McDaniel:Bluegrass Invasion Inspires Secret Economic Plan for Just Us Locals | Word on the Street
by Douglas McDaniel
Jul 08, 2007 | 290 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Word on the street is the Bluegrass invasion is over, and this loosely wound interior village called Telluride is more forever changed than it could ever, by itself, change the big bad global village.

Now we can only attend the Horizontal Zoning Slash Main Street Vitality Festival for the remainder of the week and try to get our senses back.

As the citizens crash from the curious letdown of having this trampling upon the ground end as suddenly as it began, the early impressions fade even faster. Before the assault of an entirely different festival demographic overwhelms us with each passing weekend, it’s a good time to throw out a few ideas for downtown vitality for this urbanized weekend escapee alt-country crowd. What’s needed is cultural anthropology. Maybe then we could learn more about how when why how come main street doesn’t get the traffic even with the so-called “numbers.” Even with big, big so-called “numbers.”

Creative solutions are needed to better channelize this flood. But first, we need to get the information in.

For the Bluegrass Festival crowds, it’s really like studying the tides. They go one way, toward the festival in a hurry, at first, then drag themselves the other way with this lost, “now what” look as the day and night progresses.

So horizontal zoning is really a matter of answering the “now what” question better for these half-drunk, sun-stroked drifting sleepwalkers trying to figure that out.

A good grounding comes from a sense of scientific objectivity, which in this case means getting over the tendency by locals to avoid falling prey to a popular sense of general elitist loathing. You know, that protective feeling that these proceedings are driven by lowland criminal invaders sucking the very life out of the planet.

Why don’t we just admit it? Of course they are sucking the life out of the planet, but we love those numbers. They are not criminals at all. They are us. They are a throng of 10,000 mirrors of Telluride: All reflecting back upon us, and, where we came from.

Even a seemingly exquisite if expensive idea such as widening the sidewalk on the south side of  Colorado Avenue, which may be about a $2 million chunk of a $15 million bond package for civic improvements this fall, softens from the trampling. Perhaps a widening of the sidewalk will lesson a sense of the density (and therefore the overwhelming sense of our own excitement) as these “numbers” percolate about us – and amuse us.

But until all of that “altitude adjustment” business is settled deep down inside, little things can be done, little handy creative solutions, fully enforceable, that can be thrust upon the community at large.

This is a team effort, after all. Sacrifices need to be made.

Considering the large number of taco-shaped cowboy hats worn during the event from out-of-towners, it might be a good idea for local retailers to try to turn the tides on this style. The actual style of the headwear barely matters. We could create new demand by having the entire local citizenry wear a new style next year.

These hats would be “comped” to all locals, maybe through a direct mailing into all 81435 P.O. boxes, of course, and then after the end of the festival these new hats could be returned to the stores selling them.

If this seems like an expensive proposition, then this “monkey see, monkey do” sales approach could be merely be tried first with the mass-mailing of 1,500 “Funny Statement About Telluride Goes Here” T-shirts. If this funny statement shirt goes over well during the festival weekend – we should be able to tell if the funny statement is used more commonly in speech as the weekend progresses – then we could move to large, fancy hats the next festival.

I’m pulling for sombreros, myself. Think of the interesting issues and demand for new product that might create.

Next thing to notice: Hey! The free box was picked clean during bluegrass weekend. A number of times, while moving powerlessly through the current of crowds, I heard some people, fully satisfied for an hour that they had done everything else, decided it was time to go visit the free box. So the free box clearly needs to be awarded some kind of conservation easement, for the sake of downtown vitality.

And now we know: Free stuff works!

Probably the biggest and best idea I can offer, in terms of figuring out a way to resolve town coffers coughing from the demands of so many civic needs, is to tax cell phone use. One thing that was noticeable: Cell phone use decreased and conversation increased as the week went on. Maybe a lot of visiting cell phones just died from the lack of available juice. But there’s demand and supply there, as well as the seed of the aforementioned retail-boosting concept … phone plug-in booths! Cell phone waxing? Cell phone massage?

Maybe the new hats for the following season could include a Kevlar lining to thwart the bombardment of invisible cell phone waves caused by this underappreciated kind pollution. Maybe that pollution can be met with a mitigation formula in the town land use code where anybody who uses a cell phone could fund a new concept. Instead of affordable housing, we could fund “affordable retail.”

But before the entire horizontal zoning solution is forced upon the town to the point we suddenly have more vertical zoning than ever before, citizen behavior should be modified even more.

Take the cell phone issue, for example. It’s an urban plague, folks. Nobody in the cities talks to anyone around them in public places anymore. Just to their five friends on their cell phones. It’s society’s invisible isolating backyard fence.

So here’s the overview and master plan: Disney people, next year, hide your cell phones when tourists are in view.

And wear different hats.

Act natural.

“Do it” in the road, but scoop it up, too. Perhaps, as the weekend hippies drive away quickly, someone might be inspired by this act of environmental self-policing and then, just then, change behavior in the cities.

Be willing to answer questions, but when you are caught in the current of people going one way down the street when you need to go another, feel free to ask questions, create a “listening” effect.

Confess in the gondola and be very, very interesting.

Eccentric, even, without being too scary.

It’s your social responsibility as a lucky citizen of Telluride. You are one of the few. Think of yourself as a resident of some kind of post-hippie, pre-apocalyptic human heritage village, and you’ll be part of the downtown vitality solution, not part of the downtown vitality problem.

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