Vail Daily column: A dream for the Edwards rest area | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily column: A dream for the Edwards rest area

Dreams are the fuel of everyday existence. I speak not of the nightly parade of electrochemical illusions that tantalize our waking selves, but of those tightly held goals that push us to strive for more. For many, residence in this captivating locale is the realization of a long-harbored dream. Yet once one becomes accustomed to waking up in a winter wonderland, there must be another dream after which to pine. Despite a life of contentment and excitement, many dreams still populate my mind space. The most starkly rendered is my vision of an international center for conflict resolution replacing the eyesore that is the Edwards Rest Area.

As you arrive into Edwards, your eyes will be drawn not to tractor-trailers, but to a glowing beacon: the Edwards Rotary Center for Conflict Resolution. (This is merely a working title reflecting my love for Rotary and its dedication to peace, so if any person or group out there is looking to invest in a worthy endeavor, I am more than happy to put your name on the still-imaginary door). A strikingly modern building, it will nonetheless look in concert with its environment and will be built according to strict sustainability principles. Its interior will be segmented, but with enough open space to stimulate the flow of people and ideas. To conserve resources, the grounds will be xeriscaped. The architecture will complement the Center’s physical neighbor and spiritual cousin: the local campus of Colorado Mountain College. Having these two institutions within walking distance will exponentially legitimize Edwards as an epicenter for education.

Social, Intellectual Hub

The Center is to be a social and intellectual hub of the local community, with programming and amenities making it an attractive destination in its own right for international political, economic, legal and spiritual leaders. The Center will both import and export content, serving as a clearinghouse for the most cutting-edge conflict resolution theory and practice. My dream is to make the Center internationally synonymous with the highest standards for ground-breaking thought and action regarding the promotion of peace and the resolution of disputes of all levels, from the quotidian to the seemingly intractable. What the Aspen Institute is to leadership and policy studies, the Center will be to conflict resolution.

A Place that ‘Gets it’

The small but productive staff of the Center will coordinate and manage the cadre of resident and visiting experts serving as the main draws for speaking engagements and coursework on conflict resolution. They may also opine on other topics germane to the Center and to the Vail Valley. These renowned practitioners and thinkers will have their lectures and writing inspired by the surrounding natural and human resources. Mediators from across the state and world will come to conduct paid and volunteer mediations under the Center’s roof. The mediators and disputing parties will operate at the Center secure in the knowledge that this is a place that “gets it.” Schoolchildren will learn the skills necessary to meaningfully and peacefully interact with others. Indeed, the next generation of conflict resolution professionals will be incubated in the cozy confines of the Center.

Readily Accessible to Public

Though aligned with a specific cause and perhaps affiliated with an international organization, the Center and its facilities will be readily accessible to the public. A massive theater will host both speakers and community events. The Center’s conference room will be adaptable to multiple purposes, including the hosting of mediations and smaller meetings of local organizations (including, potentially, the Edwards Rotary Club). Smaller break-out rooms can be used for mediation caucuses or gatherings of a more intimate nature. The library/technology center will be a place for quiet reflection and for connecting to the larger world of people and ideas. The mind and body being inextricably linked, the Center will have yoga and meditation studios meant to promote physical, emotional and psychological health. This mission will be bolstered by an on-campus cafe, juice bar and food hall serving nutritious victuals commensurate with the evolved spirit of the Center.

New Jewel of the Valley

This dream displaces the existing facility, which I posit is not the highest and best use of the land. While I understand that truck drivers and other users of Interstate 70 must have a place to take a break, it need not be located at the entrance to the charming and vibrant Edwards community. Instead, it is the perfect setting for a new jewel of the valley. The Center will enrich minds, but also will diversify business away from a pure resort model, a move that has already been positive for our burgeoning medical and technology industries.

Mediation is the future of the legal industry and the Vail Valley should be at the vanguard of that movement. The Center will be a physical manifestation of our community’s rightful place at the forefront. It is a dream dancing on the precipice of reality.

T.J. Voboril is a partner at Reynolds, Kalamaya & Voboril LLC, a local law firm, and the owner and mediator at Voice Of Reason Dispute Resolution. For more information, contact Voboril at 970-306-6456, tj@rkvlaw.com or visit http://www.rkvlaw.com.