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Village Voices: Why have a section like this anyway?

Dear readers,

Welcome back from the long, holiday weekend. December is here, which means some locals may be getting anxious about holiday preparations, some already have Christmas trees decorated and songs like “Let It Snow” blaring constantly, and others may be reflecting on the past 12 months as the start of another year approaches.

For the Snowmass Sun, the start of December means it’s time for another Town Talk section, where you, readers, submit questions about anything you want to know about Snowmass Village, and the Sun works to find an answer, explaining our reporting choices along the way as part of the new Village Voices community page.

But the Sun didn’t receive any question submissions this week.

It’d be great to assume that means our readers feel fully informed about all that goes on in Snowmass Village and have no questions about areas of local community, business or government life they’d like to know more on.

It’s more realistic to guess that readers forgot to submit a question, which the Sun didn’t do much to help keep from happening, or chose not to for whatever reason.

Maybe that reason is readers don’t want to put their names out there with a question they fear could be considered dumb. Maybe that reason is readers think this section is dumb and they don’t want to take the time to be associated with it.

This is all speculation, of course, and there are hundreds of rabbit holes to go down in search of why there were no submissions, but the fact remains that there were no submissions. So, we at the Sun feels it’s important to do a better job explaining why we think this section is worth the community’s time to read and to be a part of — and are completely open to you telling us otherwise.

As iterated in the weeks leading up to the new Page 2 debut, Village Voices is meant to offer readers fresh, rotating content that allows them to engage with the Sun and their neighbors through a format different from a typical news article or conversation at the post office.

The page is driven by local participation and transparency, two important factors that contribute to trust in each other and the Snowmass Village community, and to trust in journalism.

It’s no secret. For decades, Americans’ trust in the country’s institutions, including government and journalism, has been on the decline. Some believe that decline is at an all-time low with the country’s current political climate and believed proliferation of fake and biased news media, while others gave up on their civic duties a long time ago.

According to 2018 Pew Research Center data, 75% of American adults surveyed felt that trust in the federal government has been shrinking, and 64% felt trust in each other is shrinking. Over half of respondents said both of these declines make it harder to solve the nation’s problems.

Why is there a lack of trust in U.S. institutions and in Americans? Researchers, scholars and surveyed citizens give a multitude of reasons, but a few like lack of transparency, namely of U.S. institutions, and politics, namely the nation’s stark political divide, are repeated again and again. Pew data also shows that about half of U.S. adults say made-up news and information is a very big problem in the country today and has a big impact on Americans’ confidence in government and in each other.

Of course, Snowmass Village doesn’t necessarily follow national trends. The town is known for its small, tight-knit culture, and the 2019 community survey shows 67% of Snowmass residents get their information on town government and services via newspaper articles, meaning there must be some level of trust in local journalism.

But it’s dangerous to assume Snowmass Village is an exception in any way to national trends and there is always room to improve. That’s why the Sun started Village Voices and the Town Talk section specifically. We feel it is important for locals to be able to ask their own questions and to understand how a reporter would go about finding answers, helping both build more trust in local journalism by showing readers the reporting process and in the local community by showing readers their neighbors are invested in the town’s happenings.

It’s not just about trust, though. It’s about connection too. The community page is for everyone in the village, young and old, full-time and part-time, workers and employers. By learning more about our neighbors — whether it’s through short profiles on locals, results of community polls, or Q&As — the Sun feels people will feel more connected to Snowmass Village and to each other.

Bottom line is the Sun is dedicated to building community through honest, accurate and fair journalism. We want locals to feel like they have a voice and are a part of Snowmass Village as more than just a worker or a resident.

That being said, if you think the Sun is way off base with the Town Talk series or Village Voices community page, we want to hear about it. Tell us what Page 2 can and should do to best serve the town.

And please, submit any questions about Snowmass Village you feel need to be answered, no matter how big or small. We’ll do a better job of reminding you.

Best,

Maddie Vincent

Snowmass Sun, Reporter/Editor

mvincent@aspentimes.com

The Heart of Base Village: The Collective designed to be a space for everyone

For much of the fall season, dozens of people were hard at work in The Collective building in Snowmass Base Village.

