Community Library Assistant and English Language Instructor Janet Ross-Heiner recommends Powder Days, by Heather Hansman, and other related reads.
Covid and the good life have attributed to the floodgates of rapid growth in our mountain villages. We are all facing new realities. I remember Ketchum during the 1960s before the condo-centric wave came and the population was 750. Today we stand at 4,000 plus, depending on the season.
During the growth of the 60s my father often said; “Water and the geology of this place sets us apart.” Joe Koenig, a good friend of my father at the time, was an active city councilman and a developer. Joe believed in growth with good management. “It is the only way” he said. Our community is at a crossroad hanging on to our unvarnished charm, protecting the valued natural and social resources, while managing the inevitable growth. Let’s be smart!
There is a common thread in the following books that I have read recently:
Billionaire Wilderness: The Ultra-Wealthy and the Remaking of the American West, Aspen and the American Dream, and Powder Days.
The latter is a beautifully written story of sensation seeking, wildness & obsession by Heather Hansman. She will be a guest at The Community Library on March 3. Her book Downriver: Into the Future of Water in the West is part of the Winter Read and she will share this story then.
“Water does not resist. Water flows. When you plunge your hand into it, all you feel is a caress. Water is not a solid wall, it will not stop you. But water always goes where it wants to go, and nothing in the end can stand against it. Water is patient. Dripping water wears away a stone. Remember that, my child. Remember you are half water. If you can’t go through an obstacle, go around it. Water does.”~Margaret Atwood
The three books I invite and urge you to read:
Billionaire Wilderness: The Ultra-Wealthy and the Remaking of the American West, written by a Yale sociologist Justin Farrell. He grew up in Teton County where his mother was a house keeper. Maid in the USA. When reading you may discover you might be a NIMBY or a YIMBY. The book reveals the world of the Teton County uber-elites, tax reasons why they migrate to the west, and how they protect their wilderness in amongst the symbiotic relationships of the community. It is a very interesting study and you can check it out here.
Aspen and the American Dream by Jenny Stuber explores how a middle-class community survives in a super-gentrified mountain town. A town where the median income is $74K and the median home price is $4 million. Sound familiar? All players are brought to the round table where important planning and zoning take shape. Managing smart growth is not painless. If a community is to persevere we must move forward and plan. Check it out here.
Powder Days by Heather Hansman is a deep and electrifying journey into the western ski culture of skill and nerve, where many explored the nuance of being a Warren Miller type or a Bohemian ski bum, a truehearted soul skier termed at times in Heather’s book a “dirtbag,” opposite of the bourgeois vacationer hack. The 70s were golden ski years. In the 80s ski resorts became expensive and elite and now have solidified into resorts with Epic passes & Vail Resorts. “Financial privilege can be sneaky and obtuse, while racial privilege is often more blatant,” writes Heather. Powder Days takes the reader on a passionate journey chasing powder into high ridges, with intent, desire, and risk. One can sense the fly-and-glide through that first glitter of white powder, where everything melts off and makes sense, and everything is smooth… Take the journey, feel the powder slopes before a spring thaw. Find it in print and eaudiobook here.