| AspenTimes.com

In Brief: Bright planets look like they’ll join; Hall of Fame’s big night; last of physics talks Wednesday

Two brightest planets in night sky will appear close together Wednesday

Skygazers will have an interesting and easy-to-identify celestial event to look at Wednesday evening when the two brightest planets in the sky, Venus and Jupiter, appear to come very close together. It’s what astronomers call a planetary conjunction.

Venus, typically the brightest object in the nighttime sky except for the moon, is often seen just before sunrise or just after sunset. For the past few weeks it has been noticeable in the western sky at twilight, slightly higher each night and appearing to move closer and closer to Jupiter, the third-brightest nighttime object apart from the moon.

Wednesday night they will appear in very close proximity as they pass each other. In subsequent weeks, Venus will continue to be noticeable, higher and higher in the evening sky, while Jupiter will slowly move lower and lower toward the western horizon.

The two planets will appear very close to each other Tuesday evening as well, just not quite as close as they will appear when in conjunction Wednesday night.

They aren’t really close together, of course; they just appear that way from the vantage point of earth. Venus is the planet second-closet to the sun, earth is third and Jupiter is fifth. Jupiter is the largest planet and Venus is third-smallest after Mercury and Mars.

— Denver Post

U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall inducts 2021 and 2022 members

ISHPEMING, Mich. — The U.S. National Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame and Museum that recognizes the athletes and visionaries who have significantly enriched the global sports of skiing and snowboarding in the United States inducted members from 2021 and 2022 and one member from 2018, cementing their place in history as accomplishing the highest possible industry honor.

“Over 600 individuals attended the ceremonies and the week-long industry celebrations. Many of our inductees stated that this event was the highlight of their career,” said Justin Koski, executive director of the U.S. National Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame and Museum Inc. “To be able to host so many accomplished individuals and their families for this once in a lifetime achievement is a really unique experience that is a true testament to their respective dedication to the sport.”

Each year, the Hall of Fame manages a revolving list of nominations and works through the selection process to elect the next class of honored members. The process involves over 400 industry advocates and takes place in July and August with its new class being voted on in August and announced mid to late September. The 2024 U.S. National Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame induction ceremony is scheduled for Park City Mountain, Utah, in March 2024.

Class of 2021

  • Sven Coomer (Sydney, Australia)
  • Herman Dupre´ (Seven Springs, PA)
  • John Eaves (Calgary, Alberta)
  • Renie and Dave Gorsuch (Vail)
  • Peter Graves (Putney, VT)
  • Mike Hattrup (Ketchum, ID)
  • Bode Miller (Franconia, NH) (2018)
  • Jan Reynolds (Stowe, VT)
  • Alan Schoenberger (Park City, UT)

Class of 2022

  • Gwen Allard (Mendon, VT)
  • Tina Basich (Nevada City, CA)
  • Gary Black (Sun Valley, ID)
  • Shannon Dunn (Steamboat Springs)
  • Rusty Gregory (Mammoth Lakes, CA)
  • Terry Kidwell (Tahoma, CA)
  • Kent Kreitler (Sun Valley, ID)
  • Phil McNichol (Revelstoke, B.C.)
  • CJ Mueller (Breckenridge)

Last of physics talks Wednesday at Aspen Center for Physics

The Nick and Maggie DeWolf Foundation will present the last free “Public Physics Talk” of the season at 5:30 p.m Wednesday, doors open at 5 at the Flug Forum at Aspen Center for Physics with the promise of cookies and tea.

In “Casting a Wide Net for Dark Matter, Tim M.P. Tait of the University of California Irvine will discuss the nature of dark matter, the mysterious substance whose existence is necessary to hold galaxies together, but whose fundamental nature remains unknown. Tait will go over some of the key ideas for how to build experiments that could teach us more about dark matter, and how we can synthesize their results to build a kind of composite image of what the dark matter can (or can’t) look like.

Tait is a chancellor’s professor and chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of California, Irvine. His research interests include theoretical investigations of physics beyond the Standard Model of particle physics, particle physics phenomenology, high energy collider physics, and cosmology. Tait’s work involves both exploring new models and new phenomena, as well as theoretical interpretation of experiments.

‘Meet the Author’ features teen writer

Nyala Honey is a local teen author who has published two books so far. This 14-year-old’s newest novel, “The Silent One,” is a post-apocalyptic young adult thriller.

She will discuss her writing journey, the process of publishing her latest book, and answer audience questions at the Carbondale Branch Library on Saturday, April 8, at 3 p.m. Light refreshments will be provided, and the event is free and open to the public. For more information: 970-963-2889.

Dementia presentation at Sopris Lodge

Sopris Lodge at Carbondale will host Woo Bandel, community engagement manager from the Colorado Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, to present “Understanding and Responding to Dementia-Related Behaviors” on Tuesday, April 4, from 2:30-4 p.m.

This event is free and open to the public, but an RSVP is required, and attendance will be limited to 25 registrants. Call 970-456-6871 or visit soprislodge.com/events to RSVP.

U.S. Bank announced as title sponsor of Bash for the Buddies

The Buddy Program announced that U.S. Bank is the title sponsor for the 24th annual Bash
for the Buddies. The bash is a celebration of the youth, families, and volunteer Big Buddies throughout the Roaring Fork Valley with whom the Buddy Program works with through their four mentoring programs.

The event typically raises over one-third of the organization’s annual operating budget and is
critical to sustaining their youth mentoring programs, Buddy Progam officials said.

The Bash for the Buddies will take place on Friday, July 7. This year’s honorees are Gail and Lenny
“Boogie” Weinglass for their many years of service and support of the Buddy Program. In light
of the honorees, this year’s theme is inspired by Boogie’s Diner of Aspen. Gail and Boogie will
also host the event at their ranch in Aspen.
For more information about the Bash for the Buddies event: buddyprogram.org/bashforthebuddies

Large hangers approved for Rifle’s airport

Garfield County has approved an updated concept plan from Dark Horse Aviation to construct two large hangars at the Rifle Garfield County Airport. The Board of County Commissioners accepted the revised concept plan submitted by Dark Horse Aviation, which is constructing two new hangars proposed at 49,000 square feet and another of 40,000 square feet.

“Commissioner Samson said once we get the new development guide approved, we’ll have lots of developers coming to the airport to build, and I think this is just one of the many that will be coming before the commissioners,” said Rifle Garfield County Airport Director Brian Condie.

