I was at a barbecue recently, in the cohousing community off of Wahsatch, with a bunch of Colorado College graduates, eating kale fresh from the garden- if that doesn’t sound like a liberal mad libs to you I don’t know what will. Here’s the interesting thing- this all took place in Colorado Springs, the 4th most conservative city in the nation. In such a politically fraught time it can be easy to point fingers, stereotype, and otherwise alienate ourselves from people who we deem ‘other’. As an east-coast ‘liberal’ it is almost second nature to write the Springs off as backwards for being ‘conservative’ and simply use it as a backdrop while I am at Colorado College. It was one of my goals to not do this- to really invest in this community where I will pass some of the most dynamic, exciting years of my life.
During my time at Palmer Land Trust my favorite thing has become meeting people who otherwise I would not have had the opportunity to. This doesn’t stop when I leave the office- a lot of people around the Springs know what PLT is and does and my fellowship has served as a conduit for larger conversations about the physical, social, and political future of Colorado Springs. When I meet people who have been in the Springs for a while they always express their love a gratitude for the land- be it their favorite trail or park, or the front range looming over the city.
Through this fellowship I have gained an appreciation for the nuances of the political spectrum. Conservation tends to be labeled as a ‘liberal cause’ when, in reality, open spaces and a deep-seeded love for the land transcend party lines and political boundaries. I see the land, especially in Colorado, as the great equalizer. I may never be able to afford a house on the Mesa, but I can always afford a view of Pike’s Peak, or a hike in Woodland Park because the land is our greatest communal resource- available to everyone, regardless of race, creed, sex, or political affiliation.