It was a blistering 95 degrees when I found Julie McIntyre hiding under the shade watering her plants at Summerland Gardens. Her garden center will be the location of our second dinner in a series of farm to table in which we want to highlight regional farm/garden locations.Read More
We are excited to announce COCO MIC Talks 02 which will be hosted by The Modbo.Read More
Lindsey Aparicio and her family are the first of 5 regional farms hosting our Farm to Table Series.Read More
On June 14, The Modbo is celebrating its fifth anniversary, which co-owner Lauren Andrus says is like 132 in downtown Colorado Springs art gallery years. She isn’t wrong, especially when you consider the fact that The Modbo is a for-profit gallery. Help Lauren and Brett Andrus celebrate their success!Read More
Words: Jonah Goldman
Photos: Kendall Rock
Even a glance of a Borealis fatbike ignites a strong sensation—a desire to ride.
Webster defines enjoyment as “A feeling of pleasure caused by doing or experiencing something you like.” Borealis Bikes isn’t just selling the most advanced fatbikes in the world--they are selling enjoyment. The product speaks for itself. Even a glance of a Borealis fatbike ignites a strong sensation—a desire to ride.
In 2010, Adam Miller was a freshman at Colorado College and Borealis Bikes did not exist. A native of Anchorage, Alaska, Adam brought his passion for a unique biking experience to Colorado Springs and pursued it. A competitive racer since age 11, Adam also worked as a bike mechanic at Chain Reaction Cycles when he was 14. When Adam began tinkering with his own tires and designing new features to enable biking through the snowy Alaskan winter, the idea for creating an improved riding experience began to take shape.
When Adam met Steve Kaczmarek, a successful Colorado College graduate who was teaching an entrepreneurship class, they decided to take the concept of a new fatbike company from an idea to a reality. In September of 2013, this fledgling company entered the international bike trade show in Las Vegas. The response to their product was “awesome” and they built off the early momentum.
As the business plan became more defined during the summer of 2013, the company gained initial traction. When Borealis was launched and the first 50 orders were placed within a number of hours, Adam and Steve knew that this unique bike company had a real future. By December 2013, Borealis had broken $1 million in sales. Today that figure has more than doubled, and the company has expanded to employ 13 staff members who work in sales, assembly, customer support, accounting and management.
So what exactly is a fatbike? The abnormally large tires are hard to miss. They are attached to an innovative new mountain bike carbon frame, yielding a sleek design which combines function and form--as luxurious as it is exhilarating. These versatile bikes offer a fun ride and allow a rider to simultaneously conquer snow, sand, dirt and rocky mountain bike trails.
What makes Borealis’s fatbikes so great? Simply put, improved design. Borealis bikes feature cutting edge lightweight carbon frames, as well as forks and rims that are stronger and lighter than the competition. With incredible handling and traction, Borealis bikes can quite literally give you the ride of your life.
“We are just selling enjoyment. We offer the best products, best service, and sell bikes that people will have the most fun on.”
When I asked Adam how he views the mission and work of Borealis, he replied: “We are just selling enjoyment. We offer the best products, best service, and sell bikes that people will have the most fun on.”
Over the past couple years, Adam has experienced how rewarding it can be to start a company while also embracing the stress and constant change that a company undergoes in the startup phase. He enjoys hearing positive customer feedback, figuring out how to rectify problems, and simply riding his fat bike through Palmer Park. With around 150 retailers that are local, national and international, Borealis hopes to expand further into international markets in the next years and increase distribution to spread these amazing bikes around the world.
Inspired by the natural wonders of Colorado, bike models like the Yampa and Echo find their namesake in mountain ranges and canyons throughout the state. Because Colorado Springs hosts a healthy population of outdoor enthusiasts and nurtures a strong biking community, Borealis has found an amazing home and makes our fair city even more attractive to new enterprises and innovators.
Words and Photos: Seth Braverman
You may have seen the name Aly Hartwig over the past month and you have certainly seen press for the Colorado Springs Craft Week, a week-long event that hopes to bolster the burgeoning craft movement in Colorado Springs and beyond. If you’re not yet familiar with her name, don’t worry — you will be. Hartwig’s love for craft beer and the community she watched it create led her to start the Springs’ first-ever, very own Craft Week.
When not attending meetings or writing emails in preparation for the week of events, Hartwig can be found at Pikes Peak Brewing Company where she works as an assistant brewer. Originally from Grand Island, Nebraska, Hartwig moved to the Springs by way of Fort Collins a couple years back in search of work. After a stint pouring beers at Brewer’s Republic — one of the best spots in town to grab a pint of craft beer — she landed a job brewing at Pikes Peak in Monument. Her passion for both the beer industry and for the craft culture formed around the same time.
Having found that small-town Nebraska feel in the craft beer industry, Aly found a vocation she could call home.
Just months after her 21st birthday, Hartwig attended a beer festival where she was impressed by the collaborative spirit and instant rapport the craft beer world cultivated. For example, when she told employees at the Avery Brewing booth that their Hog Heaven — a dry-hopped, barleywine-style ale — was one of her favorite beers, they not only dipped into their personal cache to pour her a glass, but the man who poured it for her had personally helped make the beer. He ended up giving her his brewer pass and she was able to experience the festival as a brewer. Hartwig had gone to the festival with a love for craft beer and left with an understanding and appreciation for the community that creates it. Having found that small-town Nebraska feel in the craft beer industry, Hartwig found a vocation she could call home.
I met up with Hartwig at Pikes Peak Brewing Company. As she hauled large hoses through the heart of the brewery, hooking and unhooking their snaking ends into giant tanks, she explained to me that 80 percent of brewing is simply cleaning up. I did my best not to get in the way as we discussed beer’s role in society, the life of a female brewer, and how Craft Week came to be.
What role do breweries and beer play in a society?
AH: It’s easy to run into someone at a bar and be buying a pint and make that relationship with someone. I think in Colorado Springs in particular it plays a more important role than people think because we’re all coming from these very different backgrounds, and it brings all those people together. It’s a non-partisan product. I think that outdoor recreation and craft beer are the two things that can bring Colorado Springs together.
Probably the biggest impact as a brewery is how many people they employ and how many people they’re giving a living to. And I definitely see an impact in the economy from this small business because people talk about how restaurants have an awful chance of surviving, but how many breweries close? It doesn’t happen very often.
And what about craft products in general, be they beer, whiskey or coffee?
It’s a luxury. It’s our modern-day luxury. It’s not spices from India anymore.
AH: Being able to put that $6-10 down on a really great product makes you feel like you're rich for that second you’re consuming it, because it is a rich product. It’s a luxury. It’s our modern-day luxury. It’s not spices from India anymore. And so these crafted alcohol products are making us more responsible. It’s not about high quantity anymore, it’s about high quality.
Does Pikes Peak Brewing Company consider itself a Monument brewery or a Colorado Springs brewery?
AH: Pikes Peak thinks of itself as a neighborhood brewery. We don’t really define that neighborhood just because a lot of the people that come in are thought of, literally, as our next-door neighbors because we do create this community among the people that come in and support us.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of being a brewery in the Springs?
AH: The advantages are it’s easier to shine. When it comes down to it, there are less [sic] breweries in Colorado Springs, and so in order to stand out and make a name for yourself, it’s easier. In Fort Collins it was hard to find your place. Here you can find your place. You can create your own niche because it hasn’t been created here yet. But to have anyone out of town take you seriously, it’s definitely harder, because Colorado Springs does have this reputation of being overlooked. I don’t know if the reputation we thought we had in the past is still there, but I do know we’re overlooked.