Dark Horse asked to proceed with its original request to lease airport parcels A-5 and A-6, allowing for the construction of larger hangars at the airport. The proposal noted that Dark Horse was determining how to maximize its investment at the airport over the 40-year land lease. The lease rate for the property was estimated at $83,867 annually. 

Ryan Maxfield, executive VP of business development for Dark Horse Aviation, told the board that the design of the Rifle Garfield County Airport and ample ramp room makes it a reliable destination for pilots flying into the area. 

“I began flying airplanes before I knew how to drive a car, so I have a unique background,” he said. “I’ve been fortunate enough in my career to have flown into Eagle, Aspen, Telluride, and Rifle, and you guys have one heck of an airport, and you should be very proud. In my mind, from a pilot’s perspective, Rifle’s always been a sure bet. … It’s a safe alternate, even if you’re not coming here in the first place.”

Roaring Fork Engineering announcements

Roaring Fork Engineering announced the promotion of Anthony Alfini to principal and the addition of Maggie McHugh to the team. McHugh will be serving the firm’s water and wastewater clients.

Anthony Alfini

“Anthony’s expertise in our industry and acumen for business operations have made him an essential member both within our organization and in the external community,” RFE President, owner and Principal Richard Goulding said. “Additionally, we are thrilled to have Maggie McHugh rejoin our team. Her experience in managing large-scale water and wastewater projects will be highly valuable.”

Alfini, a native of Rifle, earned his bachelor’s degree in science and civil engineering from the Colorado School of Mines.

McHugh graduated from The Ohio State University with a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering. She then pursued a master’s degree in civil engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder, where she focused on water resources.

Maggie McHugh

Roaring Fork Engineering offers a range of services including civil, environmental, water resources, and construction administration to clients such as land developers, municipal corporations, commercial entities, and private landowners in Colorado’s mountain communities.

Presentation on organ donation

 Sopris Lodge at Carbondale will host a guest speaker from the Chris Klug Foundation for discussion about organ, eye, and tissue donation on Monday, April 10, from 3-4 p.m. at 295 Rio Grande Ave. 

April is National Donate Life Month and the Chris Klug Foundation is an Aspen-based non-profit that raises awareness about donation and strives to eliminate the wait for those on the transplant waitlist.

This event is free and open to the public, but an RSVP is requested, and attendance will be limited to 25 registrants. For more information or to RSVP, contact Sopris Lodge’s Director of Sales and Marketing Marie Herr at 970-456-6871, or visit the website events page at soprislodge.com/events.

Meeker Mustang Makeover seeks trainers for summer event    

The Meeker Mustang Makeover seeks 10 young horse trainers to start a 1- year-old mustang and compete in the makeover and help find homes for these horses.

This year, local horses from the Piceance basin and other areas of Colorado will be highlighted in the competition. Horse trainers, both amateur and professional, are encouraged to apply. While the Meeker Mustang Makeover provides clinics to help trainers through the process, applicants should have horse experience as these horses are wild, officials said.

The application period is open now until April 1 at 11:59 p.m. More information and applications are available at MeekerMustangMakeover.org.

This year, 25 trainers from across Colorado will pick up their Mustangs in Meeker on April 29, attend a Getting Started Clinic, and 120 days later, perform and compete to show how far they have come from wild horse to willing partner in front of a crowd at the Meeker Rodeo Fairgrounds. All horses are then sold at the end with trainers receiving 50% of the proceeds of their horse, in addition to taking home prize money and scholarship funds.

The selected trainers will have the opportunity to attend two free clinics by Wild Horse professional Steve Mantle. There is a youth division with yearlings in hand (halter) for kids ages 10 to 17 and a saddle competition with 3-year-old mustangs for anyone aged 15 and up.

The competition will be held on Saturday, Aug. 26, followed by an online and live auction of all the horses to their permanent homes. Trainers receive half of the auction proceeds. Longhorn Video Auctions is the auctioneer and last year attracted 22,000 views on the website.

Applications online at MeekerMustangMakeover.org. Questions? Call Robyn Blackwood at 760-774-6863.

Maroon Bowl skiers in avalanche were experienced, and did a snowpack analysis the previous day

The trio of skiers involved in an avalanche in Maroon Bowl on March 19 that resulted in one death were experienced backcountry skiers who had skied in Maroon Bowl the previous day, according to the accident report from the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.

The three, who were vacationing in Aspen, had skied in the backcountry regularly for the past 15 years. They had taken avalanche courses in Europe and followed avalanche conditions in Colorado by reading CAIC forecasts in the weeks before their trip, the report says. Each of them carried avalanche rescue equipment and practiced regularly with the gear.

Gábor Házas, 54, of Budapest, Hungary, was killed in the slide.

“They made an attempt to do snowpack analysis,” said Brian Lazar, deputy director of the CAIC and Central Mountains lead forecaster. But that was the previous day, Saturday, March 18, when they skied the bowl safely.

On March 18, the group spent the morning skiing inbounds at Aspen Highlands. In the afternoon, they exited the Highlands ski area boundary through a backcountry access point above an area locally called Green Wood Glades. There, they dug a profile through the upper few feet of the snowpack and found no concerning weak layers. Then they climbed N5, a steep, north-facing slope, and descended N5 to Maroon Creek without incident.

An image of Maroon Bowl marked with the local names of specific terrain features.
CAIC/Courtesy image

Similarly, the next day, Sunday, March 19, the skiers spent the morning inbounds at Highlands before deciding to venture back into Maroon Bowl after lunch. The three discussed the conditions from the previous day and decided cold temperatures and no new snow would not have changed the stable conditions overnight.

“As indicated in the report, their attempt failed to account for the deeper weak layers,” said Lazar. “Had they been closely following the avalanche forecasts, they would have known that the weak layer of concern in that area was these deeply buried, weak layers.”

The report states Skier 2, Házas, wanted to ski one descent down to the road, so the group planned to hike past the previous day’s first descent and make a slightly longer run to Maroon Creek.

At 12:15 p.m., they began their hike up N7. They skied down a short distance before regrouping above a rock band. Skier 1 descended through the rock band and stopped to the skier’s left to watch Skier 2 and 3 descend. Skier 3 waited above the rocks.

An annotated image showing the location of each member in the group when the avalanche was triggered. Skier 1 stopped and waited in the area indicated by the red “1,” and Skier 3 watched from the area marked by the “3.” The red “2” marks the location where Skier 2 fell and began sliding.
CAIC/Courtesy image

Skier 2 fell forward and began sliding as he skied through the rock band. He released a small amount of surface snow and deployed his avalanche airbag. As he slid below the rock band, a large avalanche broke to the ground. The fracture line came within a few feet of Skiers 1 and 3.

