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Kudos and Kindness (Dec. 6, 2020)

A reflection for the holidays

We have a new rule in our house. I can’t start the day discussing politics or the pandemic. I can’t begin with strife if I am to view the rising of the sun like the rising of hope.

What seems most clear to me right now is that we, the people living our lives right now, are not special. It is not our fate to live without suffering. Whether it’s slaves under Pharaoh, Africans chained in boats, Jews in WWII, Londoners during the Blitz, or Tutsi’s and Hutu’s in Rwanda, unimaginable suffering has happened through the ages.

We are no better or more special in some way that absolves us of the possibility of deep tragedy and suffering. There is nothing new going on here. If you are somehow lucky enough to be rich/connected/powerful in such a way that you are sheltered from the storm, that isn’t new either.

People paid others to take their place in the Civil War, people used connections to avoid Vietnam. My father in law, a great man died on Thanksgiving Day, stepped up and did his duty in Vietnam as a doctor. His job was to triage, to quickly assess who could be saved and who had to be left to die. Nurses and doctors in ICUs across the country are being asked to do the same right now. This is terrible and terrifying and sad, but it is not new.

Fear, anger and divisiveness are tightly connected, and amplified by the kind of circumstances in which we find ourselves. But I think instead of screaming at each other, we need to find our humanity and help each other. Like we teach our children at school, we need to ask ourselves, am I a stand-up person, or a stand-by person? We need to answer hate and fear with empathy and compassion if this is ever going to end.

We need to try and accept the unacceptable. Businesses won’t make it. People will die.

Here in Pitkin County, we have created our own color — Orange Plus. Orange Plus is probably not going to get it done. It’s a Hail Mary, a grasping effort to halt the inevitable. Or maybe, it will be just enough. Who am I to judge?

I do not believe in a cruel God, but I know there were people consigned to life in a wheelchair a week before the polio vaccine became available. There was a last man to die as Armistice was declared. Now, there will be businesses and people irrevocably damaged right before we get a solution to our current problem. Orange Plus is a last gasp effort to fight what might be inevitable, and sometimes we just can’t face that. It’s too much.

I personally don’t think we have that kind of power. Our collective belief in our ability to manipulate the swirling waters of life in our chosen direction is overstated. What am I being called to do? What is the next right step for me to take? Those questions, and the ability to reach out a helping hand are things I can control.

Outcomes? Not so much. My fervent hope for this holiday season is that we can all find ways to help and support each other, with the sure knowledge that we are all trying to be our best selves.

Bettina Slusar

Aspen

 

Students gain support from Pathfinders

We live in an incredible community and since COVID-19 began we have witnessed an extraordinary effort by so many people to keep us safe, to keep us fed, and to keep us healthy, both physically and mentally.

This year, we have called on Allison Daily and Pathfinders to support our staff as they navigated the angst of Covid, and the feelings of loss that are so pervasive. Pathfinders is also working with us to support our students as they wrestle with the loss of their “normal” social & academic experiences. Allison Daily and Pathfinders have been a saving grace for many in this community for a long time; Allison has personally comforted our students and staff in times of crisis and grief. She is our “go-to” person (along with her stellar staff) when someone in our AHS family has suffered a loss or been given a terrible diagnosis. We are forever grateful to have an organization like Pathfinders in our Valley.

We are now in the thick of the holidays, and for so many people in our community these holidays will be harder than the celebrations of previous years. Thankfully, Pathfinders will be there to lend support to those who need it. Please reach out to Pathfinders if you or someone you know is struggling. And, if you can give to Pathfinders in some way, it will only strengthen our already incredible community.

With gratitude …

Sarah Strassburger, principal

Becky Oliver, assistant principal

Aspen High School

 

Congrats to winning photographers

Roaring Fork Conservancy would like to publicly thank all the photographers who participated in Roaring Fork Conservancy’s 16th Annual Roaring Fork Watershed Photo Contest. We would also like to thank Jordan Curet, John Newbury and Shannon Outing — three local, professional photographers who served as volunteer judges. Here are the winners:

Professional Division, Roaring Fork Watershed category: Riparian Bird by Dale Armstrong

Professional Division, Enjoying the Watershed category: Roaring Fork Eagle by Travis Newcomb

Amateur Division, Roaring Fork Watershed category: Blue Heron Over Roaring Fork River by Paul Hilts

Amateur Division, Enjoying the Watershed category: Serenity With My Sister by Eryn Barker

People’s Choice Award (via popular vote on Facebook): Blue Heron Over Roaring Fork River by Paul Hilts

Roaring Fork Conservancy provided an illustrated map of the Roaring Fork Watershed as prizes for all the winners. Winning photographs can be seen at http://www.roaringfork.org/news.

Rick Lofaro

Executive director, Roaring Fork Conservancy