Britta Gustafson: Miss Connection |

Britta Gustafson: Miss Connection

Community events have a ripple effect

Britta Gustafson
Then Again

I was struck by the community photo that appeared in the Snowmass Sun a few weeks ago that was taken at a 2006 gathering. For those of us living here at that time, the upturned faces in that photo are almost all recognizable. By focusing on an event for the community, our multi-generational residents were able to know and enjoy each other at those events.

I’ve been missing that lately.

Through this pandemic we have learned to come together virtually, yet many of us feel a lost sense of physical community; the kind that is inherently cultivated through face-to-face interactions. And even with a summer filled with opportunities to tentatively begin to re-engage here in Snowmass Village, many are still feeling starved for more.

As social animals our instinct is to find a herd, to seek strength in numbers. And these days, we often dwell in increasingly smaller circles, which I can appreciate.

But I believe we need larger circles as well. Our health, happiness and sense of belonging also are, without much question, inseparably linked with our human connections, and a strong community bond can provide a significant sense of purpose.

The learning that occurs from appreciating multiple points of view as we find ways to come together just for fun or to celebrate the human experience is something I think we could use more of these days.

Our Thursday night concerts have proven to be a space where we can, at times, enjoy the energy of others without conflict or miscommunications. We feel welcome to congregate on Fanny Hill and experience connectivity through positive vibrations and unspoken vibes. That’s community.

And, although dining out has been less available this past year, it is clear that we crave coming together around food. I miss the community picnics that we used to have. While also recognizing that this isn’t exactly the time to plan large-scale events, I think we should begin the conversation about bringing back events of that nature.

Community begins, and grows, when nurtured by connecting people on the simple personal human scale, a few people at a time. Of course marketing our resort to visitors is economically essential; but it also now feels like most of the events we host seem to target dollars and are not focused on providing a sense of community connection.

We have a host of new neighbors who perhaps haven’t had the welcome that in the past they might have received in this small town. And for many of us, events centered on Snowmass Village residents might have a positive ripple effect.

Events that highlight our shared spaces and experiences might just help us to return to a unified sense of purpose, that of making this place the best community-resort it can be for our own residents. In return, our visitors will experience that energy once it has returned to our community in a truly palpable and authentic way.

When this town began to blossom in the late 1960s, those who migrated here found meaning in their role as part of a bigger picture. They didn’t just want to lay bricks, they wanted to build a thriving town. I hope we can bring that back, but perhaps we need to get to know each other again first.

Through the daily human experience, we can open up opportunities to engage with different people, those who we may never find on Facebook or in any virtual space designed to isolate our thinking behaviors and concentrate our tribal instincts.

That introduction probably has to start at a grassroots level, in the neighborhood, the town and our community. When we host events for others, we often inadvertently lose the connection with each other, something that is already diminishing. A fundamental question in Snowmass: Are we a resort or a community? We can be both, but I also think we should find ways to simply celebrate our community.

Strong communities are always evolving. We can adapt and become stronger by finding common connections, even with differences of opinion. Common events and experiences might help us find common purpose and connection, which may in turn help us to unify and celebrate our diverse interests and backgrounds. And the ripple effect will benefit the resort as well as the community.

Let’s exchange a piece of my mind for a little peace of mind, after all, if we always agree, what will we talk about? Britta Gustafson appreciates an open mind; share yours and email her at

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