It’s not ‘Marolt Auditorium’
September 5, 2006
As I rushed to my computer to respond to Arthur Kafrissen’s letter in support of the Resnicks’ donation to the Aspen Institute [Letters to the Editor, Sept. 3], I was reminded of a day a few years back when a similar community-enraging letter was submitted by the “Canards” regarding closing of the bike path due to squeaky bike chains ruining their quiet overlook as inconsiderate bike riders commuted to work. Weeeeeellllll, Roger, my brother, if this is you taking a fictitious characterto stir up the pot, I will get you. Trust me, many will. But as you have been both banned from writing to the Aspen Times, as well as hired to write for them, I will give this Arthur the benefit of the doubt, and offer this response to this incredibly ridiculous and funny response from him: Thank God, some things in this pretentious town are not for sale!I will also add that while many of the people that live in this town absolutely cannot make a $4 million donation to any institution, it does not detract from the fact that without those same people, the Aspen Institute wouldn’t have a town to exist in. The culture so many people refer to, the thing that sets Aspen aside from all other ski towns, is not the cultural centers that have been created here, but rather from the people that live here and, gasp, even eke out a living in this town. This is a major reason that Walter [Paepcke] thought an institution like the Aspen Institute would work here in the first place. He was right! And fortunately, for those that have been around for more than a year and a half, but also for those who have only just arrived but will be here in years to come, the value of this culture and its contribution are priceless.Paepcke and others like him started these cultural centers with similarly large contributions to help the people of Aspen so the town could simply get through the off-season after the lifts closed. It’s that simple. And it has worked. But based on the stories I have heard about Walter from uncles and my father, he especially would never have expected to have his name placed on the institute or anything else. A viable town year-round was all most people over our history have been after. And the concept has worked; we are all here. So yes, this community appreciates the donation from Walter, and would openly accept anyone’s donation to our community. But one thing this community does not accept is the selling of our soul. In this case, it is only out of respect for our history, and what we have become, that we have maintained our identity as “Aspen.” And with every town, that identity includes our forefathers. And as much as the Resnicks’ money would be appreciated, they simply have not been around long enough to supersede those who simply beat them to the punch, both financially and philosophically, for what has already been created. To think otherwise is a gross miscalculation on their part.To Arthur, if you think this is about the dishwashers rising up to stifle wealth or show disrespect to anyone, think again. Talk in the coffee shop was coming from all income levels in this town. And don’t be fooled into thinking that there are not other people capable of such donations that think the whole thing was just as ridiculous. Your oversimplification of this topic is part of a problem we do admittedly have in this town. But when people come here thinking they can throw money at something as iconic as the Paepcke family history, how can you expect anything other? Your letter is simply feeding that frustration. And don’t think that the most important things in this town’s identity are from money alone. My family is a great example of men and women who over time contributed something other than what they did not have lots of, money, and hey, we have a bridge with our name on it. In fact, most of the namesakes in this town are of people who contributed through hard work and even made money from the town. I know people today that continue with this tradition without expectation of anything other than making a difference. Your condemnation of people in this town as being jealous is simply the result of your ignorance of the town you now choose to live in.To the Resnicks, this is not about anyone not appreciating your donation. It’s just the way this has been presented and perceived. And realize that this town is just as quick to forgive and forget; I would challenge you to continue with your donation. You will get what you need (even if this place isn’t enough already). If you think I am crazy, just look at what it got Walter. And realize that recognition and appreciation in this town start with an appreciation for what it is. And fortunately, that’s one of the few things you still can’t buy here. So far, not for any price. And trust me on this; if you choose to rise above all this and make your contribution despite all of this, you will be welcomed as true heroes for your effort and recognition of doing something great for the right reason.Mike Marolt is a fifth-generation Aspenite.
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