talk to the spore
My Brother's Brain
...and I drunk...
...and I Lew up.
The Moldy Guru
For the Ladies
Community Rules 3/7/08
I am originally from a small town in Maine. In my travels through cities and back to the woods, I have found that New England has a special place in the political landscape of our country – nowhere else, save Iowa, is civic participation so much a part of life and community - and that is changing. While New Hampshire still can’t find anything better to do in January than canvas their neighborhoods in skis and snowshoes, and small town meetings in Maine are still packed to the rafters, gone are the days when you could be assured of meeting everyone in town at the Grange Hall on a weekly basis. There was a time when collating convention packets was the punishment of choice for unruly children, when teens were half of any town meeting – shuffling their feet and hanging their heads and groaning through the process. Now, when I travel back to New England, it is obvious that civic participation of young people is no longer encouraged (or demanded) as it once was, and I believe that we are already paying a price for it in our local communities not only in my hometown, but across America. If it weren’t for being a bookish kid with a penchant for both poetry and our founding documents, I would be enjoying the same blissful ignorance of government, history and politics that is the norm for my generation.
I have lived in Gilpin for just two years now, after being claimed by married to a mountain man in Missouri Lakes. I love it, and have been looking for ways to participate in my community. It seems natural to me to get involved in civics, but how to translate my geeky love of politics into a community practice has been a bit tricky. In general, those living in the ‘backcountry’ of any area are looking to limit personal interactions, myself included. Now seeing the trends taking place in my Old New England, and throughout the U.S., it seems that civic participation itself is withering. While the current presidential race has folks fired up more than usual, I haven’t seen this translate into increased participation and interest at the local level. It’s a bit tough to see how invested folks are willing to be in what Washington gets itself up to while spending little, if any time knowing what’s happening in government here at home – especially when our greatest power over what happens on Capitol Hill is rooted in our neighborhoods.
In an effort to get a feel for the political climate in my new home, I made random phone calls around Gilpin. What I found was a whole truckload of complaints and rumors but not much interest in being active in government. Many were unaware of what representative districts they lived in. Being new here, it’s easy for me to get along with the willfully disenfranchised. I don’t know what’s going on either – I just got here! But my efforts to get involved showed me that those who want to will, and those who don’t, won’t, no matter what. Still, whether I found a participant or not, I always found concerns. Whether actively addressing their own concerns or not, everybody’s got some.
What most of the complaints I heard have in common is that they are community concerns. A majority of the political activity that takes place in a household is debate over what’s happening in Washington, yet it is the shape of our home towns that affects us the most. I have personally observed the debilitating effect on our system of government occurring as a result of our changing communities. Advances in technology have provided people, Americans especially, with the luxury of being able to get along in the world completely divorced from our community of landscape. Because of the internet, the ease of commuting and availability of an amazing array of products which I don’t even need to leave my house to purchase, I am able to lead a full and happy life without any interaction with my neighbors at all. We find our sense of community with those who share our ideas about how we want to live, rather than where we live. I’ll never knock technology – I’m a big fan of all the wonderful ways we can change our world with it – but I do lament the benefits of community unity that are lost through these changes. It is really easy, for example when we only interact with friends to assume that ‘most people’ share our world view on particular issues and to think that we alone have the right answer. We may hear or read about those who disagree with us in the news, but it is our personal interactions which have the greatest impact on our perspective and impressions. When community is formed based on ideals, it gets a little too easy to discount those whose views differ from our own as unimportant minorities with undue influence, rather than the perfectly valid communities which they are. (Living in the bubbles of Boulder and Salt Lake City served as great illustrations of this effect.) When communities are based in landscape we enjoy the benefit of a variety of thought, perspective and desires. The idea that “I’m right and they are wrong” gets a little harder to hold on to when we walk our neighborhood and just ask folks what they think about this or that issue, and it is much harder to demand someone live the way you want them to when you have to demand it to their face.
How on earth, now, can we enjoy the benefits of a “community of landscape” when a majority of the residents would rather stay home and not be bothered? Certainly a few do venture out, and many take a loving and committed interest in their community through service in public office or volunteer activities. Still, there are those (like my husband –I’m working on that one) who barely participate at all. Now, some folks just don’t care and there’s not much to be done about that. If they are happy not participating and have no complaints, that is quite fair. But I believe there are a lot of reasons to participate in community even when you don’t want to, and many cases where the only barrier is a lack of information or an understanding of what kind of power we have and how to use it. I’m interested in ways that we can form stronger communities, politically and socially, while still enjoying the benefit our chosen isolation from the masses.
My hope for this column is that by sharing my experience in learning to participate in my community I can make it easier or more enjoyable for others to do the same. I endeavor to take my little political theories to auction and see if they sell, and if they still work when you plug them in at home. Most of all I look forward to getting to know you, Gilpin, and seeing just what kind of world we can create for ourselves here.
Yours in Peace, Freedom and Prosperity,
Michelle “Fire Eater” Northrup
Community Rules 3/14/08
A new person in Gilpin County may have many ways and reasons to get involved with the community. Parents may naturally get involved with the school board, animal lovers will seek out their local Humane Society and those in love with our past will eventually show up at the Historical Society. Just as plentiful as the opportunities for community involvement are reasons to do so, but often there are a few overriding reasons not to and the number one reason is that it’s not a priority. Community involvement doesn’t make it into the monthly calendar for many, even though we all enjoy a better quality of life when we foster tight-knit communities. I’m not much of a go-getter, but I’m trying to change that and I’ve made “Know and Help My Community” my personal mission for 2008.
Prior to getting out and about in Gilpin, I was an apprentice hermit and well on my way to being happily stuck at the house forever. I choose to be here, and enjoy the quiet, wildlife and pace that this mountain life has to offer. When I lived in Portland, Maine, a small city by the sea, isolating (and insulating) myself from the world was often more trouble than it was worth, so I made a real treat of gallery openings, neighborhood meetings and volunteering at my local homeless shelter. Here in the hills, community is not going to come and find you on the walk home from work – you have to seek it out. We enjoy a great benefit from our isolation, to determine our own schedules and set wide boundaries on our personal space, but often miss much when we don’t make interaction with our neighbors a priority. I don’t mind socializing, but many do and that is the biggest hurdle to community participation. Why go out and try to make small talk with strangers when I can stay home and squirt chipmunks off the deck with a hose? Yes, the benefits of staying home are too compelling most of the time, but I offer that just as compelling are the reasons for taking that step, to meet and know our neighborhood and see if we can take an active role in creating the kind of community we want to live in. I offer three ways that I’ve decided to activate this principle in my own life.
