A multi-year effort to get Colorado to adopt what’s known as the “Idaho stop” or the rolling stop won final approval in the state Senate Wednesday. Senate Bill 144 would establish a set of standards for local communities that want to grant cyclists the ability, under certain circumstances, to treat a stop sign as a […]
CHEYENNE – Cheyenne and Laramie County were among the biggest winners in Wyoming from tourism activity associated with the Great American Eclipse in August.
And while the overall number of out-of-state visitors fell short of higher-end estimates, the Wyoming Office of Tourism is touting the eclipse’s path of totality through the state as the largest single tourism event in the state’s history.
There’s been a helluva political fight over tourism tax dollars in Estes Park. It’s emptied out a town board that handles tax dollars for promotion. No source other than the local Trail Gazette newspaper has stayed on the story about the power struggle, the accusations and, ultimately the lost opportunities to promote a Colorado gem. […]
For yoga instructor Jess Saffer and the other happy hippies of Manitou Springs, last year’s presidential election was an emotional body blow — intense, raw and visceral.
“It felt like heartbreak,” said Saffer, 28, of the moment she learned that Trump had taken the lead.
Nine months in, a siege mentality has taken hold in this quaint, funky tourist town nestled at the foot of Pikes Peak.
That’s because Manitou, known for its ancient healing waters and carefree vibe, is a blue dot in a sea of red. Though surrounding Colorado Springs is one of the most conservative cities in the state, Manitou, affectionately known as “Hippie Mayberry,” is one of the most liberal.
Here you’ll find locals who greet visitors like longtime friends, passersby who almost always spare change for beggars, and the area’s only retail pot shops.
And you’ll find Never Trumpers — those who voted for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein — anyone, anything but Trump — in spades.
What’s a Never Trumper living in the heart of Trump Country to do? Now that the initial shock of Trump’s victory has subsided, just how are Manitoids coping?
Some are displeased but dismissive, determined not to let national politics influence their highly individualized ways of life.
Others are trying on a newfound activism. Still others are trying to live more deliberate lives in which small acts of kindness play a bigger, more meaningful role — determined to fight what they perceive as a hateful regime with an old hippie weapon: love.
The morning after the election, Saffer began the process of coping with “severe disappointment in multiple people” — not just the broad swath of Trump voters across the nation, but “fellow Coloradans.”
She began to see the man in the truck next to her with the “drain the swamp” bumper sticker, the woman on the street with the red embroidered Make America Great Again trucker’s hat, as people who had betrayed her — and the nation — deeply.
“I’ll think, ‘Oh, you’re one of those,’” she said. “I’m pretty biased. But I’m not mean to them. It just blows my mind.”
Saffer has channeled her emotions into advocacy. She “resisted” by participating in a local protest and signing multiple petitions against laws Trump wants passed.
Many locals are adjusting to the new normal by leaning on each other.
“Manitou is a place full of community activists, people who want to move things forward in a positive way,” said Laura Ettinger, co-owner of Create Café, as the afternoon rush slowed to a trickle.
The cafe serves up unique options like zucchini noodles, lavender-honey beer and Manitou Lemonade made with water from a nearby spring. It features a “pay it forward pot” that funds the meals of hungry patrons with empty pockets.
She recalls the morning after Election Day in Manitou as brimming with despair.
“People were mourning,” said Ettinger, 54. “It was a sense of depression, of ‘we are in trouble now,’ of disbelief.”
But time marches on, and there’s work to do.
Trump can keep tweeting, if he must, Ettinger said, but she has mouths to feed — regardless of ability to pay.
“Nobody gets turned away,” she insisted.
“People in Manitou are going to take care of their people. We all have to deal with the national-level stuff, but really, when it comes down to change happening, it’s going to be at the local level.”
If there’s any place for a liberal to weather Hurricane Trump, “this would be it.”
Manitou Springs is a political phenomenon as much as it is a cultural one.
The predominately white municipality of roughly 5,000 is bereft of the diversity one might associate with a city so blue.
