I wonder if Colorado College is the chicken or the egg.
When General William Jackson Palmer founded Colorado Springs in 1871, he created a number of institutions he saw necessary for any burgeoning new community. Colorado College happened to be one of those institutions, along with the Denver and Rio Grange Railroad and the region’s mining and steel production industry.
But what if CC didn’t exist? Could the city really exist as it is without our tiny liberal arts school?
The college serves as the northern bookend of downtown, marking where commercial zoning ends and some of the city’s most affluent neighborhoods begin. The Old North End—CC’s neighbor to the north—is a well-to-do, historic part of the city.
The other day while driving along Cache La Poudre Street near Nevada Avenue, I paused to think of what the areas around the Old North End would look like if our buffer of a campus weren’t there.
It’s plausible to think that things would look a lot different.
Only between Cimarron Street to the south and Lilac Street to the north is Nevada anything other than run-down strip malls. Some of the only vegetation on the thoroughfare through the city exists where the road cuts across campus.
It’s hardly a hidden fact that CC and Colorado Springs have had a rather tumultuous relationship, at least in recent years. Our not-so-conservative tendencies often tend to clash with the almost-never liberal sentiment that is this city.
For one, we’ve got the bubble—what the CC community has come to describe as the institution’s inability to interact and collaborate with the greater city.
We have made leaps and bounds in the last few years to burst that tunnel-visioned concept, but there is always more to be done it seems.
The City of Champions Proposal is Mayor Steve Bach’s controversial plan to stimulate the downtown economy through the creation of a minor league ballpark, infrastructure for the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, an Air Force Academy satellite welcome center, and an Olympic hall of fame.
Notice anything missing?
President Jill Tiefenthaler told The Catalyst a few weeks back that she supports the proposal and thinks that anything that’s good for the city is also good for CC. She also confirmed that the college was not part of the proposal, though the two other major higher-education institutions in the city are included.
CC’s regional economic impact is in the hundreds of millions of dollars, and as one of the top liberal arts schools in the country, I think it’s time that the city start utilizing us, and vice versa. I lament the fact that the college is not part of Bach’s City of Champions vision and, further, believe that our relationship with the surrounding community needs to be more intertwined.
City leaders have been searching for years for ways to increase economic prosperity here and boost intellectual innovation. What if we were that potential?
General Palmer saw the potential in the inherent values of this place. It’s time we did, too.
Jesse Paul, Editor-in-Chief