Sunday, May 26, 2013

Why We Left Manitou Springs, Colorado

     Manitou Springs, Colorado is a beautiful place.  I have called it home for ten years, and I have lived in the immediate vicinity for the majority of my life.  That said, I have watched my home slowly disappear.  The majority of the population is wonderful:  it is truly a community in a world where that is rapidly becoming a thing of the past.  Unfortunately for Manitou, there is an extremely small but influential cadre of moneyed interests that would like to replace the community with a resort.

     The money is winning.  There have been a series of grand improvements to the city infrastructure that are not designed for the current population.  There have simultaneously been a series of legislative actions taken to criminalize the very things that define community - shared public spaces and the right to peaceably assemble.

     I have heard personally from anonymous, well placed individuals that the name of the game is to clear out the hippies to make way for the Cliff House expansion.  I have heard from the same source that this is explicitly talked about behind closed doors by members of the city government.

     I was a regular attendee of the Soda Springs Park Safety Task Force, and at the point when Matt Carpenter said, "Walking your dog doesn't exactly constitute use of the park, now does it?"  I knew I had to leave.  The issue at hand was how to create an ordinance that could be used against certain people and be freely violated by others.  They had no shame because no records were kept.

     For the record, I am far from a hippie, and the issue for me is not one of personal persecution but one of social justice.  It is not right for a the government of a city that is predominantly low to lower middle income to attempt to criminalize poverty.

    And with that being the core focus of a few members of City Council, I make my leave.  I hope that the city can find a sense of equilibrium, but I know all too well that it will not.  Goodbye, my home.  Goodbye my friends.  Goodbye mountains and springs, trails, deer and squirrels.

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