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What Makes You Love Estes Park?

Town-Frank-LancasterRecently I had the pleasure to hear Peter Kageyama, author of the book For the Love of Cities. what he had to say struck a chord as I thought about our town and why we live here.

Everybody has to live somewhere, and the reasons we live where we live have changed over time. For most of history you lived in the same place where you were born, where your father was born and where generations before were born. Then the industrial revolution came and where we lived often followed the jobs. Even as recently as 30 years ago people would grow up, find a profession or a vocation and then they tended to move to a location they could get that job. Over the last few decades there is a trend away from this model. More and more people are deciding where they want to live and then building their lives around the place. I think Estes Park is a prime example of this change. Most of us live here by choice, because this is where we want to be, whether we’re working or chose this as the place to retire.

According to Kageyama, there is a hierarchy to a town. First, a town has to be functional; it must have streets, utilities, and services. Second, it must be safe. Third, it should be a comfortable place to exist. Fourth the community should be convivial, and lastly, at the top of the hierarchy, it should be a fun and meaningful place to live. The last two on this list make the difference between just living in a town and truly loving the town you live in because it’s something special. Do you just live here or do you feel a true attachment to Estes Park?

So according to Kageyama, what makes a town “Loveable?”

1. Bike Friendly – people get out of their cars and enjoy the community. Bikes slow the pace of the town and make it more comfortable, even if you don’t ride a bike.

2. Walkable – again it gets people out of their cars, it provides exercise and relaxes people, and people stop and talk to each other.

3. Dog Friendly – sorry cat fans, but this one is definitely about dogs. Communities that are dog friendly tend to have a friendlier population. People love to stop and pet a dog on a walk and it starts conversations. Statistically people who live in “dog friendly” communities are happier with where they live.

4. Love Notes / Rituals and Traditions – Love Notes are what Kageyama calls those little idiosyncratic things that are just plain fun and make a community someplace special. Some are simple things like fountains in parks that kids play in. When kids are happy, parents (and grandparents) are happy. Fort Collins has painted pianos that move around downtown that anyone can sit down and play. Estes Park is full of these things. Some are big, like the Riverwalk. Some are really small, like the bronze sculpture of chipmunks outside my office at Town Hall, or the xylophone along the river walk. Some are short- term, like the flags placed at the Library and Town Hall on Memorial Day. Community traditions such as closing Elkhorn for Halloween or the Catch the Glow parade are some of our Estes Park Love Notes.

This is just a brief synopsis of what the difference is between a town being just a location and a special place where people love to live.

Personally, growing up in Colorado, I’ve always loved this community and I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to live and work here. And now that we’re here, Jill and I are always finding new things that we love about this special place.

So what do you think Estes Park? Do you love your town? How are we doing with the things that make a town special?What can we do better? Not just fix streets, or plow snow, but what are the things that make Estes Park fun? What makes us unique? What do we do that nowhere else on earth is better at? Let me know. I’ve set up an online survey to get your ideas about why you love Estes Park, and I’ll share those back with you in an upcoming article.https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/QR3QJ8J

© 2014 Estes Park News, Inc

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