The avalanche occurred in Maroon Bowl on a near treeline, northwest-facing slope on Highland Peak in an area next to but outside the Highlands Ski Area boundary. It was small relative to the path and produced enough destructive force to bury and destroy a car, damage a truck, destroy a wood frame house or break a few trees, according to the report.

“The previous day’s experience boosted their confidence about snowpack stability on N7. They failed to account for the higher chance of triggering avalanches from thinner snowpack areas such as previously avalanched terrain or slopes with exposed rocks,” the report states.

Skier 1 conducted the companion rescue while Skier 3 climbed back p to the ridge to get help from Highlands ski patrol, who had seen the avalanche from patrol headquarters and responded immediately. Ski patrol dropped a rope to Skier 3 and determined it was too dangerous for patrollers to descend Maroon Bowl.

Meanwhile, Skier 1 was able to detect a transceiver signal after only a few minutes of searching. Skier 2 was partially buried and Skier 1 was able to reach him five minutes after the avalanche was released and began CPR.

A helicopter from the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control arrived at 4:36 p.m. with two Mountain Rescue Aspen rescuers. They loaded skiers 1 and 2 onto the helicopter at 4:42 p.m, and the two rescuers skied down to Maroon Creek Road.

Early season storms played a part in forming the weak layer across the Elk Mountains. The estimated one to three feet of snow from late October and early November was followed with a two week dry spell with sunny days and cold temperatures.

By mid-November, the early season snow melted from most slopes, except shady, high-elevation slopes facing northwest, north and northeast. That snow developed into a thick layer of faceted grains on the shady slopes, becoming the primary weak layer across the eastern Elk Mountains.

Highlands reported near continuous snowfall from late November through March 5. After a six-day dry spell, which was the longest dry spell since November, a series of atmospheric river events returned intense snowfall to the mountains. Highlands reported 31 inches of dense snow between March 10 and 19.

On March 11, Highlands snow safety teams were conducting avalanche mitigation in Highlands Bowl, which is inbounds terrain on the opposite side of the ridgeline from Maroon Bowl. Their work also started a large avalanche out of bounds in the proximity of the later slide triggered by the skiers on March 19 in Maroon Bowl.

A topographic map of Maroon Bowl with slope angle shading. The blue polygon outlines the extent of the March 11 avalanche. The fatal avalanche on March 19 is outlined in red. Skier 1 and 3’s locations when the avalanche started are marked with their respective numbers, while the “2” indicates the location where Skier 2 was found. (Data from ESRI, Caltopo, Garmin and USGS).
CAIC/Courtesy image

“It was so close that what they skied into is what we call hangfire, those unsupported slopes that rest above the old fracture line,” said Lazar. “Those slopes are a little bit easier to get moving because they’re unsupported.”

Hangfire are pieces of snow that are hanging precariously in place after an avalanche, he added.

On the day of the March 19 avalanche, the CAIC forecast for the area rated the avalanche danger at moderate, or level 2 of 5.

“The chances of triggering an avalanche under moderate danger is much lower than at high dangers, but the consequences are very much the same. In Maroon Bowl on the day of the avalanche, there were many places you could have skied without triggering an accident, just like the group did the day before the accident,” said Lazar.

According to CAIC avalanche statistics, the last fatal avalanche in Aspen was in 2018. The avalanche caught two side country riders in Maroon Bowl and killed one. The approach and terrain of the March 19 avalanche was similar to this fatal avalanche in 2018.

It may be the end of March, but the spring transition period is only just beginning. As the transition gets closer, Lazar said, water is introduced to the snowpack for the first time and impacts buried weak layers.

“We often see avalanches break on those weak layers,” he said. “We have a transition period before we get into more mature spring snowpack and more predictable melt-freeze cycles.”

A map of the are around Highlands Peak. The accident site is marked by the red box.
CAIC/Courtesy image

Crested Butte vies with Aspen for greenest moves

CRESTED BUTTE — After a year-long survey of residents, a search for “the soul of Crested Butte” has led this end-of-the-road mountain town to be the first municipality in Colorado to become all-electric. 

“This is buying into our community values,” Crested Butte Town Manager Dara MacDonald said. “I mean you are coming here for here, right? Well this is what ‘here’ is. I think as mountain towns, we have not held to our principles quite strongly enough in some cases. This is holding to our values.”

Crested Butte joins Aspen with an overhaul of building codes focused on reducing the busy mountain towns’ contributions to a changing climate. With mandates to turn away from burning fossil fuels in homes, the mountain communities are pushing beyond what is required and hoping to become models for how larger cities can transform residential impacts on climate change. 

Crested Butte’s first comprehensive plan, called the Community Compass, was assembled over  many public meetings and approved last year. It is a sort of manifesto of community values that calls for urgency in the fight to thwart a warming climate. 

Crested Butte Town Manager Dara MacDonald, in her office, says “as mountain towns, we have not held to our principles quite strongly enough in some cases. This is holding to our values.”
Dean Krakel / Colorado Sun

The town’s 2019 climate action plan set the stage for all-electric new construction, starting with town-owed affordable housing projects. So when the town updated its building codes last year, the town council approved a plan “to go above and beyond,” Crested Butte planner Mel Yemma said. 

This year Crested Butte became the first municipality in Colorado to require all new homes and commercial construction be powered by electricity, with no natural gas for heating, hot water or appliances. 

MacDonald credits the town council for studying the particulars on cost and efficiencies of an all-electric community. “In the end, it was almost like it was obvious to our town council that this was the right thing to do.” 

The compass also identifies four values that define and guide Crested Butte: authenticity, connection, accountability and boldness. “The council got to a place where we feel like we were able to really articulate clearly what Crested Butte is and what the soul of Crested Butte is,” MacDonald said.

The community’s five-year plan will be filtered through those values. That plan calls for addressing challenges through increased public engagement, accommodating growth while maintaining the valley’s rural feel, helping residents who live and work in the town thrive, de-emphasizing car travel, caring for the natural environment and acting with urgency to reduce the town’s impact on climate change. It’s all compiled in a glossy brochure that Yemma and MacDonald distribute in all corners of the East River Valley. 

“We are going to be the testing ground”

For years, Crested Butte, and many other mountain towns, have been reacting, making swift responses to complex problems like the housing crisis, overwhelming crowds, a reduced workforce, the explosion of short-term rental homes, impacts to the backcountry and vehicle traffic. 

