Brodie Farquhar: The great divide |

Brodie Farquhar: The great divide

I’ve been following these Steamboat Springs controversies about growth — the proposed elementary school, the proposed Marriott behind Safeway and the big development on the west side of town.

I may be wrong — I very often am — but it seems like a great divide has opened up in Steamboat, dividing the community over the idea of growth.

The pro-growthers take the stance that growth is happening and inevitable; that the municipality has well-known procedures for growth to take place; that planning and considered judgment has taken place; and let’s get on with it, already.

The anti-growthers are crying, “Stop! Or at least slow down!” Or to be a tad more descriptive: We’re under siege by too much growth that’s threatening the quality of life for everyone — too much negative impact on the environment, wildlife, water, air and community.

Every resort community in the West has experienced this divide. Every old-timer and new arrival has had the thought, “I wish I could slam the door shut and keep this special place just the way it is right now or was.”

Of course, everyone also entertains the opposite thought/desire to profit from a growing economy that brings ever-greater profits, income, etc. We want to do better, have more money and stuff.

To say that we’re all deeply conflicted is an understatement. 

And yet, and yet. We hear from the sustainability folks that endless growth is comparable to a cancer, ever growing and ultimately destructive. Rather than endless, unsustainable growth, we need a better economic model, one that can meet the basic needs of all within a sustainable Earth. What we have globally is a demand for resources that is about 1.5 times one Earth.

Globally, we’re in deep trouble. Locally, that’s where we seem headed.

In my view, the pro-growthers are pretty near-sighted and thoroughly blinkered to larger and looming realities and impending consequences. Yet the anti-crowd has to offer something more than a resounding “No!” to the growth proposals on the table right now.

Bottom line, what kind of economy and community do you want? How do we get there? Who wins, who loses? I don’t think the status quo growth model has much to offer long term. We need a great, big “time-out” and a deeper conversation to answer what we really want.


Brodie Farquhar


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