I attend my county commissioner meetings and regularly participate in party activities, and boy is it fun. Yes, not so fun for those not inclined to talk politics, but this where our county finds its foundation and it’s a good place to start if you want to have a say in what Gilpin looks like. I’m learning how to read budgets and how funds are taken and allocated, and maybe in a few hundred years I’ll understand enough to have a sound opinion about it. It’s really empowering. Party activities are probably the better place to start, as you meet long time residents who share your values and can get you up to speed on who has had just about enough of who and why. I kind of wish there were less partisan attitudes in such a small community, but then the politics of Gilpin might not be so much fun. At any rate, I’ve enjoyed meeting my neighbors and discussing issues and especially helping to make our political processes run more smoothly. It’s a constantly rewarding “feel good” activity.
I started a semi-political debate club. By doing so I am able to make sure that the topics I find important to talk about have a forum in my community. Not much interest yet, but so far the attendees have been top quality. I also visit Jefferson County to discuss politics, but why should they be the only ones to enjoy my fine company and genius political analysis? That seems unfair, so I offer it for my neighbors as well, and save buckets of gas in the process. This club doesn’t exclude any particular points of view and I’ve been really relieved to find so much wit and intelligence right down the road from my house. (I’ve lived in areas that certainly couldn’t boast an IQ average like Gilpin has – just my opinion. I think there are some really interesting and bright people here.) We meet the 3rd Thursday of every month at the Justice Center, 7pm, to talk about what the word “conservative” actually means, if it means anything at all.
I attended a Fireside Chat held by Commissioner Jeanne Nicholson on how Gilpin County can best prepare for the impact of the Democratic National Convention in August. In preparing for the extra visitors to our area, I see a lot of opportunities for neighbors to come out and get a little organized out of love for the landscape. And that smart-quotient showed itself again in the creative ideas put forth for things like signage, community watches and even fire sentinels, camped out in the high parts and watching for smoke. Turns out there are other events happening at the same time and our small resources will not have the backup of other communities as we normally would. Soon a community meeting will be scheduled to organize different volunteer efforts and discuss how we can take advantage of the extra visitors and minimize risks of fire and other trouble, and that sounds like a great reason to come out and meet the neighborhood, doesn’t it?
Meeting strangers is hard, especially if being friendly isn’t really your thing. I understand. But when we make the effort to seek out like minds and coordinate, or help our neighbors keep our houses safe from fire, or keep our government officials accountable, we enrich not only our community, but ourselves. It may even be really uncomfortable and inconvenient to venture out and get along and help out at first but remember what Zig Ziglar said, “Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly at first.” It gets easier and more fun as you go - promise.
I look forward to meeting you.
Community Rules 3/21/08
I have managed to wiggle my way into all sorts of county assemblies and meetings lately, and I’m particularly excited about the state assemblies and national conventions. I will be following the Gilpin County delegates on their travels so that folks up here can enjoy their experiences. There are lots of hot local races to report on that will directly affect Gilpin County, and I’m glad for the opportunity to help others participate, even as spectators in the political process for our state. What I’m missing are folks from third parties that might want to share what’s happening in their corners of the ring – so if you are Libertarian or Green or Constitution Party and participating, contact me here at the Call so I can catch up with you and share your story!
No matter your politics, here at the county level we have a lot in common. It’s refreshing to see, at the local level, how people can come together in response to our community concerns. The biggie in the high country is fire protection and fuel mitigation in light of the Pine Beetle scourge and this issue is magnified in light of the Democratic National Convention coming in August. With an unknown, but certainly increased number of visitors to the area at that time, making sure those visitors understand the tenuous situation our forests are in is vital – before they start toasting their marshmallows. At the same time the Convention is happening, other events in the area will mean that our emergency services won’t have the ancillary back-up they normally would. What this means for Gilpinites is that we really, really have to make it a priority to come out in support of our community, either by volunteering or supporting those that will be, or simply by making sure our own properties are defended against the increased fire risk. I’ve put together some options for folks who want in on this process.
Attend your local meetings – there are plenty to choose from. If you couldn’t make the Beetle meeting on Thursday the 28th at the community center, be sure to come out for the High Country Fire Department Chili Dinner and Silent Auction on March 1st, at 5pm at Station #2 (mm 17 on Hwy 119). There you can chat directly with fire fighters, support the department and the auxiliary, and meet up with other community members and network for fire mitigation opportunities. Many folks have not done fire mitigation on their properties, and dead trees around the house come August is flirting with disaster for you, your property and our fire fighters. If you are unable to clear trees on your own or can’t afford to have it done for you, or aren’t sure how, the community events are great places to work with neighbors on getting the job done. If you can’t make either of those meetings, there is a Pine Beetle class on Thursday, March 7th at the Exhibit Barn at 4pm. This is a great opportunity to find out what that pesky beetle is up to and how to thwart its further destruction on your own property.
Additionally, Commissioner Jeanne Nicholson and Gilpin Republican Chair Gail Maxwell are working directly with our support services and the community to organize some volunteer efforts and community support, such as community watches and sign placements, to try and help visitors understand the fire problem ahead of time and keep problems to a minimum. If you would like to be part of that effort, contact me here at the call or commissioner Nicholson at the courthouse and let us know you’d like to help.
This is one of those situations where no amount of government activity or support can match good ol’ neighborhood watches. If you ever needed a reason to get involved and lend a hand to your community, this is it. I’m going to be spying on Grand County politics over the next two weeks and seeing what they are up to in this area. Traveling to Grand to visit friends is a heartbreaking experience – there is no way to avoid understanding the Beetle problem when you look at entire mountainsides gone red and just looking for an excuse to burn. We all remember the Hayman Fire, and we’re dreaming if we think such a disaster could not befall us here in Gilpin – please come out in support of your firefighters, and enjoy the company of your neighbors while strengthening our defense against this problem, which WILL affect us ALL.
See you there, Gilpin!
Assembly Article 3/10/08
Gilpin Political Participants Forge Ahead
On Thursday, February 21st delegates, officers and candidates for the Republican Party met at the Courthouse on Eureka in Central City to choose candidates, elect representatives and vote on party resolutions. On Saturday, March 8th, the Democratic Party met at the Justice Center to do the same.