The pressures of the pandemic’s tide of newcomers to remote mountain valleys ebbed last year, giving Crested Butte’s leaders an opportunity to step back from reacting and make a plan, Yemma said, unfolding the Crested Butte Community Compass brochure.

“It’s a unique time,” she said. “We have some work to do and we want to put all these resources to good use to really retain the authenticity of Crested Butte.”

It’s not just new construction that’s ditching gas in Crested Butte. The town’s Crested Butte’s Green Deed program launched in 2021 to help residents in deed-restricted housing pay for energy efficiency upgrades. The town council recently upped its contribution to the program to $100,000 a year and there’s a waitlist of residents lined up for the efficiency grants. 

A Crested Butte marshal’s patrol car charges up in the lot of the Public Works Department. The department has two electric patrol cars.
Dean Krakel / Colorado Sun

Each grant helps electrify existing buildings, which are the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the valley.  

“We thought, well our deed-restricted housing is a quarter of our housing stock so let’s restart with those to help ensure those homes can stay affordable when it comes to monthly utility bills and actually start lowering energy use too,” Yemma said. 

MacDonald and Yemma said studies by engineering groups that advised the town showed a 2,500 square-foot home with electric appliances and heating is cheaper to build than a home with gas when weighing utility rebates and the cost of running gas lines to the home.

One of the challenges in the electrification movement is the availability of electricians and mechanical experts who can help shepherd the town’s new building guidelines. But that’s a problem that is challenging construction across Colorado. The town is working with the Gunnison County Electric Association to create incentives to lure more electricians to the valley and offering training sessions and webinars for builders to learn more about the town’s upgraded building codes. 

The Town of Crested Butte will be the first property owner to come online with all-electric homes, with the new multi-family Mineral Point affordable housing project underway and duplexes and triplexes breaking ground this spring. All the new housing will be electric, with solar arrays and electric vehicle charging stations.

“We are going to be the testing ground for that,” said MacDonald, noting that the new housing projects will help get local builders “trained up on our dime.”

Builders in Crested Butte work on maybe one or two commercial buildings and about 20 homes a year. So the new policy will not be an instant shift.

“We are not turning off the gas tomorrow. We recognize that natural gas is here for the foreseeable future,” MacDonald said. “We are not changing the world. But we are showing that it can be done.” 

But the end of natural gas is on the horizon in Crested Butte. (Except in commercial kitchens. The town’s restaurants can still have gas.)

Grid capacity, heating concerns

Yemma said building permits are being issued and builders are adapting to the end of gas. Other communities are taking notice of Crested Butte’s new building codes and electrification plan. 

“We’ve been getting quite a few calls from different jurisdictions to present to them,” Yemma said, detailing the town’s presentations to Eagle County’s Climate Action Collaborative, the city of Denver, the Mountain Towns Solution Project and the Colorado Association of Ski Towns. 

Christine Brinker, the buildings policy manager at the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, has spent years working with communities to develop building codes that reduce impacts and consumption. She calls Crested Butte “a trailblazer” in the move away from natural gas and she’s especially excited to see the effort in a cold-climate town. 

There’s a lot of hand wringing over electric heat pumps in very cold weather and the ability to keep a building warm without a gas-fired furnace. Brinker calls that fretting “outdated.” Newer heat pumps can work down to 20 below zero, she said. 

“We are working to correct outdated information and we think it’s exciting to see a community in a cold climate like Crested Butte proving that it can be done,” she said. “This move to electric is realizable, feasible, practical and beneficial and Crested Butte is showing us how to get it done.”

Brinker hopes Crested Butte’s electrification can be a model. While the town spent many months vetting its new building codes in the community, the effort pales to proposed shifts in urban communities, where advisory groups and committee meetings can slow transitions away from fossil fuels by many years. 

Opposition to a hastened rejection of natural gas can  slow the process too. Gas companies, not surprisingly, are urging a more careful shift, especially in colder climates. 

Atmos Energy, which delivers natural gas to about 120,000 customers in Colorado and around 1,000 in the East River Valley, warned the Crested Butte council that abandoning natural gas would spike costs and greenhouse gas emissions with increased demand for electricity produced by coal-burning power plants. 

The company’s vice president of marketing, Rob Leivo, sent a letter to Crested Butte’s council in July, urging a slower rollout of the electrification plan. Leivo said the all-electric mandates “leave the community no choice but to face increased challenges in the area of energy reliability and resilience.”

He warned that household energy costs could increase by $1,000 a year under the new electrification plan. 

“More than three-quarters of homes in Colorado consume natural gas, illustrating that nearly all Coloradans with access to natural gas choose to use it, so we strongly encourage the communities we serve to preserve customer choice and focus on the true goal of reducing emissions rather than supporting specific fuels or technologies,” Atmos spokesman Kurtis Paradisa said in an emailed statement. 

Brinker, with the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, said large energy grids are built to withstand huge air conditioning demands in regions where summer temps can hover above 100 degrees. 

“They have a lot of capacity in the winter to add increased heating loads,” she said. 

She does not expect to see electrical grids overwhelmed by small community transitions and a focus on electric power for new home construction. 

“The rate at which we are adding electrification matches the ability to add capacity,” she said. 

Gary Hartman has been designing homes in Gunnison County since 2004. The architect isn’t sure the technology is there to handle the demands for heating in the valley. 

Look at Dallas, the architect said. It can be 105 degrees outside and air conditioners work to keep homes around 70 degrees. In Crested Butte, gas-fired furnaces work to keep homes at 70 degrees when it can be 20 below zero outside. 

“I think we may be pushing heat pumps beyond their capacity. I don’t know if the grid can handle the additional demands,” he said. “We are talking about frozen pipes; burst pipes. And potential people freezing to death if power demand can’t be met.”

Hartman said electric rates will start climbing as utilities work to meet the increased demand without coal-fired power plants. 

“Crested Butte is really pushing the envelope because it’s the politically correct thing to do and they want to be that aggressive community that sets an example, regardless of whether they are right or wrong,” Hartman said. “I hope that when they evaluate the risks that are coming down the pipeline, they will react the right way.”

Crested Butte is one of a dozen towns where voters approved a real estate transfer tax before the 1990 passage of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, or TABOR, which limits government spending. That transfer tax coffer is overflowing. The town’s sales and lodging tax collections are up 70% from the 2018-19 ski season through the 2021-22 ski season. Summer sales tax collections are up 32% from 2019 to 2022. 

State and federal grants supporting affordable housing are rolling in. It’s a once-in-a-generation surplus of funds. 

