Boulder has often been considered a place of progressivism and utopian ideals, where all thoughts and concepts are welcome to the fold. There may be times when one doesn’t agree with the opinions another espouses, but the idea was always that, in Boulder, even if someone didn’t agree with you, they would accept you and respect your views regardless. This basic idea of Boulder’s foundations has fostered the idea that everyone, from all walks of life regardless of creed, religion[BB1] , race, or class are welcome to Boulder. But what if I told you that this ideal, this foundation of Boulder’s social structure, was no longer true and was in fact deeply flawed? I see a city with the best intentions in mind, but has lost its way, ultimately becoming an elitist haven. If this opinion resounds with your own, this article might help give this taboo opinion of yours the voice it deserves. However, if this view sounds ludicrous or angers you, then you especially deserve the opportunity to open your mind to a perspective outside the Boulder box.
Starting from the CU Boulder campus, look around. Who do you see? Do you see a broad spectrum of people from different walks of life? Different racial backgrounds? Different political ideals? Different levels of wealth, from rich to poor? Unsurprisingly, the majority of students here are Caucasian, and/or liberally skewed politically, and/or are present because their families can afford CU Boulder’s prestige. While I won’t go much into the university’s politics, or their involvement in the matter, I bring up this campus as an almost perfect model of the city built around it.
I personally work in retail here in Boulder, and when working a low paying part time job, you get a unique perspective of a place. My first point is housing costs. Boulder is extremely well known for the high cost of living and the high land values, and this is reflected readily by the working class population who, while working in Boulder, can’t possibly afford to live in Boulder. The cheapest living conditions in Boulder are often living in a fairly rundown apartment from the 60s or 70s with 2 or 3 other people, ultimately still paying a rent that would get you a far more luxurious living space just outside city limits. Ask any Boulderite if those who are poor or of low income are welcome here. They’ll tell you how they take care of the homeless and give them their scraps of leftovers from restaurants on Pearl St., but ask them where low income people can live, and it’s nowhere in city limits.
My second point comes with living outside of Boulder. Ask an outsider about Boulder and they’ll tell you they love the food, but not the people. Here, there’s a special sense of entitlement that comes with having opinions that mesh with the echo chamber that is Boulder. If you’re a conservative minded person – or even simply a moderate such as myself – your opinions are likely to gain a myriad of smug and dismissive attitudes. The joke outside of Boulder is that “in Boulder, everyone’s opinions are welcome…unless they disagree with Boulder.” I’ve been unfriended by a Boulder acquaintance simply for not sharing the same political ideologies. I’ve read articles written in Boulder, praising it as the city of the future and why it’s such a utopia. But I see a city filled with rich, smug, white people. There’s a sense of privilege in the air that one can almost physically feel.
Boulder is a beautiful and fun place to explore, it really is. But it needs to find a way to be open to those who are outside their wealthy, white, and liberal echo chamber. Because echo chambers lose originality. Without originality there is no growth. With no growth, the world will leave Boulder behind, where it will arrogantly sit with conviction that it’s better for it.