The Republicans evening began at 6pm with snacks and light beverages, giving voting delegates the opportunity to meet with candidates and discuss the issues. Officers in attendance included Gail Maxwell (Chair), Beth Isern (Vice Chair), Connie Reukauf (Treasurer) and Doug Kayser (Secretary). Candidates in attendance included Don Ytterberg (that’s “IT-erberg”) of Evergreen running for the Senate District 16 seat against incumbent Democrat Dan Gibbs, who was appointed to his seat upon the resignation of Joan Fitz-Gerald. (Fitz-Gerald resigned her State Senate seat to run for Congress.)
There was unprecedented attendance at each assembly, echoing the increased participation seen at the precinct caucuses held on February 5th. This is expected during presidential cycles, as many new participants come on board in support of a presidential candidate. Many of the new participants here were looking forward to ongoing participation in the political process, asking questions about what the assemblies are like and other things they can do to be a part of the process in the future.
Republicans were looking forward to the influence they might have in the future. “I’m not happy with the direction the party has taken and now that I’m retired, I have the time to invest in the process,” said one attendee, an alternate. “I didn’t realize this was so much fun,” said another. “I just figured I’d show up and see how it worked. It feels good to have such power in the political process instead of being on the sidelines,” said another. Only time will tell if the new level of participation holds after the presidential cycle is over, but for now, it sounds like they are staying. Don Ytterberg also commented on this new interest and excitement, stating in an email of thanks to the party that he was “delighted to see so many people who are new to the political process and who are so enthusiastic.“ A similar climate was found at the Democratic Assembly, with brand new participants such as Jackie Conley of Wondervu taking on leadership roles as Precinct Captains. “This is by far the most people I’ve seen at the assembly and the fact that you are here shows that you care about the county, the state and the nation,” said Les Barstow, Chairman of the Gilpin Democratic Assembly.
Unlike the Republicans, the Democrats allotted their delegates by percentage according to the supporting votes of the entire assembly. (Republican delegates were nominated and elected as representatives of their county with no particular binding vote.) Gilpin Democrats sent twice as many delegates for Senator Barack Obama as Senator Hillary Clinton. John Thomas spoke on behalf of Obama, countering claims of Hillary’s strength on the basis of her experience in office. “A lot of people talk about experience,” said Thomas, “but what good is experience when you make bad decisions.”
The same system was used by Democrats to elect delegates for other assemblies. One main difference between the Democrats and the Republicans was the strong internal competition for seats among potential Democratic candidates, where most of the Republican nominations in our districts are for candidates without other Republican competition. Democratic candidates for Congressional District 2 were each in attendance and spoke to the assembly along with candidates for commissioner, CU regent and Senate District 16. The hottest competition is for the very important Congressional seat currently held by Mark Udall. Candidate Joan Fitz-Gerald spoke passionately to much applause about funding for our military actions in the Middle East, stating she would support no more funding until timelines for withdrawal are in place. She also garnered unexpected applause for criticizing her own party for accepting No Child Left Behind, which she called “a bad law with a nice name”, and asked Democrats to take a lesson from former Senate President John Andrews, a staunch conservative, on the constitutionality of that bill. Gilpin resident Scott Groginsky came out in strong support of Jared Polis on education issues and leadership qualities, but heard some snickers when he attempted to correlate carbon emissions with the Pine Beetle problem when speaking on environmental issues. Will Shafroth received hearty applause for signing a pledge not to accept Congressional healthcare benefits until all Americans are covered. Joan Fitz-Gerald received a majority of the assembly’s delegates.
At the Republican Assembly, commissioner candidate elections were first on the agenda. Web Sill was nominated and seemed proud to have stuck to his allotted five minutes of stump time, when he spoke of “being true to his Western values of independence, wild, wide-open spaces, self-reliance and freedom.” Bob Giancola was also nominated and talked about being open and honest with the community, being accountable for expenditures, and being smart about money and growth while the nation is in an economic downturn. Robert Averett was nominated along with Jerry Ward, who spoke simply about getting better use of our county facilities and delivering more direct tax benefits to citizens from our gaming revenues. Delegate Lance Lowe of Precinct 3 asked candidates to make water issues a priority, and delegate Del Johnson of Dory Lakes just wanted to know if Jerry had any hair under his ever-present hat (which he does). Bob Giancola, Web Sill and Jerry Ward all won spots on the primary ballot for commissioner.
Though many of the officers elected to the Republican Assembly Committees were new to the process, plenty of seasoned delegates and officers were on hand to help things go smoothly. Don Ytterberg, who had given his talk early and didn’t need to stay, remained until the end of the assembly stating he “liked watching small government at work.” He was well received, listening to the concerns of Gilpin Republicans, and thanked the participants and officers for the warm reception. Delegates were elected by the delegation to attend various assemblies, and nearly all of the 40 delegate slots given to Gilpin County for the 1st Judicial District were filled by eager volunteers, excited to support Scott Storey as the candidate for District Attorney or just to be a part of the process and learn. Some were going to show Jefferson County, where the assembly will be held, that Gilpin can “get out the vote” in their districts.
Democratic commissioner candidates Doris Beaver and Buddy Schmalz also spoke with the assembly to great applause, Buddy calling on his long term residency, knowledge of business and budget issues and community service as a measure of his commitment and ability. Doris asked for support to pursue issues of water conservation and getting all of Gilpin County’s students into the Gilpin School, and noted her opposition to new businesses, such as the proposed rock quarry coming into Gilpin County. Doris went over her allotted time with no objections to criticize the current commission for moving ahead to quickly on costly programs such as the biomass system at the Road & Bridge facility, stating “we don’t and won’t have the fuels to support this into the future,” and calling a “30 thousand per month fuel bill” for the Community Center “unacceptable”. Patty O’Roarke has dropped out of the race to support Buddy Schmalz.
Delegates elected at each party’s assembly will move on to represent Gilpin County at their party’s House, Senate and Congressional District assemblies, and also represent the county at the state assembly where party direction is determined. At the congressional and state assemblies for both parties, delegates will be elected to attend the national convention. The Democratic Assembly is a hot topic in Gilpin, as it will take place just down the hill in Denver from August 25-28 and Gilpin will likely experience increased tourist traffic during that period. The Republican National Convention will take place in St. Paul, Minnesota from September 1-4. Delegates at this assembly will be voting on party resolutions and, of course the presidential candidates. A large number of unbound delegates to each convention (meaning they may vote however they choose, regardless of party support) means that the outcome of these elections is unknowable, guaranteeing an exciting convention process for many delegates.
