Best Of 2002

Favorite

Best of Urban Living 

Uniquely us

Best Smell

Rain

Some runners-up: The scent of fall leaves as they crunch and crackle beneath your feet. The smell of your baby's head after a bath. Fresh brownies. A roasting, sizzling, golden-skinned duck. Wood smoke from a distant fireplace on a crisply cold night. Snow, teasing on the wind just before it falls. A new box of crayons. Your grandmother's house. Your uncle's Aqua Velva. Freshly mown grass. A newly opened rose. Elementary school cafeteria on tomato soup day. Laundry hung on a line. But best of all -- especially these days -- rain. --mbp

Best Community Planning

Colorado Springs Co-Housing Community
471-6611, www.colospringscohousing.com

At the corner of Columbia and Corona streets, dominating all of a city block that was previously the site of dilapidated greenhouses, an entire new housing complex has popped up that is owned, designed and managed by a group of forward-thinking families and individuals seeking to create a traditional community in a new way. The Colorado Springs Co-Housing Community has created a group of multifamily dwellings that share a common house, garden and recreation space, and a vision of community that transcends the contemporary version of everyone in his own mini-mansion keeping to himself. Occupants will have the option of sharing meals several times a week, will share maintenance and decision-making and will, most importantly, share ideals of neighborhood that are often lost in our uprooted world. We congratulate them on seeing their dream come to fruition in these difficult economic times and wish them a satisfying and formative future. --kce

Best Local Issue to Get Involved In
Readers' Poll Winner

Water conservation

Most local issues -- traffic, growth, crime, air pollution -- are like the weather, in that you, as an individual, can't do much about them. You can bitch, you can write letters to the newspaper, you can complain to the politicos, but that's it. Water conservation is different. If you're a homeowner, chances are you're a water buffalo, using (even with mandatory restrictions) thousands of gallons wastefully. Look at your landscaping, your appliances, your lifestyle, and think about changes. Why not tear up that bluegrass, and plant an orchard? Use drip irrigation, and a lot of mulch. You'll use a lot less water, and you might even get some fruit, not to mention boughs laden with spring flowers. In a few years, you can string up a hammock on a warm May afternoon, sip wine, and read A.E. Houseman: "Loveliest of trees, the cherry now ..." --jh

Best Pothole Fix
After the editor bloodies her knee

OK, so this isn't Eric Singer smoking out the last Texas Seven holdouts from their hotel room. But really, what journalist could ever hope for this kind of break? One Monday, the editor of the Independent (i.e., me) ventured down to the new site of the downtown Farmers' Market for a beet-buying extravaganza. There, she was immediately accosted by a New Jerseysized pothole, which -- in front of boss and God -- slammed her, whimpering, to the pavement. Before she even had a chance to publish a Thursday column detailing the episode, complete with a photo of the battle wound, the city paved the street. -- cd

Best Community Center
Readers' Poll Winner

Hillside Community Center
925 S. Institute St., 385-7900
www.springsgov.com

An oasis of diversity in white-bread Colorado Springs, the Hillside Community Center provides what all strong communities need: a gathering place where we can learn from, and laugh with, each other. Whether it's a political forum or a square dance, a tutoring session or a karate class, Hillside brings together people from all walks of life and all generations. Their programs are affordable, if not free, and the rewards are priceless. --tp

Best Unifying Book

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Pikes Peak Library District, 531-6333;
http://library.ppld.org/AboutYourLibrary/Events/APPR2002

A community could do worse than to read Harper Lee's classic novel of justice, injustice, prejudice, race relations and small-town values, To Kill a Mockingbird. Kids could do worse than to embrace Atticus Finch or brave Jem or spunky Scout as a role model. And in the current political climate, a city could do worse than to band together behind one admirable idea -- reading the same book at the same time and talking about it. It's not too late to join the rest of Colorado Springs in All Pikes Peak Reads. And it's never too late to read To Kill a Mockingbird, even if it's for the umpteenth time. --kce

