Boulder, Colorado: Eclectic, Liberal, and Controlling

Boulder is a city quite unique in culture. On the one hand, it strives to maintain its image of being super-liberal while, on the other hand, many of the laws can be said to penalize the poor or unsuspecting.

Boulder fosters an atmosphere of inclusiveness, which can be viewed by simply spending a day at the Pearl Street Mall watching people walk by. Within this open-air mall, the assortment of odd outfits is never-ending. The die-hard bikers and mountain climbers are evident everywhere with their kneepads and helmets in tow. The parade of gothic personalities is also amusing. Indian-style dresses and paraphernalia also abound, not just in the stores in the Pearl Street Mall area, but also with the local citizenry, which is comprised of a large university student population.

In keeping with its avant-garde liberal image, there is a large selection of organic grocers available. Wellspring as well as Wild Oats Markets is available. These places are constantly bustling with activity even though their offerings are far more expensive than the average supermarket. However, they deliver organic and fresh-made items that are hard to beat for a tasty and nutritious lunch.

The whole aura of Boulder is of a city striving to emphasize a culture of openness and diversity, while tightly gripping the reigns of control. In the Boulder Public Library, for instance, Internet terminals are made available for free to the public. However, unless you are handicapped, be prepared to stay standing while you check your email. The simplicity of control in this venue is quite brilliant: How long can you stand surfing the Web before you get tired and leave? This provides a subtle message to the users of the library service that is that one should move along, and if you don’t want to, they will make it very uncomfortable for you.

Along with the University of Colorado, Boulder hosts Naropa University, a unique university that was founded on the principles of a Buddhist monk, Trungpa Rinpoche. The University’s campus is spread around Boulder in various locations, and at the Paramita Campus they hold many Tibetan Scrolls donated by people in the East. The program offers both undergraduate and graduate courses that are aimed at contemplative education in the field of the arts, psychology, music, and religious studies.

CNN Money rated Boulder, Colorado one of the best places to retire in 2005. With an average starting home price at $300,000, it seems you may want to rent rather than buy if you only have a few years left to live anyway. Boulder has attracted a variety of highly skilled workers in technology and medicine, but with the universities and hospitals being main employers, the median household income was still only about $54,000 in 2005. The cost of living in Boulder is much higher, it appears, than in most other parts of the country.

That is not the only thing that is sky high there. Boulder sits at an elevation of 5,430 feet above sea level. If you originate from a place closer to sea level and try to move to Colorado it will take several months to acclimate your self to the higher elevation (according to some that have done just that). There is less oxygen in the higher elevations, which can impact your energy levels and be dangerous if you choose to imbibe alcohol while mountain climbing on the first day there. Some of the traits of altitude sickness are: headaches, loss of breath, fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite, dizziness, and frequent urination. It’s advised to drink lots of water to help offset these symptoms but acclimatization is a personal experience with one’s own body physiology and can be mild to severe depending on the person.

Boulder also has an assortment of new flora and fauna that can trigger new allergies in people who have a susceptibility to allergies. People with asthma should be prepared to take extra precautions while there as the lack of oxygen and additional natural elements can affect people with asthma.

Boulder doesn’t advertise its camera-controlled roads either. If you are a tourist: Beware. They are keeping automatic speed records on some roads and sending you speeding tickets via mail. These are not cameras posted only at intersections. They are cameras that are designed to take pictures while you are simply minding your own business moseying down some side road – the unmistakable unseen finger of some obvious control freaks.

While there, it was rumored that Boulder was becoming “Aspenized.” When queried the person who said that said: “Aspen is town a bit over where all the rich people moved to. They started buying out the small homes and re-building with larger, more expensive homes. This brought the home prices up but closed the market out to the locals who had lived there all their lives. Everything becomes richer, fancier, and less affordable for the average person, and that’s the way they like it. People are forced to move out so the rich people can keep control of what’s left.”

Visit Boulder, as the city itself is quite unique and eclectic, but unless you are rich and in good health, think twice before living there.

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