Michelle will continue to follow the convention processes for both of the major parties. If you are new participant to the process planning on attending your party’s assemblies as a delegate, please contact me at the Register-Call at email@example.com so that we can share your representative experience with the community.
The Community Rules 03/10/2008
Assembly fever is definitely what I have. Symptoms include baggy eyes, sore feet and a wrinkly disposition due to 14 hour days on the scene, and a sore throat from speaking with candidates and delegates and promoting resolutions. (There’s also a major deficit in my gasoline budget...) For a political geek like me, it’s a welcome condition. I’ve watched the caucus and assembly processes all around the Front Range that will directly impact politics and government in our community and it has been well worth it.
Here in the mountains, I’ve had the chance to watch party process from both sides, getting a first-hand view of the political landscape which will aid my understanding of the outcomes. Though I am a conservative and deeply devoted to the Republican Party, I found some of my own values, such as county control and constitutional law being represented at the Democratic Assembly. This reinforced my belief that politics should not be about values, but about the means we use under the law to promote those values in the world at large. This ideal about government’s role was proven out at the Republican assembly in Grand County as well, where much discussion took place about transparency in politics and government, and Republicans asked for resolutions regarding care for our environment through good forest stewardship and recycling efforts – values that ‘mainstream media’ proclaim belong only to liberals and Democrats.
In my experience speaking with a broad range of voters I find that while we may disagree on government’s role on particular issues, our values often coincide. These recent experiences reinforce that impression. I believe that our prominent media and, indeed many candidates and those in party leadership roles use our personal values and philosophies against us by defining political positions along those lines through identity politics, when the true issues in this arena are about the role of government. Here in the mountains there were Republicans (!) speaking out against our “occupation of the Middle East” and Democrats (!!) calling for fiscal responsibility. This shows the media and party leadership on both sides doesn’t know what we, the people, are talking about or what we really want. Obviously, no party affiliation is required to want environmental responsibility or better education – the party tool is merely an indicator of the means desired to accomplish our goals and specifically government’s role in it.
Election victories are almost always interpreted by the media (and the winning party) as an affirmation of the of the issue or candidate, but this is not always the case. In the current climate of fight club politics even less so. Much of the success of a candidate or issue can depend on the health of the party structure itself and the unity of its membership. A local party which has poor structure or organization, or divisiveness within the group will have little success in promoting its candidates or having its values represented in local government no matter how worthy they are. By turn, a party with good funding, organization and unified member support can attain great success while hardly addressing issues at all. (Your ideas don’t have to float on their own if the whole community is holding them up.) Combinations of all these factors are what determine political success, rather than the merit of issues alone. This illustrates the importance of community participation – your support of a party which represents your desires will directly impact the creation of a community that you want to live in through the party’s successes. It’s a tool whose effectiveness is entirely dependent on your particular use of it.
Over 20 Gilpin Republican delegates traveled to Denver for the Jefferson County assembly to support a candidate who had no other Republican competition. Though we were not there to impact a vote, I doubt any nomination would have come from the floor in light of this show of support. Our presence was inspiring to our neighboring county's party membership, encouraging them to become active on behalf of their favorite candidates early on to ensure their success in general elections. Not only did our presence inspire the membership – candidates also noticed this effort and will make a point to visit our district and hear our needs. We showed that Gilpin can get out the vote, and in the process we formed unity and camaraderie within our own party which will help us get along and accomplish things in the future. This happened in spite of personal politics having disrupted the unity of the board only a few days before. I’m very proud of all the delegates who put the strength of our party ahead of their personal dissatisfaction over recent events. It will be worth it well into the future.
The Republicans are seeing a boost in active membership, with a slate of new precinct leaders and passionate support. Whether or not the Republicans can maintain a healthy organization and unite on principles, rather than opinions or issues will have much to do with the success of their candidates and policies in government here in Gilpin, the state and the nation. I watched them do it in Denver, and I believe they will continue and become a powerful voice for those principles in the future. They are going to have to if they expect to win representation, at least here in the county. My experience at the Democratic assembly showed that even when these folks disagreed, they were able to discuss issues respectfully and thoughtfully. More than once, after the discussion period they would coalesce to a majority vote in opposition of what they had at first sought to approve. That’s unity, and while I usually disagreed with their votes and sometimes their values, I left with the feeling that I had participated in a community event rather than a football game.
Why would I go through the trouble of confessing my opinions about all of this? Aren’t we enemies? Many people in both parties think it’s a bad idea to tell too much in politics even to the point of withholding basic party information, sometimes from their own party membership. Personally, I find this sort of information “gate keeping” a waste of time. I have confidence in my principles and feel with a platform to explain and demonstrate them I can offer a compelling argument for others to share them. If my ideas are so hot, they should be able to succeed in the free market of ideas and win support on their merit. (I would never get the opportunity to test this if I did spend some time talking to people who disagree with me, either.) The amount of time and effort playing political football is that much less time we have to discuss the merits of new ideas, to promote our values and see if our big plans can float in the community at large. If it were not detrimental to creating the good government I desire, it could be amusing to watch people engage in mission impossible style strategy games with secret meetings and power plays within their own party when it is so much easier to have lunch, ask questions and win support. Unfortunately, these games serve no one, so – not funny.
I would like to lessen the amount of adversity, bickering and disrespect that occurs in the political landscape... but don’t think me noble. I am motivated by my own best self interests - I am lazy and find unnecessary conflict exhausting and not much fun, and I’m here to have fun and make things happen in government. Politics is about creating the kind of world you want to live in, and the party tool is there for everyone to use and influence. How powerful it is depends on your efforts to ensure that it represents your principles about government, has structure and unity, and inspires participation by others who share your at least your principles if not your personal agenda. Be careful, though – heavy use can cause Assembly Fever, which has no cure.
Article on Komen Grant Walkers 3/21/08
Gilpin Mom Will Walk 60 Miles in Memory of Her Mother
Nicole Brandon was 6 years old when her mother, Sharon was first diagnosed with cancer, and 9 years old when her mother succumbed to the disease at age 37. This circumstance may not be unique to Nicole, but her particular situation has moved her to make a special contribution to help fund breast cancer research – all of her 3 children are girls and she is working to make sure that they will not get the news she once did about her own mother, or have to tell the same story to their own children. During the second weekend of August, if she can meet the donation requirement, Nicole will travel to Chicago to participate in the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s “Walk for the Cure” along with her aunt, Sandy LaJudice of Nederland, where they will embark on a 3-day, 60 mile journey to promote breast cancer awareness and raise money for the foundation. They will also be joined by Nicole’s sister, Adrienne Leibowitz from Buffalo, New York – yes, another girl.
