This idea was born of frustration.
It emerged after late July, when the Gazette wrapped up a seemingly interminable run of stories about "Dream City: Vision 2020," the community project geared toward imagining the best possible Colorado Springs 11 years from now. It actually may have arisen in early August, when Outside magazine, in its ratings for America's Best Cities, listed Colorado Springs at No. 1.
There seemed to be plenty of interest in talking about what our city could be — we're no strangers to "visioning" exercises — and also pride in how it might look, at least to upper-middle-class adrenaline junkies from afar.
And we wondered: What about our city, as it actually is?
At the time, we were hearing that Colorado Springs' budget was sliding further into the abyss. (It was.) That the mayor could be in trouble as the result of an ethics investigation. (He wasn't.) That one of our school districts, after a heroin scare, was considering drug testing its students. (It still is.) And that the deal for a much-needed downtown anchor, the U.S. Olympic Committee headquarters building, was encumbered. (And how.)
Basically, we perceived a disconnect between perception and reality, or at least attention and reality. (Incidentally, the "Quality of Life Indicators" report released earlier this week, available at pikespeakqli.com, suggests the same thing.) We weren't naïve enough to believe we could bridge that gulf with one package, but we did feel we should present something else to think about.
The essays that follow were written by community members who work exceptionally hard, if largely anonymously, to improve Colorado Springs in one way or another. Their fields range from education to medicine to the arts. In asking for true-to-life snapshots of what they see in Colorado Springs, we requested only two specifics: that they draw largely from personal experience, and that they include one thing that we as individuals, or as a city, could do by the end of 2010 to make this a better place.
Al Munson, Volunteer doctor, Mission Medical Clinic
Bill Kenline, President, South Nevada Community Association
Damian Burford, Event coordinator, Triple Nickel Tavern
Eric Viedt, Executive chef and co-owner, the Margarita at PineCreek
Gerry Strabala, City recreation supervisor
Jan Johnson, Founder and artistic director, Ormao Dance Company
Linda Kogan, Sustainability director, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs
Michael Salkind, Criminal defense lawyer
Sister Jeannette Kneifel, President/CEO, Women Partnering
Zachary McComsey, Founder and executive director, Atlas Preparatory School