AFTER THE SHOCK … It's so hard to learn that a friend is seriously ill. Especially when it’s such an important community leader as my commissioner colleague Elaine Fischer. It is going to be a challenging time for her, and we all need to be there for her. Like she's been here for us. Devoting so much of her life to public service. And the arts … At the same time, be respectful. She's going to need all of us pulling for her at this difficult time, but not taxing her energies … For more info, and to find out how to best help, visit <www.caringbridge.org/visit/elainefischer>
COLORADO SPRINGS … Attending the Colorado Counties, Inc. annual winter meeting was hopeful last week. After a nasty Republican coup of several years ago, engineered by Barbara Kirkmeyer of Weld County (one of those ultra-partisan politicos who want to secede from Colorado and form their own pro-fracking state), I had avoided CCI. But they are an important lobbying arm for local governments on the state and national level. In Denver they fight against unfunded mandates and try and steer bills towards respecting local control. In D.C. they send reps to the National Association of Counties meetings and fight to maintain federal Payment In Lieu of Taxes to so many western counties (in San Miguel County over two-thirds of our land base is held by the Feds and generates no local property taxes, although PILT, when congressionally funded, provides almost a million dollars in revenue to our county) … We had a meeting of a growing Progressive Caucus – made up of mostly Dem county commissioners (with me a Green and a couple Independents). While CCI is still controlled by a majority of very conservative (mostly Repub) members, progressives work hard as a minority to be sure that CCI doesn’t support regressive measures at the Capitol. I was impressed with the number of counties with progressive leaders, and with a new crop of commissioners, many of them women, who are excellent spokespersons for progressive goals and values … Gov. John Hickenlooper spoke eloquently at the event about our state, its challenges and his initiatives to get things moving economically while respecting our shared environmental consciousness. Without notes he touched on many difficult topics, made us laugh, and answered questions with alacrity and knowledge. This was the same Governor who came to Naturita a couple weeks ago to speak with the Small Miners group there about cutting through bureaucratic red tape without sacrificing environmental protections. While partisans on both sides of the political spectrum are mad at him for various stands he’s made, it’s hard not to be impressed with a genuine citizen-politician like Hickenlooper, who believes in working the radical middle where things get done and change is made.
PICASSO AT THE LAPIN AGILE … What a delight to see Steve Martin’s lively one-act performed in Norwood at the Livery this past weekend, thanks to ACE of Norwood and the ACE of Spade Players. This was community theater at its finest, to steal a trope from KOTO … Longtime local theater activist and Norwood School drama teacher Sara Doehrman assembled a marvelous cast of actors – most of whom were on stage for the first time. But she directed them into an ensemble that made for a most memorable performance. Certainly the best theatrical production I’d ever seen in Norwood. All the characters got deep into their roles (taking us with them), and several were truly outstanding. It didn’t hurt that Buff Hooper did great set design and played a strong part with his show-stopping presence. Or that Gen Roach did a fine job with the lighting … It really feels like Norwood, long a cultural stepchild to Telluride, is finally busting out on its own. Kudos to Johnna Waller, Liza Tanguay, Kristen Noonan, Evan Allen, Gwen Cassidy, Calen McCracken, Squirrel, Angelee Aurillo and Olivia Coe for a play well done … More, please.
LEIGH FORTSON … It was with great sorrow I learned of the passing of this former Tellurider who had moved to Grand Junction a number of years ago. A gifted, award-winning playwright whose production about conflicts over ranchers losing their land won high kudos in Telluride, Leigh was the author of Embrace, Release, Heal: An Empowering Guide to Talking About, Thinking About and Treating Cancer (Sounds True, Louisville, CO, 2011). For the last 20 years, she wrote for national magazines and other publications on alternative medicine, nutrition, childhood obesity and end-of-life issues. She was 55 – a graduate of Evergreen College in Washington, like Mary Friedberg, gone a year now … A memorial celebration for Leigh is planned on Monday, Dec. 16 at 7 p.m. at the Two Rivers Winery Chateau in Grand Junction.
WEEKLY QUOTA … "A leader … is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind." – Nelson Mandela (1918-2013)
THE TALKING GOURD
One black dog ambling past two
crows in the shorn hayfields of fall
A lone magpie keeps an eye on
the highway, top of Norwood Hill
All the way down, rocks helter-skelter
lying shattered on the blacktop
Thanking my lucky Honda Civic stars
some sun-thawed crumble from
the exposed geologic cliff face’s
chance timing doesn’t zero in on me
like it did my new Dodge Ram pickup
where I swerved just in time to miss
the moment’s rockfall aftermath
& its rolling out onto the road