Character 52 weeks a year
As I said in an earlier column, this has been the month of the 50-yard walk. This year’s offseason has brought us plenty of that oh-so-necessary moisture (aka sleet, snow and rain), and sunny days were few and far between. During that time, when the tourists were away, we turned our editorial focus toward the people who have made this valley what it is today. We made the 50-yard walk up our streets, knocked on some doors, and made plenty of new friends.From our point of view this has been an excellent month. We got to know Packy Walker, Kent and Rayma Rose, Paul and Sally Johnston, and Bud and Margie Gates not to mention all their friends and family who contributed to the stories. Not only did we get to know some pretty incredible people, but we also feel we’ve helped bring neighbors together, and left a permanent record for future generations to read and see.Although High Country Character Month is coming to a close, the High Country Character series will continue, as it has for over a year now, on the pages of our paper. You can find our High Country Character page right next to the very popular Pages from the Past section on our final pages.If you know someone who would make an interesting subject for our “HCC” section, let us know: Write Caramie Schnell at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call us up at (970) 748-0049.There were common threads that ran through our interviews, common themes that came up again and again as we wrote about the people of this valley. First among these is a great respect for our mountains. Everyone we spoke with felt a strong connection to the land, and spoke of it as if it were a singular, vibrant, living thing which deserves attention, caring, and admiration. It seems, in the end, that the quality of our surroundings are still the primary reason people have come here to live and also chosen to stay.We also were able to discuss faith and religion, normally taboo for journalists in this day and age. Several of our HCC subjects put their faith in God highest in their minds and souls, and it was refreshing to be able to bring this idea into the public forum. No one we spoke with was a zealot in their beliefs, none a bigot but, instead, we found people who had borrowed the strength of faith to persevere through difficult times, and quietly revealed the Higher Power as critical to their life.Growth, too, was always discussed. Some people were open about their dislike of “new Vail” ethics which have come into the valley. We heard time and again that too many people come to this valley to escape the city, only to bring their city life with them. The Wal-Mart and Home Depot, it seems, are the most-often referenced symbols of this urban infiltration.Yet there were also many comments about the quality of life here in town, and how growth has helped in that regard. The people at Bravo! should be very proud their programming was mentioned again and again as one of the unquestionably wonderful byproducts of our valley’s growth. The Vilar Center, the New York Philharmonic, the Ford Amphitheater, Betty Ford Gardens, and Vail Library were among the many things which people of this town see as excellent progress.There was also mention of the current “negativity” prevailing in the valley these days. Our interview subjects collectively felt that public discussions are full of vitriol and spite, and, as one subject said, “People take themselves too seriously these days.” The Vail Daily, particularly Tipsline, seemed to be the most often-cited example of this.All I can say is I hope the past month of Vail Trail cover stories has helped smother some of the negativity in the valley. Pages from the Past and High Country Characters are segments of our paper which are designed to combat negativity and spite. By showing everyone our human side, we intend the good news in the back of our paper to balance out the more jaded, sometimes brutal news displayed in our Top 5 News Stories of the Week. While Top 5 headlines keep us grounded, and aware of some of the valley’s tougher issues, the finishing flavor of our publication is meant to remind us that behind each headline, behind every story, are human beings probably your neighbors. VTReach Tom Boyd at email@example.com.
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