Meredith Carroll: It’s all about the me-llennials |

Meredith Carroll: It’s all about the me-llennials

Meredith C. Carroll
Muck Off

On the days when my husband comes home at lunchtime, I occasionally need to remind him that while the couch in our living room is, in fact, a couch and not a desk, it’s still my workspace during daylight hours and therefore whatever conversation he’s trying to engage me in needs to wait until I’m off the clock.

I’ve been gleefully working from home for the better part of the past decade. Sometimes that looks like my laptop and me on the couch. Sometimes it’s my laptop and me at Peach’s alongside the breakfast quinoa bowl and a latte with my name tragically misspelled on the cup. Over the years, it has often been my laptop and me in bed with one or both of my daughters twisted around my body like seasoned contortionists in a circus sideshow. In my fantasy, it’s almost always my laptop and me at a bar or on a beach with no interruptions other than the sweet nothings of the waves and sand kissing or the bartender asking if I’m ready for another round.

I was born too late to be considered part of the millennial generation, but based exclusively on my working habits, I could be mistaken as a member. In 2014, The New York Times defined millennials as an “online generation.” Indeed, many of them — now roughly between the ages of 19 and 34 — are digital natives who cannot recall a time when they weren’t plugged in and logged on. It is likely because of them that so many companies have paved the way for more people to work remotely or from home.

“In an increasingly competitive economic climate, a lot of companies are looking for ways to get an edge over others,” Sheryl Boswell, director of marketing with Monster Canada, told Yahoo Finance last week. “With the advent of modern cloud-based technologies, companies are now able to more easily create a virtual business environment or enable employees to work remotely while maintaining productivity. As well, the world of work is changing — and many companies have recognized the need to respond to this change by offering more modern arrangements.”

Yet because Aspen has a special way of doing pretty much everything, local millennials are an exception to the trend. The couches in their apartments and free Wi-Fi at places like Starbucks aren’t enough for Aspen millennials, apparently. That’s why one-third of the Aspen Power Plant will be dedicated to office space for them.

The Aspen Power Plant, which also will house Aspen Brewing Co. and the Aspen 82 television station, is calling the workspace for very special millennials an “incubator.” In every other part of the planet, an incubator is an apparatus meant to warm eggs until they’re ready to hatch or to protect premature babies not yet able to leave the confines of the NICU. Here in Aspen, the incubator definition is expanded to include desks in a building for adults who require additional persuasion that they are really and truly adults. For real.

While the City Council wades through lease negotiations with the Aspen Power Plant founders to ensure that local millennials can call their parents and reassure them they have somewhere to go each day other than the Back of Bell, for one of the organizations that vied unsuccessfully for the space formerly occupied by the Aspen Art Museum, it’s been business as usual. The Aspen Science Center took the loss on the chin, and instead of picking up its ball and going home, it’s kept on in its mission. This, despite not being run by millennials.

The Science Center’s STEAM Room popped up at the Crystal Palace during ski season for a grand total of 17 days, with 500 kids visiting on 14 field trips as well as more than 1,200 other individuals who made some 1,600 trips. The Science Center also plans on reviving its Science Sundays at Jimmy’s restaurant in the coming months, which will be in addition to the center’s fifth annual Science Street Fair in August and its weekly summer physics barbecues starting in June.

Then there’s the Hudson Reed Ensemble, which for the past decade has been performing Shakespeare in the Park — otherwise known as an empty lawn downtown. The theater company’s brain trust, Kent Reed, is not a millennial and also would have liked to move into the Old Power House space. However, judging by his company’s plans to present “As You Like It” beginning Aug. 19, the rejection wasn’t a barrier to keep him from the business of performing.

A lack of a permanent space hasn’t deterred the nonmillennial-led Aspen Jewish Congregation, either. Since it was founded over 40 years ago, it has served hundreds of families at Our Lady of the Roundabout for Friday-night services and taught Hebrew school classes, too, most recently at St. Mary Catholic Church. Since 2013, it also has held regular slopeside minyan services Saturdays outside Elk Camp.

Too young to be considered millennials, yet still fly-by-the-seat-of-their-Pampers are many preschoolers across the valley whose families have eschewed the idea of brick-and-mortar classrooms for the Preschool on Wheels program, which is a licensed mobile preschool provider.

To be sure, there are plenty of tasks that cannot be performed at home or in, say, Victoria’s, including fishing and surgery. Fortunately, though, neither local anglers have come forward lamenting the dearth of trout nor doctors searching for available operating rooms.

The only people on whom the irony of office space for millennials seems to be lost are the City Council members. Of course, in just 0.31 seconds, a Google search of “millennial workforce” would have yielded them 492,000 results, most of which basically say that what sets millennial laborers apart is their ability to adapt because of their tech-savvy ways. That’s not to say the Aspen Power Plant doesn’t deserve well-wishes during its lease negotiations — although maybe we also should wish for it a little extra space for naps, because 138,000 Google search results show millennials need lots of those, too.

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