It seems like brewing has traditionally been a male-dominated industry. What advice would you give gals out there interested in becoming brewers?
And you have to volunteer as much as possible and work for free doing what you love so you can eventually get paid to do what you love.
AH: It’s less a question of gender and more a question of, “are you willing to do what it takes to get where you want in your career?” And maybe it’s that women have never seen brewing as what they want their career to be before, and as more and more women get into the industry it makes brewing appear more as an accessible career. But no matter what, it’s hard work and you have to be willing to commit. And if you create relationships in this industry then you have to utilize them. And you have to volunteer as much as possible and work for free doing what you love so you can eventually get paid to do what you love.
Where did the idea for a Colorado Springs Craft Week come from?
AH: I sat down in December of 2012 and wrote a list of everything that Colorado Springs was missing in the craft beer community. I still have that list. And then I wrote down what I can accomplish — what I have the resources to accomplish — and the first thing on that list that I knew I could do was create a women’s beer club, which is Brewers Broads. Brewers Broads is a group of ladies that meet once a month and learn a little more about beer and get together over a good, well-crafted pint and appreciate it, and also increase their knowledge. The more you know about good beer, the more likely you are to appreciate it, the more likely you are to try and make it yourself. And secretly, I wanted to meet craft brew professionals outside of Brewer’s Republic. And so the next thing on the list was a craft beer week.
What is Colorado Springs Craft Week?
AH: Colorado Springs Craft Week is our own week of events designed around the connection between all of the craft industries in town. So we all have this similar mission and goal to gain more support for this higher-quality, crafted product and by us all coming together it creates this synergy. We’re helping teach the consumer about why craft products are a better product, we’re celebrating together, and we’re creating a greater philanthropic result through that synergy aspect.
So it’s a week of events throughout the city that have been designed by ... the local craft businesses in town. At the end of the week we’re all going to be getting together in one location for a festival. I wanted to make these experiences that I’ve had to search for — to find that craft beer was my passion — I wanted to bring it to the forefront, and I didn’t want to have to have Colorado Springs look for it anymore.
What is the goal of Craft Week?
If we come together, the bar will raise [sic] naturally because we’re lending our ideas to each other, we’re lending our expertise.
AH: Our goal is to build a support for local craft businesses. The first step to build that support is to show a unified mission from all craft businesses. If we band together and create a unified picture, then the consumers will have a better picture of what they need to support. We also want to highlight events that are already happening in the community; there’s already some great things going on … and also, to create new ones to encourage the local crafters to raise the bar even further. If we come together, the bar will raise [sic] naturally because we’re lending our ideas to each other, we’re lending our expertise.
The demographic for this year is people that are already supporting at least one craft business and to open their eyes to the other craft businesses in Colorado Springs, and eventually to reach people supporting craft businesses in Denver and Fort Collins. The long-term goal is to showcase Colorado Springs in a fashion that will attract people from out of town.
Where is the Springs in terms of craft culture, and what is your vision for it?
AH: The Springs is growing so fast. Where we were six months ago to where we will be in six months will [find the Springs] more than doubling in craft businesses. So my vision and hope for the Springs is that we don’t lose our collaborative spirit, that we don’t lose our quality, that we maintain this camaraderie and remember that we all have the same goal.
Any closing remarks?
So long as you make a great pint of beer, everything else will fall into place.
AH: Well, so when it comes down to it, I just want to make beer and I want to do it really well. As much effort as I put into this craft beer community growing, at the end of the day, my passion is to create a great beer. That’s where the focus needs to lie. It needs to lie on the creation of it. So long as you make a great pint of beer, everything else will fall into place.
Mic Talks is May 1 at 291 Distillery at 7pm. Mic Talks is a lecture series where guest speakers have the opportunity to speak on their crafts and passions while giving you, the listener, an insider’s look into the industry. Speakers include Michael Myers of 291 Distillery, Mike Bristol of Bristol Brewery, Ryan Wanner of R&R Coffee, and Craig McHugh of A Joyful Noise Farm. Following the lectures, guests have the opportunity to enjoy a sampling of the guest speakers' craft and live music. Seating is limited to 50 and tickets will cost $10 at the door.
A native Coloradan, Mike Bristol was born and raised in Ft. Collins and graduated from CSU with a degree in mechanical engineering. In late 1993, after six years in the corporate world, he and his wife Amanda moved to Colorado Springs and opened Bristol Brewing Company. From the beginning, their vision was to put down roots and grow the business into a contributing member of the community. After 19 years, Bristol Brewing has grown into a gathering place for locals and has become known for its generosity and community involvement through support of a wide variety of worthy causes, including Venetucci Farm, the Friends of Cheyenne Cañon and the Uncle Wilber Fountain. The brewery has won many awards for its beers, but Mike was most honored when he received the 2009 Partners in Philanthropy award for Outstanding Corporate Philanthropic Program and the Colorado Springs 2010 Small Business of the Year award from the SBA. He is a board member of the Friends of Cheyenne Cañon and past treasurer of the Colorado Brewers Guild. He lives in Cheyenne Cañon with Amanda, their three sons, and a laughing lab.
Originally born in Chicago, I moved to Colorado Springs in 1984. I graduated from Cheyenne Mountain High School in 1994. I have always had the restaurant bug in me: my first job was washing dishes at Estela’s Mexican Restaurant on 8th Street. But I really got interested in coffee when I was up in Greeley attending college. I helped a friend open a coffee bar just off the UNC campus. We were using the Illy espresso, and when we got our initial order in, a representative from Illy, straight from Italy, was visiting the distributor. He came up with the initial order and gave us all formal Italian barista training on the espresso machine. I was hooked immediately. From there, I learned that the only way to differentiate yourself in the coffee world is to roast your own coffees. I started researching, learning, and sampling whenever I could. I got a job in a small coffee bar in Black Forest which had a roaster, and continued to hone my craft. I have been operating R&R since early 2008, and have continually strived to better the coffees I roast.
My personal philosophy as an artist/photographer is a need to get my art out and [have] it be respected. Let me introduce myself first: my name is Michael Myers. I was a photographer for over 25 years, and 9/11 changed my world so much that now I am distiller and the maker of 291 Colorado whiskey. Truly, my whole teenage and adult life, my feelings were [that] I would not have another career and would die a photographer. Well, with my world changed, personal changes, and commuting weekly to NYC I came to the conclusion I needed a new career with a few parameters: it had to be creative and in Colorado Springs were my family lived. My personal philosophy as a distiller differed from the artist/photographer perspective: [the] getting-the-art-out part [wasn't just] a factor — the art being produced needs to be as forward and different as it can be along with making it the best every day.
Craig, his wife Kellie and their two children moved from their suburban home in Southern California and purchased 10 acres of land in the small town of Black Forest Colorado, just north of Colorado Springs. With absolutely no farming experience, they began their journey of self-sufficiency and along the way discovered they love to farm. After seven years of hard work, they now have a successful working small organic farm called A Joyful Noise Farm.
Words by Kelley Heider and Kelsey Sells
Video by Kevin Ihle
The craft coffee scene in Colorado Springs has been growing steadily over the past few years. Residents are beginning to understand and discriminate between aspects like single origin versus coffee blends or drip coffee versus pour-overs. It’s an exciting moment for anyone who is enthusiastic about celebrating the complex purity of something as seemingly simple as a cup of joe. SwitchBack Coffee Roasters, a small-batch craft roaster on the corner of Boulder and Institute, is one of several local institutions that can be credited with elevating the profile of the common man’s drink here in the Springs. Kyle Collins and Brandon DelGrosso, founders of SwitchBack, exude passion and dedication to honoring the beverage that has become a quotidian staple in households around the world. When I met with them to discuss the roastery they started three years ago, I was impressed by their commitment to improving the form and function of their beans, from the farm to the steaming cup.