Best After-school Hangout
Readers' Poll Winner

Boulder Street Coffee Roasters
332 N. Tejon St., 577-4291

Around 3:30 in the afternoon, walk into Boulder Street and there they are -- cute, energetic, untainted by the greed of life ... and hopped up on caffeine. The city's collective adolescents: bellies bared and boxers showing, trading homework, discussing Nietzsche, pondering the reason of homeroom, reading subversive material like the Independent and The New York Times ... this isn't your father's after-school chess club. Powered by mint machiottos and white mochas, you gotta know our future is safe and in good hands. --sb

Best Place to Kick the Bluegrass Habit

Colorado Springs Utilities Xeriscape Demonstration Garden
2855 Mesa Road, 448-4555, www.csu.org/xeri

In spite of almost running out of water in this year of the great drought, our city-owned utility company has been a step ahead in one area of water conservation for a good long time. Xeriscape gardening, taught and beautifully demonstrated at the Mesa Road Xeriscape Demonstration Garden, should be the wave of the future for this community, and we're lucky to have some experts in the field showing us how to break the water-hungry bluegrass-sod habit. The gardens are superb for instruction or just for strolling, and are open all the time. Inside the lobby of the Water Treatment building (call for hours), printed materials and class schedules are available. On Saturday, Oct. 19, the gardening staff will hold the last class of the year, but you can visit www.csu.org/xeri in a couple months to see what's being offered in the spring. Start now to plan your drought-tolerant landscape, utilizing water-saving techniques, native plants and the basic principles of Xeriscaping. --kce

Best Public Artwork
Readers' Poll Winner

The Giant Sunflowers on Cascade Avenue
In the median in front of the Antlers Adam's Mark Hotel

Do you judge good art by how deeply it touches your soul? Must it move you to reassess your understanding of the world around you? Must it challenge your intellect, your preconceived notions? Should it linger on your memory like a sip of wine lingers on your palate, giving you something to come back to and think about, time and time again? Does it need to speak from the artist's soul, revealing something deep and placid or huge and red and angry? Or is it OK if it just makes you smile and your kids point and say, "Hey, that's really cool"? --mbp

Best Attempt at Effective and Efficient Public Transportation

Manitou Trolley
Runs Friday Sunday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., from 30th Street to the Cog Railway. Call 385-7433 for more.

The Manitou Trolley (aka streetcar shuttle) is a shining example of what public transportation could be: efficient and useful. Timely service, accessible stops, multiple shuttles, drops at convenient locations. So functional! Since its debut two summers ago, the trolley has been hugely popular, shuttling 54,279 tourists and residents in and around Manitou. Catch a ride at any bus stop or parking lot along its route, and it will take you to all sorts of places in or just outside of the city limits, including Garden of the Gods and the Red Rocks Shopping Center -- for free. Lesson learned: Start small, dream big. --sb

Best Teen Hangout
Shhhhh ... it's a secret!

Ever heard the complaint that there's nothing for teen-agers to do in this stinkin' town? Thought so. In June, we reported on a favorite hangout for kids -- withholding its address at the request of its operators, who were concerned about unwanted guests. It turns out their concerns were justified. The place was invaded by police the following week, in spite of no complaints from neighbors and no incidences of public nuisance or vandalism or illegal activity known to have been reported at any time. So we're still not going to tell you where the coolest hangout for teen-agers is, but offer this advice: If you're planning to start a new hangout of your own, keep it under wraps. Colorado Springs' finest apparently don't have enough to do monitoring real criminal, dangerous or mischievous activity on the streets of Colorado Springs on a Saturday night. Either that or they're secretly into the punk scene. --kce

Best New Cop Hangout
(when they're not cracking teen-age hangouts)

Krispy Kreme
501 N. Chelton Road, 597-6000

A 24-hour drive-through, conveniently located at Platte and Chelton. The sweet smell of just-baked doughnuts, the lure of fresh coffee ... Dunkin' Donuts, your time is up. Krispy Kreme, give it up for the men and women in blue. --kce

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