Admit it. You like to complain.And here in Aspen we’re pretty good at finding stuff to bitch about. Traffic, construction, and Skico are the obvious whipping boys for the verbal slings and arrows of Aspenites. And beyond those targets, there are a plethora of things, some good, some bad, some legitimate, some ridiculous, that we gripe about.But if you will, imagine a place where someone actually listens to your grumbling and growling and, get this, responds. Ha! You say. Fictional at best, a blasphemous tease at worst. There is no such person and no such place.Well, according to an article in Wednesday’s Aspen Times, a bold experiment is about to be undertaken by one Andy Stone. He has created a position within this paper, indeed within all the papers in the entire Colorado Mountain News Media empire, that will “allow” him the opportunity to listen to your comments. To your grumbling, to your growling, and perhaps even to your admiration for the job the staff members of said papers are doing.”Huh,” you say. “Why would anyone want to listen to me complaining about the stuff I use to line my bird cage and start my campfire?”He may well listen to your comments about the quality of the stock used by the papers, but more to the point, he is interested in starting a dialogue with the community over the content of the daily freebies. What do you like to read? What makes you stop and pick up the Times every day? What do you hate about the front-page pictures, the cartoons, or the editorial writers?In most businesses these days, lip service is paid to the idea of consumer feedback. They say they listen to you at Wal-Mart, or BP, or United, but rarely is there ever any evidence that they do.In this case, however, for better or worse, the company that puts out this paper is actually paying someone (they call him an ombudsman) to hear what you have to say. It may be simply a noble experiment, but damn it, it sure would be great if it started a trend.Having known Mr. Stone personally for a number of years, I can tell you a couple of things about him. First, he cares deeply about this valley. And second, he genuinely wants the Times to be around for another 100 years providing an important and desired service to the people who live here.You may like The Aspen Times. You may not. But as of this day, there is someone to whom you can express your concerns.And like the paper itself, it won’t cost you a dime.Readers can reach Andy Stone by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone (toll-free) at (866) 557-NEWS (6397), or by U.S. mail at CMNM, Box 1500, Gypsum, CO 81637.
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Some days, I miss being back in the saddle. I miss making memories.