Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Manitou Chooses Love is a 12-day celebration of love and cross-cultural collaboration

Posted By on Wed, May 9, 2018 at 1:00 AM

Manitou Chooses Love, May 9-20, various times and venues, see online for full schedule, - COURTESY AJGPR
  • Courtesy AJGpr
  • Manitou Chooses Love, May 9-20, various times and venues, see online for full schedule,
Barry and Janae Weinhold, founders of the Colorado Institute for Conflict Resolution and Creative Leadership (CICRCL) say that the first time they visited Ukraine, they were blown away by the way Ukrainians solve problems in group settings. It’s in their culture, Barry says, to respect each other, and respectfully listen to each other, to work through their issues. The inspiration of their Ukrainian friends encouraged them to try to bring some folks overseas, to try their methods of conflict resolution on Coloradans. Now, with help from Smokebrush Foundation for the Arts, what started as an idea for conflict resolution workshops has turned into a 12-day celebration of love and cross-cultural collaboration throughout Manitou Springs.
On May 9, meet and greet the town’s Ukrainian guests at Sunwater Spa, with some traditional Ukrainian dishes to munch on. May 10, enjoy a concert with Global Peace Song Award-winner Shawn Gallaway, plus The Cosmic Flying Goats. There will be a special love-themed Story Project storytelling event the next day, with Ukrainian and Manitouan love stories; international folk dancing soon after; yoga love spirals with Kat Tudor in the Garden of the Gods; and tours and more throughout the course of the initiative.

The main event, May 11-13 and May 18-20, will utilize the techniques the Weinholds discovered in Ukraine: We Choose Love workshops, billed as “healing the personal and cultural rifts between women and men through gender reconciliation.” Given current tensions among genders, these workshops (facilitated by the Weinholds, Gallaway and Inna Didkovska of Ukraine), are meant to bridge gaps in communication and heal some cultural wounds — at least on a small scale. Granted, the workshops get a little pricey ($400/individual, $600/couple) so if that’s too far out of your price range (or just not your thing), consider attending any Manitou Chooses Love event, many of which are easier on the wallet.
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Monday, May 7, 2018

After the Mile High Mystery Conference, the truth is still out there

Posted By on Mon, May 7, 2018 at 2:56 PM

Called by its organizers “the largest conference of its type in the state of Colorado,” the Mile High Mystery Conference hosted a small but mighty group of UFO-enthusiasts and Sasquatch believers in the Sallie Bush community building in Green Mountain Falls, May 4-6. They packed the weekend with lectures regarding UFOs, Sasquatch, cattle mutilations and missing people, all presented by experts in their fields.

The setup, while more improvisational than official, at least functioned well enough, with a projector set up on the stage, shining PowerPoint presentations onto a stretched-tight screen that may have been a sheet, and fold-out chairs in untidy rows for attendees to come and go as they willed.

A few tables lined the walls near the entrance, where vendors sold books, Bigfoot-themed souvenirs and artwork.

  • Alissa Smith

I arrived just in time for a presentation by John Ventre, UFOlogist and author of eight books on UFOs. The most recent of which, String Theory of the Unexplained, draws parallels between paranormal experiences (ghosts and demons) and extraterrestrial experiences (aliens and UFOs.)

Ventre's presentation, “The Case for UFOs: Google before you Giggle,” addressed the evidence that has kept him interested in the UFO field. Among some theories presented: Hilary Clinton was planning a UFO-related announcement on election night, which never happened because she didn’t win the election. JFK would have revealed government secrets about UFOs if he hadn’t been assassinated. At least four different species of aliens have been confirmed to exist by UFOlogists, and government eliminations and payments are the reason for the silence of scientists/military personnel on the matter.

He made a big deal about the Air Force Academy’s training manual in 1970, which allegedly contained a section about UFOs. This may, indeed, be true. But since UFO simply stands for “Unidentified Flying Object,” it would make sense for an air force to have protocols in place for unidentified objects in the air. Like this, many pieces of evidence he proposed landed more on the side of theory than fact.

Some information was viable — quotes from prominent people in the military over the ages who have hinted to government secrets, for instance — but much of Ventre’s presentation relied on speculation and assumption, so it is difficult to consider it evidence.

Ventre, a far-right Trump supporter who doesn’t believe in evolution (all information he happily conveyed during his presentation), is very much of a type that deals in UFO conspiracy theories and the like. And yet, he wasn’t the only kind of character at the Mile High Mystery Conference.

