June 23, 2013 Updated: June 23, 2013 at 6:40 am
The perceived image problem that this city supposedly suffers from is nothing but a half-baked liberal fantasy, conjured up by the cabal of sorcerers from the left with too much time on their hands and a disdain for conservatives, especially conservatives of faith.
What exactly do folks mean when they say that Colorado Springs has an "image problem"? Do they mean that the city is poorly perceived by our neighbors and around the state, or that our city has an inaccurate view of itself, like that of a self-conscious teen gazing back at a distorted image in a mirror?
Both of these are illogical; although sometimes other locales stereotype the Springs, we do the same to them. Every community carries some sort of perception or reputation. As for the distorted image that we see of ourselves - that is something individual that each of us must reflect and discover; ask yourself, "What is Colorado Springs to me?" If your introspective answer comes back with a negative response about the Springs, ask yourself how we can make the city better.
I'm proud of our city. I've never been embarrassed, despite having heard the common misconceptions and dirty smears, to be a Springser.
We're the "America the Beautiful" city. We're nestled at the foot of America's mountain, blessed with abundant (and if we're lucky, green) parks, surrounded by world-class hiking, with ideal weather and the company of good people.
Colorado Springs only has an image problem if you contribute to it. If you badmouth the Springs and only point out its flaws, then you are adding to the perceived image issue; if you have nothing but negativity to offer, you're a part of the problem. And there's a difference between pointing out legitimate flaws this city has and bad-mouthing it. It's the difference between being a hardened realist and a grumpy pessimist.
Yes, over the years, local government has made unwise decisions. Lights have been shut off and parks have been left by the wayside in years past; but no city government is perfect. We're not Bell, Calif., (the city in which city officials surreptitiously gave themselves exorbitant bonuses) or Chicago; the problems that our leaders suffer from are neither unique nor crippling.
More than the tangible benefits of living here, there is an intangible sense of community that makes folks want to live here. To improve our community for the long term, we need to sell this intangibility to others and encourage people to come here who are committed to the city.
Whether you believe that the Springs has an image problem, those of us who have the concerns of the community on our minds are compelled to act. Nothing can change unless individual citizens get engaged and empower themselves to be leaders on their blocks, in their neighborhoods, and ultimately, citywide. There are numerous ways to get involved, whether that entails serving on civic boards, serving with a local political party, being a business or nonprofit leader or even running for office.
Alex Johnson, a University of Denver sophomore, spends every free moment in Colorado Springs, his hometown. He serves on two Springs civic boards.