Originality and clean brews define the SwitchBack model of craft coffee.
Originality and clean brews define the SwitchBack model of craft coffee. As Collins and DelGrosso explain, about 2,000 hours of work go into a single cup of coffee. At SwitchBack, they take each step in the process very seriously, from sourcing (fair-trade, direct-trade and farm-trade exclusively) to roasting to educating the baristas who serve their coffee and the customers who drink it. Take for example their approach to roasting. SwitchBack takes one separate bag of beans and experiments with it in its pure form to accent every subtle note and charm of the bean.
To roast the beans, they use a fluid bed air roaster, which gets the job done in less than half the time it takes with a drum roaster. The result is a batch of beans which are more aromatic and flavorful. Either Collins or primary master roaster Nathan Bland roast multiple times a day and sell the beans, ideally, within ten days of roasting because the majority of what you taste in a cup of coffee is the aroma. Regardless of who ultimately roasts the beans, the entire team experiments with and discusses their opinions of new beans together. The process is meticulous: each batch’s roasting temperature is digitally recorded and logged so the roasters can repeat the factors which yield the results they want. Collins explains that unlike drum roasting, which doesn’t distribute heat evenly, air roasting delivers consistent results, so they can count on the same taste every time.
“It’s all about changing the experience because experiences are what people get excited about.”
For these guys, the goal is not to mass produce, but to create an experience. “Coffee was a means to an end in our parents’ generation — to get caffeine — but our hope is to make coffee an end in itself," says Collins. “It’s all about changing the experience because experiences are what people get excited about.”
By constantly rotating through new coffee beans, there is always a new coffee experience to be offered. This is a stark contrast from big coffee companies whose mass production blends together multiple varieties of beans, making one medium blend that lacks subtlety of flavor.
As Collins explains, the SwitchBack coffee roasting enterprise started from humble beginnings. His interest in roasting began with him tinkering and playing around with a popcorn popper at home and roasting his own beans. Fresh-roasted beans tasted so much better, he was convinced that with one sip, no one would ever switch back — hence the name of the roastery. Kyle eventually upgraded to a small air roaster and started by selling his coffee to friends and family. When his path crossed with DelGrosso, a self-identified dreamer, these college buddies found they shared a passion for coffee. “It was a hobby and passion turned business,” says Collins. “In the beginning we just thought if it could support our own addiction and hobby it would be worth it.”
Initially, they thought about opening a coffee shop, but that dream would require more capital than they had available. Instead, Collins and DelGrosso began roasting in a friend’s garage in Old Colorado City. “You don’t know how much you don’t know until you’re diving in,” Collins explains. Due to their resilience and love of experimentation, Collins and DelGrosso are always learning and enjoy bringing that experience to others. As Collins points out, the primary goal in starting SwitchBack was to create a delicious cup of coffee for customers, not simply as a beverage, but as an event. This is a mission the men take so seriously that they even work with the baristas at coffee shops where their coffee is sold just to ensure a quality end product. The reason for this, according to Collins, is that in three minutes, the barista can disqualify all of the two thousand hours of careful work that preceded it — an egregious offense in the craft world that can be easily avoided with the proper training.
Though there have been a number of changes and evolutions in the three years SwitchBack has been in existence, one thing has remained the same: their love of coffee has never hinged on its production. In fact their biggest financial risk was in service of the passion of coffee. That risk was hiring Bland as primary master roaster. To bring Bland on, Collins and DelGrosso needed to take a cut in their pay when they were already struggling with finances. Although it made no financial sense at the time, Collins explains that Bland quickly caught the vision and brought a much-needed boost of passion to the company when they were starting to burn out. “He encouraged us not to settle for being a good roaster, but to fight to be the best we could be.”
“When we educate someone about a great cup of coffee, it’s great for everyone in town."
When I ask them about the development of the craft coffee scene in Colorado Springs, Collins and DelGrosso say they are happy about the growing enthusiasm within the community. And they are grateful for the opportunity to be a catalyst for the movement. “When we educate someone about a great cup of coffee, it’s great for everyone in town,” says Collins. “Together we can work to elevate the coffee culture.” More important, however, they recognize that with a craft company like SwitchBack, they have to continually work to stay competitive in the evolving craft culture. For now at least, these gentlemen are up for the challenge.
Speaking of challenge, Colorado Springs Craft Week is April 26 - May 4, 2014. Check the website for fun events, including the Crafter's Festival Roasting Competition on May 2 and the Home Roasting Class on May 3. In addition, SwitchBack has partnered with local breweries Nano 108, Fieldhouse Brewing, Pikes Peak Brewing and Fossil Brewing for a selection of collaboration coffee beers, which you'll have the opportunity to taste at the Crafter's Festival and at different taps around town.
Words by Kate Perdoni of Eros and the Eschaton
Photos by Kirsten Cohen and Kate Perdoni
The promise of Something-is-Happening-Now-in-Your-Town is a gift to experience palpably and one to bring home.
As a musician and music lover, it's easy to be swept away by the chaotic allure of South by Southwest, an annual music festival in Austin, TX. The promise of Something-is-Happening-Now-in-Your-Town is a gift to experience palpably and one to bring home. If you're already feeling the buzz back where you live, SXSW is extra honey to add to the pot when you get back. (I think Neil Young called that a Honey Slide.) There's no way you can be in Austin for a week and not feel inspired to pick some of the zing up off the street and cram it into the back of your van with the rest of your gear. The excitement of 40,000 extra arts lovers in one place is hard to shake.
Predominantly viewed as one of "the" places to experience music each year, as well as a commercial outfit slinging logos against the backdrop of rad bands you've always wanted to see playing within blocks of each other in a matter of minutes, South by Southwest (SXSW) raged into its 27th year in March of 2014.
Like us, many Colorado bands made their way to Austin this year to participate in official and unofficial SXSW showcases. "I think SX has inspired many Colorado folks," said Steph Jay of the Fort Collins band Wasteland Hop, "making them want something similar in our neck of the woods. SX is a great way to meet people, and it is the place to go for anything and anyone music-related in March."
SXSW is "almost like a rite of passage—we didn't understand it until we played it."
Noah Cecil of Winchester Holiday said what brought his band to Austin was "the perception that SXSW has been the center of the independent music world on an annual basis for some time now — we’ve wanted to be a part of that from the beginning."
Nick Duarte of Fort Collins rock quartet Post Paradise said SXSW is "almost like a rite of passage — we didn't understand it until we played it."
Longtime goers admitted that noticeably, and perhaps predictably, the festival has grown in sponsorship activity as its musical reach and attendance have expanded. There are free sunglasses at every corner with “Wordpress” etched in the sides, T-shirts from Gig Salad, fluorescent sponsored headwear, guitar picks emblazoned with logos and towels from Payola.fm (the logo crusted off after one wash). Everything is something. A day planner is a branding agency, a zine is a company's glossies, a tote bag is a social network, a LED light is a Taylor guitar. So many people offered to design our merch that I was almost offended.
Looking past the logos, we met real, awesome people who were delightful to talk with. They knew someone we knew, had lived somewhere we'd lived, or usually both. Beyond the schtick, humanity was revealed. One man in an engineer's coat blatantly told us he didn't know what the 3D printer at his booth was doing. "It's for teaching topography," he said when I asked him what the printer was making.
"Topography?" I asked. "Like, how?"
"I don't know," he admitted bashfully. "I'm in the graphic design program."
Texas is a hospitable place, much more so collectively than I could have remembered or imagined.