Linda Moulton Howe, author, journalist and UFOlogist, whom I attempted to reach for an interview, unsuccessful, spent most of the two hours I was there outside with a gathered group of 15-20 conference-goers. Though I couldn’t hear much of her impromptu lecture, it landed far more spiritual and holistic than Ventre’s. She spoke of “frequencies,” a term used in metaphysical circles related to energy, and how individuals’ frequencies can connect to or complement each other. Though from an outside perspective the message was opaque, her gathered fans nodded enthusiastically, wide grins on their faces as if they were learning some kind of intrinsic universal truth.

I did meet Daphne Meyers, the wife of event organizer Jim Meyers, at the table where she and her husband had set up merchandise from the Bigfoot-themed store they own in Bailey, Colorado.

  • Alissa Smith

When asked why there was a market for Bigfoot in Colorado when sightings tend to originate in the Northwest, she excitedly said: “That’s what we thought, too!”

The Meyers couple originally opened a run-of-the-mill grocery store, but when a customer told them about a nearby Bigfoot sighting, they put a map up on their back wall and invited people to stick a pin in the places they had encountered a Sasquatch themselves.

The map became so full of pins they had to replace it, and the store is currently (and rapidly) filling map number two, as it offers Bigfoot-related souvenirs to passing tourists and locals alike. Daphne doesn’t know exactly how many encounters they have recorded, but she says many locals had kept their Bigfoot stories to themselves, sometimes for decades, out of embarrassment or uncertainty.

Daphne isn’t sure if she’s seen a Bigfoot, herself, though she reveals that she “saw something.” She thought at first that it was a human in the shadows, but has second-guessed the encounter over the years.

Ventre, too, admitted to never having seen a UFO, in spite of his years of work on the subject. Which suggests the conference was named appropriately. Even to the experts and staunchest believers, much about these topics remains a “mystery.”

Should Clinton have won the election, maybe she would have revealed all of the secrets the government’s been keeping on lockdown since Roswell. Or, earlier, if JFK hadn’t been assassinated; or if Neil Armstrong had consented to an interview on the subject; or if the government hadn’t discredited all the former military personnel who have come forward, then maybe we would have answers. But if any of this had truly happened, where would this culture of believers go? Would there be a new mystery to move onto? Or a new mystery to invent? Is there any point in believing something that’s been proven true?

That might be an intriguing mystery to investigate at next year’s conference.
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Friday, May 4, 2018

Mile High Mystery Conference addresses UFOs, Bigfoot and more with local and national speakers

Posted By on Fri, May 4, 2018 at 12:28 PM

  • Fer Gregory /

In October of 2017, the Mile High Mystery Conference hosted its inaugural event, bringing together UFO-enthusiasts, Sasquatch hunters, and other believers in the weird, unexplained and unexposed.

On May 4-6, they’ll be doing it all again, with some speakers famous in their respective circles.

Linda Moulton Howe, journalist and ufologist, will talk about San Luis Valley animal mutilations and their possible relation to UFOs and Bigfoot. David Paulides, author of the Missing 411 series, will present cases of people who went missing in the mountains, and invite speculation about the cause. And the rest of the weekend’s roster boasts other individuals and organizations who specialize in such mysterious matters.

Though many tales of Bigfoot tend to originate in the Pacific Northwest, and UFO culture is particularly big in the Southwest, the fact of the matter is that, according to a 2017 study by Chapman University, 35 percent of Americans believe aliens visited Earth in our early development. (For more on that often racist belief that discredits the accomplishments of ancient civilizations, get drunk and watch the History Channel’s Ancient Aliens.) The survey also found that 26 percent of Americans believe aliens routinely take trips to check us out. (For more on that much-less racist belief, cruise the Netflix documentary section and pick practically anything. Inebriation unnecessary, but helpful.)

Bigfoot, on the other hand, doesn’t have as big a believer base. Only 16 percent of Americans tend to think the Sasquatch is real, which hasn’t stopped the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization, whose lead investigator in Colorado will also be speaking at the conference.

But the Mile High Mystery Conference doesn’t just cater to those 26 and 16 percent respectively. They also open their doors to skeptics to hear the evidence, meet the experts and make their own judgments.

One such skeptic, who is fascinated by the human quest for answers to life’s mysteries but buys into little else on the xenological/cryptozoological/paranormal spectrum (that’s me, by the way) will be attending some of the seminars on Saturday.

I’ll report back with any proof that may be presented or, more likely, some conversations with an interesting cast of characters and a look into this culture of the curious.

