Discovering what makes my community special
July 10, 2018

I’ve lived in the amazing community of Woodland Park and Teller County for most of my life. Over the years I’ve experienced many of our commonwealth assets first-hand. As I have explored this community a few key assets have really stuck out to me. First of all, I learned so much about our Woodland Park Farmers’ Market.

Our market provides the surrounding area with a means to get farm fresh foods. In this way it functions as a foodshed for the County. Since working on some of my core projects that involve our food assistance programs at the market I’ve learned that our market is also an important part of providing healthy food for folks who would normally be unable to afford fresh produce and quality meat or eggs. Our market’s commitment to providing the foodshed asset is a striking example of commonwealth in the community to me because it involves supporting access for the whole community, large and small income alike.

A market customer uses her Double Up coupons to purchase some fresh produce. Our food assistance programs make this possible at the market.

This past weekend, our internship team toured some other farmer’s markets in northern Colorado. Of course, we learned a lot of ways we can improve our market, but I also saw that our market is doing something unique in the realm of education. I had never realized that education is a key asset our market has until thinking critically through this commonwealth activity. Our market is unique in that board members have worked with sponsors to get funding for the young entrepreneur program that allows kids and young adults, 18 and under, to run a booth at the market for a reduced site fee. The other markets we saw don’t have these programs because their emphasis rests on different assets. This program is an important form of education for our community because it’s so rare for kids to receive first-hand business experience at a young age. It’s been amazing to see some of our young entrepreneurs graduate to become full-fledged vendors at the market. The mentorship of the market team and other vendors for these young entrepreneurs is so wonderful and it makes this program stand out as a commonwealth asset of education.

One of our young entrepreneurs works on-site to create some new handmade signs for his customers.

While the market certainly stands out because of several commonwealth assets it provides I don’t want to neglect some of the other great assets in our area. I recently got to explore the Catamount Trails which are across the highway from my subdivision. The trails are a wonderful way to see Pikes Peak, our beautiful mountain, which I consider to be a crucial part of our sense of place because of how much we, as a community, love looking up at it from every angle. While on the Catamount trail, I was also astounded by the diversity of the ecosystems that include so many different types of pine, squirrels, chipmunks, shiny green insects, and many different wildflowers. Based on restoration signage, the forest service is certainly working to protect this portion of our wildlife and natural world which is uplifting to see.

Besides our natural and ecological commonwealth assets we also have many community assets that help us form connections and culture in the community. Our public library, located in the heart of Woodland Park, is a great place to discover arts and culture from our area by browsing through the downstairs art gallery devoted to local artists. The library also provides important access to education, especially in the form of public computers that people without home access can use. Event rooms for special occasions and social gathers foster community along with the teen room which provides a space for young adults to connect with each other.

Our amazing library which not only offers education for the community, but also a place of art, culture, and social connections

Discovering all these assets has been a great experience because it’s made me realize how much I have to be thankful for in this amazing community. I’m still extremely committed to becoming a physical therapist, but I’ve realized through this mapping activity that wherever I settle down to work I want to actively help protect that place’s natural assets and foster the formation of communal assets because I’ve see how important those activities are in my current community.