The six county San Juan Region is a place where the spirit of Colorado not only lives, but thrives. It is a place of coal mines and cowboys, of hiking and hemp. It is inhabited by people who are proud, resilient, and welcoming. And it is this vastness and diversity that make succinctly answering the question, “What makes the San Juan region unique?” such a difficult task. Difficult, but not impossible.
This October marked the first time I visited the San Juan region of Colorado. As a first year Fellow at El Pomar Foundation, the westward journey was a rite of passage—an opportunity to immerse myself in the region, deliver merit grants on behalf of the Foundation, and meet the community leaders I will be working with over the next two years through the Regional Partnerships program. Traveling from Gunnison to Paonia, Montrose to Ouray, Ridgway to Telluride, I encountered a Colorado I never knew, yet spoke to me like an old friend. Winding along the road was a journey with a diverse landscape and people exuding the unbridled spirit of Colorado. (more…)