A view of the West from on high

  • Dragons in Paradise

  What does a newpaperman-turned-professor who spends the better part of 168 pages reminiscing about life in the spliff-puffing ski town of Crested Butte have to say that's relevant to anywhere else in the West? Well, it turns out, a lot.

If you ever wonder whether the West will create that mythic society to match its fabled scenery, read Dragons in Paradise. George Sibley's scope ranges wide, including a cantankerous, accordion-pumping Croatian and life during the "paleotechnic" stage of development at the Mount Crested Butte ski resort — the pre-Snowcat era, when ski patrollers busted the tops off icy moguls by hand, long before Club Med hung its shingle at the base of the ski slopes.

Matching the scenery, Sibley believes, will take fewer chauffeured Land Rovers, and more mountain pluck. "Until I came to the mountains," he writes, "I thought, or had been generally encouraged to think, that money and capital were one and the same."

He discovers that human capital — ideas, passion and even a knack for a little wheeling and dealing — creates community. Starting the Crested Butte Mountain Theater, for example, took some money, and it took a little artistic talent. But, Sibley writes, it also took a rougher form of human capital: "I knew whom to talk to to get the use of the schoolyard and the gym for rehearsals, whom to talk to at the college to borrow some lights," and, of course, "whom to talk to at the Electrical Association to get a slightly illegal line and some help in the touchy task fo splitting 220 volts into two 110 volt lines."

Dragons is an inspiring reminder that in simply leading their lives, people can end up with a lot to say.

High Country News Classifieds
  • COPPER STAIN: ASARCO'S LEGACY IN EL PASO
    Tales from scores of ex-employees unearth the human costs of an economy that runs on copper.
  • FEATURES DIRECTOR - HIGH COUNTRY NEWS
    High Country News, an award-winning news organization covering the communities and environment of the Western United States, seeks a Features Director to join our editorial...
  • GENERAL MANAGER
    The Board of UYWCD seeks a new GM to manage operations & to implement our robust strategic plan. Details at www.upperyampawater.com. EOE
  • IN TUCSON, FOR SALE: A BEAUTIFUL, CLASSIC MID-CENTURY MODERN HOME
    designed by architect David Swanson in 1966. Located a block from Saguaro National Forest, yet minutes to Downtown and the UofA campus, 3706 sqft, 6...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Friends of the San Juans is seeking a new leader guide our efforts to protect and restore the San Juan Islands and the Salish...
  • 80 ACRES
    straddles North Platte Fishery, Wyoming. Legal access 2 miles off 1-80. Call 720-440-7633.
  • DIRECTOR OF PRODUCT AND MARKETING
    High Country News seeks a Director of Product and Marketing to join our senior team during an exciting chapter of innovation and growth. This individual...
  • OWN A THRIVING MOUNTAIN GUIDE SERVICE.
    Eastern Sierra guide service for sale to person with vision & expertise to take it onwards. Since 1995 with USFS & NPS permits. Ideal for...
  • IMPROVED LOT
    Private road, hillside, views. Well, pad, septic, 99 sq.ft. hut. Dryland permaculture orchard. Wildlife. San Diego--long growing season
  • UNIQUE INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY
    Profitable off-the-grid business located 2 miles from Glacier National Park. Owner has 6 years operating experience. Seeking investor or partner for business expansion and enhancement....
  • REMOTE SITKA ALASKA FLOAT HOUSE VACATION RENTAL
    Vacation rental located in calm protected waters 8 miles from Sitka, AK via boat with opportunities to fish and view wildlife. Skiff rental also available.
  • EXPERT LAND STEWART
    Available for site conservator, property manager. View resume at http://skills.ojadigital.net.
  • CONSERVATIONIST? IRRIGABLE LAND?
    Stellar seed-saving NGO is available to serious partner. Package must include financial support. Details: http://seeds.ojaidigital.net.
  • CANYONLANDS FIELD INSTITUTE
    Colorado Plateau Natural & Human History Field Seminars. Lodge, river, hiking options. Small groups, guest experts.
  • WESTERN NATIVE SEED
    Specializing in native seeds and seed mixes for western states.
  • CHUCK BURR'S CULTUREQUAKE.COM BLOG
    Change will happen when we see a new way of living. Thinking to save the world.
  • COMING TO TUCSON?
    Popular vacation house, furnished, 2 bed/1 bath, yard, dog-friendly. Lee at [email protected] or 520-791-9246.
  • OJO CALIENTE COMMERCIAL VENTURE
    Outstanding location near the world famous Ojo Caliente Mineral Spring Resort. Classic adobe Mercantile complete w/living quarters, separate 6 unit B&B, metal building and spacious...