“We are trying to invest in the things that are most meaningful for our town,” MacDonald said, noting that the town is spending millions on water and wastewater infrastructure and is “digging deep on transit, transportation and mobility.” 

“We are about to launch a big planning effort around transportation and I would expect we will see some pretty bold moves … trying to get people out of the cars.”

Jason Blevins of the The Colorado Sun: jason@coloradosun.com Email: jason@coloradosun.com Twitter: @jasonblevins

Clay Center exhibition, residency, summer camp

Perspectives: High School Invitational

The current exhibition at Carbondale Clay Center is a rarity, featuring artists from outside the Carbondale Clay Center network, many showcasing their work for the first time.

“In my time, this is the first time we have done an exterior show,” said Matt Eames the center’s studio director. “We are focusing on the RE 1 School District. Basalt High School art teacher Denae Statzer brought the idea to us about a year ago.”

The front gallery of Carbondale Clay Center is currently filled with shelves of whimsical and colorful high school ceramics. Eames curated all the art and critiqued the student work from Basalt High School, Colorado Rocky Mountain School, and Yampah Mountain High School.

“It was very informal. I talked with students throughout the process, went to each school to familiarize students with idea of the show,” said Eames. “How would they know what an exhibition in, or what a clay center does. This was their first time with the experience, and it was wonderful.”

The result was over two dozen local teenagers showcasing their work for the first time. 

Presley Vaitonis, a student at Rocky Mountain High School, has “Green Fish” in the show.

Three of the ceramic works on display for the high school ceramics show at Carbondale Clay Center.
Julie Bielenberg / Aspen Times

“I got good at persevering because in ceramics you’re never really in control. The clay is always in charge, and if it’s too wet, it decides it doesn’t want it to do what you want it to do. The same if it’s dry it likes to crack or if there’s too much air inside,” said Vaitonis. “You have to accept that there will be times you come in with high expectations and there is a big chance that something goes wrong or just doesn’t work.”

Delayney Prosser, senior at Basalt High School, had a rough high school experience. She used art to express her creativity and emotion in visual art pieces, while being in a small, isolated valley where it was hard to relate to others. 

During her junior year, Prosser exhaustively tried to prepare for graduation and figure out what her life would look like out of high school. Through these classes, she was able to see what her passions were and began to see art as something that gave her life meaning. 

Ceramic works on display for the high school ceramics show at Carbondale Clay Center.
Julie Bielenberg / Aspen Times

Her ceramic creation, “Sunday Morning,” is a pancake mound delicately glazed to mimic syrup dripping down the stack.

Ceramic Artist Residency Program

The 2023-24 residency application is open and applications are due April 10 by 5 p.m.

According to the center’s website, the residency “is designed to encourage the creative, intellectual and personal growth of emerging and established ceramic artists. This program is an ideal opportunity for a developing artist who is looking for a place to pursue focused work while gaining teaching experience and valuable technical skills.” 

Current Resident Artist Gabby Gawreluk at work in the studio. Julie Bielenberg / Aspen Times.

The selections are based on the quality and artistic merit of the work, and the diversity of the prospective group in terms of commitment, work, background and stage of career development. There are up to three residents at a time. 

Ceramic artist residencies range from one to two years, starting Sept. 1 and ending Aug. 31 each year.

Summer Camps

Summer Camps will be revealed to the family membership for signup on April 4, and then to the public the following week. 

Popular Carbondale Clay Center going strong at 26 years

Want a shelf space at Carbondale Clay Center? Good luck. The wait might be three years for one of the full 26 shelves that cost $125 a month. And no spots are left in the spring ceramic sessions or independent study.

Why is the center so popular? It’s the only year-round dedicated clay studio in the Roaring Fork Valley.

Opened it 1997 and going 26 years strong, the non-profit art enclave houses two resident artists in addition to dozens of adult and children classes. 

Shelf space at Carbondale Clay Center.
Julie Bielenberg / Aspen Times

One of the very last stops as you head out of Carbondale on Main Street is this conglomerate of small buildings, an Airstream trailer, and tent in the warmer months.

Current High School Ceramics Exhibition at Carbondale Clay Studio.
Julie Bielenberg / Aspen Times

The main studio has a rotating gallery of ceramic work in front, dozens of shelving units lined with ceramics in all different phases throughout the space, bench space, eight potter’s wheels, and two kiln rooms — one with four electric kilns and one dedicated to the Geil gas kiln, used for firing cone 10-glazed work. 

Up to 200 students a year of all ages participate in ceramic instruction and studio time.

After-school classes are held in five- to six-week sessions and start with hand-building for ages 5 and older and wheel throwing for ages 9 up from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Family clay and play is offered on select weekends, offering a two-hour hand-building class with guided instruction.

“For me, kids clay is an incredible medium to demonstrate the intersection between art, nature and science. Clay can be a functional art, but also art for exhibition,” said Emma Martin, the program manager at the center.

Carbondale Clay Center studio manager Matt Eames.
Julie Bielenberg / Aspen Times

Adult classes are divided into beginner, intermediate and advanced sessions that run seven to eight weeks. They are offered once a week from 9:30 a.m. to noon, and 6 to 8:30 p.m. 

Kate McRaith, a former Glenwood Springs High School teacher, has found peace and tranquility at the Carbondale Clay Center. On a break between wheel classes, she was working on her plate formation. 

“This is certainly my happy place,” she said. “I’m a lifelong learner and enjoy having this space to be creative and continue art education.”

Mary Lamb, Carbondale Clay Center student, working on the potter’s wheel.
Julie Bielenberg / Aspen Times

Mary Lamb, another veteran educator and Carbondale resident, was all smiles on the snowy spring day as she was trying to improve her wheel skills. 

“I’m in here to get better. I started last summer, and next session will be my fourth series. This is a great outlet for me, and a little less stressful than education,” said Lamb. 

“There is a rotating roster of teachers, studio members and residents in the area that teach our classes,” Martin said. “It’s so fun to see studio members who took kids classes here growing up in the Valley come back and with their own children.” 

Matt Eames is one of the center’s most storied employees. He applied for the studio resident technician position and began on Aug. 5, 2013. He hasn’t left. Now, nearly a decade later, he’s the studio manager.

“My role has evolved so much over the last 10 years,” he said. “We keep adding more positions, more programs and gallery exhibitions. We have quadrupled the programs since I started.”

One building isn’t enough for the Carbondale Clay Center, it turned out.

The orange building has two artists in residence. Artists apply and spend one to two years with the center studying, teaching, creating and showcasing. Gabby Gawreluk and Brian Chen are the current resident artists through this summer.