Much like Mayberry might, Manitou features fishing holes, effervescent springs and old-fashioned ice cream parlors.
There’s a penny arcade, a singular high school and nary a big box store in sight.
But Mayberry doesn’t host an annual coffin race down Main Street.
Mayberry’s gift shops don’t sell “The Nightmare Before Christmas” tree ornaments, cashew cheese, spring-water popsicles and “Bliss Booch” kombucha.
Mayberry isn’t home to a South American-inspired tea shop run by a religious sect that claims to serve “the Fruit of the Spirit,” or a pizzeria named Hell’s Kitchen.
“Manitou has long had a reputation for being hippie and liberal,” said Robert Loevy, professor emeritus of political science at Colorado College and co-author of “Colorado Politics and Policy: Governing a Purple State.”
Loevy, who served on the Colorado Reapportionment Commission in 2011, says Manitou is on the western edge of an area voting analysts call “Blue Colorado Springs,” which begins in Manitou and extends eastward through Old Colorado City, downtown Colorado Springs and into Eastern Colorado Springs.
While Boulder and Manitou Springs are both considered quintessential Colorado hippie towns, “they’re completely different places,” Loevy said.
“Boulder has people who are there making a great deal of money in Boulder or Denver,” he said.
Loevy sees Manitou as a different thing altogether — more similar to the strongly Democratic Western Slope ski towns like Keystone, Breckenridge and Vail than its liberal stepsister to the north.
In Colorado’s ski towns “you have a type of person who wants to live a more relaxed mountain lifestyle,” he said.
“They want to be right where the scenery is. They have plenty of money, usually earned somewhere else. They vote strongly Democratic, an important part of why Democrats do so well in elections.
“I see Manitou as fitting more into that pattern because although it’s not a ski town, it’s really close to the mountains.
“The effect of that is like the ski towns: Manitou is Democratic.”
It’s so Democratic, in fact, that Manitou — more precisely, the three precincts that encompass it and parts of El Paso County — swung blue in the last two presidential elections by nearly 2:1, according to data available on the Colorado Secretary of State’s website.
Though Manitou is about as Democratic as they come, it’s a drop in the bucket when compared to the estimated 688,000 residents of El Paso County, which swung red in November.
At a commission meeting he attended, “we spent a long time discussing Manitou Springs, and one of our staff pointed out that we were talking about a very small number of voters — less than 5,000 at the time,” Loevy pointed out.
However minuscule Manitou’s effect on elections outside city limits, its residents are passionate about politics.
Why does it lean so far left?
“That’s a really good question,” Loevy said. “I can’t answer it. I’ve never heard any theories on why Manitou attracts liberals and people likely to vote Democrat.”
‘I’m scared, I really am’
“Messy” is coping with the Trump presidency by living how he pleases before the nation goes to “hell in a hand basket” at the hands of Trump.
On a recent Thursday morning, that meant smoking a cigarette and sipping coffee with fellow transients outside The Maté Factor Café, a local bistro run by the offbeat religious group Twelve Tribes.
Two nights prior, 52-year-old Messy — less commonly known by his birth name, Scott Smith — had arrived from Boulder, hoping to catch a hippie gathering before moving on to a festival in Virginia.
“I’m scared, I really am,” said Messy, clad in tie-dye T-shirt and faded overalls, his matted dirty blonde dreads mingling with the voodoo doll necklace resting on his chest.
Just what is there to fear under Trump?
Messy’s not exactly sure. But says he doesn’t trust hateful men.
“People are great, but he wants to build a wall to keep people out,” Messy mused. “Those are the good people, the Mexican people — they’re running from something in their country — poverty, crime. They come over here just to get away from it and to work to make a living. I thought that’s what this country was built on, that people can come over here.
Messy planned to linger in Manitou for a couple days, then hit the road. He adores Manitou — a true hippie down, unlike Boulder, he says — but gets restless.
“I love it here, but I can’t stay in any one place too long.”