The number of girls in Nicole’s family, and the history of breast cancer, makes this a special issue for her. Sandy also has two daughters and three granddaughters who she walks for. “Breast cancer is so much a part of our family,” says Sandy. “I was a teenager when my mom, Lavina was diagnosed and though I knew what was happening I saw it as one of those things that happen to someone that is old and “not me”. Sandy’s mom is now a 40 year survivor of the disease, now 91 years old. “It didn’t really hit me until my sister was diagnosed. Then I was on a real mission, that I would do whatever was in my power to prevent it.” According the National Center for Cancer Research, only 5-10% of women have a family history of breast cancer – and that 5-10% is at a much higher risk than the general population. Nicole walks to make sure that Komen can continue this work and hopefully provide a brighter health future for her children and cousins who are at such an increased risk for the disease.
“I saw an on TV and I thought holy cow – my daughter, Alexa is the same as I was when my mom got cancer. And I’m the same age as my mom when she was diagnosed. And my sister is the same age as my mom when she died, and my daughter Victoria is the same age I was when my mother died. At that point I understood that I needed to get involved somehow. This is the year. I have to do this.” The 3-day event is more than just an awareness campaign or fundraiser – it is an enriching experience for the walkers as well. Participating in the walk involves months of training and a donation commitment of ,200 on top of their costs for getting to the event. Those who cannot raise this amount are unable to participate. A unique incentive for a charitable organization, it aims to motivate walkers to raise funds and awareness in their own communities for the chance to participate with others. And the commitment doesn’t end there.
“It’s such a personal challenge and commitment for each one of us to do this, to accomplish this, to walk for three days,” says Sandy. “I’m 56 and very active, but 20 miles a day? On pavement in Chicago in August? I know that the adrenaline will get me through the first day, but waking up the second day and having to do it again, and the third... that’s really going to take motivation and commitment for the cause.” The 3-Day website describes the accommodations as “cozy little two person tents,” but there is no mistaking the tough course in store for these fundraisers.
“We’re going a long way to walk a long way,” says Nicole. “And we’re sleeping in tents. It’s not like we get to stay in a hotel with a sleep number.” Walkers hope that by showing their own willingness to commit so much of themselves to raising awareness, that it will inspire others to give to the foundation. Some of the participants are walking for the camaraderie and a good cause, but most have been touched by the Komen Foundation through friends or family, or are working through their own struggles with the disease.
“My involvement was more when I got into my twenties,” says Nicole. “One of my doctors told me there was a connection between ovarian cancer and breast cancer. At the time I was not married, as single as single could be, and she told me that I should consider having children really soon and then a full hysterectomy and total mastectomy afterwards. 23 years old! But some people do – if they have tested positive for the gene.”
“Breast cancer can affect any woman, anywhere of any age. And I have still had doctors that said to me, ‘No, no. You got bad information; you’re too young to be worried about this.’ This is what my mom was told! It’s just a cyst and she was too young to get cancer. 6 months later she had a mastectomy, but it had already spread to her lymph nodes by then. Now I have a doctor who is super aggressive and knows my history. I have cysts and I am 33 years old. Most women haven’t had a mammogram yet and I’ve had two and two ultrasounds as well.”
Much research is being done on how to track family histories and discover what other factors contribute to the disease, and what women can do to weaken their risk factors through prevention and early detection while researchers hunt for a cure. Nicole’s family relies on the Komen Foundation to give them hope and help. Since 2003, Komen’s Breast Cancer 3-Day has raised over 0 million for research and awareness, and more than 70% of the donations go directly to research or to beneficiaries in the form of grants and education - exceeding the Wise Giving Standards of the Better Business Bureau. “I just found that Komen was where so much of this money was coming from. It’s huge – they are the number one funder of breast cancer research, prevention and awareness services that there is.”
If you would like to help Nicole and Sandy reach their goal, you can donate to them directly through the Komen Foundation’s website at http://08.the3day.org/site/TR - search for “Sharon’s Girls”. Or contact Nicole directly by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 303-582-3085 for information on other ways to donate. Between the three of them, they still have to raise a little over K to reach their goal. “I don’t know that there’s ever enough we can do,” says Nicole, “but I think Komen is the best effort out there.”
Transportation Article 3/21/08
Transportation Updates on April 1st BOCC Agenda
On Tuesday, April 1st, the Board of County Commissioners will hear final recommendations from LSC Transportation Consultants, Inc. on Gilpin County Public Transit options. LSC was contracted for ,000 (K in Federal funds matching K in County funding) to produce the study, which analyzed options for providing transit services for Gilpin County beyond those already offered by the Gilpin Connector Service. Gilpin County currently pays about 0K per year to the Black Hawk Transit Authority for extending their bus service into the county as far as the Community Center (remaining costs of approximately 0K are paid through public funding sources.)
According to the Feasibility Study released by LSC, Inc., four options for extended public transit services are available to Gilpin County, using estimates of ridership based on data from the BHTA ridership and their own surveys. Different routes could serve stops in Nederland, Idaho Springs and the Park-n-Ride Lot in Golden. These options range in cost from 4, 410 at an average cost of .46 per passenger, to 7, 056 at an average cost of .63 per passenger. Another option provides “Demand Response” services directly to rider residences, at an average cost of .13 per passenger. All of the service options are provided free to all residents. Depending on the services offered, up to 50% of operating and set up costs can be funded with federal transportation dollars.
Surveys were distributed to approximately 2000 county residents via the Gilpin County newsletter. Of these 150 were returned and 47 of were deemed “usable” by the study group, but the LSC report reminded readers that this was not to be considered a “representative sample” of Gilpin residents and only reflected the needs and concerns of those who returned the questionnaire.
At a recent community meeting on this proposal, held at the Gilpin County Library on March 18th, Commissioners Forrest Whitman and Jeanne Nicholson met with 7 county residents to hear a presentation from LSC, Inc. and ask questions about the project. Along with suggestions on which service option was best, concerns were raised about the lack of need for the service, preserving the rural character of the county and whether the project was being pursued simply to obtain federal dollars.
