By Allen Best
Nothing beats nonsense
PARK CITY, Utah – When you hear about Robert Redford, you’re inclined to think of him in one of his starring roles, maybe the mountain man Jeremiah Johnson or the cowboy outlaw Sundance Kid.
Ironically, the film festival he launched at Park City 30 years ago has traditionally drawn urban sophisticates from Los Angeles and New York. For a time, they were called PIBs, short for People in Black.
Nan Chalat-Noaker, editor of The Park Record, says that PIBs no longer applies. “People are wearing different fashions,” she says.
Whatever they wear, there’s a bunch in Park City at the 10-day festival right now. It is, she says, about three times busier than during Christmas week, the traditional peak for ski towns.
Often, Sundance turns into a theater of protest. Representatives of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals were there, as usual. But the most public theater this year has involved the movie called “Red State,” which satirizes Christian fundamentalists and radical conservatives.
Showing up to picket the showing were members of the Westboro Baptist Church from Topeka, Kan., who say God doesn’t love many people and hates homosexuals. They have even picketed funerals of soldiers slain in Iraq.
In a way, says Chalat-Noaker, the movie director, Kevin Smith, and the church members have a symbiotic relationship, each needing the other side to gain broader attention.
But students from Park City High School stole the show, she reports. They picketed, too, but their signs were of absolute nonsense. “They were able — in a sweet, nonsensical way — to steal the show of the protestors,” she says.
Nuances of the nanny state
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. – The five people and five dogs who live at a home in Steamboat Springs are legal. The two goats and most of the 40-plus chickens living there, however, are not.
The case is a test of city regulations, which were liberalized in 2009 to allow up to five hens in some residential districts and up to five goats on lots a half-acre or larger. The city staff is now drawing up regulations that would allow fewer goats but in larger areas.
The homeowners, John and Holly Fielding, are adamant about the benefits of being locovores within 150 feet of their house. One of their children is lactose intolerant, but can drink goats’ milk. It is not sold at stores.
“The ability to produce one’s own food is not simply an economic advantage nor a resourcefulness advantage, but the food that one is able to produce and consume in its unprocessed condition is far, far healthier,” John told the Pilot, citing the enzymes found in raw goats’ milk.
The lot also has 23 laying hens, which produce about a dozen eggs a day. “We eat about a dozen eggs a day,” he said. “We have two growing boys, you know.”
The Fieldings keep their animals sheltered in a greenhouse-type facility.
Patrollers call in sick as protest
BANFF, Alberta – Some 25 ski patrol and snow-safety staffers at Sunshine Village Ski and Snowboard Resort called in sick on a recent Wednesday.
The Rocky Mountain Outlook explains that the mass illness was a protest of working conditions after four senior staff members were dismissed in December. An unidentified group spokesman said the ski patrollers were upset that their friends and bosses were fired – and upset with the lack of a back-up plan.
“People have been working when they’re sick, when they have frostbitten toes and they are working in the infirmary when they should be at home in bed.”
The ski area kept a gondola and several lifts running during the day of protest, but offered discounted lift tickets for the day.
How far to raise the bar?
KETCHUM, Idaho – Ketchum officials are mulling just how much they should raise the energy bar for new construction.
The International Building Code being adopted by most government jurisdictions seals the cracks of energy use substantially, although far less than most people worried about accumulating greenhouse gases think is necessary. Some, such as Ketchum, are talking about raising the bar a little more yet.
If adopted, the code would require third-party verification of designs and also mandate blower-door tests, to reveal where air heat or cool air loss occurs.
The newspaper quotes architect Steve Kearns, who assisted in drawing up the proposed sustainable building code, as saying that most potential developers of hotels in Ketchum favor the new code. “We’re already doing a lot of this stuff anyway,” he said.
Pitkin adopts land swap policy
ASPEN, Colo. – A policy governing how to evaluate proposed land exchanges involving federal lands has won support from directors of Pitkin County Open Space and Trails.
“We’ve set a very high bar,” said Tim McFlynn, chairman of the board.
Among other provision, the policy says land trades should result in no net loss of publicly owned land in Pitkin County or, somewhat more broadly, the Roaring Fork River watershed. Also, no net loss in public access to local public lands.
During the last year, Pitkin County went through a long discussion about a land exchange proposed to Congress by the billionaire owners of a ranch at the foot of Mt. Sopris, a majestic mountain located about 30 miles west of Aspen near the town of Carbondale.
The ranch owners, Leslie and Abigail Wexner, who own Victoria’s Secret and other businesses, wanted to get a Bureau of Land Management parcel that is an island withint heir ranch. To accomplish this, they offered to give the federal government another ranch of comparable size near Carbondale.
The conservation community in the Roaring Fork Valley was split by the proposal. But in a valley where open space is next to godliness, the county commissioners were unwilling to lend support. As such, no member of Congress was willing to carry the proposal.
Aspen debates school calendar
ASPEN, Colo. – Do reading, writing and ‘rithmetic get parents riled? Not in Aspen. There, it’s coaches and calendars.
That’ s the summation of Fred Peirce, president of the school board, which has been hearing all sorts of opinions about proposed rejiggering of the school calendar. It is, says The Aspen Times, perhaps the biggest public controversy regarding Aspen’s schools in years. And this week the school board rejected changes.
Instead, Aspen schools will stay the course of their traditional September-June school year. Under review had been a new schedule: 9 weeks on, 2 weeks off, with a 7-week summer break. Impetus for this proposal was concern about students regressing during their longer summer break, and a desire to better mesh the school calendar with the town’s resort ebbs and flows.