Work to perfect the Springs, instead of criticizing it or leaving

Arte Johnson Published: May 19, 2013 | 12:00 am 0

Now that City Council has voted against the SunShare expansion, young professionals seem to feel a certain frustration with Colorado Springs - not only in terms of our leadership, but also our culture. It doesn't help seven out of nine members of the new City Council are at or nearing retirement age, nor that they serve alongside a Mayor born during World War II.

We don't need increased government action to attract and retain young professionals. What we need is more private investment by those committed to their community.

This city is a great place to live, raise a family and make a living - if you make it so.

You don't have to love the city government to love the city. In fact, I laugh at the idea that large numbers of people decide to uproot their lives and move on the basis of whether a city subsidizes solar gardens.

When it comes to attracting new residents, economic prosperity and a thriving, lush sense of community are much more important factors.

As a young professional who loves this city and will raise a family here, I am frankly disgusted by the idea that my peers are as faint of heart as some news reports would make them seem. Abandoning your city because you don't like its government's policies is understandable only if you assume a certain level of fickleness and underlying lack of commitment.

I guess I'm just the kind of person who cares about where he lives. When you believe in something, you don't give up on it. You commit to every possible endeavor to better that which you believe in, and you don't depend on government funding to do it. I've always believed in making the best of what you've been given instead of moving on to something new.

The complaints of the city's youth are perennial and trite: "There's no nightlife," they harp, "There's no way to get around town," they claim, "There's nothing to do here."

We need private investors to remedy this perceived problem, and history serves as a teacher. In 1900, Winfield Scott Stratton, at significant personal expense, purchased and upgraded the streetcar system in Colorado Springs. Did he complain about a lack of public transit and move away? No, he made his city a better place to live using his vast resources and love for the community.

No public dollars went into the endeavor, just the travail of a dedicated private citizen. We need more Strattons.

People will go where the jobs are. Instead of leaving this community to find jobs elsewhere, create jobs right here for yourself and others. If you aren't enamored of our community, work to perfect it.

My passion for this city is not formed by the blinding na?et?of youth, but rather an inexplicable sense of belonging and zeal for the future of Colorado Springs. I recognize that our city is unique, special and worth fighting for, even if others refuse to see it so.

I didn't choose to grow up here, but I choose to end up here.

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Alex Johnson, a University of Denver sophomore, spends every free moment in Colorado Springs, his hometown. He serves on two Springs civic boards.

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