As they say, nothing is more constant than change. We hate it, fight it, love it, embrace it. The stages we go through are denial, resistance, exploration and commitment. But no matter what, it’s going to happen, and Durango has sure seen evolution and “change.”
I’ve been here now 37 years, and in reflection, it’s amazing what has evolved in our community just in that time.
Yes, our first reaction can tend to be “no” – don’t change! But for example, look at our beautiful downtown Main Avenue. Did you realize that billboards and not-necessarily-attractive signage once littered downtown? And there were no trees. Surprised? Especially since Durango is now consistently honored as a Tree City, U.S.A.
It took a contingent of caring people to get together with the city to establish a Sign Code and figure out how to get trees planted in all the downtown blocks. Change – evolution – people making a difference.
And the Smelter Mountain area, which is now our dog park. The Durango Smelter was a huge economic driver in the day, processing the ore brought down from Silverton on the coal-fired railroad.
The smelter is gone, and that area is now a place for our dogs to romp. Any remaining tailings are buried deep up behind the mountain, and the Durango & Silverton has continued to evolve its operations with environmental awareness, including scrubbers on the roundhouse and investment in diesel engines. The air is cleaner than it ever was “in the day.”
And, think about all the old buildings that have been rebuilt and remodeled that have opened up spaces for businesses to blossom and give opportunities for people to live and work here. There are too many to mention, but do you remember that the Crossroads Building at the corner of Main and 11th Street used to house Norwest Bank and Pennington Camera? Now the Crossroads is a thriving beehive of businesses and downtown residents. And just across the street, the tired little building that was sort of an eye-sore is now a thriving food court as 11th Street Station.
Do you remember when we didn’t have high-speed internet? During the national “fiber frenzy” with the big telecom companies, they weren’t interested in servicing “small markets” like us. Enter entrepreneurs like Brainstorm Internet, working with our local electric cooperative La Plata Electric Association, to bring us high-speed internet. LPEA and FastTrack, along with other providers (AlignTec, Cedar Networks, HiSpeed4U and Spectrum Business) continue to help us evolve with better connectivity.
I salute those who see vision and potential for our community – and are willing to invest the time, energy and hard-earned money to initiate “change” for the better.
As the lyric in the musical “Wicked” goes, “Who could say if I’ve been changed for the better? But because I knew you, I have been changed for good.”
Jack Llewellyn is executive director of the Durango Chamber of Commerce. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.