“It’s impossible to measure this stuff, but they estimate that for every dollar that is spent on public transit, three dollars of benefit is returned to the community,” stated the LSC representative. He did not state who “they” were. A resident offered that benefits to the community would include decreased traffic and pollution, adding to the rural character of the landscape, and that those outside of the county may be encouraged to use county businesses along the bus route. Also mentioned were increased use of other subsidized county services such as the Library and the Community Center and needed transportation for those who drink too much at local taverns and would otherwise drive on our highways while intoxicated.
One resident objected that providing public transportation to so few residents in a rural area was not the proper role for government, but was reminded that government also provides many services that the resident does use, such as roads and the Sheriff’s Department. Doris Beaver, Democratic candidate for commissioner in district 3, objected strongly to the proposal stating, “I just feel like you are going to shove this down our throats without proper planning like you do with everything else,” and reiterated that the transit proposal is a city service which doesn’t belong in a rural community. Still, three residents were supportive of the plan, hoping for either increased business from the service or to connect with the RTD service to Boulder from Nederland. Forrest Whitman also added that a bus service to our Library, Community Center and grocery stops would increase a sense of community among Gilpin residents.
The Board of County Commissioners is open to the public and meets at the Courthouse at 230 Eureka in Central City, on Tuesday April 1st at 9 am, and will have an open period at the end of the meeting to hear public concerns regarding this or any other county issues.
April Fool's Day Edition - Front Page
This article appeared on the fake front page of the April Fool's issue, accompanied by a photo of my husband running through the woods in Yeti pose.
Sasquatch Sighting Challenges Government Agencies-
Community at odds over funding exemptions
Hikers in Arapahoe National Forest on Sunday snapped a lousy photo of an unidentified humanoid traveling east into Missouri Lakes 3. The photo was leaked through email and has community groups blocking federal grants for growth and fire protection projects.
While marking reserve trees prior to patch-cutting in Rollinsville, 11 miles from the sighting, Forest Service workers were ambushed by a approximately 11 protesters carrying signs and wearing gorilla masks, yelling “Don’t mow the Yeti home” and “Stop Killing the Sasquatch”.
“I don’t think it’s a coincidence,” said a Forest worker. “11 people. 11 miles. It just seems to me that the more people are screaming about something, the further away they are from what they are screaming about.” The group continued to harass the workers and eventually stole their plastic markers, which they used to tie themselves to Lodgepole Pines, which made the Forest Service workers laugh very, very hard. The protesters eventually got bored and left. The Register-Call was on the scene in time to capture a license plate number and search on the vehicle’s owner turned up a website for a Nederland group called IDLER, Instigating Disturbing and Loud Empathic Responses, which aims to create disturbances on behalf of those who don’t know enough to be bothered by whatever is bothering the group members.
The sighting continued to disrupt community services as the Gilpin County BOCC found it’s transportation grants for free bus services denied due to an injunction filed by the community group DIORAMA, Determined Individuals Opposing Rural Adjustment to Modern Amenities, who work to help rural communities, whether they want it or not, oppose business and infrastructure improvements for any reason whatsoever. “The possibility of changing the community in any way was bad enough,” said a DIORAMA representative, “but the numbers of people travelling to Gilpin to look for Sasquatch will cause the National Forest to be used by people instead of being preserved in its original uninhabited and unused state. The entire character of the land will be undermined, not to mention the added safety hazard of city folks crossing 119 without traffic signal assistance. We’re looking at a slaughter of amazing proportions.”
The Gilpin County BOCC then found its third hand tied when a separate group, FURRY, Foundation for Upholding Rights for Rural Yetis, blocked another federal grant to pay for a study on the Pine Beetle, stating that CU Extension students could potentially scare the Yetis and that the study could lead to destructive fire mitigation proposals. “This study added to the million other studies done would provide proof that Beetles do exist and could lead to federal funding being used to disrupt the Yeti habitat. We can’t let this happen.”
An insider at the BOCC offices spoke with the Register-Call on condition of anonymity and joining them for lunch at the Century Casino on the county credit card, claimed as a “Press Appreciation Luncheon”. The insider told the Register-Call that the entire commission was frantic, and for good reason.
“The BOCC can’t get a 2/3 match from the Federal government to pay for a full-time Pine Beetle Whisperer without first getting the study. Without federal funding to offset the cost of the study, and without federal funding to offset the cost of the both the whisperer and the bus service, the BOCC would have to find a way to pay for these services directly on our limited funds, and justify the money already spent on the studies, and also have to justify the need for it to the community. Without federal funding for all these projects, they can’t do them, and render the studies and themselves mostly useless - actual useful and required BOCC activities would amount to two part time positions and then they couldn’t claim the mileage for going back and forth from the Apex building to the courthouse. It’s a tragedy.”
The Register-Call asked if another Tequila Sunrise was in the lunch budget to a very positive response. “Go for it. These cards won’t last much longer,” said the soon to be fired insider.
In an attempt to rectify the situation, the BOCC hired a private investigator to locate the photo which caused all the trouble and found that the photo was of Missouri Lakes 3 resident Jeffrey Northrup, running frantically from the dog-walking yuppies who were pointing at him and saying “Oh My God!” over and over. “I don’t know, “said Jeff, “maybe they’d never seen a real mountain man out drinkin’ in the woods before, but they were pointing and yelling and ringing bells. It just freaked me out, so I ran but they followed me.” In an unusual show of empathy for dumb tourists, he added, “Good thing I wasn’t a bear.”
“My husband is not a Yeti, “said Mrs. Northrup, “but I can’t say I’m sorry about any of this, except that he dropped the growler on the deck when he got back. I didn’t get any of Dostal’s fine Pub Ale and that’s just wrong. I’m thinking about a civil liberties lawsuit.”
The Register-Call was unable to contact Sheriff Bruce Hartman or District Attorney Scott Storey, even when they were standing in front of us at a symposium called “Justifying Law Enforcement when Laws Don’t Mean Anything Anymore”. When we attempted to ask them of this possible case, they stuck their fingers in their ears and said, in unison, “LALALALALA I can’t hear you.”
“On the upside,” noted Mrs. Northrup, “I was able to copyright and purchase a thousand copies of the photo through a federal “Women in Business” grant and we’ve made about 600 bucks so far selling them to Yeti Photo Archive organizations. Since I’ll spend half of that at Dostal and half at Roy’s, I think it’s a great community benefit.”