Texas is a hospitable place, much more so collectively than I could have remembered or imagined. Its thrift stores are bountiful, its citizens so warm I definitely expected a stage light to fall out of the sky à la The Truman Show. And the trail to play music in Austin was blazed by surrounding cities lighting torches for bands passing through. The waves of good vibrations that rocked us to and from SXSW were in every city we played and all points between. I find myself eager to tour Texas again.
Having not really understood the allure — from hauling gear through sweaty, crowded block upon crowded block, asking each person in the swarming crowd specifically to move out of the way, and parking 45 minutes away by foot after load-in, sometimes for three shows a day, for days on end — I wasn't sure how I'd feel about SXSW. Tyler Grant of Boulder band The Grant Farm was also surprised by "the type of load-in that venues expect bands to accomplish around 6th Street — quite a challenge, and a workout!"
Strangely, an air of order pervaded the festival, with shows swiftly beginning on time and the crowds marching rather than milling.
Strangely, an air of order pervaded the festival, with shows swiftly beginning on time and the crowds marching rather than milling. "I was surprised how organized the shows seemed to be, for the most part, given the amount of people attending and the amount of bands playing," said Steph Jay.
Meanwhile, Sarah Angela of Sarah and the Meanies loved "the absolute mayhem of running around with the band from showcase to showcase. I craved the frantic excitement of it all and it was completely satisfying."
"I think the most beneficial part of the craziness that is SXSW was the silent self-reflection that went on inside my head," said Conor Bourgal of Colorado Springs folk act The Changing Colors. "I kept saying to myself, 'Look at all this madness! Where do I fit into this?'"
The other craziness, the super-real tragedy of Wednesday night, didn't reach us until Thursday morning, when texts began pouring in asking if we were okay. We were shocked to hear a drunk man had supposedly tried to evade police in the heart of festival activities, and instead drove the wrong way on a one-way street before devastating the lives of many people. Four people have died as a result, and many more remain injured. Though I don't know if the drunk driver had been partaking in SXSW, it certainly was cause to think twice about the high alcohol content of shows and the push for free beer all day long at almost every showcase. SX organizers said they felt an obligation toward those who had traveled from around the world to attend the event to keep the festival going. They released information as it became available via social media channels. The site of the crash was blocked off to passersby, concerts were cancelled or relocated, and friends hugged a little harder to express grief. (Links to donate to assist victims can be found at the end of this article.)
As a whole, there were many things to love about the atmosphere of SXSW. Music lovers make for very attentive audiences. People attend SX in order to viscerally experience as much music as they can within the span of a few days, so there's an eagerness to soak in what is going on. Knowing they will likely be headed to a different venue within the hour, people are on the move, but they want to listen.
"Although we only played for a handful of people, they were very attentive and super-receptive," said Harriett Landrum of Colorado Springs gypsy duo The Hopeful Heroines. The band made the trek to Texas to play an unofficial showcase and to see longtime musician-friends from around the country. Said bandmate Xanthe Alexis, "I am so glad that we were able to witness the festival. It was a really incredible experience to be a part of the huge migration of artists all gathering in one location to celebrate music."
SX felt like one of those dreams where everyone you know from different parts of your life is gathered together in your high school gymnasium.
Our shows were also incredibly varied and in front of widely differing audiences. We played an outdoor stage at a local coffee shop, the grand opening of a Mexican restaurant, a 50s canned-ham motor home, a black box theater, a rock venue, and a bike repair shop. And with our artist's badges, we were able to attend a zine and tape panel, see Neil Young give a speech about his new sound system PONO, visit the Artist's Lounge, and wander for hours around the Tech Trade Show. Add to that playing a label showcase and the primal joy of eating delicious street food and running into pals from all over the country, and SX felt like one of those dreams where everyone you know from different parts of your life is gathered together in your high school gymnasium (which is, consequently, the way I feel each time I see a show at Ivywild). It was a huge reward for all of our planning, practicing and recording.
"As both a band playing and as fans enjoying music, the experience was amazing," said Chris Thompson of Fort Collins prog band The Echo Chamber. "We saw countless bands, drank way too much beer, and slept rarely — but it was all worth it. We’ll most definitely go back next year."
Like many other Colorado artists, Thompson came to Texas to play in the Colorado Music Party showcase held in collaboration with SpokesBUZZ, a nonprofit band promotion company based out of Fort Collins. "SpokesBUZZ accepts bands onto their roster through an application process, then helps those bands develop to bring national attention to the Fort Collins music scene," Thompson said.
SpokesBUZZ has hosted the two-day Colorado Music Party since 2010, this year collaborating with Reverb, OpenAir CPR and other Colorado sponsors to bring together their hand-picked selection of artists. The collaborative effort brought over 30 Colorado bands to Austin.
SpokesBUZZ recognizes branching out local artists to a national platform is a huge part of SXSW. “The Colorado Music Party was born out of a need for visibility in an ever-crowded and overwhelming SXSW,” said Alana Rolfe of SpokesBUZZ. “By banding together, it makes Colorado’s stamp on Austin more significant.”
"We talk ad nauseam about the best way to help artists make an impact at SXSW," said Virgil Dickerson of Illegal Pete's and Colorado's Greater Than Artist Collective. Dickerson helped book bands for the Colorado Music Party showcase. "The folks at SpokesBUZZ do an incredible job with it, and I think this year was the best party yet."
Vocalist Steph Jay said the Colorado Music Party brought her band to SXSW. "This was my first year attending the Colorado showcase, but I've heard from many people that it has been getting stronger every year," Jay said. "This year, all of the Colorado bands that played were tight and energetic, giving a good name for Colorado. We had a packed house for almost every show at the showcase."
While showcases are a great vehicle to put Colorado music on the national landscape, Dickerson says there is a larger conversation taking place about what else can be done to further expose Colorado bands. "The biggest question we ask is, are our Colorado acts getting attention from the music industry, or is it mostly Colorado folks going to the parties? I think there is a mix, but I always want to think about how we can get more industry folks seeing our Colorado acts."
"All the industry people are there, not just musicians, and most are very willing to stop and chat with you."
From an industry standpoint, musicians say SX does what it is supposed to. "All the industry people are there, not just musicians, and most are very willing to stop and chat with you. It's really about making connections and meeting people, whether it is club owners, promoters, managers, producers or other bands," said Thompson. "It’s just great to network and meet people from all over the world.”
Has Dickerson witnessed a noticeable impact on local artists after attending SX? "Yes and no," he says. "Sadly, there are lots of acts that pay so much money to get down to Austin and to play shows that don’t pay and for lodging and other expenses and in the end, they don’t get many people seeing them. For example, one of [Greater Than Collective's] acts, A. Tom Collins, had Kevin Lyman (of the Warped Tour) see them at the Colorado Music Party. He actually tweeted that they were one of his favorite performances of the festival. We reached out to him and he said he had a few ideas for them. With luck, this could open up some doors for the band. [With] SXSW, you just never know who is in that audience and what could come out of it. It is that investment that could make the biggest difference for your band — and that is why so many acts travel down to Austin each year."
"I think with what happened this year with the Colorado Music Party definitely made people take notice of Colorado bands and the state in general," said Thompson. "There was definitely a buzz around about the party. I think it is usually very humbling for bands when they get down to Austin just because of the crazy amount of musicians running around. It may not be a place to get 'discovered,' but you will definitely meet people that could help you on that path as a musician."
“Whether or not we gain any solid bookings or other opportunities from our involvement with SXSW, we are sure to gain a better understanding of the music business and some contacts that might be valuable in the future,” explained Tyler Grant. “And we all had a great time!"
