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HerStory celebrates women who define Carbondale

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VOICES, a nonprofit that builds community by encouraging authentic expression, is cooking up another new event this summer, this time in partnership with local historical societies. The Summertime Stories and Music series will kick off on Sunday, July 16, with HerStory at Carbondale’s Historic Thompson House. Five local women will share personal anecdotes about the town’s ever-evolving character.

“Strong women in Carbondale is a real thing,” said Jeannie Perry, Sopris Sun columnist and one of the featured storytellers. “Always has been, always will.” Sharing the spotlight with Perry are: Amy Kimberly, former director of Carbondale Arts and all around mover and shaker; Laurie Loeb, progenitor of the Mountain Fair; historian Charlotte Graham, who has studied the Ute extensively; and bilingual educator Andrea Harris, shaping a new generation of leaders at Bridges High School. The production is directed by Cassidy Willey.

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“Although these are powerhouse women and familiar faces in our community, you will likely hear some stories from them that you did not know before,” said Willey. “Overall, their voices echo one another with similar themes of being visionaries and creators of their own lives, the undeniable pull that Carbondale and the Crystal River Valley have on folks, and a deep love for our small town character and strong community.”

Without revealing details, Perry said her “light and sassy story” will be related to “coming home and making it your own.” Having grown up in Woody Creek before moving to Denver for high school and later returning to set roots, Perry would often visit her grandparents at their ranch in Carbondale for holidays, “like branding day.” Asked when it became clear that Carbondale was home, she responded, “just about 15 minutes ago,” laughing. “I needed to come back and have it be a new version of itself so I could make it mine,” she continued sincerely.

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VOICES Executive Director MinTze Wu described the Thompson House lawn setting as “itself a story,” making use of a historic property now owned by the Town and maintained as a museum by the Carbondale Historical Society. “History doesn’t have to be dusty and locked up,” she said. “It’s living, breathing, and we’re a part of it.”

Wu hopes the event will cultivate deep listening toward building a dynamic community that integrates all its voices, new and old. “I feel strong to provide a platform that welcomes all parts of this community,” she said, comparing the event’s simple beginnings to Loeb’s creation of the Mountain Fair, 52 years ago. “HerStory could itself become a series,” she said.

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VOICES is planning a similar event with the Aspen Historical Society on August 26, focusing specifically on immigration to the city throughout time. At both events, Wu will lend her talents to musical interludes, accompanied by Sandra Wong on the nyckelharpa, a Swedish instrument that resembles a fiddle with keys to press. Wu described its sound as “hollow, ancient and soulful.” Together, she and Wong will play baroque and world folk music to create space between each of the stories.

Perry recognized that with Carbondal rapidly changing, it’s important to share the stories that define its spirit. “That’s what’s going to keep it cool,” she said, “with all the new people coming and bringing their talents, as long as the old people are remembered.”

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Perry knows Carbondale as a place where different kinds of people “can find their groove and get along and coexist.” Asked who she hopes will attend the event, she replied, “I would like to see a cowboy, a hippie sitting next to him, a billionaire sitting next to him, and my family.” She summed it up, “One of everyone.”

HerStory will take place at the Historic Thompson House (301 Lewis Lane) on Sunday, July 16 at 6pm. A donation of $10 (or more) is requested with proceeds to be shared between the Carbondale Historical Society and VOICES. In case of inclement weather, the event will be rescheduled. There will be Spanish interpretation provided thanks to Convey Language Solutions. To RSVP, visit

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Tags: #Carbondale Colorado #Carbondale Historical Society #HerStory #VOICES
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