Kristen Lodge – Saving our places, stories and people
Grand County, CO Colorado
Each time I drive to Denver, I am reminded of an evening in a Paris bar when a fellow American called me a hick.
The conversation started off well enough until he asked me where I lived. I was living in Vermont at the time and then he looked down at my feet. I was wearing Birkenstocks. “You’re wearing Birkenstocks in Paris, what a hick.”
I always feel like a bit of a hick when I drive to a big city in my beat-up Subaru. I feel more at home where there are more mountains, trails, and open land.
But, once in a while, I must go to Denver, and this time it was for a conference called Saving Places put on by an organization called Colorado Preservation Inc., which is dedicated to promoting and advancing historic preservation in Colorado.
For a day I got to meet and learn from preservationists, intellectuals and academics. I spent an entire day indoors in a gorgeous downtown Denver hotel going room to room to learn about historic preservation. I listened to people talk about saving places and people’s relationships to places, structures and buildings. I learned about how historic buildings and landscapes have stories to tell and ways to tell them.
Preserving the stories of people and place is as important as preserving buildings and artifacts. I also saw so many correlations to saving ecological places such as wilderness, trails and open spaces. And while historic places sustain community and create identity, so do the wilderness areas and trails.
I learned about a new organization called HistoriCorps (www.historicorps.org). They are based in the Rocky Mountain region and engage volunteers and students to preserve historic resources on public land. They have partnered with the U.S. Forest Service to achieve these ends.
How we treat places (natural and man-made) tells us who we are as a society. There is so much going on in our community that shows that we care, from saving trails to preserving artifacts and buildings. I loved having a day in the city to listen and learn from preservationist and academics; however, it was good to get home to put some of these ideas into action.
I love listening to the stories from ranchers I know and hearing about what it was like growing up in Grand County 50 or 60 years ago. It’s these stories that need to be persevered as well.
There are organizations in our county such as the Grand County Historical Association that are working to share these narratives with locals and visitors who are interested in Grand County’s historical landscape.
We have to do our part to continue to save the places that matter in our community. These places include buildings and the beautiful natural areas that surround Grand County. I love living in this community where I have everything I need with an occasional trip to the city. However, you will never catch me wearing my Birkenstocks in Denver.
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