The Register-Call notified representatives from all of the community groups that the humanoid in the photo was actually a Gilpin resident. Only a representative from the FURRY group responded:
“Well, there still may be a Sasquatch out there. We don’t know what the loss of the Sasquatch could mean for our forests and communities. Maybe they are eating the Pine Beetles, you know? We are currently applying for federal funds to have a study completed by the Sasquatch Research Council and if they find anything, we will be securing any funding we can to protect that habitat.”
The Register-Call is still attempting to get the full story directly from a County Commissioner, hopefully over lunch.
Community Rules 3/27/08
Michael Moore called it “Addiction to the Fed Bread” when he exposed Newt Gingrich, so-called champion of cutting government spending, as being voted in by a county who is third in line for receipt of the most federal funds. As much as I hate to agree with Michael Moore, he called it right – a “do what I say, not what I do” attitude toward government spending touted by the Republican establishment. The Fed Bread addiction is hurting communities across the country and Gilpin is not exempt from this scourge. The Gilpin School Board will be looking to the legislature for funding sources because the school is 0,000 (!) dollars over budget for next year, despite a decrease in the student population, and will also be looking to override mil levy limits in order to ask for more taxpayer funding. Most county services receive some sort of state or federal funding – Water Conservation Boards, Biomass, Human Services... If taxpayers were asked to pony up the full cost for these programs, would they be so disinterested in the process and as eager to shuck out cash for services that can only exist by virtue of heavy subsidy? Hardly. Most people just are not that foolish with their own money.
The real cost of these services is rationalized away by our officials in a public example of serious addictive behavior. At a recent information meeting on the feasibility of public transit in Gilpin, I objected to this greedy pursuit of federal funding. “Well, this is one way we can get those tax dollars back into the community,“ advised a commissioner. The problem with this assessment is that it’s not our tax dollars we’re “getting back”, even though this is the overriding logic for pimping the county to the Federal Grant john. "100% of what is collected is absorbed solely by interest on the Federal Debt ... all individual income tax revenues are gone before one nickel is spent on the services taxpayers expect from government." That quote is from the Grace Commission Report to the Reagan Administration in 1984 (You can read the text of the actual report here: http://www.uhuh.com/taxstuff/gracecom.htm) and it’s only gotten worse since then. What this means is that every single dime of federal funding for internal social programs and other government functions comes from loans made by China, Saudi Arabia and private international banks. It’s easy to take this money without thinking about paying it back, since the actual debtors who pay the price for this largess will not be us, but our grandchildren. So maybe they’re right – who cares? Snap up the dough while you can, because when it’s gone it will be the taxpayer left to pick up the tab for all these “free” services. Good luck with that, and may your grandchildren forgive you.
This process of "getting our money back" fuels a parasitic industry of consultants, analysts and experts who make a living convincing communities to sign up for federal programs that wouldn't have a ghost of a chance of surviving in the wild. Most of these programs are geared towards creating and subsidizing the suburban landscape. They fuel the trend to homogenize America so there is no difference from community to community. Gilpin County is unique but the system of federal influence in local government is eroding our charm.
While the absurdity of this system unnerves me, it is not my major concern with the “free” bus service proposal offered by our commissioners. I live in Gilpin County because I love the rural lifestyle. I like independent people who take care of themselves and their community instead of relying on government services and handouts, who enjoy giving generously for community services when asked, when they see a need or benefit. I lived in cities when I was younger for the convenience and availability of jobs and places to live, and the opportunities to get back and forth between the two. Now, I'd rather enjoy the benefits of a community that does not depend on the collective for its survival. Both lifestyles have advantages and disadvantages, but we give those benefits up when we try to combine the two.
There is no way around the fact that having a city service in a rural community will change the character of Gilpin from rural to suburban, when those who are city service dependent will be able to live here on the county transit dime. This sort of service encourages people who normally could not afford to live here to make backward economic decisions about where they live. There is a cost and a responsibility borne into rural life and by eliminating that cost we also eliminate the incentive for individuals living here to be self reliant. There is no incentive for community members to help their neighbor get around, to give them a ride if their car breaks down or if they need assistance getting to a doctor appointment. Being serviced by the County Fed Bread instead gives individuals a sense of entitlement to government services, and absolves others in the community from responsibility to their fellows. Dependence on the Fed Bread not only robs the community of its independence, it robs citizens of their ability to be virtuous by providing help. Everyone loses.
Well, it’s been nice chatting with you, Gilpin, but not very productive. I think that there will be a lot more impact if I express myself where it counts, at the Courthouse, second floor, on April 1st at 9am to tell the BOCC exactly what I think of their little transit proposal and the funds that will pay for it. If you agree with me and want to support an independent, rural community character rather than a dependent suburban one, please join me and show the BOCC what the word “community” really means.
My Public Comment at the Board of County Commissioner Meeting
So much political effort is spent on criticizing Washington for its spending excesses, while little time is spent looking at the role individual citizens and local government play in that problem. The Federal Funding machine requires the actions of many cogs to make it run – and those cogs, always looking out for their own best interests, know not what they do to chain our citizens to this downward spiral of debt. I have come to the conclusion that screaming at Washington does nothing to address where this pattern of dependency begins and ends - right here in our local communities.
Local governments and representatives are given credit and praise for bringing federal dollars into our communities. They actively seek out federal programs they can apply for, without regard for where the funding originates or what future liabilities are chained to those funds. We are then led to spend our own tax dollars on unnecessary studies and programs in order to qualify for federal grants which, if the community were asked to pay for their real cost, would flatly refuse to accept. Real people are never as foolish with their own money as government bureaucrats are with federal dollars.
The justification for this pursuit of federal funding is to “get back our tax money” that is paid to the IRS but this logic is misleading at best and an outright lie at worst. Every penny of tax paid to the Federal Government is eaten up by interest on our national debt; not one nickel is spent on local communities. Funding for federal programs comes only from loans made to us by China, Saudi Arabia and private international banks. These funds must first be filtered through a maze of federal departments, studies, experts and analysts before the remaining trickle is actually spent on citizens – but it is the citizens who will pay the full interest and consequence of those loans. The waste of county dollars on these services could have easily provided small business loans to someone wanting to start a grocery or bus service in our little county... if only the government regulations and paperwork were not so prohibitive to small enterprise and self sufficiency.