Fort Collins rock quartet Post Paradise has played SXSW three times in collaboration with SpokesBUZZ and the Colorado Music Party. "Two years ago, we met a whole bunch of Denver bands through our showcases in Austin, which really helped us break into the Denver market,” said band member Nick Duarte. “It could've taken way longer if we hadn't had the chance to go to the festival and share a stage."
“The Colorado music scene really set itself apart by coming together.”
Noah Cecil agreed that camaraderie among Colorado artists was strong, and said his band "certainly drove away with a sense that we are part of an impressive community of engaged and invested creatives."
“The Colorado music scene really set itself apart by coming together,” said Bourgal. “I think it helped me realize that the music community I've always wanted to be a part of is here, right now, in Colorado.”
"My lasting impression of SXSW will be that feeling of wandering from venue to venue on 6th Street, standing in any given spot, and hearing five different bands playing indie rock with loud drummers all at once," Tyler Grant concluded. "It's like a pile of sound out in the street, and a crowded mess in all the venues. We go wherever there are people willing to listen to us and enjoy our show — so I'm sure we'll be back."
Words and Photos: Ericka Kastner
It may surprise many people to learn that the Nature Conservancy’s choice for the most sustainable restaurant in Colorado for 2013 was actually a local foods market tucked away in the south central portion of the state.
Ploughboy, Inc., founded in a location that was once a machine shop, has become both a means for farmers to make their fresh, local food available and a hub of community activity in the heart of historic downtown Salida.
The market’s offerings include fresh bread baked daily, meats and produce sourced from within Colorado (more than half within a 100-mile radius.) Decadent foods like green chili macaroni and cheese, slow cooker-braised short ribs and the most divine beet cake this side of anywhere are prepared in-house and made available for dine-in or take-out noshing. Small-town friendliness abounds at Ploughboy as well, as locals and out-of-towners alike are granted the grace of running a tab for their groceries.
Owners Kerry and Dave Nelson’s desire to plough money back into the community inspired the name. Entrepreneurship is the driving force behind everything they’ve done for years, from turning an old warehouse in Philadelphia into lofts and antique storage, to their latest venture, a plan to transform an abandoned motel on Salida’s stretch of U.S. 50 into a western luxe-themed boutique motel appealing to the Denver weekender set.
Regarding their winning the Nature Conservancy’s 2013 Nature’s Plate Award, Kerry says she believes Ploughboy won the online popular vote over other restaurants nominated from Denver and Boulder because of the intense connection small businesses operating in a small community have with their customers.
“We have an incredibly dedicated group of people who follow us here. We are geographically connected even to Alamosa and Del Norte. I think of them as being close-by, part of my inner circle.”
Owning a business gives the Nelsons a sense of community connectedness. Kerry claims to be one of the most antisocial people she knows. “I could sit in a house on the side of a mountain and never go anywhere.” But instead she works to build relationships through her business. “You don’t want to just be the person who has the cheapest toothpaste.”
In the beginning of her career, Kerry sought a steady paycheck, never thinking of herself as an entrepreneur. She saw herself as a strategist because of her background (Kerry has a bachelor's degree in geology, a master’s in physics and a law degree). Dave, a fine artist and sculptor, seemed to be more the entrepreneurial type, with his tendency to always figure out a way to make a living just by getting up in the morning.
“Over the years, we’ve come to see that I am the entrepreneur after all.”
“Over the years, we’ve come to see that I am the entrepreneur after all,” Kerry says. “I’ve ended up somewhere totally different than where I thought I was going. Entrepreneurs are people who get fascinated with things that they see or see things they think their community needs. They are people who look out and see questions all the time. Entrepreneurs work to create a business that will eventually become a living, breathing entity, apart from themselves.”
The creation of Ploughboy began in September of 2008. Kerry and Dave packed up their Airstream trailer, left Pennsylvania, and headed west, vowing to not work one day of the next 365. As Kerry tells it, the couple was not looking for a place to land. The two were headed to explore Lake Louise in Canada, via Interstate 70. The fifth day of the journey, they took a brief detour to Salida on a whim. Years earlier, while visiting Durango, five separate people, entirely unsolicited, had told them, “If we were moving right now, we’d move to Salida.” The Nelsons took the detour merely out of curiosity, to check out the town.
They were immediately drawn to Salida’s relatively small size, the vibrancy of the community and the lack of boarded-up store fronts commonly seen in downtown areas.
By the next day, they’d begun looking at properties to buy and four days later the Nelsons had purchased the property at the corner of Third and H Street that would later become Ploughboy.
The duo initially had no idea why they bought the building, but they began with the intention of supporting the local economy. At the start, Kerry says their ideas were a bit yin and yang, as they both “hated” each other’s suggestions. Once they realized the property was situated across from the local Safeway, where they estimated county residents spend close to $25 million annually on groceries, Kerry and Dave agreed they’d aim to keep $1 million of it in the county each year by supporting local food industries.
All of their products must be made or grown in Colorado and “be really stinkin’ good.”
Since they opened their doors in August of 2010, Kerry and Dave have established a standard for anything that is sold at the market. All of their products must be made or grown in Colorado and “be really stinkin’ good.” Consideration is also given to the product’s impact on the environment, and small businesses are supported over big businesses wherever possible. The Nelsons have seen a number of the products carried at Ploughboy improve in quality over the years in response to market demands. In 2013 they added a hard cider tasting room, and the Santa Fe-like space is also available for catered events.
“One of the cool things about living here is that when you ask people what they do for work, you get about a thousand different answers.”
When she’s asked why entrepreneurs seem to migrate west, Kerry says she thinks Colorado has always been full of independent-minded people.
“One of the cool things about living here is that when you ask people what they do for work, you get about a thousand different answers.”
Their initial investment of the warehouse in Philly cost them $750,000 and to date they’ve turned $2.5 million in profit. Of the early years, Kerry says, “We tried to live like we didn’t have any money in order to pay off debt. Having debt over your head influences every single decision that you make.”
They still don’t pay themselves a penny from Ploughboy profits, opting instead to put any surplus cash flow back into the business.
Kerry observes that entrepreneurs avoid listening to conventional wisdom, gather all the information they can about their idea, trust their instincts and are honest with themselves.
“You have to ask yourself, ‘Am I doing something not everyone can do? Or am I doing it better than anyone else can?'"
Risk-taking is also a large part of entrepreneurship, Kerry says. “You have to ask yourself, ‘Am I doing something not everyone can do? Or am I doing it better than anyone else can? Is this risk worth taking?’ The end goal is to eliminate risk.”
“If you are willing to live on the street in order to pursue your idea, make sure whoever else is in your life is okay with that too.”
311 H Street
Salida, CO 81201
Essay by Mary Margaret Alvarado
Originally published on www.thehairpin.com Oct 2013
Stoner’s Coin Op Laundry is on the corner of Wahsatch Avenue and St. Vrain Street in downtown Colorado Springs. The white stucco building was built in 1904 and was, until 1958, the Ideal Grocery & Market; city directories note that it was vacant the following year. In 1960 it appears as Roy C. & Mrs. Betty Mason’s Econo Wash Self Serve, on a line next to entries that indicate that this woman is the “wid” of “Chas Wm,” and that this man is a “linemn” for the “Tel Co.” The 1975 directory has it under the surname “Stoner.” Some patrons swear it is a laundromat for stoners, and a banner of “Cannabis” graffiti is still legible under layers of mismatched white paint.
