Columns » Publisher's Note

Building up, helping out

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The award-winning Independent building, - facing Nevada - Avenue in downtown Colorado Springs... - PAUL J. BROKERING
  • Paul J. Brokering
  • The award-winning Independent building, facing Nevada Avenue in downtown Colorado Springs...

In October, for the fourth year of the past five, the Independent garnered an Utne Reader nomination as one of North America's best regional publications. While we did not win, the nomination itself is a huge honor. We were bested by an absolutely superb publication, The Chicago Reporter (chicagoreporter.com), which covers that city's south side.

2005 also marked our first full year in our wonderful new home. Our art director, Kathy Conarro, along with lead architect Mike Collins and lead builder Chuck Murphy, were honored with a prestigious award from the American Institute of Architects.

Our building, at 235 S. Nevada Ave., has gone through many incarnations in its 94 years. Initially constructed as the United Brethren Church, it became a drug rehab center, then the Smokebrush Theater. We moved here in 2004.

"Using simple common material, this renovation creates a dynamic place to work," noted the AIA judges. "The character of the project seems to convey the messy vitality of working for an independent newspaper. Privacy is provided while maintaining opportunities to interact and socialize. The project is a good lesson in how to add a contemporary layer to a historic building."

On the local scene, hats off to our new District 11 board members, as well as to our outgoing D-11 board members. After two years of public infighting and posturing among board members, we are heartened that all seven members have pledged to work together, and that six members actually appear to be doing so.

D-11 board members currently are considering a proposal to retain a professional facilitator to improve their strategic planning and internal communications skills. If such a plan helps improve the performance of a board that oversees a $300 million -plus annual budget and 30,000 students, it would seem to be money very well spent.

... and an aerial view of the sales department. - PAUL J. BROKERING
  • Paul J. Brokering
  • ... and an aerial view of the sales department.

In 2005, it was also heartening that mainstream and conservative Republicans split off from their party's hard-right extremists to work with Democrats and independents to help pass Referendum C last November.

Another cause to celebrate 2005: It was just last January that the Democrats took over both houses of the state Legislature.

Remember back in 2004, when every branch of our state government was controlled by the hard right? Today, instead of the public debate being focused on divisive and largely irrelevant culture war issues, our legislators are focusing on the nuts and bolts: access to preventative health care, transit issues, better schools, energy independence and a healthier environment.

On the national and international scenes, things are still scary. But Congress is getting its backbone back, with more and more conservatives openly challenging W's endless and senseless war, huge tax cuts to the wealthy in the time of record deficits, and Bush's secret spying on law-abiding Americans.

Here at the Independent, we are making several important changes in order to improve our operations.

Cara DeGette, who has been with us from our 1993 launch, is taking on a broader role at the paper. As our new executive editor, Cara will focus on writing and overseeing larger enterprise stories, as well as her column. Our managing editor, Vanessa Martinez, who joined the Independent last April, will handle the additional responsibilities of the day-in, day-out administration of the editorial department.

As our new vice president/retail, our founding display manager Teri Homick will spend about half her time working with GM/CEO Fran Zankowski to oversee our display operations. With the remainder of her time, she will work hands-on with our growing list of local and regional advertisers.

... inside the Indy: the lobby area ... - PAUL J. BROKERING
  • Paul J. Brokering
  • ... inside the Indy: the lobby area ...

We also have three civic projects we are excited about:

MLK Candlelight March, Sunday, Jan. 15, 5 p.m. : The Independent is pleased to again sponsor this march, which starts at the Downtown YMCA and ends at Colorado College's Shove Chapel. See page 4 for details.

World Wellness Weekend, Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 28 and 29: The event will feature Dr. Deepak Chopra, as well as more than 50 other speakers and a huge health expo. An exclusive interview with Dr. Chopra, named by Time magazine as one of the "100 Icons and Heroes of the 20th Century," will appear in the Independent's special World Wellness Weekend insert next Thursday.

Mardi Gras/Carnivale: Recent FEMA statistics indicate that Colorado Springs houses 30 percent of Colorado's Katrina-related evacuees, more than any other city in the state. An emphasis on the ongoing needs of hurricane victims is vital, and the Independent is working with a broad-based coalition to use events surrounding Mardi Gras 2006 celebrations in the Pikes Peak region to:

Raise at least $5,000 to send Katrina kids to camp this summer, via a Fat Tuesday Costume Contest to be held at 12 Colorado Springs and Manitou bars; bead sales sponsored by Zeezo's Magic Shop; and the sale of hats donated by Kevin Johnson from Elope.

Obtain at least 50 working computer systems for Katrina kids and their families. Manitou Computer Service is coordinating this effort. To donate, contact 685-4414 or info@manitoucomputers.com.

Bring together hundreds of Katrina evacuees with thousands of Pikes Peak area residents at Manitou Springs' Carnivale Parade, on Saturday, Feb. 25.

Catalyze much-needed public discourse about the long-term needs of Katrina evacuees currently residing in the Pikes Peak region.

For more information on how to get involved with the Independent's Mardi Gras/Carnivale celebrations, check out future issues of the paper or contact assistant publisher Carrie Simison-Bitz at 577-4545 or carrie@csindy.com.

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