GUEST COMMENTARY
The 40th Annual Telluride Reunion Is Celebrated This Weekend
by Terry Tice, Susie St. Onge, Salli Russell, Jim Lincoln, of the Reunion 40 Organizing Committee
Sep 27, 2012 | 1284 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print

The early 1970s in Telluride were heady times.  The Idarado mines were still in operation, employing hundreds of miners.  Ore trucks and buses carrying the workmen made daily passes through town. Plans were well underway by Joe Zoline for the development of the Telluride Ski Area. Lifts would eventually start running in December 1972.  From across the country, young people who’d somehow glimpsed or caught word of the potential for this mountain valley enclave began arriving to settle in, start businesses, restore buildings and raise their families in a peaceful mountain lifestyle sheltered from the strife of the civil rights movement and the conflict surrounding the still raging Vietnam war.  

Here, those youngsters envisioned, was a place to help reenergize and nurture a different kind of community, and they set about to do just that.

Telluride in those days was essentially a museum piece that had been stuck on a back shelf, forgotten and allowed to gather dust.  The location was remote, far from major population centers – it was hard to get here. Many buildings and houses were abandoned or tumbled down.  Yet the historic character of the place shone through.  With urging, steps were taken back then to have the town placed on the National Historic Register in hopes of protecting the heritage that was so evident.

A few folks kept summer places even then, but the full time residents, the oldtimers of that day, were a mixed bunch.  Some were most welcoming of the new arrivals and interested in ideas for shaping the future.  But others thought little of the transition to becoming a resort town that was before them.

Opinions varied widely on just what course to set.  A segment of the residents resented the hippies (all newcomers were “hippies”) and the alternative approach to living their lives they embraced.  Their ideas concerning community development were too restrictive in the free West.  It became clear that without a political base, promoting more progressive community concepts would be difficult.   

In late 1973, a concerted effort was undertaken to organize the new residents and gain a political foothold.  In April of 1974, five of the seven seats on the Telluride Town Board, including the mayor’s, were taken by newcomers. That ushered in a new era. Resulting major changes involved: master-planning, zoning regulations, law- enforcement policies, historic and architectural review, water and sewer infrastructure, ski-lift access, community radio, transportation planning, school revitalization, summer festivals, home rule, new tax revenues, park and trail development, support for the arts...and The Halloween Party.  In short, the foundations that set Telluride on its way to becoming a vibrant community and securing an identity as a unique place on the American landscape were initially implemented during the 70s.

Few who were living in Telluride in those days would deny the magic of the amazing convergence of personalities, energy and vision that came together during that decade.  Now 40 years forward, it is in celebration of what was accomplished, the fabulous friendships formed and the enduring, compassionate and creative community established that the survivors of the 70s will gather in reunion during the September 28 weekend.  

If you lived it, join in.  As you share hugs, include a pat on the back as well.  You made a difference.  Be proud you took part.  It WAS as special time.

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