Resident artist Gabby Gawreluk working with the kiln.
Julie Bielenberg / Aspen Times

“My work is a compilation of childhood dreams and personal escapism,” Chen said. “I use the idea of form following function, in the context of biology, architecture and design, as a guideline to create. I enjoy making forms that pull the viewer’s eye with a sense of familiarity, awe and curiosity. The goal of my studio practice is to tap into a childlike wonder about something that could have been or will become.”

“I create functional and sculptural ceramics that is wheel thrown as well as constructed from slabs of clay. My work is featured in both juried and invitational shows in galleries around the nation,” said Gawreluk.

There is also a purple building with two studio spaces occupied by long-term Carbondale Clay artists.

The ArtStream at Carbondale Clay Center.
Julie Bielenberg / Aspen Times

A silver Airstream called the ArtStream Nomadic Gallery is a full retail gallery created by local ceramic artist Alleghany Meadows. Inside, Carbondale Clay Center showcases local and national ceramic artist pieces for sale.

Inside the ArtStream retail space at Carbondale Clay Center.
Julie Bielenberg / Aspen Times

There are varying levels of membership with perks such as early class and summer registration, studio time and other benefits.

“Some community families get the membership just to be able to sign up for the summer ceramic camps. They are that popular,” said Martin. 

The need for clay work expands beyond the confines of the ceramic enclave.

“We work with other non-profits such as Challenge Aspen and different recovery groups in the area,” said Martin.

“I teach an off-site class at Sopris Lodge for their memory care residents,” she said. “We have also been co-hosting free, one-off workshops with Aspen Strong to promote ceramics as a form of mental fitness.”

Gas prices dive in past week

Average gasoline prices in Colorado have fallen 17 cents per gallon in the last week, averaging $3.57/gal Monday, according to GasBuddy’s survey of 2,158 stations in Colorado.

Prices in Colorado are 44 cents per gallon lower than a month ago and stand 39.7 cents per gallon lower than a year ago. The national average price of diesel has fallen 5.9 cents in the last week and stands at $4.19 per gallon.

According to GasBuddy price reports, the cheapest station in Colorado was priced at $2.48/gal Monday, while the most expensive was $4.86/gal, a difference of $2.38/gal. The lowest price in the state was $2.48/gal while the highest was $4.86/gal, a difference of $2.38/gal.

In the Aspen area, regular gas was listed at $4.89 at the Main Street station, $4.56 at ABC, $4.99 in Snowmass Village, $4.19 in Woody Creek, and $3.99 at the Highway 82 turnoff to Old Snowmass, according to AutoBlog.

The national average price of gasoline has fallen 0.3 cents per gallon in the last week, averaging $3.40/g today. The national average is up 7.8 cents per gallon from a month ago and stands 83.0 cents per gallon lower than a year ago, according to GasBuddy data compiled from more than 11 million weekly price reports covering over 150,000 gas stations across the country.

Historical gasoline prices in Colorado and the national average going back ten years:
March 27, 2022: $3.97/gal (U.S. Average: $4.23/gal)
March 27, 2021: $2.91/gal (U.S. Average: $2.85/gal)
March 27, 2020: $2.07/gal (U.S. Average: $1.99/gal)
March 27, 2019: $2.50/gal (U.S. Average: $2.69/gal)
March 27, 2018: $2.52/gal (U.S. Average: $2.63/gal)
March 27, 2017: $2.18/gal (U.S. Average: $2.28/gal)
March 27, 2016: $1.95/gal (U.S. Average: $2.04/gal)
March 27, 2015: $2.21/gal (U.S. Average: $2.43/gal)
March 27, 2014: $3.58/gal (U.S. Average: $3.53/gal)
March 27, 2013: $3.56/gal (U.S. Average: $3.65/gal)

“The national average price of gasoline has seen little overall change over the last week, with big decreases in states like Colorado and Ohio offset by large increases in Arizona and North Carolina. While more states saw declines than increases, any downward trends are still likely to be temporary and not necessarily long lasting,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy.

“While Colorado’s refinery issues are largely moving into the rearview mirror, challenges making the transition to summer gasoline in Arizona are leading to tight supply and accelerating prices,” he said. “Motorists in some areas may be on the receiving end of good news, while others may not as we hit the second half of refinery maintenance season. You never know what the closing moments will look like, and motorists could be in for a dramatic ride if issues develop.”

In the Aspen area, regular gas was listed at $5.59 at the Main Street station, $5.49 at ABC, $5.69 in Snowmass Village, $4.69 in Woody Creek, and $4.99 at the Highway 82 turnoff to old Snowmass, according to AutoBlog.

GasBuddy’s survey updates 288 times every day from nearly 150,000 stations nationwide. See http://prices.GasBuddy.com

She Said He Said: Sometimes a nudge is needed

Dear Lori and Jeff,

Our marriage is pretty good, but we have one or two issues that keep coming up and we can’t seem to get past them. My husband insists we can figure it out on our own, but I think we need to get help from a professional. When is it time to get outside support?

Signed, On The Fence

Dear OTF,

Lori and Jeff: There is no simple answer that would apply to all couples, but we can say that actions speak much louder than words. If partners are beginning to translate mindfulness, compassion and intention into new action, then it’s possible that no outside help is necessary. If the process is mostly made up of words, promises and platitudes and no real changes are taking place, then you’re likely in need of some support.

Lori: Many marriages die a death of a thousand paper cuts. Arguments, hurtful behaviors and harmful habits create micro wounds. Because these issues seem minor, partners tell themselves they can move past it, look beyond and focus instead on everything that is great about the relationship. But without resolution, and over time, those wounds accumulate along with resentments and emotional walls. It’s not true that “time heals all”; healing isn’t a passive process. It requires both partners to gain awareness of how they contribute to the challenges, develop the ability to validate the other’s pain, and commit to creating change.  

In modern U.S. culture, we’re conditioned to recognize the most significant problems (including affairs, abuse, addictions, and constant fighting) as warranting outside support. But we fail to make the connection that many of these breaking point issues started as small frictions. That’s not to say that every couple with discord will be facing divorce in a decade. In fact, we believe healthy conflict is an important aspect of authentic and fulfilling relationships. But we do know from our work that the ways in which couples navigate challenges, argue, deal with vulnerability and defensiveness, and choose whether and how to reconnect are all patterned behaviors. If challenges in these areas are repeating during smaller conflicts, they will likely escalate over time and when more important matters arise. 

