A city of about 500,000 located in Colorado, United States of America. The county seat of El Paso County. Nestled under the magnificent Pikes Peak, which is 14,410 feet above the far-away seas. The city itself is above 6,000 feet.

Many government agencies work out of "the Springs." The United States Air Force Academy is just north of town. Peterson Air Force Base and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) cooperate as the American Space Command headquarters. The Army also has a presence at Fort Carson south of the city.

General William Jackson Palmer, a former Civil War general and railroad tycoon, founded the city in 1871. His intentions of having the town become a resort didn't pan out.

Colorado Springs gained nation-wide fame as a place to cure tuberculosis. Many believed that the thin, dry air in Colorado somehow reduced the severity of the disease. Greater fame came with the gold rush of 1891.

The Springs is home to many attractions. The Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame, the impressive Seven Falls, the Olympic Training Center (where many American Olympic hopefuls go for practice), the Pioneers Museum, and the Broadmoor. Focus on the Family has its headquarters here.

Technology industries play a large role in the city's economy. Hewlett-Packard/Agilent, MCI Worldcom, Rockwell, and soon-to-build Intel have company branches.

Colorado Springs is the poster child for poor city master planning. The traffic is completely obnoxious for a city of its size. A single interstate, if that is an appropriate name, runs through the city from north to south. The rest is surface streets. Streets, that during morning and evening rush, become packed. Streets that are full of cars. Streets that become overwhelmed to the point that even the traffic signals cannot control the flow. I cannot count the number of times that I have been stuck staring at a green light. Why was I stuck? There are ten cars just siting in the intersection. Why are they sitting there? Either they are real dumb, often times the answer, or they just happened to end up there, because a half mile down the road, someone else is stuck in an intersection.

The poster child for suburban sprawl, a city that cannot keep up with its own good fortune. That is beautiful Colorado Springs.

Colorado Springs is well known for several things: The Colorado College is in the older part of town. NORAD, a key government military facility built during the Cold War is southwest of the city center tucked within Cheyenne Mountain. It's kind of a cool sight to see all those radio antennae and satellite dishes like fur on an animal or something. Focus on the Family's headquarters are in the city as well. Additionally the Fort Carson military reservation is outside of town on the south side, lying along Interstate 25. The US Air Force Academy is a ways north of town as well.

When I visited there I found the social climate to be most unusual. Much like nearby Denver, there is a ton of soulless and ugly suburban sprawl towards the outside of town that I found very unsettling. Along with that, Focus on the Family's conservative presence is tangible but invisible. With the very liberal CC in town, surrounded by military installations and powerful Christian organizations, there's a sizeable amount of conflict just under the surface. At the time I claimed that "I want to hack into NORAD and firebomb this place!" My family was horrified.

I've lived in Colorado almost all my life, and most of that time was spent living less than an hour from Colorado Springs. Of all the larger "hubs of civilization" in Colorado, Colorado Springs has always been my favorite (or right up there) -- Denver's too big for me and too angry, Pueblo's too tired and broken down, Boulder's too trendy and Californian... I like Fort Collins and Durango, both college towns, but Fort Collins is definitely a haven for rich folks and is a little TOO beautiful at times (if you know what I mean), while Durango is great except for just being too far away from everywhere else. Colorado Springs, however, is really quite a nice place; nestled in the mountains under the Olympian splendor of Pikes Peak, generally a green and beautiful town, with diverse and interesting people (however insular and clannish they may be).

Anyway.

The point I'm striving circituously to make here is this: HongPong (and others) have been right in commenting on the noticeable conservative, fundamentalist, extremist factions that exist here in Colorado Springs -- Focus on the Family, military presence, the fact that there's roughly one church every two blocks in some areas -- but there are also other minorities that are far less vocal. There is a thriving but quiet gay / lesbian community here, there is a surprisingly large underground of new agers and neo-pagans, and there are a good number of decent musicians here in town who are struggling to create a better music scene. Sure, there's some very Puritanical and fundamentalist elements, and people lose jobs every once in awhile for flimsy reasons when their bosses are born-agains. And sure, the suburban sprawl is getting out of hand in places, which makes sense for a city that's growing so fast. But there's a lot more going on than initially meets the eye... the Dobsonites and Prayer-Walkers are just the more vocal and outspoken element. Everyone else seems to just be quietly performing their full-moon esbats, shopping for groceries with their same-sex lovers, or putting together some truly wacky genius music with their devoted bandmates. Hanging out at Poor Richard's bookstore and cafe. Or dancing their brains out at the Hide And Seek. Or buying crystals and incense and whatnot at the Celebration New Age Bookstore. Or enjoying the strange splendor of the red rock formations in the Garden Of The Gods. And much more, I'm sure.

Just thought that should be said...

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