All of us here in Ouray County have one thing in common…we love living here. We love this land right beneath our feet, the almost unimaginable beauty we confront each day, the rare air, these truly majestic mountains, the broad, bold valleys with breathtaking backdrops in every direction.
And we have such freedom...to roam and explore this place we call home, to be “out in it” whenever we want and sometimes when we don’t want. I’m thinking of the ranchers here – out in the early morning (year-round) breaking ice on the stock tanks loading the hay, feeding the cows, going out midday (sometimes in a snowstorm) checking calves, and other things.
I grew up on a ranch on the backside of Pike’s Peak. Things have changed there a lot as well. I simply want to say we are not the only community or valley in Colorado that has been trying to catch up to it’s future for a long time. And at times the change is overwhelming.
We here in Ouray County are a mix of newcomers, oldtimers going back several generations (with a very unique view and tie to the land which is to be respected in many ways), ranchers, miners, teachers, business-owners, retired folks, realtors, recreationalists, geologists, engineers, artists, parents…the list goes on.
The hearings we had on VIR were nothing less than awesome. This is just what we need to be doing. What luck to live in the United States of America, where we can do it! Where we are free to debate amongst ourselves as free people – to work towards the best possible solutions for our county on this very important issue of Visual Impact. Ultimately, it takes listening to one another, giving and taking, looking over all the possibilities, putting our collective hearts and minds together.
As the hearings moved on, I could see myself on both sides of the “fence,” so to speak. I thought to myself that each of us has to ”change” with the “change.” No one has all the answers. We all have to compromise.
I admire those who have put so much time and energy into knowing as much as possible about this issue and making this process so open to all of us. It is an imposing task to listen to all sides. What responsibility the commissioners have…to “respond” to the best of their “ability.”
For many of us, the real way to define the future is simply by going forth and retaining respect for one another, for our multiple views, for our county, our elected officials, and for our communities. This will entail finding a good compromise.
The future will also be defined by keeping in mind how much we have in common, how much we all love this place, and knowing that cooperatively we can uncover what are the best solutions to the county VIR.
– Jan van West