Re: Redstone incident

We have been engaged with the range of responses to the article about our students’ experiences in Redstone on the Fourth of July. We appreciate the varying opinions on the piece and recognize that many members of the Redstone community felt that this piece unfairly depicted their hometown. As fellow residents of the Roaring Fork Valley, we personally enjoy visiting and recreating in and around Redstone and have only ever experienced a sense of safety and community while there. These positive experiences informed our decision to send 70 students of color to Redstone on that holiday and made the events of the day that much more shocking.

As directors of the (HS)2 Program, we want to make clear that we are aware that there were thousands of visitors in Redstone on the Fourth of July. We recognize that it is possible and likely that our students faced occurrences of racism and discrimination that were perpetrated by folks who do not live here. We do not think residents of Redstone are bad or racist people, nor do our students.

We do, however, think it is important that our community understands that these events happened here in our valley, in our home. We shared our student’s experiences with The Sun to help all residents of the Roaring Fork Valley recognize there is ample work to be done to become an authentically welcoming community for anyone of any class, racial or ethnic background. It is not only the (HS)2 students who we are advocating for in sharing this information — there are people of color throughout the Valley who have reached out directly and shared that this experience resonates with them. We all have work and learning to do to be more effective upstanders, to ensure residents and visitors alike feel welcomed and embraced, rather than isolated and ostracized.

We gathered as an (HS)2 community on the night of the Fourth of July, sitting shoulder to shoulder with our students to listen to their experiences. Their pain was palpable. The picture that emerged from this discussion was not of a couple of stray comments that may have been misinterpreted, but rather of an event that felt wholly uninviting and inaccessible. Many (HS)2 students describe Carbondale and the surrounding areas as “their home,” “their family” and a safe “sanctuary” from the bustling lives they live back home. On the Fourth of July, that safety and trust felt violated.

The well-being of these teenagers, who were here to learn, grow and prepare for college, must come before our differing political opinions. Regardless of who was “in the wrong,” we believe this event should give us all pause. How could this happen here? How can we repair the harm done? And, most importantly, how can we grow and evolve as we move into the future?

With gratitude, openness and listening ears,

(HS)2 Program Director Annie Oppenheim and (HS)2 Program Deputy Director Nick Favaloro


Re: Phil Gaylord

This letter is in response to Phillip Gaylord’s letter in last week’s edition of The Sopris Sun. I’d like to address some points that he raised about my letter regarding the racial incidents in Redstone.

First, one need not be present, in-person as an eyewitness to be shocked, appalled, angry, disgusted and saddened by racial prejudice. I was not an eyewitness to Emmett Till’s murder. I was not even born then, but there are plenty of articles that describe what happened. There are so many written accounts of racial prejudice, that not being an eyewitness to feel a range of emotions is not a valid argument.

Second, his status as a retired law enforcement officer is irrelevant to the discussion.

Third, some of the individuals that committed these acts have been identified. Gentrye Houghton, the author of the article, has written a follow-up in the September edition of The Crystal Valley Echo titled “Are We Really an Inclusive Community?” She states that on Aug. 24 the Redstone Community Association (RCA) board of directors issued a letter of apology to the head of Colorado Rocky Mountain School (CRMS), Jeff Leahy. The letter also extended an invitation to meet with any and all from CRMS to “speak freely about how the Redstone community can become more culturally sensitive and inclusive.”

Members of the RCA board notified both the Redstone General Store and Propaganda Pie of the reports from the students. Rochelle Norwood from the Redstone General Store immediately issued an apology and delivered gifts. While a board member spoke with Nial O’Connor in person, Propaganda Pie has yet to contact the school and did not respond to Houghton for comment.

We will never know who all of the perpetrators of the racial slurs were but nearly 70 students were continually treated so poorly that they left within two hours and held a restorative circle that evening to process their trauma. That speaks volumes.

Melissa Waters

Crystal River Valley

Happy and energized

We are blessed to live in a world where the sun undoubtedly comes up to greet us every morning!