1975 was a prosperous year for the Stoner family; they had four “speed queen” laundries and a trophy room and taxidermy shop. Those are gone now, but their original Laundromat is still in business, though the word “original” has almost faded from the hand-lettered sign. It is open every day, from 7 A.M. until 9 P.M. In the daytime, the building’s southern face is a gallery for branch shadows; in the evening, its western windows are a tableau by Hopper, in a scene made for Christenberry. At night, Stoner’s looks like a lantern.
This is our deaf neighbor Lloyd and his dog, Little Bit. For five years we’ve lived three houses down from Stoner’s, and across the street from Lloyd, his sister Wanda, and her husband Dave. Dave drives a decrepit minivan around town, the back window of which declares, “IF YOUR PASSING ME, YOUR SPEEDING.”
When we get to our street my three-year-old daughter says, “There’s Stoner’s Laundry” to indicate that she’s home. I took these photos in the late winter and spring of 2013, ducking out of evening dishes and bath time for the baby and running down the block with my dinky Panasonic DMC-Z56, which I didn’t really know how to use. I told my daughter I was going to “my studio."
There is nothing to do at Stoner’s laundry. There are no TVs, no radios, no magazines. There is one soda machine, and a rack for Thrifty Nickles that is usually empty. I’ve seen few so-called smart phones in the place. You can sit in a plastic chair, or you can sit in a metal chair. People talk, and some hold court for hours; they fold clothes; they head outside to smoke. At some point someone crawled under one of the three folding tables and drew intricate, skillful studies of a pinecone, a bird, and a tree by water. This woman drives over on Sunday nights in an Econovan with other people from her storefront downtown church. Her bible has Jesus’ words in red.
Some people come because Stoner’s has “the hottest dryers in town.”
Others only like to come in the morning, when it’s quiet.
Often there are one or two homeless men at Stoner’s, especially when it’s cold. The man in the orange hat brings a radio with him and stands before it, talking. The man in the red coat had a bad stepfather in Michigan; he’s still trying to escape. I always ask people if I can take their photo; he said yes, but first he wanted to straighten his clothes.
One recently homeless man wrote a book of poems called I Lost My Pants. He travels with his two remaining possessions: a black plastic bag full of clothes, and his notebook. Over the poems he’s written down the addresses of possible homes.
Stoner’s feels like a public place. In the hours between when the doors are unlocked and locked again, it is an experiment in small-scale anarchy and communal property that works. The owner isn’t around, and neither are the cops. People sleep here. They kiss. They charge their phones and wash up. It is not unusual for the neighbors to bring food to strangers who say they have nothing to eat.
Children seem to like it here. There are poles and baskets and things to climb on and floors to slide down and interesting, spinning machines. The mothers and fathers aren’t up to much, and sometimes someone brings Funyuns or a ball.
This block was built up by people with tuberculosis, mostly black, who moved to Colorado Springs for the sanatoriums and the balm of high, dry air. Now the air smells like clean laundry. Most of the year, the doors of Stoner’s are propped open and the sky and the people stream in and out.
Words: Kelley Heider
Photos: Anthony Delao Adams and Matthew Schniper
Two India, the title of the photography exhibition opening March 7 at the Modbo Gallery featuring the works of Anthony Delao Adams and Matthew Schniper, seems at first rather simple in its symbolism. It conjures dualities. It suggests the idea that two men, armed with cameras, can travel side by side through a place and emerge with very different stories to tell. But it also speaks directly to photographs that depict the beauty and quiet dignity of a people living in extreme poverty — a dichotomy that is easily lost in the bustle and commotion of Indian life.
They came to this project by different paths. Though both Anthony and Matthew are seasoned travelers, neither had ever been to India. When the opportunity to join local nonprofit Yobel International on their Exposure Trip to India this winter, both men jumped at the chance. They wanted to experience and interpret, firsthand, the lives and culture of a community that is linked to ours through the magnanimous efforts of the organization. As Matthew describes it, “Yobel’s mission is basically twofold. They do fair trade work, obviously, just to help with creating industry and so forth, but in this case it is actually counter-trafficking, so they try to create business opportunities in small villages so that the women won’t leave to go to the big city to take a ‘nanny’ job or whatever and end up getting trafficked."
He goes on to say that what he likes about what Yobel does is that they empower people in the local community to be the cause of positive change as opposed to trying to repair the problem as an intervening solution. Based on the feedback from locals, Matthew explains that it’s clear in the past other nonprofits have swooped in like superheroes without actually delivering on their promises to rescue these at-risk communities. I sat down with Anthony and Matthew to hear about their travels and get their take on the stories that accompany the series of images they’ll be presenting.
“I love what they do so much. For me to be able to use photography to help them tell their story, it just makes my heart jump.”
We’ll start with Anthony. Anthony moved to Colorado Springs almost two years ago after working for a nonprofit for 10 years doing community development projects around the world. Most recently, he worked with a children’s home in Thailand that housed at-risk youth. He worked with trafficking groups that helped get women out of prostitution and trained them to be self-sufficient. In fact, Anthony’s first trip to Thailand in 2010 triggered what he calls an “obsession with photography and capturing stories and telling culture stories.” Naturally, he felt a kinship with Yobel founders Sarah Ray and Donovan Kennedy when he was introduced to them not long after he landed in the Springs. “I talked to them and heard their story. I was moved by what they were doing. It kind of connected to some things in my past and past work.”
Eventually, their conversations turned to a discussion of how Anthony could travel with Yobel volunteers to document their work all over the world. “I love what they do so much. For me to be able to use photography to help them tell their story, it just makes my heart jump.”
When the India trip came up, Anthony jumped at the chance, without really thinking about logistics like funding or the additional work of applying for a visa.
And then there’s Matthew. Matthew came to the Springs in the summer of 1997 by way of Colorado College, where he majored in creative writing with a minor in film studies. After graduating, he went back to the food service industry where he had worked prior to college. Though he couldn’t have known at the time, Matthew credits this experience with preparing him for his eventual role as food and film editor for the Colorado Springs Independent. “I like being part of alternative media,” Matthew says. “I’m proud of the work we do as an organization in the community.”
Yet it’s the rare, outside story like this Yobel Exposure Trip that Matthew relishes. “We launched a website in conjunction with it, which has never been done. It was really great to do what I do on a weekly basis, which is reporting, but on that next level. Some part of me has always dreamed of international travel and photojournalism, and this is the first time I’ve gotten to do that: interview in the field, take photos in the field, bring it all back, and put it together.”
For the website, csindystories.com, Matthew has curated digital slideshows of his images to coincide with audio interviews. There you can find a gallery of his photos from the trip and articles about his experiences. As Matthew describes this convergence of new media technology and local sponsorship to me, I can’t help but marvel at the size of this collaboration, and the idea that all of this came together in only a matter of weeks. This past November, after a chance meeting with Donovan, Matthew found himself in a similar position to Anthony — saying “yes” to a trip to India without a concrete plan of how to make it happen, and only two months lead time. However, it wasn’t long before he got the Independent to agree to his covering the trip and even coordinated the exhibition with the Modbo. “For me, I was very much there as a reporter,” Matthew explains. “I was participating, I was volunteering, I was doing pretty much everything the group did, but on another level I was staying a little bit removed so that I could take time out to report.”
The reality of the trip, the country of India, the city of Calcutta, was not something for which they could prepare. Both men got sick. They lost 10 pounds apiece. They were cold, tired, and emotionally drained. At times, searching for meaning in the cacophonous onslaught of sensory assault seemed futile. In the first place, the training, which they both undertook, exposed them to the unglamorous side of philanthropy. They lived like locals, entirely without creature comforts. All their water for cooking, washing, and drinking came from a nearby stream. At night they could see their breath and slept in zero-degree sleeping bags, bundled up with hand warmers in an effort to stay at a temperature comfortable enough to sleep. It was harsh and discouraging at first.
