City should play up its global relations outdoors
By Richard F. Celeste Colorado College President —
Editor’s Note This is the eighth in a series of columns about the future of the Pikes Peak region written by community leaders and visionaries. It’s part of the ongoing community initiative Dream City: Vision 2020. Imagine downtown Colorado Springs with signs in five languages, and with plasma screens linking the city electronically to 24-hour news reports in different parts of the world, or live feeds showing a climber on K2, or a missionary in Orissa, India. Why? Because that’s who we are. Colorado Springs is one of the most international cities in which I have lived. Maybe we don’t think of our city that way, but consider our vast connections to the wider world: Our Olympic athletes compete internationally; our military personnel are stationed across the globe. Our many church organizations travel and work worldwide, and our businesses conduct international trade. Our students from Africa, India, Japan and other countries come to experience the United States through their time spent here; and our U.S. students travel abroad to expand their worldview. In so many ways, this city is linked to people and cultures far beyond our borders. And we should celebrate that downtown, in the heart of our city. Every year, thousands of families explore downtown Colorado Springs when they visit Colorado College, as they weigh higher education options for their daughters and sons. What they see? Are we showcasing our —
strengths? Surely we can build upon them to create our Dream City. Here are a few that I see:
• International sophistication — The U.S. Olympic Committee’s new downtown headquarters will begin to tell this story. Can we use technology to visually connect with our international outposts, such as our soldiers in Iraq, our students studying in Sierra Leone, our companies exporting to China?
• Healthy lifestyle — America the Beautiful Park, the Uncle Wilber Fountain, and existing running/biking trails affirm our healthy outdoor lifestyle, but we can build on that, with a greater network of outstanding trails that encircle downtown, and encourage residents and visitors to experience our stunning natural environment.
• Flourishing nonprofit center — Colorado Springs is a magnet for what I call “for-impact” organizations. Can we reflect that more vividly downtown? If some of our nonprofits relocated downtown, might they find synergies and opportunities together? One idea: Could our many downtown-area churches and Colorado College host a sacred music festival with a three-day sing-off ?
• Sustainability through downtown living — When people live and work downtown, using existing infrastructure, resources are used more wisely. Can we create a buzz around driving less, walking more, using less water for lawns, making better use of existing buildings? Cities that build on their strengths realize their dreams and shape their identity. We are already moving in that direction: Downtown Colorado Springs businesses and citizens have taken it upon themselves to invest in our city’s heart, by contributing to the downtown Business Improvement District. In another visionary move, our Downtown Development Authority provided economic support for the Olympic Committee’s relocation. They are setting a Dream City example, because a great community invests in its downtown, its heart and soul, the place where we celebrate who we are as a city. I dream of a Colorado Springs connecting globally, reflecting the diversity of our lives, our service and our institutions. Celeste became president of Colorado College in 2002. He is a former U.S. ambassador to India; former two-term governor of Ohio, and former director of the U.S. Peace Corps. He is also president of Colorado Springs Downtown Partnership’s board of directors. “ I dream of a Colorado Springs connecting globally, reflecting the diversity of our lives, our service and our institutions.” Richard Celeste — Colorado College President