At the rink level, people drilled away in a stereotypical construction environment, surrounded by plastic tarps, unfinished wood and power tools.

On the floor just below them, people were equipped with spray paint, thick brushes and bright colors, working individually to collaboratively turn a once white-walled space into a diverse hodge-podge of interactive art pieces.

One of these muralists was Thomas “Detour” Evans of Denver. Along with the other 11 artists working in the soon-to-be game lounge and experiential art center, Evans crafted a series of unique shapes and designs onto his wall canvas.

But Evans wasn’t just creating for show — game lounge visitors will be able to create a cacophony of sounds through his mural, too. Each time they place their hands on one of his mural’s shapes, a mystery electronic sound will ring out.

“A lot of artwork is static but having something dynamic helps people sort of think differently about art and have a sense that art can be visual and playful at the same time,” Evans said, noting that he’s been experimenting with visual and audible art since 2010 but that The Collective installation is his biggest yet.

On the other side of the downstairs lounge space, another artist and close friend of Evans also was working to create a playful, unique experience for The Collective visitors through art.

Using spray paint cans like brushes, Chad Bolsinger, another Denver-based artist, was hard at work creating his own rendition of the Zeigler Reservoir and its history, which will serve as the backdrop to The Collective’s 130,000-ball pool.

“For whatever reason they liked my style with the kind of wonky, surrealism with the landscapes and the mountains,” Bolsinger said. “When people see my work I hope it inspires them.”

Bolsinger said art has served as a healthy way to express himself, whether that’s through painting or tattooing, and he hopes his art in The Collective helps awaken people to the mystery of life and portrays the energy he felt while creating it.

“When we paint it attracts life,” Bolsinger said. “You have professional artists here that really are just professional kids. … I think for kids (at The Collective) they can see that the conventional route in life may not be best for them and see artists who have created something they felt something from and become inspired.”

THE HEART OF BASE VILLAGE

Creating unique, fun experiences like Evans’ and Bolsinger’s murals in a comfortable venue for people of all ages is what The Collective is about.

Part of the larger East West Partners Base Village development project, The Collective will offer year-round activities and spaces for families to spend their down time off of the mountain starting Dec. 7.

This winter with the completion of the building’s inside, locals and visitors will be able to experience the color and texture of the downstairs game lounge, filled with things like eight-person fusbol, a Ping Pong tube, X-Box gaming area and a roughly 130,000-ball pool shaped like Zeigler Reservoir.

Locals and visitors also will be able choose exactly what they want to eat upstairs at the new mix6 restaurant and moxiBar, a casual, healthy eatery with choose-your-own meals.

When East West Partners unveiled its idea for a restaurant inside of The Collective building in Base Village, longtime Aspen local and chef Martin Oswald felt like he had the perfect idea.

“A typical restaurant wouldn’t work in that space, it’s more suited for a grab and go or healthy, fast casual concept,” said Oswald, who also heads the Pyramid Bistro in Aspen. “When I presented it, it seemed to make the most sense.”

That concept aims to cater to people’s choices in the moment, Oswald said, and is a fun way for locals and visitors to eat as each meat, vegetable and base option will be seasoned differently but crafted to mix well together.

“I see more and more that people want to create their own dinners and found that when people look at a variety of foods, at that moment they can decide what they really feel like eating,” Oswald said. “I love creating my own flavors and spices. … So really, people will be mixing six different flavors.”

Adjacent to mix6 and moxiBar, locals and visitors can enjoy the freedom of the upstairs lounge, or flex space, which aims to serve as a place to unwind, get some work done in between ski runs and for area groups to host their programming.

For example, the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies is set to hold weekly presentations, Jazz Aspen Snowmass recently announced it will host three of its winter season JAS Café performances there, and the Pitkin County Library’s “Books and Brews” book club will meet in the new space starting in January.

“We want this to be the heart and soul of Base Village,” said Sara Halferty, curator for The Collective. “People will feel comfortable meeting here no matter what their age.”

