10 Pithy Observations About Boulder (Part One)

| Sep 23, 2009

women-at-rallysport

NOT TOO SHABBY. Life’s lookin’ good for two moms at a Boulder health club on a warm summer afternoon. (Boulder Reporter photo)

For my debut before a wider audience as a Huffington Post blogger, I shall now shamelessly cater to the taste of you Web denizens by compiling one of those “lists” that the traffic stats indicate you so dearly love. My list will be divided into two posts (5 Pithy Things each) for your bite-sized consumption.

Don’t take these lightly, because I’ve inhabited Boulder (with some interruptions) for 39 years. I have enough longevity to perhaps sense something of Boulder’s true nature, beneath the hackneyed cliches. This list is designed so actual Boulder residents reading it won’t say, “So what else is new?” but rather, perhaps, “Hmm, hadn’t thought about it that way.”

So here goes with Part One my list of “Boulder is…”. Shall we?

1. Alive with 20-something energy. While the overall demographic trend is toward a gradual aging of the Boulder population, there’s good news, too. The young people are back! There was a period when the 20-somethings were gravitating to where the jobs and their contemporaries were — places like Seattle, New York, San Francisco, Portland and Boston. But lately one sees that they’re back: chasing their Web 2.0 startups, hunched over computers in the coffee shops, and never mind (if you can) the high cost of living. To my slightly world-weary eyes, their cheeriness and tribal connectedness are very inspiring, and a far cry from the hangdog Gen-Xers who preceded them.

2. Techie…and heavy on the Apple. At places like the Boulder-Denver New Tech Meetup, there’s a Web startup behind every mirthful face. And, speaking of coffee shops, a stroll though Boulder’s will reveal that more often than not the Macs outnumber those virusy ol’ PCs. iPhone mania is also palpable; if people aren’t busily coding their own iPhone apps, they’re at least griping about dropped calls on the AT&T network that abuses iPhone users. Of course, PC owners just laugh in pity and scorn at those who would overpay so foolishly. But as true cultists, Apple devotees don’t care. As in “we”: we don’t care.

3. Moderately green. Those tempted to gloat at their greenosity need only look more closely at the shocking parade of GMCs, Escalades and other gas-slurping fortresses still out there. Then there are all the merely “normal” (but still huge) SUVs. Also, we have our very own coal-fired power plant, not used very often but looming there at the edge of town. Herculean efforts to promote bicycle usage and bus ridership haven’t been barnburners, though thankfully a lot of people are working at new ideas like bike sharing, car sharing and a more encompassing bikepath system. Oh, the 20-somethings zoom around on mountain bikes, which does give one hope. And the City of Boulder’s ClimateSmart program and a variety of tax incentives make weatherization and solar collectors look pretty affordable. So maybe all is not lost.

4. Overrun by exercise addicts. What’s with the cyclists, in those advertising-bedecked and color-clashing outfits, zooming by in tight-knit little rat packs as they embark on li’l 100-mile rides over mountains and plains? Can you tell I don’t like them? No, that’s too strong. Just color me wary. I chalk bicycling’s trendiness up to the endorphin rush; I suppose one should admire such resourcefulness at finding a healthy way to get high. Joggers, however, I can tolerate, and even admire, as they pitter-patter by our house at 5 a.m. (hopefully not chattering). Between biking, running, hiking and health clubs, Boulderites are impressively thin. It’s oh so common for us to comment after a trip to other parts of America about how fat everyone was. With compassion, mind you.

5. A bit media-starved. The staple of our media diet, the venerable Daily Camera, has seen its newsroom shrink from about 60 under Knight-Ridder ownership when I worked there in the 1980s to maybe 30 today. After a dark period of jejune writing and rampant typos, it has been on the mend lately with more skillfully crafted stories, though one senses that time for in-depth reporting is scarce. It, along with the Denver Post (fairly widely read in Boulder) and the university-targeted Colorado Daily, are all part of Dean Singleton’s MediaNews Group, yielding an ownership monopoly in which the three papers often reprint the same local stories. Boulder Weekly, targeted at 20-somethings, pursues a strange obsession with mediocre musicians but packs in the ads. The once-classy Elephant Journal downsized into an oddly egomaniacal website. But we do love our world-class public radio station, KGNU (88.5 FM, and listen already!), which perhaps best reflects Boulder’s eclectic zeitgeist, and has even expanded into Denver. It’s into this media mix that our nascent boulderreporter.com plunges. One hopes we can add a meaningful and valued voice.

(To be continued in my next post. Hang on breathlessly.)

( This article also appeared on Huffington Post)


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