Letter: Looking beyond our generation

I’m writing in response to Meredith Carroll’s May 3 column in The Aspen Times (“It’s all about the me-llennials,” Commentary) as well as the handful of people who have opposed the Aspen Power Plant.

I am classified a millennial, a generation that has received criticism over our work ethic, sense of entitlement and now handouts. It’s been easy for critics to paint the Aspen Power Plant with a large and clumsy brush. But they are missing the benefit of the entrepreneurial spirit the Aspen Power Plant will have for the Roaring Fork Valley.

The Aspen Power Plant is not a project that is handing out space to millennials because they just don’t like working from their couch or the coffee shop. It is an accessible collaborative workspace for all ages. Yes, I and the founders of the Aspen Power Plant are part of a very tech-savvy generation that often gets slammed for having more friends on Facebook than in real life. But we are also the generation that strives for work-life balance, allowing us to make a positive impact in our communities.

Aspen is a special place. If you’re reading this letter, you care enough about our town to know what I mean. Aspen doesn’t offer many opportunities for traditional professional careers, which is why we have one of the most educated service industries nationwide. So many incredible young people who move here fall in love with Aspen and, after a few years or seasons, realize that if they want to start a career or business, they’ll have to try it in a city that is more affordable.

How many businesses do we see pop up in Aspen that fail after a season or a year? The collaborative workspace will be a nest where new businesses and ideas can hatch and grow during their most critical time. Any business owner will tell you that starting a business is filled with hurdles, brick walls, pivots and sometimes failure. The Aspen Power Plant takes away the danger of impossible rent and replaces it with a workspace filled with like-minded businesses that can share and shape ideas to create businesses based in, and serving, Aspen. Most important, it means the people and businesses that want to make Aspen their home get to do so. Knowledgeable leaders had the foresight to create an affordable-housing program 40 years ago; perhaps it’s time we embrace the progressive opportunities an affordable business space will provide.

The Aspen Power Plant has the potential to be an impactful, memory-making addition to our town. It’s going to be a gathering place where community works together instead of at odds (although we know a little banter is behind every good idea). It’s not about the future of the millennial generation. It’s about the future of Aspen. If we continually lament the loss of Aspen to high-end brands, then the creation of workspace is an opportunity to do something about it. We’re not asking for handouts. We’re millennials, and we’re doing something about it.

Abby Stern

Snowmass Village