Gustafson: Back and forth |

Gustafson: Back and forth

Congratulations, we made it through another crazy year! While reflecting on 2018, I decided to look over 12 months of my own commentary for a little self-evaluation.

On my own home front, we survived another broken bone, and my son endured it with grace. Thank you Aspen Ortho! And I still agree (with myself), “Despite our hyper-athletic, ultra-competitive, highly visible and success-driven community, athletic aspirations still probably should not be defined by first grade. I’m hoping that there will be some movement back toward playing for the sake of fun.”

We struggled through myriad health issues this year and came out intact. Thank you, Obamacare. And yes, “There is always something to be thankful for even when the noise in our busy lives drowns out the daily gratitude that we may feel.”

We have enjoyed and adjusted to the added workload of an inspiring new career venture thanks to the Farm Collaborative.

“The offshoots of growing up with strong ties to the natural world are continually coming full circle.”

The town has thoroughly processed the milestone of turning 50, even as growing pains continue to swell. “To ‘maintain and preserve’ should be front and center in thinking about our community management. Run this Litmus test: Will it improve our aesthetics, openness or social offerings? If not, should it be a priority?”

We collectively celebrated the long overdue opening of the Limelight and Base Village. And much like stepping back to take in the view of a newly painted room that looked so lovely as paint swatches, I need to absorb this new modernized high-end suburban ski experience in its fully saturated effect.

To me, the questions remain: Are we staying in concert with our original vision, our own mission statement?

“Cautiously eyeing our roots as we look forward, I hope we will remain aware of the scale and character of our small village. … The first Snowmass Village Comprehensive Plan was the 1966 Janss Master Plan. It was simple, and I feel it is a model upon which all iterations could reflect. Here it is in its entirety:

• Nature should be the dominant feature on the landscape.

• The rural character of the Brush Creek Valley should be preserved.

• Villages should be small, distinct and quaint.

• A regional transit system should minimize car traffic and link to Aspen, which would remain ‘the dominant center’ for business and commerce.”

Perhaps we have lost our way?

It’s easy to lose your way in our new concrete base because all natural sense of direction is removed once you find yourself engulfed in buildings so out of scale with our quaint mountain lifestyle. Many of us are simply incapable of navigating when we can’t see the mountains.

We welcomed the completion of the new fire station, kudos to all who brought it to fruition. And thank you just isn’t enough to say to those who risk their lives for others.

“Even as the flames raged, a deluge of stories of gratitude and heroism began pouring in and the valley seemed to come together.”

The marijuana licensing debate continues, appearing to “drag” on and on, puff puff … pass. Still the conversations and considerations feel appropriately paced. Hopefully the outcome will heighten the standards for which this new industry is upheld, and become satisfactory to all.

It’s with a heavy heart that I begin to accept the fate of Gwyn’s High Alpine, and I encourage everyone to make this year their best ever. We will never have anything like that here again, so let’s celebrate it now while we still can. “Operations like Gwyn’s are the amenities that make a resort attractive, unique and valuable. But once the narrative becomes contrived, no one can come along and resurrect a superfluous story.”

I give props to the Snowmass Town Council for its efforts to try to live up to our mission statement, challenging Aspen Skiing Co.’s decision to take over the lease at Gwyn’s after 40 years. I am grateful to know that at least a few conscientious objectors stood up to the bottom line.

“We constantly chatter about the need for community connectivity while eviscerating the places that actually exist where we do come together.”

And round and round I continue to spin knowing that the proposed roundabout at the Owl Creek intersection continues to threaten our town’s very character.

“How about a little more conversation and a little less action for the moment. Let’s see how things feel once, at least a few of today’s projects, are complete.”

And yes, one big continuous eye-roll every time I circumnavigate the revolving upper village entrance, now habitually counting my way around its 75 signs, “Well done is better than well said.”

Shifting to the national stage, it feels like radical accountability is in the air and it smells bitter sweet, with a hint of burning oil and shame.

“As a mom, I feel broken watching the travesty of child abuse ‘still’ taking place on the borders and I hope when we vote, we do it with the courage of a mama bear, and the heart, conscience and conviction of a loving mother.”

Even while national and global concerns seem to be ever ratcheting up and weighing us down, I’m in constant awe of the wisdom and insight I regularly glean from my two young kids and I’m optimistic about the future generation.

“Through the eyes of children, we can begin to acknowledge the absurdity of so many aspects of our own cultural norms.”

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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