“Human trafficking causes are very popular. It’s really trendy to be involved in it,” Anthony explains. “People are really passionate about it to a certain level, but what Yobel does is the unexciting stuff. They go in and they do a business training, and it’s not exciting. You go in and you’re in there all day in a cold, dark little old church building. You’re teaching a very basic curriculum. It’s not exotic. It doesn’t feel like you’re saving the world. You're almost like, ‘What am I doing here?’ In reality, what they’re doing is setting up a system that gives people hope. It gives them alternatives.”
Matthew agrees, adding that one woman he spoke with had an apt description. “They get stuck in what she called ‘the robot syndrome’ of being on autopilot,” he explains. “There are no opportunities, no hope, no change of environment to inspire them or make them believe that anything could happen, so they end up on autopilot just trying to survive. They make so little money that the concept of savings is difficult for them to grasp."
Matthew goes on to describe his amazement at the level of illiteracy and lack of basic knowledge among the participants in the course — people who had never held a calculator or learned about math equations. The Yobel staff warned the volunteers early on that the course of training may seem hopeless. Matthew and Anthony were in total agreement: it did, but only at first. By the end of their stay, they could see a glimmer of hope in their pupils, who began sharing ideas to start pig farms, micro-lending operations, and craft work. In fact, the translator they worked with was a former pupil who shared with them that she had started a 100-woman knitting group. Matthew pauses to riffle through his things and produces a pair of green knitted gloves that he purchased from her. In fact, Yobel has seen such success with their training curriculum that the staff is planning more trips to grow the program and to shift their focus to the Exposure Trips in addition to the Yobel Market. The aspect that Matthew finds particularly fascinating about this is the ability to trace dollars spent in the market back to the source and document, over time, how it transforms the communities that produce the goods.
Our conversation soon shifts to Indian culture, particularly that of Calcutta, which was where the group spent the least amount of time — but ironically, had the biggest impact on both men. Matthew shared a good analogy for the way that India inhabits its people. “If I put you in a white suit… you know, like a white dress suit and asked you to run across a muddy field,” he explains, “and then I saw your suit at the end of that field, there is no way you’re not going to have mud splatters all up and down those pant legs. And to me, India was like that. There was no way we were getting out without something.” He leans in, gesturing with his hands. “You’re breathing in this stuff. Your eyes are burning, your chest will get tight. You’re stepping in stuff; you’re stepping around everything from people sleeping, to piles of excrement, to trash, to burning stuff, to whatever. At every turn, you’re so conscious of it.”
“It was really challenging to get into a place mentally to be able to see the story that wanted to be told there.”
If Anthony was wearing one of Matthew’s white suits, it would be thoroughly caked in mud. “I did expect to be overwhelmed. I expected to get sick. I expected to be moved very deeply by what I was going to see. I expected to be challenged from a photographic sense in terms of capturing stuff. I expected to be inspired. All of those things,” Anthony explains. Unfortunately, his initial experience was tainted by illness, and Anthony found himself instead rather underwhelmed and very uncomfortable. “I was in bed for the first two days. I hardly left, which was really hard because everyone was out and about doing their stories, and I’m missing out on Calcutta. I am missing stories and moments in time right now. I am upset and crushed by this.”
When he did make it out of his bed, the streets of Calcutta delivered on his expectations. Both Anthony and Matthew commented on the sensory overload they endured while traveling through the city. “I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of people and the noise level, kind of the underlying tones.” Anthony describes feelings of surrender to the disorientation that ensued. He felt stunted, unmotivated, and unable to see the thread of his story for all of the people bustling past. “It was really challenging to get into a place mentally to be able to see the story that wanted to be told there.”
“It was one of those moments that you want to find that you just stumble across and, like, instinct kicks in. I took off running down the road in my flip flops, stepping in who knows what, tripping over who knows what.”
The city sent Anthony on a journey of deep introspection that wound its way through his past and unearthed deep emotions. The stories that developed are still unfolding before them as both men continue to process their experiences and search through hundreds of images that serve as mile markers along their journey. Anthony confides that even when he left India, he was feeling uncertain about the images he took. Surprised by Anthony’s words, Matthew interjects to tell a story of the first night when Anthony felt well enough to go out to a restaurant with the group. On the way out of the restaurant, a parade was passing on the street. “It was one of those moments that you want to find that you just stumble across and, like, instinct kicks in. I took off running down the road in my flip flops, stepping in who knows what, tripping over who knows what.” Matthew asks excitedly for Anthony to share with me the image that he had captured in that moment. It’s a stunning photo of the procession that centers on a man carrying lights, his face half-illuminated, half-shrouded by night. Matthew boasts about how, technically, it is a photograph that would strike envy in the heart of any adept photographer. “That shot is awesome,” he says.
Anthony nods humbly. Matthew describes how, from a mere twenty feet away, that event amounted to nothing special in terms of shots he deemed usable for the upcoming exhibition. Similarly, one of Matthew’s favorite images of a woman with a basket in the marketplace differs greatly from Anthony’s shot of the same woman. Moments like these, and the opportunity for comparison, highlight how two photographers in the same place at the same time can come away with such different images. “What I like is that our work is very different, and hopefully, each has its own story inherent to it,” Matthew explains, “They tend to have a very different feel. I like his stuff a lot, but it is a totally different feel than mine. Right off the bat, it’s so different.”
“We’re in the field. We’re moving in this busy, bustling street in Calcutta. You need to get the shot.”
“We’re in the field. We’re moving in this busy, bustling street in Calcutta. You need to get the shot,” Matthew describes. Anthony chimes in, “It was so nonstop, too. I think that was part of the challenge, was trying to be still for a moment and let something speak to you.”
Matthew shows me a beautiful image of a group of boys playing cricket in the park. He explains how amid the dust and haze of pollution, the people of Calcutta have a way of fading into the distance. “We happened to walk in this park on a Sunday afternoon and it was completely surreal. There was this haze because everyone’s always burning stuff all the time. There’s just this layer of smoke over all the city. The people just disappear into the horizon. As far as you could see, there were these figures in the haze. It was so beautiful and so stunning.”
“Amidst the squalor, a vibrant color bursts through. It’s beauty mixed with blight.”
Despite the chaos and destitution that surrounded them, both Matthew and Anthony found a kernel of humanity. It was a theme to which, throughout the course of our conversation, both men kept returning, seeming almost surprised to have finally found it, alone, in the quiet of their own homes. While he describes to me a morning walk past slums of people living near railroad tracks, I can sense Matthew’s revelation that “Amidst [sic] the squalor, a vibrant color bursts through. It’s beauty mixed with blight.”
He goes on to describe passing courtyards on the street that, if you looked in, contained every aspect of life being lived in plain view — people cooking, eating, bathing, and raising livestock. I think of a comment that Anthony made about the level of life that you witness in a place like Calcutta, and I start to understand why they both seem so captivated still by this unforgiving and unapologetic place.
By the end of the trip, both men had a very different reaction to their return to Calcutta — the city that, according to Anthony, has a way of invading, almost claiming its residents. Anthony took the city head-on and explained that some of his most beautiful moments from the trip happened on that last day. Meanwhile, Matthew adjusted his flight and cut out early, unable to face another minute there, let alone an entire day. Having been back in the states for a month, both men agree that they don’t want to return to India anytime soon, but maybe once the memories begin to fade. “Our India was hard,” Matthew says. “It was raw,” Anthony agrees. The resulting images are stunning.
