Gustafson: Surviving the after-party |

Gustafson: Surviving the after-party

If you give a group of children crayons and a map and suggest they draw the world as they would like to see it, the unfiltered ideas flow and a fantasy land comes to life. With adults, we see the world through very layered lenses, and are more inclined to attempt to correct all that we see as less than perfect, and we challenge a world that already exists.

Imagination requires exercise, and most of us slowly fall in line over time. Our past experiences dictate our expectations and even limit our visions.

I believe this, in part, may be why the Snowmass community visioning sessions that were held more than a year ago produced sharpie-covered maps of our small town indicating problem areas and locations that might be addressed in every nook and cranny of our small village valley.

It’s fun to color on a map, and everyone likes to feel involved, so I’m not at all surprised that we may have sent the message to our town’s community development office that we are interested in a massive overhaul and changes all over our town.

I’m guilty of having contributed my thoughts and markings on the maps that were passed around at the Town Planning and Urban Design Collaborative visioning session, which helped produce the latest comprehensive plan draft.

I regret contributing to what may have been sending the wrong signals. There may be some places that we could all agree need some immediate improvements — we would like to see Base Village finished, and some existing locations may need redevelopment.

But when I personally see the scribbled over maps, I see a collage of uninformed contributions adding up to a recipe for failure. Sorry for the uncharacteristic pessimism, but I’m seeing one thing happening and hearing our community saying something else. Since the publication of my column questioning the proposed Owl and Brush creek intersection roundabout, I have been stopped everywhere I go by neighbors and community members of all walks of life who share with me their feelings about the surge of development and how frivolous it often seems. I have received numerous emails, texts and phone calls from so many that I can’t help but suggest that it is a fair gauge for the temperature on this topic. We want “just big enough” and that is all.

While that language has found its way into the proposed comp plan, it is lost in the detailed analysis of ideas that came in from the very same community members who didn’t mind seeing it on paper, who found it a fun experience as an experiment in brainstorming and fantasizing — but do not like to see the reality of it all happening just the same. We feel a little hoodwinked; we were directed and encouraged to participate in over-development for what seems to be the sake of using the “game” as proof of what it is that we really want.

Perhaps as Ian Malcolm explained in “Jurassic Park,” we “were so preoccupied with whether they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

I’m confident now in suggesting that the results of the community surveyed by those planapalooza parties don’t seem like an accurate reflection of the true beliefs and values of our community. We don’t want all of that. It was a fun party, but now we are experiencing the hangover effect and it doesn’t feel so good.

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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