Halferty, who is on the East West Partners sales team and has lived in the Roaring Fork Valley for over 20 years, said she begged for The Collective curator position because of her passion to develop the new building into a community space.

Last winter, Halferty and her team worked within the building shell to try out various free and affordable programming like bingo, yoga, live music, film showings and more to see what people wanted in the finished space this season.

With the addition of the restaurant, bar and game lounge, Halferty feels the “best of the best” programming set to carry over into the $11 million finished building will reach new heights and work to create a true third space for the entire Snowmass community.

But while The Collective aims to be affordable and open to everyone, it’s also geared particularly toward Snowmass locals, Halferty explained. “Aspen-Snowmass looks like a magical place, but I think there are some really lonely people here, … I think people really crave connection,” Halferty said, noting that she is one of those people. “We are a small community yet there is no real gathering spot for all ages, especially in Snowmass.”

Through The Collective, Halferty and her team hope to create that all-ages, affordable space for locals and visitors to build community and feel a sense of connection, year-round.

“You can come here, not spend any money and have a great day,” Halferty said. “The goal is to create an approachable environment that’s easy and fun for everyone.”

mvincent@aspentimes.com

Stay Tuned’s owners reflect on their Snowmass success, Christy Sports acquisition

Christy Sports announced earlier this month it is acquiring all four Stay Tuned Ski & Sports locations in Snowmass Village.

Longtime Stay Tuned winter sports shop owners Mark and Linda Chapdelaine said the transition has been in the works, and the couple hopes it will help them slow down their lifestyle a bit and spend more time with their kids. But it comes as bittersweet.

“It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made,” Mark said after the Nov. 7 announcement. “But we fully support Christy’s and know they will give the community the type of service we’ve aspired to.”

On a recent afternoon, Mark and Linda reflected on the past 13 years owning and operating multiple Stay Tuned locations in the village.

Mark, a Santa Rosa, California, native and Linda, who’s from Seattle, moved to the Snowmass area separately in the late 1990s to be ski bums, they said. The now-married couple met at a Thursday night concert, and decided to purchase the original Stay Tuned location on Wood Road, which had been there over a decade prior, to operate during the 2006 winter season.

Since then, the Chapdelaines have opened three more winter sports rental and repair locations around Snowmass and worked to create a family-like network of high-quality service.

Both have worked in shops since they were young adults and said it’s the ski and snowboard culture that has kept them there for so long.

“It’s the barber shop of the mountains,” Mark said of ski shops in general. “We were the kind of ski shop that had mid-season parties, end-of-season parties, and would invite our employees on family vacations with us.”

As they reminisced, Mark and Linda acknowledged the hard work that went into running their local winter sports shops but were humble about their success.

The couple said their shop network could not have existed without their strong, longtime “core” of employees, some of whom plan to continue working in the newly branded Christy Sports shops.

Christy Sports, a Lakewood-based winter sports retailer with a Snowmass location on the mall, has a similar family-driven philosophy, the Chapdelaines said. Both shops have helped out each other over the years, and the Chapdelaines said they feel a little more at ease knowing Stay Tuned is transitioning to ownership with similar family-driven values and practices.

According to the Christy Sports’ announcement, the acquisition and rebranding of the Stay Tuned locations is a part of Christy’s growth plan and desire to expand across the region, especially in Snowmass.

“We immediately recognized the great business and culture which Stay Tuned Ski Rentals has cultivated over the years and how closely it vice president with ours,” Dan Fox, Christy Sports VP of operations, said in the news release. “We are excited to welcome them to our family and look forward to growing Christy Sports in Snowmass.”

Moving forward, the Chapdelaines said they do not plan to work in the new Christy Sports locations but are willing to serve as resources for the new stores if needed.

Mark plans to focus more on his landscaping company, MC Landscape & Snowplow; Linda hopes to become more involved in their daughters’ mogul skiing competitions; and both aim to spend more time as a family.

“You know the saying ‘Do what you love and the money will follow?’ I’d like to not say that, but that’s how it turned out,” Mark said. “We feel very lucky to have accomplished what we did and grateful for the opportunities we got.”

mvincent@aspentimes.com