As for the photographs — the legacy of their trials — they’ll be on display at the Modbo beginning March 7. When I ask them what they hope the Colorado Springs community will draw from their images, Anthony explains, “I’ve always had a very quiet approach to it. I just want to take my pictures because they move me personally, and maybe a few other people along the way.”
Matthew echoes that sentiment and talks of wanting to get out of the way and let his images speak for themselves. Both men agree that they want the exhibition to move people and challenge them to go out and have experiences of their own. What is probably most interesting to me is the fact that the two men haven’t seen their work in conversation. Brett Andrus of the Modbo will be curating the exhibition, which will bring their unique stories of India together for the first time. Perhaps it will provide some closure for Anthony and Matthew, or perhaps it will give them yet another layer of meaning to process.
Words: Jonah Goldman
Photos: Kendall Rock
Rent it. Rock it. Return it. This is the simple philosophy of GetOutfitted, a new startup that helps people enjoy the thrills of the outdoors without the cost, hassle, and waste that sometimes comes with the outdoor-gear industry. Whether you're planning a weekend of skiing, snowboarding, ice climbing or sledding with the kids, Julian Flores, founder of GetOutfitted, has lowered the barriers of entry to your weekend in the wilderness.
Julian Flores moved to Colorado Springs in 2005 to be with his wife, who was finishing a degree at University of Colorado Boulder. A Stanford graduate, Flores co-founded the Atlas Preparatory School, which is now a thriving charter school that provides students grades 5-8 with the tools to attend and graduate college with a four-year degree. Having set down deep roots in the Colorado Springs community, it was not long before Flores launched a new startup in April of 2013.
As Julian thought about the bounty of outdoor activities available to him, he saw a problem. He asked himself, “Why am I not getting out there?” He wanted to revel in the great Colorado outdoors, but he was faced with some considerable barriers. Cost, the intimidation factor, and lack of knowledge prevented Flores from getting gear and getting out. When his wife rented some shoes from the online retailer RentTheRunway.com, Flores made a breakthrough. After researching the market and discovering the lack of online distribution of outdoor gear, he created GetOutfitted, an online rental site that addresses the problems of cost and inconvenience associated with acquiring outdoor apparel and accessories.
Flores tested products and partnered with companies like Patagonia, Obermeyer, and Dakine to equip families, adventurers, skiers, and whoever might need outdoor gear for only a few days with the gear they need at a small fraction of the price. In addition to lower cost, GetOutfitted provides convenience by shipping gear right to your door and allowing you to return it in the mail when you are done.
Flores informs customers about the best gear and saves them an average of $300 per transaction. Since the launch, Flores has focused on growth and expanding his company. He now has a vice president of marketing and two paid interns working for him, Marcel Gremaud and Alex Fitzgerald, both Colorado College students.
GetOutfitted is determined to get more people outside while conserving capital and resources and making outdoor experiences accessible to all demographics.
At this stage of the startup, these three are busy gathering data, blogging about products, attending trade shows, and building the customer base. Flores hopes to grow aggressively in the upcoming months and years. He wants to expand GetOutfitted to include different activities “so anyone anywhere can use and return through this service,” he says. “Right now, I’m in the trenches.”
Flores is doing the groundwork of a lean startup. Studying individual expenditures and building his company from the ground up is vital to scaling a successful business. Like the Atlas Preparatory School, which focuses on underprivileged youth, there is a social mission embedded in this business. GetOutfitted is determined to get more people outside while conserving capital and resources and making outdoor experiences accessible to all demographics.
Words: Hannah Gingrich
Photos: Caitlin McBride
When I first heard about the Piano Warehouse, I immediately pictured a large, cold room that had poor lighting and smelled like Pledge—not unlike my grandfathers old basement out of which, coincidentally, he also sold pianos. However, as soon as I walked in, I was pleasantly surprised. Rick Feck, the store's owner, was helping a customer, so I spent some time looking around at all the unique and beautiful pianos.
The room was large and well-lit, and pianos were placed back-to-back along the walls. I peeked through a large door into the back space where they repair, restore, and maintain all sorts of pianos. It was a large room full of deconstructed piano hulls, and an assortment of keys, strings and delicate piano pieces. As Rick and I sat down to talk, he told me how he grew up in Long Beach, California. While in college, he worked at Disneyland in their fine arts department.
How did you get involved working on pianos?
Well, my wife and I met in ceramics class back in college and her dad asked me to work at his piano store during the slow season at Disney. I would surf, then go polish pianos, and help sell them. Once we moved to Colorado Springs, I met up with a blind dude who taught tuning and piano restoration at the Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind. He taught me pretty much everything I know about restoring and rebuilding pianos. He’d come hang out at the shop while we were restoring a piano and show us how to do it.
How did you go from surfing in Long Beach, to living in Colorado Springs?
My girlfriend and I worked at her dad's store for a few years, then got married. We took a two month honeymoon in a trailer along the backside of the Rocky Mountains, from Mexico up to Canada, then over and down the coast. We visited Colorado Springs along the way and loved it, it was a boomtown when we first moved here.
How long have you been in business?
We’ve been around since ‘95 and at this location for about eight years now. This building used to be a punk rock venue back in the nineties for touring bands, and it was vacant for a number of years before we moved in. Before that, we were up on North Tejon. There were several warehouses where we stored the pianos, but those are closed now due to the economy.
There are so many unique pianos here, which is your favorite?
"My favorite would have to be the nine-foot Steinway that used to be the Broadmoor’s. It’s a ‘61 and it has amazing tone."
My favorite would have to be the nine-foot Steinway that used to be the Broadmoor’s. It’s a ‘61 and it has amazing tone. The older Steinways are better because their sound gets better with age. The oldest piano we have is from around 1887 and it's in pristine condition. We also have a piano that belonged to the great jazz musician, Johnny Smith. We bought it from his son at an auction after Johnny passed away. Colorado has so many unique pianos compared to California. My guess is that when the cowboys and pioneers moved out West, they didn’t want to haul them over the mountains and just left 'em.
What would you do if you weren’t selling and restoring pianos?
I would like to sail; pull into harbor in San Francisco for awhile, then sail up the coast and see the aurora borealis. Pianos are a great business and I love it. It's all I know how to do, and I feel like I’m always learning something new.
How are you involved in the community?
My team is all subcontracted and we conglomerate together in the shop and trade tips and tricks. We also do a lot of work for the Broadmoor and Colorado College (CC). We’re always over at CC doing work on their pianos and keeping them tuned.
Rick is essentially spurring on a community of successful rebuilders, restorers, and refinishers.
Rick is essentially spurring on a community of successful rebuilders, restorers, and refinishers. As we sat and talked, he highlighted how he had been interviewed about the City for Champions project that would include building four major attractions: The Air Force Academy Visitors Center, a Sports and Medicine Performance Center powered by UCCS, a Sports and Events Center in Southwest Downtown, and a United States Olympic Museum. According to the City for Champions website,“These venues will attract new out-of-state visitors, extend visitor trips, and improve quality of life for residents of the Pikes Peak region and the state.” The Piano Warehouse is essentially where home plate for the Sports Center would rest. Rick and I discussed how we liked the Champions idea, the culture and tourism it would add to downtown, but agreed it would be sad to see this building torn down. As Rick explained, the Piano Warehouse would just move to a new location, but he seemed uneasy with the thought of having to do that.
The Piano Warehouse is not just a building, not just a shop, but a gathering place for a community of piano restorers, craftsmen, and musicians. Plus, it's a great place to find a unique and well-cared-for piano.
Come join Colorado Collective on Valentine's Day for a wonderful evening at the Piano Warehouse. There will be plenty of food and drinks, live music, good company, and beautiful pianos. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased here
120 Cucharras Street
Colorado Springs, CO 80903