Jeff: I don’t think anyone would be surprised if I said that most relationships can be, at times, rather challenging. One of the most impactful factors is the generational element, where most of us had ineffective role models in our parents (as they had with their parents). We’re left to fumble through the process of learning how to love, respect and hold space for our partners without letting our own fears and insecurities get in the way. We usually don’t attempt too many things in our lives without some kind of instruction or education first, so why should we think we could navigate relationships on our own? Some religious faiths had the right idea when they required that engaged couples see a priest, rabbi, minister or imam for premarital counseling before they tied the knot. But the problem was that most of these clergy did not have formal therapeutic training and could only advise based on the tenets of their faith. We recommend that all couples consider some kind of precommitment support to help shine a light on any potential blind spots they might have in their relationship before they dive in deeper. If, like you, a couple is already in a committed relationship, it’s useful to remember that we are always changing and growing, both internally and externally, with macro and micro transitions in our lives. Outside support can be very helpful in ensuring that these changes don’t create more distance between you and your partner, even if they are only focused around one or two issues.

Another common element to your situation is that we often see male partners tending to be a bit more resistant to counseling. The cliché is that we (men) can’t even ask for directions so it makes sense that we could be more reluctant to ask someone else to help with our relationships. We might be more susceptible to feelings of shame or being judged because we can’t fix things ourselves. You could suggest to your husband that a neutral professional can take some of the pressure and responsibility off of his shoulders and that you want to work together to repair any rifts that may have built up over time.

Lori and Jeff: If challenges in your relationship are impacting your well-being or overall relationship connection, it’s time to do something different. We know first hand that figuring out exactly what to do or how to do it can be overwhelming. Partners (us included) can get stuck seeing only what is in our limited view plane. Sometimes it takes a nudge from someone more knowledgeable to access new possibilities.  

Lori and Jeff are married, licensed psychotherapists and couple-to-couple coaches at Aspen Relationship Institute. Visit ​​www.aspenrelationship.com/blog-1 for all previous She Said, He Said columns.

Rogers: Excited for Aspen Words prize finalist

I do have a favorite in the contest for the Aspen Words Literary Prize, a brilliant addition to the organization’s offerings.

I’m no judge, no critic, only a fan, and among this year’s entries I’ve only read this one. Still, I’m thrilled to see it break into the final five, at least as thrilled as watching the Lakers fight for a playoff spot down the stretch, the Broncos’ hopes flare with each new quarterback signing, each new coach, Mikaela’s historic countdown to Ingemar and beyond.

It is just that kind of thrill for Jamil Jan Kochai and his short story collection, “The Haunting of Hajji Hotak and Other Stories.”

This is a little weird. Sports and literature normally fit in opposite corners for me — I take lit as a meditative art in the reading as well as the writing, and sports is all living out loud in the moment whether playing or watching. It’s all of this mixed up now cheering for Kochai. (The announcement from New York is scheduled for April 19. More information: www.aspenwords.org)

I’ve read previous winners, each great: “The Night Watchman,” “Exit West,” “An American Marriage.” “Haunting” matches up with them and fits the unabashed social contract in this annual prize for “an influential work of fiction that illuminates a vital contemporary issue and demonstrates the transformative power of literature on thought and culture.”

The short story collection and his novel before that, “99 Nights in Logar,” concern life in rural Afghanistan and the diaspora here during the Russian, American and Taliban occupancies. Kochai, 31, was born in a Pakistani refugee camp and grew up in northern California, mainly Sacramento, an hour from my home in the foothills when I began reading his work in The New Yorker.

The book is a stew of memoir and the fantastic, folk yarn and literary work with notes of journalism from lived experience. Some of the story structures are as interesting as the tales they frame. Meeting a martyred uncle and saving him in the context of a video war game. A harrowing family history between Afghanistan and America served as dry entries in a resume. The title story told in the perspective of an agent conducting surveillance on this West Sacramento family we know pretty well from the stories preceding this one.

Grit and grime and, well, shit, lots of shit, mix with grace and sometimes transcendence, especially in endings never on the nose and so there to linger over and feel as an unspoken finish like a glass of fine wine. But wine isn’t a great comparison beyond the sense of aftertaste because the stories are not intended to be enjoyed, exactly, and the experience often is painful, even brutal; savored but oh so bitter.

My reading is much rockier than most of the reviews make out, and no doubt they bring much more order and intention to the work than Kochai wrote, at least consciously. I suspect writing these stories was much more raw, and excusing the scholar who turns into a monkey, the American pilot becoming a goat (and living a better life) amid other surrealistic turns, dude is writing about real people and real, well, shit.

The New York Times reviewer panned some of the story structures as gimmicks and characters as caricature, though I believe he missed the point, especially with Americans rendered as cutouts — for a change. The effect for me deepened my impression of the protagonists in these stories, all the richer for the contrast.

The National Book Award judges appear to have agreed more with my take, as “Haunting” was one of five finalists in 2022. Also, the judges’ citation included this: “The power of Kochai’s writing is his insistence that readers witness the lives of people who too often have been defined through the eyes of others.”

I’m appreciating “Haunting” more in the second reading, and from having read “99 Nights in Logar” with essentially the same family and characters. Some stories you just have to read or watch again for fuller effect. This was one of those, and not only for looking up unfamiliar words and customs sprinkled throughout.  

With his work, Kochai is also teaching me how to write, which fits, as we share at least one mentor. But my brush with Sam Chang, head of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop MFA program Kochai went through, was only a short if profound workshop experience. Well, maybe not that short. We participants turned a three-week summer class into two years of meeting and critiquing on our own.

So I was overly thrilled, I’m sure, to see her name pop up in the first line of his acknowledgments. Hey, we fans take our connections where we can find them.  

Aspen Times Editor Don Rogers can be reached at drogers@aspentimes.com

Top 5 most-read stories: Avalanche in Maroon Bowl kills one; Aspen selects new police chief

We’ve rounded up the top five most-read stories on Aspentimes.com from last week.

1.) Maroon Bowl avalanche kills one; two rescued

An avalanche Sunday afternoon in Maroon Bowl off the west side of Highland Peak killed a skier, according to a Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office press release. 

At 1:27 p.m., Pitkin County Regional Emergency Dispatch Center received a call from the Aspen Highlands Ski Patrol reporting a large out-of-bounds avalanche in Maroon Bowl with three skiers likely caught. Shortly after this call, Highlands Ski Patrol reported that only one skier was buried by the avalanche, according to the press release.

Due to remaining avalanche danger, Ski Patrol was not able to send patrol to the three skiers and Mountain Rescue Aspen was notified. By 2:15, rescuers were on Maroon Creek Road, preparing to enter the field.

