Packing the Snowmass theater |

Packing the Snowmass theater

Paul Andersen

At a movie theater, you expect a certain level of comfort and personal space. So what happens if there is no end to ticket sales and you’re forced to cram two people into each seat? You could share popcorn, but it wouldn’t be a nice way to see the show.Isaiah had it right when he said: “Woe unto them that lay field upon field and house upon house that there be no place to be left alone in the world.” Aldo Leopold expanded the idea of growth limits by asking: “Of what avail are forty freedoms without a blank spot on the map?”Base Village will now open the doors and everyone in the theater will have to scrunch tighter together in the euphoric bliss of brotherhood. Progress abhors a vacuum, and the national trend is to eradicate those annoying blank spots on our maps.Even The Aspen Times, that once impregnable bastion of limited growth, called for the explosive expansion of Base Village. Either we cope with a million square feet of Intrawest or face what the Times rued as expanding “organically” and “growing and improving slowly.”Base Village is growth on steroids, and Intrawest’s partnership with the Skico belies the Skico’s stature as one of the greenest ski resorts in North America. Hark back to June 13, 2001, when Skico President Pat O’Donnell voiced his alarm about global warming in a letter to President George W. Bush:”I am particularly concerned about the potential effects of climate change on our business. The best scientific studies available suggest that resort skiing in Colorado will virtually disappear by the year 2100. This would be catastrophic for Colorado’s economy and for the tens of thousands of employees who depend on this industry for their livelihood.”Carbon dioxide is not technically considered a pollutant, according to the Bush team, but science is clear that CO2 contributes to global warming. O’Donnell is not alone in urging Bush to action.”We need to act now to limit the scale of warming,” urged Britain’s environment minister at a recent science conference. “We would like America to engage more fully with these discussions.”A recent study revealed that rising global temperatures will hit Africa’s poor the hardest, reducing their ability to deal with disease, feed themselves and earn a living.Jeffrey D. Sachs, director of Earth Institute, in a poignant Time essay about the tsunami, concluded that the poor usually bear the brunt of natural disasters. “What the rich world suffers as hardships the poor world often suffers as mass death.” The melting of ski slopes suddenly pales next to survival for the poor.Explosive growth at Base Village will long impact Snowmass and the Roaring Fork Valley with the drone of dump trucks and the staccato of nail guns. And unless green design is vigorously pursued at Base Village, the Skico’s utterances about global warming will be mere platitudes.The expertise for green design is readily available locally through Rocky Mountain Institute, the Community Office of Resource Efficiency, Solar Energy International and many others. If only we had the commitment and vision to employ them.Many of us seem to have lost patience with “organic” expansion and “growing and improving slowly.”Expediency and competitiveness are the twin engines driving a development push that promises better “bar hopping” and more “things to do.” Base Village will put the “there” back in Snowmass, just the way Hines did at Highlands.Meanwhile, our theater is becoming crowded and sweltering. And the show we’ve come to see may not be very pleasant with standing room only.aul Andersen’s column appears on Mondays.

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