Gustafson: Classic or just plain retro |

Gustafson: Classic or just plain retro

My rose-colored perspective of our local history is undoubtedly a swirling of the lovely hues of childhood imagination mixed with an undertone of fond memories.

And over the years, I have conveniently discovered that by blending youthful bliss with a few brush strokes of nostalgia — accentuating the positive and all but eliminating any negative realities — the effect is a blurry and classically romantic narrative.

This is a wonderful technique if you are attempting to avoid regrets, but it is a far less useful tool for the critical analysis necessary in productive politic debates.

As a passionate proponent of our town and community, it is hard for me to admit that the Snowmass canvas has become pretty messy. In fact, it’s even harder for me to admit that perhaps it has always been this way.

Mulling back over the pages of “The Story of Snowmass”, now with fresh eyes and a new perspective, I am able to extract a different history from its collection of oral stories.

It seems that each new stroke of change brings with it a fresh coat, and that many of the layers have not always been applied with care. Over time, heavy application could eventually flood and even float away the original artistry, just as it would on any oversaturated canvas; altering the tones, tinting the values.

The colors of our past are always viewed through the lenses of our present experiences, and I have recently noticed an interesting parallel. When left on a sun-drenched coffee table or near a windowsill, the soft and leathery effect that I originally designed as the cover of “The Story of Snowmass” overdevelops into a bright glossy blend of purples. The understated classic effect develops into something rather eye-catching and distinct.

“The Story of Snowmass”, a hybridization of coffee table and history book, was a collaborative project on which I had the privilege of working. The 40th anniversary of Snowmass sparked the initial interest in collecting our colorful oral history. At the time, history here was maintained primarily in the hearts of our community members. And with much labor and love, the history book was completed for our heritage celebration in 2013. It was produced in as much of an effort to preserve the past as it was to bolster enthusiasm for our future.

Originally, while designing the cover, the intent was to give it an ageless and classic antique-like-effect. I thought the soft touch, suede-feeling finish and sepia tones gave it a historical look that seemed appropriate on a mantel or library display.

Honestly, and for no particular reason, purple isn’t a color I often place in my design palette. I like the color; I played Purple Rain on repeat through the end of April 2016, I have been known to drone on in bouts of purple prose and occasionally paint my left ring-fingernail the color, as well. Even as a little girl in the ’80s when purple became the new pink I didn’t buy into the trend. It’s just not my go-to color.

So my heart would sink each time I noticed another copy of the book sitting somewhere in the sun, radiating that odd, glossy, purple hue.

Now, over the past two weeks, I’ve been on another historical quest, once again collecting dates and documenting the milestones of Snowmass Village in an effort to prepare materials for the upcoming 50th anniversary celebration.

Last week, I came across a 1978 Snowmass Sun article that brought full-circle some insight and a sense of meaning to the cover’s metamorphosis, which shed some new light on my outlook on our history as well.

Ken Parkhurst used a very similar purple in designing the original logo for Snowmass Village in 1966. That recognizable and very retro flower — or some say upside down Saint Bernard — has held on through the decades and started out an astonishingly similar hue to the color of our sun-exposed book covers. And the original marketing materials adopted that purple as their signature color as well. Great news, as now I don’t feel so sad seeing the sun-drenched alterations around town.

Mulling back over the pages of “The Story of Snowmass”, now with fresh eyes and a new perspective, I am able to extract a different history from its collection of oral stories. Reading through the political chapters and through archives of the Snowmass Villager, Snowmass Affairs Magazines and old articles from the Snowmass Sun, I had a flashback or maybe forward: “This has all happened before and it will all happen again.” Yes it has and will.

We have been debating and voting over Base Village for nearly 45 years now. We have rewritten the comprehensive plan five times, concluding each effort with the same sentiments, “Just Enough,” “Natural Connection,” and “Rural Character” at the helm of the decades of debates. And we are at constant odds with overdevelopment. But through the years there have consistently been those who standout, acting as our watchdogs, protecting and maintaining the delicate balance between what we need and what we impulsively think we want.

Our stories become masked, fading to fables as developers come in with a fresh coat of paint. But I hope, in the same vein of our history book’s cover, that the true colors will find a way to shine through. The cyclical nature of our current state of affairs is a lesson already learned. Read about the past and learn from it so we can move forward with integrity. Progress seems contingent on our ability to learn from our mistakes, stop looping the debates and listen to those who have committed themselves, without self-interest, for decades.

Through the years our community has fragmented and at times it feels it is at odds within itself. Each of us living with a desire to stay connected but remaining trapped in the same old and tired conversations; classic resort or retro community? If our narrative doesn’t shift soon, we may loose control, once again, of our ability to create a common future and work toward it together. And this beautiful canvas will continue to be flooded by layers of over-saturation.

We must continue to shine Sun light on our state-of-affairs so the true colors can shine bright. And we can, and should, hold on to our classic values, all the while acknowledging that we are still only 50 years old, and have a living history that is pretty retro at heart.

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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