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Saving the world with johns and brochures

Roger Marolt

Wouldn’t it be great to have $2 million earmarked for saving the world burning a hole in your pocket?

I don’t know what I would do with that opportunity. There are multitudes of hungry, poor and sick people that I could help feed, clothe, shelter and heal. There are also victims of natural disasters who could use the money. Our world abounds with innocent people who are suffering the ravages of war and terror, too.

Then again, I could take a broader, long-term approach. By contributing to save the rain forests or clean up the environment, maybe more people would benefit for years to come. Along those same lines, a spiritual or religious cause might be the way to go.

But, maybe the small impact that I could make throughout the world wouldn’t be the best use of the cash. Perhaps it would be better to focus my attention locally where I can make a big difference right away.

We always need more money for children’s programs here. If I can make a positive difference for a kid today, maybe they will grow up to save the world tomorrow. Or, maybe I’d give the money to the Aspen Music Festival or Art Museum. Art brings so much beauty and peace into the world that something good would surely come from that.

Oh, just thinking of all the possibilities is mind-boggling. Then again, there probably aren’t many bad choices. So, why not turn this into a thoughtless process? Just get the names of every nonprofit organization in the entire world, put them all in a hat, pull one out, and hand over the entire wad to them.

OK? So, here goes … And the winner is, ta da! …The chamber of commerce?

That’s right, the chamber of commerce! They have just been given this pot of gold.

Actually, they got a gift of land worth $2 million on which to build a new visitors center from a man named Lowell Meyer and his California partner, Gary Freedman. But the way I see it, since land can so easily be sold here, it’s the same as a gift of $2 million in cash.

The developer donors from California insist that “there’s nothing to read into it.” End of story?

Not quite. There is a great story related to this gift. I just don’t know what it is.

How else can you explain a donation of a couple of million simoleons to an organization that shows up on most people’s gift-giving priority list somewhere before the Iraqi Prisoner of War Guard Fellowship and after the Maui Shelter for Homeless Realtors?

Most local businesses only grudgingly fork over their annual dues of a few hundred bucks to the chamber after carefully calculating the expense of season ski passes with and without the discount for members.

With handheld Internet access for the masses just around the corner, many folks think that a new visitors/information center in town will soon be about as worthless as an IOU from Don Johnson. It’ll be nothing more than a well-staffed public restroom.

Do you think you were the only one surprised by this choice of a worthy recipient?

Mayor Klanderud said she was “stunned” by this gift. I bet she was. Nobody has been this stunned since Ben Franklin flew his kite into the middle of a thunderhead.

Councilman Tim Semrau praised the donors saying, “I think it’s rather fabulous that you’re doing it today.” Darn right it’s fabulous they did it right then. Waiting even another millisecond would have been enough for most people to regain their senses.

Terry Paulson said, “It’s interesting that they would give the property like that.” Interesting? I’ll say it’s interesting, kind of like it would be to orbit Saturn in a homemade rocket ship.

Now, I’m not for looking a gift horse in the mouth, but at the same time I’m not afraid to have a peek at the cowboy who rides it into town to see what color hat he’s wearing.

There is a story here and I want to hear it.

I don’t care if it’s as innocent as that one of the donors fell in love with a buxom visitors center guide at Mount Rushmore on a high school field trip and hasn’t been able to get enough of the sweet scent of freshly printed Jeep rental and helicopter tour brochures since.

Or, maybe one of the benefactors got on a Greyhound bus once with a 12-pack of cheap beer, a plugged-up toilet, and a driver who hadn’t missed a scheduled arrival time in 16 years. The first stop occurred after four hours at the Death Valley visitors center. The sight of the clean urinal there is still etched on his mind.

Or, maybe it is something not so innocent.

I don’t know, but there has to be something. I’ve never heard of anyone so hell-bent for visitors centers. These guys are putting their money where their mouths are. Let’s ask them to move it for a moment so we can hear their explanation why.

Then again, maybe I’m not looking at the big picture. There are lots of very smart, powerful and influential people who vacation here. Some can undoubtedly make a positive difference in this world. But, not if they have to pee.

Maybe we can save the world – one visitor center at a time.

Roger Marolt thinks that exploding cigars and other such gifts should be politely declined. Feel free to light one up anytime at roger@maroltllp.com.

Mayor Klanderud said she was “stunned” by this gift. I bet she was. Nobody has been this stunned since Ben Franklin flew his kite into the middle of a thunderhead.


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