To longtime readers, it will probably come as no surprise that the Independent's pre-Internet-age "archive" consists of plastic-bound books stacked haphazardly in a closet that's hard to find even if you've been there before. I spent a little time there recently, going through the July 6, 1994 issue.
I found a story about Douglas Bruce threatening city government with a petition. There was an editorial called "Taking Control of Our Community," which proclaimed that in dozens of interviews done for a four-part Independent series, "a common theme emerged ... Colorado Springs has no idea where it is going." The arts section, meanwhile, included a story about 1,000 locals flocking to a possible Republican presidential candidate coming through on a book tour.
It'd be easy to deduce that nothing has changed. But actually, we all know that'd be completely false, and not just because the site of that literary event was McKinzey-White Booksellers on North Academy Boulevard, and the Republican was Dan Quayle. (From the story: "Kelly C. Mulholland, 21, held 11 books to be signed. Mulholland is founder of Order of the Q, a local group dedicated to Quayle.")
Since the early '90s, Colorado Springs has made huge strides toward becoming more diverse, welcoming and dynamic. You could say we've come of age, perhaps. And we probably would, since this year, the Independent turns 21 years old.
Call us sophomoric, but we consider it a milestone. And we're looking to celebrate how far we've come — how far we've all come — with a potent mix of dewy-eyed nostalgia and ruddy-nosed debauchery.
One way we're doing it is to partner with, sponsor or otherwise celebrate organizations that have helped change the face of Colorado Springs, as they celebrate their own milestones. For instance, 2014 means 20th birthdays for:
• The Starlight Spectacular, the nighttime bike ride that spun off from the Trails, Open Space and Parks campaign that Independent publisher John Weiss championed in the mid-'90s
• The Colorado Springs Conservatory, where kids can get a world-class arts education, whether they're into music, improv or dance
• Bristol Brewing Company, whose late-August party will commemorate not only two decades of craft beer, but also thousands of kegs donated to groups and events dedicated to building community
It's worth noting that the year is full of other milestones, too, like the first-ever Colorado Springs Craft Week this past April, a series of springtime events celebrating local beer, coffee and spirits, and the inaugural Manifest coming up at the end of September (following the fifth annual What If Festival and the fourth annual Indy Music Awards at the beginning of September).
Digitally, in the second half of this year, we'll be looking to engage with our readership in new ways. For one thing, we'll be debuting a group of community bloggers starting this weekend, locals who are uniquely qualified to write on topics ranging from hiking to coffee to urban homesteading. You'll find them on the IndyBlog, along with our staff writers and editors.
Also, we're going to be turning to social media to gather your reflections related to this city's past, and your opinions on where it's going. Expect at least one question a week that invites you to tell some stories. You'll find those questions in print, too, weekly. Come Dec. 3, when we release our commemorative 21st birthday issue, we hope you'll find some of your own words in there.
Returning to print once again, you'll find the impetus for my recent closet trip: our new Ghost Stories column, designed to highlight some ridiculous, revealing or simply entertaining element of an issue (or issues) from the Indy's past. The first one of those, you'll find here.
You can expect a few other changes coming soon, too, but they're not worth talking about yet. Some of those are still in process. And like the city itself, we're still figuring it out as we go along.