Three skiers triggered and were caught in a large avalanche Sunday, March 19, in Maroon Bowl outside of the Aspen Highlands Ski Area. One person died.
Courtesy of CAIC

Audrey Ryan

2.) Latino students shaken, Roaring Fork Schools administration regretful after career expo included Border Patrol 

Latino students are shaken, and the school district apologetic after a career expo at Glenwood Springs High School included a table with agents from Border Patrol, an agency under U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

“Why the h*ll was Border Patrol there? For what reason are they here? Why, in this Latino-majority school? Something we’ve been taught always is like this fear of deportation — documented or undocumented,” questioned a student. “I need something to change to be able to feel safe in school knowing that my race, my ethnicity isn’t a problem.”

The annual career fair is meant to be a fun and educational way to introduce Roaring Fork School District high schoolers to career opportunities in the valley and beyond. Students get to chat with representatives from over 100 employers, all while picking up free merchandise and getting out of morning classes with their peers. 

Josie Taris

3.) The Fields developer quits subdivision in El Jebel after years of trying to get it approved

After years of planning and numerous meetings in front of the Eagle Board of County Commissioners, the applicants to develop The Fields residential property in El Jebel withdrew their application.

The commissioners agreed that the application met standards for compatibility with surrounding land use and conformance with the comprehensive plan with proposed conditions, but that the public benefit required to upzone land was insufficient. 

“I think we all struggled mightily with this file, and we all came down very similarly,” Commissioner Kathy Chandler-Henry said. “We certainly are in dire need of workforce housing over here. That gets us to the public benefit piece …. Our guidelines are based on a project that meets all the criteria. This one has to meet public benefit.”

Josie Taris

3.) Aspen selects new police chief

Looks like Aspen has a new police chief. 

Kim Ferber has accepted a conditional offer from City Manager Sara Ott after emerging through a national search. 

“We’re excited for Kim to join the team and are confident that she will be an excellent addition to the city of Aspen Police Department and community,” Ott said. “She brings an extensive law enforcement and leadership background to this role, and we look forward to collaborating with her as she builds on Aspen’s legacy of community policing.”

Staff Report

4.) Aspen Hall of Famer Marian Melville came for that classic one ‘ski bum winter’ and never left

Aspenite Marian Melville, owner of the Mountain Chalet, passed away on March 10 at the age of 93. She was in her home surrounded by family and close friends. 

Melville first came to Aspen for a “ski bum winter” in the 1955-56 winter season at friend Dottie Kelleher’s recommendation. She and Kelleher had traveled the world together in 1955 and at Mont Tremblant, she found her passion for skiing and heard about Aspen. 

She spent her first winter in Aspen working at the Holland House and the Sundeck while working on her ski technique, her family said.

Audrey Ryan

5.) Business owners hold their breath as construction kicks off in Basalt

Business owners in downtown Basalt are braced for a challenging summer as Monday marks the start of the Midland Avenue Streetscape Project. 

Construction will begin Phase 1 on the Midland Spur, or the parking lot behind Town Hall, and move eastward down Midland Avenue in later phases. Businesses will always be accessible via pedestrian traffic, and one-way street traffic will always be open, according to town staff. Construction is scheduled for 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Phase I will result in 30 more parking spaces, from 60 to 90, along the spur. Under-road utilities and sidewalks will also be updated. Once that project is completed around mid-June, construction will move to Phase II, further down Midland Avenue. 

Josie Taris

New nonprofit for parents teams up with Conscious Discipline for workshop

What started as a monthly parenting newsletter known as Threads of Thought has transitioned into a new nonprofit dedicated to nurturing healthy relationships by promoting education, empathy and mutual understanding called Community Threads.

Community Threads was started by two local educators, Christina Holloway and Melisa Sweet. Holloway is the owner of Woody Creek Kids and Little Red Schoolhouse. At Woody Creek Kids, Holloway does everything from teaching to driving buses. Sweet has worked alongside Holloway at Woody Creek Kids since its start in 2016. Together, they are bringing their hard-won and well-researched knowledge on early childhood education into their new nonprofit.

“I think we need to make a place for children and educators in our community,” said Holloway. “We’re working with our next generation and these kids need more support, especially in the social emotional aspects.”

The idea to form a nonprofit was born out of Sweet’s monthly newsletters, which weren’t the typical school newsletters. She spent time researching tips and tricks for parents to connect with their children and eventually, the monthly newsletter turned into a parent meeting.

“When it comes to children, we hope to have an impact when it comes to how people see children. Although children are appreciated in our culture, I personally believe they are quite misunderstood and underestimated by most adults,” said Sweet.

After a successful parent meeting in November with many “aha moments,” as Holloway described it, they decided to look into forming a nonprofit to provide more services to the community.

“We started putting our heads together and came up with the idea. We loved the name (of Sweet’s newsletter) Threads of Thought, and from there the name transformed into Community Threads as we are wanting to reach our whole community,” said Holloway.

According to Sweet, Community Threads was born as a space for parents to share their child rearing experiences with each other and the vision grew from there. As educators, both Sweet and Holloway have an understanding of how isolating and stressful parenting can be, especially post-COVID and amid the many threats schools received lately.

“We hope that Community Threads can support families and teachers not only by offering educational opportunities such as our upcoming Conscious Discipline workshop, but also by providing a space where we can all come closer as a community,” said Sweet.

Their first event on April 5 is a Conscious Discipline workshop with Amy Speidel called “From Chaos to Calm.”

Conscious Discipline is an organization that works to empower parents with skills that create a safe, connected, problem-solving environment for families.

With the help of Kids First, Aspen Family Connections and The Aspen School District, parents and educators are invited to attend the workshop where they will learn about the different brain states and how regulating ourselves helps us teach children the tools they need for meaningful problem solving.

“We believe that healthy relationships are the foundation of a strong society, and we strive to nurture those relationships by promoting education, empathy and mutual understanding in our community,” said Sweet.

Community Threads is just getting up and running, and in the next few months they have leadership trainings for directors of local child-care centers and an art exhibition for children ages 0-5 in Paepke Park.

“Long-term, we want to dive into seeing what the community needs and wants,” Holloway said. “The more support we can give people the better.”

“Our dream at Community Threads is for everyone to see that children are valuable members of our society,” said Sweet.

If you go…

What: Community Threads and Conscious Discipline present “From Chaos to Calm,” a Conscious Discipline workshop for parents and teachers

When: April 5, 5 -7 p.m.

Where: Aspen District Theatre

The event is free.