The power of community – and voting | AspenTimes.com

The power of community – and voting

Gaylord Guenin

Our votes in all elections are supposed to be secret. So what is it with those of us who write newspaper columns such as this one? We are quite willing to stand butt-naked in front of the world (or at least our local readership) and tell everyone how we intend to vote. Isn’t there a discrepancy in all of that?Oh well, most everyone knows I am a bleeding-heart liberal, so my voting record should be rather clear: If the word Democratic follows the name of any given candidate, that is where I will most likely make my mark. Make it clear that I am not necessarily voting “for” all those Democrats; I’m entering a protest vote “against” George W., our compassionate-warrior president, and all of the corrupt and disastrous policies of his administration. His unrelenting attack on environmental laws and attempts to privatize our public lands has been disgusting, at best. Connie Harvey, in the Oct. 20 Aspen Daily News, gave us an excellent examination of George W.’s neocon priorities, including those aimed at our fundamental rights. And Iraq! We have all seen the results of the poor planning and arrogance there. George W. and his neocon radicals created a hideous quagmire that generations of future Americans will have to deal with, while W. will be playing on his Texas ranch. He may be the only president in my lifetime who considered ignorance to be a powerful attribute. I realize my voting a straight Democratic ticket is one generated out of pure frustration and will most likely have no impact in Washington, D.C. But if enough citizens followed that path, perhaps the message would get through. I am not advocating a “cut and run” plan for Iraq; I am advocating an honest-to-God plan, something other than our failed reactive course. But we have gone over all of this endless times, and it is getting pretty old. Maybe it is time to move on to something less depressing.Woody Creek has been in a celebratory mood of late because of the news that the Woody Creek Community Center (once known as the Woody Creek Store and Gallery) is going to reopen. The community center is being referred to as WC3. On Oct. 8, WC3 conducted a fundraiser (Creekfest) which included nothing in the way of politics, just an amazing outpouring of community love. It was estimated that it would take approximately $304,000 to bring the current building up to code. As a result of some tireless work by Ann Owsley and Patti Stranahan, former managers of the old store, and others, some $200,000 was pledged to the renovation project. The money is vital, of course, but equally pleasing is the number of local craftsmen who have volunteered to contribute labor to this effort. On top of that, George and Patti Stranahan granted a 25-year, rent-free lease to the nonprofit WC3.For the record, you can become a member of WC3, and members are needed to assist with the fundraising efforts. It is invigorating to know that you live in an area that does care about community. It may only be a small and hard-core group of concerned neighbors who keep coming to the front, but by doing so they often attract the interest and participation of others. It is rather amazing to see what a small group of dedicated individuals can accomplish. It also is very refreshing.It may be a few months before the “store” reopens but the fact that work has begun has brought a real measure of cheer to Woody Creek.And if news about WC3 wasn’t enough to bring smiles to our faces, an event that took place Oct. 27 at the Flying Dog Ranch ignited plenty of giggles and maybe even a tear or two. Some 200 of us gathered at the ranch to celebrate George Stranahan’s 75th birthday. As is said, it was a complete hoot.It was one of those affairs where just about everyone there knew everyone else, so it was impossible not to feel comfortable. And there was an abundance of good wine and assorted other beverages, which only tended to elevate the comfort level and probably called into question the veracity of many of the stories being exchanged. There was no shortage of stories about George and his wife, Patti, as they have been a vibrant and positive factor in many of our lives. No, this was a community gathering at its finest. I was forced to leave a bit on the early side, earlier than I would have preferred. But vodka was my drink of choice that evening and I was facing a drive up the Woody Creek Road to Lenado, not a drive you want to make if there is too much “warmth” in your belly. It would have been nice to have stayed until the end, but I had this sensation that the “end” was a long ways off.But we have had quite a bit to smile about in Woody Creek recently and most of us are hoping we will produce even more smiles once the election is over. Which reminds me that it is going to be tough to vote a straight Democratic ticket. The two candidates for Pitkin County Commissioner in District 2 are Democrats – Rachel E. Richards and James R. True. Both are honorable, decent and intelligent candidates, so this is a tough call, but Rachel will get my vote. I do like True but suspect he is a tad too laid-back. I like the idea that Rachel is more of a get-in-your face politician.So now you know how I’m voting, and I have a hunch that you don’t much care. This is the 334th article in a two-part series devoted to the community of Woody Creek, a place where the secret vote exists but is often canceled by the loudmouth who is voting.