Miles From Monday: Colorado Chautauqua Association
October 8, 2012, Boulder, CO: We took a morning drive today through the Colorado Chautauqua Association, some 1,700 miles away from the start of our regular work week. For many here in Boulder, this national historic landmark is a short distance from home and not far from routine: While a weekday might begin with navigating traffic on Broadway en route to work or opening a laptop at Ozo Coffee on Pearl St., the day could just as easily commence on a trailhead at the base of the Flatirons Mountains by Chautauqua, dry air, open space and new ideas unfolding in all directions. The Colorado Chautauqua Association in Boulder is a place I've long been curious about. It's one of several chautauquas around the country established in the late 1800s as a community dedicated to education and culture. Speakers, seminars, summer programs and music festivals remain hallmarks of these institutions today, and the cottages, dining halls and auditoriums on the properties give these retreats the feel of family summer camps. I spent just one weekend at a chautauqua in Tennessee several years ago and the concept has piqued my interest ever since. I've subsequently learned that many of these institutions lost their momentum by the early 1930s, reportedly due in part to cultural shifts brought on by factors like the rise of the automobile and the prevalence of radio. As elements of popular culture continue to deemphasize the need for people to gather face to face, I'm intrigued by these beautiful physical spaces that bring people together in person. I'm no expert on these communities and I'd love to hear from those of you who have experienced them. Have you spent time in these havens? What did you think? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below.