2016: It wasn’t all sh*t

by Patty Templeton

2016 was a harsh mistress. She gave everyone the kind of pounding that is usually reserved for gritty quickies in Albuquerque truck stops. We were all left feeling vaguely ashamed and mildly sore.

Even so, 2016 wasn’t all bad.

We here at DGO are optimists. Bitching and moaning is easy. Finding what to crow contentedly about is the harder job. In the spirit of leaving 2016 on an up note and dragging those good vibes into the New Year, we talked to lively folks in fascinating fields to pinpoint the moments that totally rocked it in 2016.

Art“I think locally some of the really nice things that have happened are public art projects. The one that comes to mind is the piece by Dr. Chip Thomas up at Fort Lewis College. It was dedicated on their first Indigenous Peoples’ Day. I think that’s a really beautiful piece. We have all of this conflict around the [Dakota Access] pipeline. I think it’s good to see our local university celebrating the beauty of Indigenous peoples’ life and culture … Also, I think we’ve seen a growing trend in support and participation for Durango art. We had over a thousand more people attend our Autumn Arts Festival. The city itself is doing a comprehensive study about the impact of arts and culture on Durango. I think that is a huge positive, to see culture within the city’s planning.”

Peter Hay, Durango Arts Center exhibits director Beer“The Brewers Association, which is our parent trade organization that helps to promote and protect craft breweries across the country, announced that we have hit a record high of 5,000-plus breweries nationwide in 2016. It’s exciting to continue to see that kind of growth and interest in our industry and craft beer in general, however it is a bit daunting as well because that means there is inevitably increased competition. In order to stay relevant breweries must up their game and continue to produce new and exciting beers as well as maintain the highest quality possible … It is always great when you can use local ingredients. We see a lot of farm-to-table-style restaurants, more farmers markets and more hyper-local trends. People want to support their community. We try to do as much as we can locally in Durango and regionally. We do a beer called Hop Ivy Ale. We released it in draft at the end of 2015 and in 2016 we released it in cans. It is made with all Colorado ingredients including the hops, malt, yeast, water, and even the can. It was one of the first all-Colorado ales that had wide distribution across Colorado. We feel it is important to support the community that supports us, and that includes the hop farmers and malters across the state, too.”

Kristen Muraro, marketing director at Ska Brewing Co.Durango Life“I saw the approval of the Rocket Drive-In project … [it means] apartments coming to Durango. Housing, or lack of, is the most important issue to me for 2016. Without housing, Durango cannot attract new businesses or keep young families here. The Rocket Project has been in limbo for years and now it is moving forward. Housing projects like Twin Buttes are moving forward. Three Springs is moving on the Village Two project. Housing is the key to Durango.”

Sweetie Marbury, city councilor Food“We originally started out in ’94. We are celebrating 22 years and that’s a great positive for us, considering the national trend is an 18-month restaurant life. Over the course of our 22 years, we have changed our menu all the time. But back then, we couldn’t find people who were local producers that could keep up with our demand. Now, we’re at a point where we get most of our food from within 60 miles. Sustainability is certainly a much better trend than it has been. There is an overall market support for the local, whether that is for farmers and ranchers, craft brewers, craft distiller, or restaurants. A positive is keeping it local, fresh, and craft-orientated.”

Karen Barger, owner of Seasons Rotisserie & GrillLGBTQ“We’re dialoguing about diversity of experiences for people around gender … The gender binary is not a binary at all. There’s a much greater diversity of gender expression than we’ve ever talked about before, as a general public. There has also been more advocacy for transgender individuals than ever before. I guess we’ve seen some things emerge like the series, “Transparent.” … But it’s also through people like Janet Mock. She wrote a book called “Redefining Realness.” She is a transgender woman. She became famous through an interview she did with Piers Morgan. She had her own show for a while. It is a start. We are visually seeing a wider expression of gender and sexuality in culture and that is a positive.”

Dr. Keri Brandt, associate professor of sociology and gender and women’s studies, Fort Lewis College Movies“The thing that is most exciting about 2016 to me is that we still have a video store that’s in business. I think we’re becoming cool and retro, at this point. The interesting thing, from my perspective, is to see how company’s like Netflix are becoming production companies. They are becoming less about how people watch movies. So, if you don’t go to the theater, how are you going to watch a movie? With Netflix and Amazon starting to focus on production, they are not focusing as much on delivery and distribution. That creates an environment that still supports the independent video store … Netflix and Amazon are really promoting their own movies and in-house productions. Which are good, but I think that people are missing a lot of other offerings if they just get content by streaming. But, it ends up being a positive trend that supports the video store model, which is a human experience. We emphasize human interaction. You aren’t interacting with a kiosk or a screen. You have the opportunity to walk in to a three-dimensional building, hold a title, and talk to a human being about it.”

Ericka Curlee, co-owner of Louisa’s Movie HouseMusic“Kicking the year off with David Bowie passing away was awful, but it also gave us this swan song – that’s one of the most pure expressions of art that I can even think of. Being able to write your own funerary dirge is something that every artist would embrace. To be able to sign themselves off with something so grand and so epic and wonderful … that was the indicator that all this good music is going to come out the rest of the year … Pretty much everybody that put something out was on point. I do a radio show and I did the top albums of the year. I decided I was going to write down all the albums that stuck in my mind. That list ended up being 75 albums and that was just in heavy metal music. It was an incredible year for music. So much good art was put out by so many diverse people. It’s really cool to see. People talk about the state of modern music being deplorable and that really couldn’t be further from the truth. You just have to dig a little further to find the good stuff.”

Cooper Stapleton, host of “The Heaviest Matter in the Universe,” on KDUROutdoor Adventure“I’d say one positive thing is more and more people are hitting the trails in what are being called the silent sports: hiking, biking, trail running. You could call it nature’s medicine, because the $646 billion annually outdoor industry dwarfs the $331 billion pharmaceutical industry. It’s not just dirt bags and college kids. Getting outside is big business. For every one dollar spent on outdoor gear and equipment, four more are spent on travel and related expenses. That’s mucho dinero.”

Brandon Mathis, editor of “Adventure Pro”Weed“There is an openness. People are starting to feel comfortable about cannabis. They are coming in daily with success stories when it comes to being off of prescription medications and other types of products that help them with pain. People are so excited to get off of prescription medications. That’s what we’re seeing on a daily basis … We can only say it helps. We aren’t diagnosing, but I’ll tell you some success stories we’ve heard. We have people who can’t have surgery, and they take cannabis and they say that their tumors have gotten smaller so that surgery is possible. We have people who haven’t slept and have dealt with insomnia for years. They’ve dealt with prescription medications for this – then they take a small amount of cannabis and find the issue remedied. I have even had someone call me in a panic that their dog ate marijuana by accident and we have a product that can counter-react that immediately and save them thousands from the vet. I think that the cannabis taboo is less now. I have dentists who send their people here. Doctors that send their patients here.”

Tracy Robinette, manager of Santé Medical and Recreational Dispensary — Patty TempletonDGO STAFF WRITER

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