will increase it in the long run. Aspen and the rest of the valley is a field of dreams – you know, “build it and they will come.”Straight shots, widening roads, bus lanes, etc. are Band-Aids on wet skin. Council should instead hire expert sociologists and community planners, benchmark other communities, and especially, listen carefully to those who made Aspen and desperately want to maintain the quality of living they worked so hard to found. They deserve this consideration. An Aspen doctor recently commented to me on the profound increase in psychological disorders he’s been seeing. He said much of it boils down to “more people, less space.” Another way to see it, more people makes for more rules and restrictions, and consequently, less room to breathe. The “real world” and all its opportunity, and its emptiness, is knocking to come in, and knocking hard. Think about this, visualize it, debate it, then act on it, and start acting now.What am I doing about all of this? I wrote this letter, then took a bike ride. I love to breathe. Rand DouthitAspen


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