Today is Colorado Day, when we mark the 142nd anniversary of Colorado becoming a state on August 1, 1876. The territory pushed for almost two decades to be officially recognized, and these days Coloradans stick together...despite our differences. But could that change?
On July 18, the California Supreme Court ruled that a proposal to divide that state into thirds would not appear on the November 2018 ballot, citing “significant questions” and “potential harm.” The decision was a super bummer for California venture capitalist Tim Draper, who’d poured millions into the campaign to split the Golden State — but he’s used to such expensive disappointments, having previously spent tens of millions of dollars in support of school vouchers for private education, a political foray that also failed.
Coloradans have talked about splitting this state, too, and five years ago some Colorado counties were even thinking of seceding. Those proposals all went down in November 2013, but just in case we suffer some separation anxiety again, here are a few scenarios that might appeal to some citizens of our colorful state.
7. North Colorado
This one isn’t just an idea — it’s a proposal. Or was, anyway. Only five years ago, commissioners in Weld County wanted to secede from Colorado proper and join with ten other northeast counties to form the remarkably red state of North Colorado in order to better address the unique (and largely rural) concerns of citizen representation. The idea was that the larger urban centers of the state weren’t doing a great job representing the wants and needs and general realities of the more rural parts of the state — which is a decent point. But even in the move to leave the state, there was some dissension: Moffat County said it didn’t really want to be part of North Colorado, but rather Wyoming. This would, of course, ruin the pretty quadrilateral shapes in our region, and you have to wonder how much of a role geometry played in this decision of geography. As the great philosopher Huey Lewis reminded us: It’s hip to be square.
6. West Colorado
Hey, it worked for Virginia, right? So why wouldn’t the Western Slope — already a designated geographic region for most Coloradans — want to divest itself of the rest of the state? Trouble is that this region is still pretty diverse, running the economic spectrum from small, working-class townships to the toniest spot in Aspen. Not that either extreme is problematic, but their respective focuses are very different, which might lead to more specific divisions. Like this next option…
This new region wouldn’t just encompass the Summit County area, but also borrow the alpine areas of Aspen and Vail (sorry, Eagle and Pitkin counties — you’re either with the new state of Summit, or you’re a literal outlier). Ski Country USA would get a lot more focused, and all that sweet, sweet resort revenue would make for one mighty tax base from which to work. And, hey: Maybe that can help pay for that very-necessary major expansion to I-70 that no one wants to pay for. Or maybe just sky gondolas all the way from Denver’s Union Station...?
Could an entire state be ruled by one overarching HOA? Yes, yes, it could. Just imagine: Houses that are all freshly painted in complementary colors. Well-lighted paths and mandatorily manicured lawns. Children…children everywhere. Golf carts pretending to be cars, people constantly talking about “walkability” and “green space.” Parents come in one flavor: helicopter. A state name that deliberately chooses to ignore its racist implications. And it was all built over a giant cemetery, and every home is haunted by the restless spirits of the disrespected dead. (No, wait, that was Poltergeist. And also Cheesman Park. Either way, it’s a Spielbergian nightmare.) Welcome to the neighborhood/state: Please sign this agreement and drink this Kool-Aid.
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Sure, it would become America’s tiniest state (that sound you hear is Rhode Island dancing on its itty-bitty Atlantic feet), but Boulder has been a place unto itself for decades now, and it’s about time that America recognized what Colorado has always known. That Boulder is good enough, smart enough, and, doggone it, people like it. Boulder might as well be a state; it’s already a state of mind.
You know how neighborhoods in Denver go by abbreviated versions of a standard regional description? Locally, lower downtown started it with LoDo. Then we got LoHi, and now RiNo. So why not extend that dubious tradition to nouveau statehood? Evbuden would stand, of course, for “Everywhere but Denver,” which is pretty much what the rest of Colorado feels like, anyway. It’s not personal; it’s just the way that a large urban population can tend to draw focus away from the day-to-day realities of the rural (ask anyone in Illinois who doesn’t live in Chicago, for instance). But it can sure feel personal, and the resulting state, which would be shaped somewhat like a delicious morsel of Cracklin’ Oat Bran, would be a big fiber-filled bite of (mostly) conservatism.
1. The City-State of Denver
Of course, if Evbuden were to become a reality, then would Denver be called Colorado? Why would it? No, Colorado as a state would just cease to exist, and Denver would become a city-state in the ancient traditions of Rome, Carthage, Athens, etc. Of course, the city…ahem, the state…would fucking love this comparison, what with its connotations of the centers of culture and arts and commerce and the Renaissance and all that, and play it up as much as possible. Job one: Annex the city of Morrison to become part of the Denver area officially, because there’s no way we’re giving up Red Rocks to those upstarts out in Evbuden.