Having lived in six other states before moving to Colorado, I have always seen the culture of Colorado through the lens of an outsider. Advertisements portray Colorado as a state where everyone hikes, eats granola bars and keeps the culture of the sixties alive and well in the Rocky Mountains. I moved here I believing the culture I was entering was completely and utterly different from everything I knew. It turns out that is not the case, at least on the eastern side of the state. I set out on a quest to determine the true culture of Colorado by talking to people who actually live here.
When I asked sophomore Lexi Peck what she believed to be the culture of Colorado, she said that Colorado is all about animals and nature. “We have a bunch of animals, and people either go hunting for them or love them and really care about them,” Peck said. She and I agreed that strong part of Colorado’s culture is maintaining the balance of nature and people, and coexisting with the natural wonder of our state.
Junior Libby Mackin had a different view of our state. “I think that the narrative about Colorado actually is kind of accurate because if you go into any mountain town you will find hippies who smell like weed, or are wearing weed tie-dye shirts,” Mackin said. “There’s the added element of being outdoorsy and athletic, but I think that goes hand in hand with hippie culture and the stereotypes about Colorado.”
I continued my search for the real culture of Colorado, asking junior Audra Craig what she thought made Colorado different. “I never do anything in this state,” Craig said. “People here definitely have fun, but I just stay home. It’s really no different.” I began to wonder if Colorado’s culture wasn’t so unique, after all.
Then I spoke to sophomore Brook Strouse, but this time I asked her what the culture of this part of Colorado was, not the culture of day trips to mountain towns, but of our quiet bubble of Highlands Ranch. She shared the secret with me. “The community I guess,” Strouse said. “I think everyone here values nature, and I think that’s what brings people together. Maybe the mountains bring people here, but the community is why they stay.”
If you were to shake out America like a sheet, smooth every wrinkle, eliminate the Rocky Mountains, a nature-loving, supportive community will remain. Sure, maybe a lot of us ski, hike and enjoy the view in the mountains, but in the end, community keeps us together. The culture of Colorado is more than the mountains that postcards display. The true culture of Colorado is the people who call it home and the unique sense of community that exists.