At first light, or first glimpse of sun (for the later-risers), step outside and face east. If the sun is up, look, with eyes closed, directly at it. With each breath in, fill your body with warmth, happiness and love. Say “thank you” to the sun for being radiant, continuing to rise and shine and for bringing you food and good feelings… and anything else that comes to mind. 

Let the sun warm every inch of your body. Feel your energy rise from your toes, spread through your arms and BURST out through the top of your head. This can take less than a minute if you’re in a time crunch and will do wonders for your attitude and your day. Say to yourself: TODAY IS A GOOD DAY! It will only take a short time before you convince yourself of that. 

I’ve heard it said breakfast is the most important meal of the day — let’s change that to a meet-and-greet with the sun being the most important meal of the day! You can create your reality and influence people around you for good. I believe that, and it will be so if you do too. Let’s create a world where we can all wake up not only expecting the best but knowing for sure that it will come: for everybody, all the time. Try it out, what do you have to lose?!

Dalley Canyon, Glenwood Spring

Crested Butte leads the way

At 8,900 feet, Crested Butte needs plenty of heat in the winter. Yet, its town council has voted to ban methane gas hookups on any new construction or major remodels. They’re the first municipality in Colorado to do so.

To avoid any confusion, I should explain what I refer to as methane gas is what most people call natural gas. It’s almost all methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, and there’s nothing natural about it. In its natural state, methane gas is in the ground. Suck it up out of the ground and it’s something entirely different.

Those with a financial or political interest in methane gas are quick to point out it’s cheaper than electricity. Indeed, it is for now, but stay tuned. Projections are costs for methane gas will be 30% higher next winter because of the cuts in domestic production during the pandemic and the reduced flow of gas from Russia during the Ukraine war.

Prices of methane gas fluctuate widely because they’re dependent on global markets. On the other hand, electricity prices are more stable because they’re determined by local demand and set by state utility commissions. Further, the growing use of heat pumps will drive the cost of electric heat down.

There’s no reason why Carbondale can’t follow Crested Butte’s lead. Garfield County’s government is married to the oil and gas industry, but Carbondale’s leadership has shown an interest in mitigating the effects of climate change.

Contact your civic board of trustees and ask them to enact an ordinance similar to Crested Butte’s.

Fred Malo Jr., Carbondale



When newspapers write about bears getting into another house or residence, we don’t always know the whole story. Sadly, many homeowners and/or visitors are fascinated with seeing bears so close and they mistakenly think the bears are domesticated in some way. It is time to wake up and accept the fact that we live in bear country… We are the intruders, not the bears. Our actions are significant and can be the difference between safe human-bear interactions or conflicts. 

Firstly, tend to your trash. Always lock things, put anything that smells like food away and secure doors and windows. Bears are trying to bulk-up before hibernation, so when we carelessly leave tempting and easy to acquire food around, we are actually training the local bears to come and get it. 

Secondly, respect wildlife. Yes, we know it is fun to like and share social media posts about bears in backyards and running around local streets… we get it, they are cute. But this sends a mixed message to our friends, neighbors and visitors. We need to respect bears and their typical behavior. Bears do not really care to interact with humans, so there are simple things we can do to avoid the potential for any conflict. 

Thirdly, accept personal responsibility for personal choices and actions. We can all do something that helps wildlife stay wild and recognize that “human” living areas are not great places to hang out. Take the time to become acquainted with Bear Aware materials (and then follow the suggestions)! Stop blaming everyone else, especially Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) for the problem and become a positive voice for change in your own neighborhood. 

You can do so much with a little effort: organize fruit pick-up to remove attractants, encourage town trash regulation to be followed and request that violators be fined, ask neighbors to remove bird feeders when bears wake up until November, demand that town officials enforce all pet leash laws, reach out and seek education from community groups that are eager and capable to help. 

Then, follow the suggestions that are given instead of brushing them off as if you know better. 

We can work better as community members to stop relocating and euthanizing the bears and bear families. We can take simple steps to correct bad human behaviors (not securing trash, baiting bears to take pictures). We can support local regulations meant to reduce human-bear conflict and pressure our municipalities to levy larger fines when regulations are disregarded. We can do our part to learn and act wisely.

Daniela Kohl,

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