How we've grown 

Street Smarts

In 1993, Colorado Springs was exploding eastward and northward, and was seen as ground zero in the "culture wars." How do things look 21 years later?

click to enlarge Carl Holmes of Briargate

Carl Holmes of Briargate works with Compassion International.

How long have you lived here? My job brought me here in 1999. I grew up in southwest Colorado, but we vacationed a lot in Colorado Springs.

When did the Springs start feeling like home to you? When my son was born in 2001, I had to start thinking about things that weren't just about me: school districts, good neighborhoods to raise a child in. Colorado Springs fit the bill.

What changes have you seen here since the '90s? It's gotten much bigger and more economically diverse. This used to be basically a military and tourist economy. Now we're getting an influx of stores like Trader Joe's.

How could the Springs improve in the next 10 years? Addressing homelessness and economic disadvantage in a more comprehensive way. We're ministering to and helping the homeless at present to the point now that it keeps them wanting to stay here.

click to enlarge Nancy Russell of Florissant

Nancy Russell of Florissant is a health food employee.

How long have you lived in this area? Eleven years.

At what point did the Springs start feeling like home to you? Almost immediately. It was a lot smaller and calmer here than in metro Denver, where I'd been living.

Is there a change here that you regret having happened? People getting more intolerant and less open-minded, at least where I live now.

What role has the Independent played in the Springs? Letting people know what's going on, how things are shifting, what issues are in play. Keeping people aware of diverse viewpoints and thought.

click to enlarge Cindy Nath of Garden Ranch

Cindy Nath of Garden Ranch is a teacher.

How do you remember the culture wars that made this town national news in the '90s? When my husband's company flew us out here to visit in May of '96, the whole culture-wars thing made us hesitant to move here. In touring around town, though, we saw a bumper sticker that said "Focus on your own damn family." That gave us hope there was a community of people we could connect to.

At what point did the Springs start feeling like home? It was during a monster, 22-inch snowstorm a month to six weeks after we moved here in 1997. The whole neighborhood came out to help people get home from work. Suddenly, it felt like a community.

What has the Independent meant to the Springs over the past 21 years? It gives voice to diverse aspects of local life. We're not a monoculture.


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