Here in Gilpin, the Board of County Commissioners has gladly joined in this racket and the results are clear. When “free” services, such as the Gilpin Connector arrive they are accompanied by the friendly reminder that these services are “a gift from the BOCC”, showing that the Board has become completely divorced from whose pocket those gifts are paid from. In reality, these “free” services are an unwitting gift from the community to the BOCC, so that you may feel useful and productive, and justified in your pursuit of money that doesn’t belong to you. These programs are not gifts from you. These funds come out of the pockets of citizens, many of whom are being born right now into thousand in national debt a piece, and double for their children yet to come. It is on behalf of those future citizens that I’m begging you to tackle this problem and “just say no” to the Fed Bread addiction.
Government money is not free and when the BOCC or their subsidized experts tout that the real cost to the community for any service is “only 50%” it is a lie. That is the perceived cost, the spin. The real cost includes everything the community forks over to the government for this circus, including the horrible indebtedness we leave to future generations. As far as I’m concerned, the buck stops here. This system is irresponsible and immoral, creating a climate of greed in our local governments, who then pimp their funding successes to the community as some kind of gift. All these gifts accomplish is to chain our communities to the federal cash cow at our own expense. The current transit proposal is a prime example of how this system tricks the community into sacrificing its independence. The result of this boondoggle is a unique rural community turned into just another suburb, and further dependence on the federal government until we can’t live without their largess. Please, let the costly and poisonous central planning buck stop here.
You have been unaccountable so far due to ignorance of the part you play or the indifference of the community toward the workings of government – consider it a pass, and now it’s time to step up.
Do not tolerate misuse and abuse of county funds, even on the most mundane items. Most of the credit cards should be scrapped in favor of good old purchase orders with limited cards available only for pre-approved expenses. This is inconvenient, but provides better financial accountability to the public and reigns in unnecessary and frivolous spending.
Encourage community participation in government so that the citizens have the chance to tell you how they feel about a service before you go off to study it. The county money spent on the transit study alone could have paid members of our own community over 3 dollars per questionnaire to go door to door and ask citizens directly for their views not only on transit but on other issues as well, making it far more valuable and keeping those funds in the county instead of furthering the so-called expert racket at our expense. Change commissioner meetings to evenings so that those who work for a living can participate more often and prevent this sort of excess.
Before spending a dime on another service, ask if that money can be instead sent back to citizens as direct tax benefits. Increased income to citizens will enable them to improve their lives immediately rather than waiting for the BOCC to do it for them. Perhaps the small community of residents who truly need help with transportation could be better served by those who will then have the additional time and resources to simply help them. More money in the hands of citizens creates productivity, prosperity and enables charitable giving. If you want to enrich the community, put money in the hands of citizens and they’ll do it themselves.
I’ve heard it said that any system of government works if people are moral and none will work if people are immoral. This being somewhat true, I’ll take the kind of government that gives the least amount of advantage to immoral people and the most to the moral ones. That is a republican form of government, our form, and that form and principle state that by taking from the many to give to the few and participating in the federal schemes to do the same, you have overstepped your role. You may do this because you are well-intended and truly think you know what is best for others, but that is no justification for using federal force to pick my pocket, and by doing so you reject the very reason for our country’s being – respect for individual liberty.
Take the high road, BOCC – just say no to the Fed Bread addiction and yes to an independent, creative and productive rural Gilpin.
Community Rules 4/2/08
My first regret upon arriving at the Community Center for the senior luncheon was that I had saved no room for lunch. Eating “senior program food” with my dad a while back, I decided that getting old was going to be awful, just awful, but here the soup was colorful and smelled great, followed by an enormous and delicious looking egg sandwich and fruit, and chips and crackers, followed by ice cream. All I had room for was coffee, which was very good. Lesson learned – Gilpin seniors get great lunch.
This luncheon was extra special for the attendance of Lynn and Char Britten, also known as the “Stick Man” and “Stick Chick” of Caring Canes. Lynn and Char work to bring beautiful handmade wooden canes to whoever wants one. I was there to document this wonderful effort and see how our Gilpin seniors liked the canes, not expecting to come away with one myself. “You have to leave here with a cane,” Char informed me, “because we won’t be around when you fall and sprain your ankle.” And so I have a beautiful walnut cane, cut to perfect height on the spot by Lynn. The gift they offer reaches far beyond those who actually receive the cane.
“There is a charge for the canes. Each cane takes 7 hours of our kindness to make, so we ask that you in turn give 7 hours of kindness to others,” said Lynn, who then gave handy tips on keeping your cane in good shape, how to use it correctly and even how to get out of a soft sofa with it. What Lynn and Char are doing is right up my alley. I am saddened by the amount of dependence people have on government for improving their communities, and the only way to deal with that is to encourage individuals to be active in improving their world on their own. The Brittens are a shining example of how an individual (you!) or two or a group can make an enormous impact on quality of life for people with benefits that far outweigh those that any government can provide.
I’m going to get old someday, and while I may be able to prepare for my financial future, it’s hard to plan for things like having capable and willing friends to help, or having access to social environments or community involvement. While government may provide things like food, healthcare or transportation, they can’t make the seniors (us!) feel part of the community – only we, the community can do that. Glowing praise was given for Mary Ellen Makosky, Senior Services Coordinator. “If you need anything she is right there,” said one senior. The one thing that our senior population needs from us that government can’t give is care. Mary cares about all of us in this way – not just the seniors who are now part of the program, but those of us who are going to be very glad one day for yummy pie brought by the Gilpin Homeschoolers, or canes brought by caring friends.
It would be nice if families still saw care of elders as a responsibility, or if the community as a whole did. Few do anymore on either count and here in Gilpin I think government can be a useful tool for the community to care for seniors, and therefore ourselves. The way I see it, we all get old – and that means care for the old folks is really the “general welfare”, not just a single demographic. Commissioner Jeanne Nicholson is looking into Gilpin’s choices for providing assisted living or other home care services for our aging population so that they (we!) can stay in our home community as long as possible. This is the “general welfare” role for government to pursue – while the Commission works on their part, we should be working on ours.
When families and friends stayed close, one could keep their home and independence much longer with their help, but social and cultural changes have disrupted this give and take between older and younger generations. The loss of this exchange not only puts the elderly in a compromised position, it harms the well-being of younger and future generations as well. By caring for those who paved our way, we benefit from their experiences and plant the possibility that someone younger will do the same for us. And now that I have seven hours of kindness to give, I know exactly who should receive them. I hope others can find some time to share their own kindness with our seniors. Contact Mary Ellen at( 303) 582-5444 or email@example.com for information on volunteer opportunities – or to RSVP for a wonderful lunch!