If you're interested in attending, head to the Sallie Bush Community Building in Green Mountain Falls, 10795 Ute Pass Ave., 5-10 p.m. on May 4, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on May 5, and 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on May 5.
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Thursday, May 3, 2018

MeadowGrass Music Fest commemorates 10-year anniversary with retrospective art show

Posted By on Thu, May 3, 2018 at 12:00 PM

MeadowGrass 10th Anniversary Retrospective Art Show, May 4, 5-9 p.m., on display until May 25, Local Relic at the Carter Payne, - COURTESY MEADOWGRASS
  • Courtesy MeadowGrass
  • MeadowGrass 10th Anniversary Retrospective Art Show, May 4, 5-9 p.m., on display until May 25, Local Relic at the Carter Payne,
After 10 years, it seems appropriate to celebrate the amazing journey MeadowGrass Music Festival has taken, having featured such national Americana, folk and bluegrass stars as Clem Hammond & The B3’s, Blue Rodeo, Grant-Lee Phillips and Nicki Bluhm (who happens to be returning this year). Rocky Mountain Highway, MeadowGrass’ founding organization, will commemorate the anniversary with a retrospective art show, featuring photos and other artwork from the last nine years. The retrospective will hang at Local Relic at the Carter Payne from May’s First Friday until the festival begins on Memorial Day weekend, when it will move to the festival grounds. If you want to celebrate, hear from the Rocky Mountain Highway team, and share some MeadowGrass memories of your own, head to Local Relic on First Friday for beer, art, snacks and good company.
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Reel Rock 11 at Ivywild School is sure to draw another crowd of climbing enthusiasts

Posted By on Thu, May 3, 2018 at 9:00 AM

Reel Rock 11 - May 6, 7-9 p.m., Ivywild School, 1604 S. Cascade Ave., - BEN DITTO
  • Ben Ditto
  • Reel Rock 11May 6, 7-9 p.m., Ivywild School, 1604 S. Cascade Ave.,
Colorado Springs is a great town for climbing enthusiasts. In addition to well-loved climbing gyms like CityROCK, we’ve got some of the most beautiful natural climbing areas around. It’s no surprise, then, that Reel Rock screenings always draw a crowd. Showcasing some of the best and brightest climbing films, Reel Rock 11 will take viewers on a journey from Norway to Yosemite to Japan, and introduce us to characters like soon-to-be climbing legends 15-year-old Ashima Shiraishi and 16-year-old Kai Lightner, and lone wolf climber Mike Libecki, who reconciles his passion for climbing with his newfound dadhood. Get inspired with Reel Rock 11’s films: Young Guns, Boys in the Bugs, Brette, Rad Dad and Dodo’s Delight, and chat with representatives from Pikes Peak Alpine School, Upadowna and Mountain Equipment Recyclers, who will be on-site and promoting some rad giveaways.

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The Bridge Gallery's Smart Phone Invitational makes everyone a professional

Posted By on Thu, May 3, 2018 at 1:00 AM

Smart Phone Invitational, May 4, 5-8 p.m., The Bridge Gallery, - DEENA BENNETT
  • Deena Bennett
  • Smart Phone Invitational, May 4, 5-8 p.m., The Bridge Gallery,
The majority of us may now walk around with professional-quality cameras in our pockets, but not all of us can claim to be professional-quality photographers. So The Bridge Gallery, in order to showcase the best of the best of smartphone photos, invited local artists to take pictures with their cells and offer them up for this special one-night event. These fabulous photos, too good even for Instagram, immortalize those fleeting moments that can’t be captured with all the bells and whistles of complicated cameras. Hung on clotheslines throughout the venue, each photo will be available for purchase for only $5, a deal you aren’t likely to see again for the works of these accomplished local artists.
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Wednesday, May 2, 2018

The North Plan laughs in the face of fear at Springs Ensemble Theatre

Posted By on Wed, May 2, 2018 at 1:00 AM

The North Plan, Thursdays-Saturdays, 7:30 p.m., Sundays, 4 p.m., through May 20, Springs Ensemble Theatre, - MATT RADCLIFFE
  • Matt Radcliffe
  • The North Plan, Thursdays-Saturdays, 7:30 p.m., Sundays, 4 p.m., through May 20, Springs Ensemble Theatre,
Admittedly the “fictional” concept of a ruthless regime taking over Washington, D.C., is a little prescient and terrifying at the moment, but what better way to challenge your fears than to laugh at them. In The North Plan, a play by Jason Wells, government middleman Carlton Berg finds the top secret enemy list of the new world order, and decides it’s on his shoulders to smuggle the info to the press. Of course, this doesn’t go entirely according to plan, and he gets tossed in jail for a traffic violation, with time rapidly running out to execute his small rebellion. Springs Ensemble Theatre’s production, directed by company president Matt Radcliffe, stars local favorites like Emory John Collinson, Erick Groskopf, Desireé Meyers and more, and promises a much-needed laugh.
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