Monthly Archives: October 2014

Swing State USA 2014: The Current State of Colorado

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What is the current state of your location?  What are the trends?  What do people like to do?  What makes your particular location unique?  What are people talking about?  What are people concerned about?  What are the hopes and fears for the future?

These are amongst the questions often answered through travel.  Sometimes, even when a traveler has nothing of this nature on his or her mind, answers to questions like these present themselves.  This is why I have thoroughly enjoyed all of the travel related shows hosted by Anthony Bourdain.  In each and every show he has been involved in, he travels to various locations with the simple goal of getting a comprehensive sample of a particular region’s food.  However, in nearly every show, he strikes up conversations with people local to the area, and learns quite a lot about their culture, history, and expectations.

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Colorado has been on a lot of people’s minds lately.  Most surveys rank it one of the top 5 (or at the very least in the top 10) fastest growing states in the country.  Most of this population growth has come from migration of people from elsewhere in the country.

Colorado has also drawn significant national attention for a variety of reasons this year.  Recently, football fans at Sports Authority Field got to witness quarterback Peyton Manning break the all time record for career touchdowns.  This year, Colorado became the first state in the nation legalize the sale of recreational marijuana.  And, the city of Denver was recently ranked the 4th most influential city in the country, according to a survey of mayors.

With this being the autumn of an election year, and Colorado being a closely contested state (a “swing state”), much of the recent national media attention has turned to Colorado, and our two closely contested elections.  As the story goes, in two weeks, two very important elections are about to take place; one that will determine the direction the State of Colorado takes in the coming years (Gubernatorial), and one that may determine the direction the whole nation takes in the coming years (Senatorial).

Living in the Capitol City of such as state, one would expect these two important contests, and the political implications of them to garner a significant amount of intensity and enthusiasm.  However, if I had a dollar for every time someone asked me who I was planning to vote for in either election, I would be not a cent richer than I currently am.  By contrast, if I had a dollar for every time I was inquired about the other all important state question, whether I was getting the Epic Pass or the Rocky Mountain Super Pass, I would probably accumulate enough money for an amazing night out.

While this could be just the people I happened to associate with here in Colorado, or the types of conversations I tend to pursue, a walk through my neighborhood reveals significantly less yard signs than in most election years.

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What I do see throughout my neighborhood, as well as most areas nearby, including downtown, are fliers like this one everywhere, sometimes multiple fliers per block, attempting to get people to inquire about campaign jobs for the coming election.

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Nearly every one of them appears exactly as this one does ,with close to all of the tabs underneath the flier remaining un-pulled.  In fact, this past Wednesday evening, after a networking event, I returned to my bicycle to find a similar flier had been wedged into my brake lever; something I had never expected to see, but also something that demonstrates to me campaigns are actually having a hard time getting some of these paid positions filled.

All of this tells me that Coloradans have other things on their mind.

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There is a significant of excitement around the Denver Broncos, by far Colorado’s most cherished sports team.

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And, while this October has featured some beautiful weather, and some amazing fall colors that are atypical of this areas, many are concerned that this may delay the opening of ski season.  Most of the ski trails remain snow-free.

And, of course, people are quite divided regarding the rapid growth of the region.  Some cherish the opportunity to become the next significant and influential mega-region, with all of the privileges and responsibilities that it brings, while others lament the changes that are making the place significantly different than it was just a mere half a decade ago.

So, which is it?  Is Colorado, with its high density of start-ups, leadership in the craft brewing movement, and unique way of life, the place where trail-blazers grab the bull by the horn and reshape the world?

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Or is it still a place largely isolated from the population centers and mega regions, where people go to explore the world on their own, and escape as many outside influences as possible?

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Or, more importantly for the future, can we find a way to be both?