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We're 21! 

We know how it looks when you throw a party for yourself. And yes, that's sort of what's happening in this issue celebrating the Colorado Springs Independent's milestone birthday.

But with some of the coverage in the pages that follow, we're trying to spread the love and attention. Because frankly, readers of this newspaper have earned it, in a way that people elsewhere likely wouldn't understand.

Long-timers know that supporting the Independent hasn't always been an easy thing to do. As publisher and co-founder John Weiss puts it, when an alternative weekly first came out in our conservative city, picking it up "was a risqué thing to do. ... You sort of wanted to put it in a brown paper bag."

In the paper's first month, locals who wrote supportive letters to the editor received nasty notes hand-delivered to their mailboxes, a practice that stopped only when the FBI got involved. Bob Falcone, now an Indy community blogger, was one of the recipients; he sounds decidedly "glass-half-full" when he notes, "Nobody ever egged my house."

In those early days, but also in years to follow, a small but dogged group of people routinely called the paper's advertisers and distributors, accusing them of supporting the wide dissemination of pornography — that being the personal ads in the back of the paper, especially the men-seeking-men ads. ("They were never upset about the women seeking women," Weiss notes.) As recently as the year 2000, a major grocery-store chain temporarily booted the Indy out, after being pressured by a small team of "family-values" types.

So there have been external challenges. But internally, we've also simply made our share of mistakes, and asked you to forgive.

Through it all, you've been there. What's more, you've been here, as this city has evolved and given this newspaper opportunities to cover things that its founders could only have dreamed about, from a true sustainability movement to a local hip-hop scene to gay marriage. That in mind, we're trying to cast this birthday as a celebration of how far we've come as a community since 1993.

As you know, there's a ways still to go. So please, at least grab a piece of cake for the road.

click to enlarge Picture if you will ... Colorado Springs then and now.
  • Compiled by Griffin Swartzell, Bryce Crawford and Craig Lemley
  • Picture if you will ... Colorado Springs then and now.

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