Trump, the petulant child
Dave Cutshaw has more important matters to tend to than worrying too much about Trump — like whittling walking sticks outside of Heavenly Squeeze Juice Bar.
“Donald Trump is just a little kid,” he spat while clearing pulp out of beetle tracks on a tree branch he was readying to stain.
His dog, Sagebrush, rested nearby.
“He had everything he ever wanted, and this is just the ultimate prize.”
Cutshaw recalls Election Night — sitting outside of nearby Camino Real Imports. Hearing the hollers that Trump had won. A man throwing things in his apartment, angrily bemoaning the end of the world.
“I just laughed,” said Cutshaw, 59, who lives off the land outside city limits.
“It don’t matter. It was a lesser-of-two-evil type thing. They haven’t had a good president in there for years.”
Cutshaw thinks Trump’s blunt nature could come in handy.
Right now the country needs an “asshole president” to turn the ship around, and insolent Trump just might be the man for the job, he posited.
If he isn’t?
It’s no skin off Cutshaw’s back.
“I come down here, make some money, go back in the mountains when I get tired of it all,” he said.
That old hippie weapon
Saffer is coping in a very Manitou way: spreading as much love as possible.
She’s doing so because she believes Trump — “pure hate, pure ego, pure negativity” — is its antithesis.
“Just being kind to passing strangers is huge,” said Saffer, who works at a local spa and retreat center.
“In this job specifically, I’m able to create events that bring community members together to focus on what’s important: coming back to unconditional love for everybody ….”
“Including Trump,” she added with emphasis.
“Yeah, really,” she said with a laugh. “It’s hard.”
Just how does a Trump opponent tackle such a task?
“It’s a constant balance of your own thought process, focusing on what’s real and what’s true, which is that we’re all the same — nobody’s better or worse,” she said.
Trump “clearly has his own struggles.”
“If somebody like that can be shown love, possibly they can change.”
Porcelain dishes clinked as Ettinger sat a generous kale salad and a hefty, steaming bowl of parsley-garnished soup in front of Saffer, who smiled gratefully.
One small act of kindness, however trivial, can inspire countless glorious counterfeits, Safer believes.
Now that the Trump administration has initiated the process of renegotiating the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), let’s hope that this process is marked by thoughtfulness and not rhetoric like the president’s earlier comments that NAFTA was “the worst trade deal in history.” Despite the anti-trade rhetoric, NAFTA has been ...
Measures brought before the Colorado General Assembly in this legislative session have shown that the contentious national debate on immigration has been jolting our state’s politics as well. As the federal government has shifted its policies to penalize so-called sanctuary cities and aggressively deport immigrants, we’ve seen conflicting bills introduced here on whether our state and cities should cooperate with the government to enforce immigration laws.
…Thirty Years Ago This Week in the Colorado Statesman … Ahhh, those were the days before the long arm of Amendment 41 arrived on the scene — a little heard of show was in town: Legislators on Ice, er, at least on the snow ... all funded by lobbyists who just wanted to make sure their favorite lawmakers were getting in some time for much needed recreation.
Three dozen Colorado lawmakers participated in an annual legislative outing sponsored by Colorado Ski Country USA and the Colorado Association of Ski Towns, where they were treated to two days of skiing at Purgatory Ski Resort outside of Durango. Much like one of those time share schemes, the legislators, of course, also took part in informative sessions conducted each morning by the tour sponsors.
During these sessions, CSCUSA and CAST took the opportunity to lobby their pet concerns.
But first, the butter: “The ski industry,” said CSCUSA President John Lay, “is the single largest employer on the Western Slope, with a total employment of 44,500 in 1985, which in two years had risen eight percent.”
“We know historic preservation has a positive economic impact to our state,” Steve Turner, the state historic preservation officer and executive director of History Colorado, told the several hundred preservation experts, community leaders and property owners gathered on Friday at the Colorado Convention Center for the Saving Places Conference. Then, pointing to preservation projects across the state, he added, “We can look at these case examples and see it has a positive impact on the quality of life in our communities, too.”