Working downtown: What would grandma say?

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cameron-mugGrandma Halter taught me to feel fortunate for the things I was afforded — often while clipping coupons and humming some unidentifiable Irish folk song.

I was recently reminded of that lesson when the Business Journal management told employees that this fall it will move the CSBJ offices from the perch at Platte Avenue and Tejon Street on which it has sat for more than a decade.

I’ve been driving to and from this location each business day for the past 14 months, and when I’m not at home on the Westside, I spend most of the remainder downtown.

For those who don’t often travel into the city, downtown Colorado Springs means something very different than it does to those of us who are lucky enough to work here.

In a way, it’s like traveling to a bygone time (my 82-year-old grandmother could surely relate). As it was in the days before suburban office parks and social media, I drive into the city’s urban core to open shop each morning, seeing familiar faces and chatting to the same friendly business folks on my one-block coffee run to either Starbucks or Wild Goose Meeting House.

I often eat lunch at one of the Curbside Cuisine food trucks or at one of the many eateries spiraling outward from the hub of Acacia Park. The few-dozen blocks considered central downtown also make for ideal interview locations, photo-shoot sessions and casual constitutionals.

As a Millennial, and a grandma’s boy, this reminds me of my own upbringing in small-town Arkansas, sans the ubiquitous passersby asking if I were “Maurice’s grandson.”

My fascination with the hearts of metropolitan cities was sparked back then by rural restlessness to escape to Little Rock, and after that was piqued by movies such as Woody Allen’s 1979 classic Manhattan. (Sometime in college, I determined that I would much rather live comfortably in a medium-sized city than starve in the suburbs of New York.)

I’d venture to say that there is no better way to learn the ins and outs of a new place after moving halfway across the country — as I did last May — than to spend a lot of time in places such as these (it also helps if you happen to be a reporter).

Working in a dense, relatively diverse area has caused me to meet friends, colleagues, invaluable sources and otherwise interesting people.

The fusion created by high school and college kids, bankers and lawyers, street folks and the rest of the bunch is fascinating; and if you don’t know something about this city, chances are that someone nearby might.

Sure, there are problems — most of which are instigated by those who dare not set foot in the “dirty drug den” they consider downtown anywhere — but Grandma would advise us to focus on what good we’ve got.

Those of us on “the main drag” are within walking distance of happy hours, gallery openings, places to bike and run, great restaurants and countless other attractions that one would be hard-pressed to find in a suburban office park.

Grandma (in the vein of numerous Southern idioms and a man who in Arkansas simply goes by “Bill”) would also say that those who aren’t part of the solution have no right to complain about the problem, but that’s another column in itself.

I have seen such improvement in these 14 months, thanks to civic-minded organizations including the Downtown Partnership and the Pikes Peak Community Foundation.

As Pikes Peakers, we often look to downtown Denver as an answer to our hopes and dreams, but we too quickly overlook what we have created for ourselves out of frustration.

I realize, as we move from this business location to another part of downtown, that I’ve taken certain things for granted and been spoiled with close proximity and convenience.

And as the Business Journal prepares to move to another venue, I’m sure long winter walks and a people-watching deficit will cause me to appreciate downtown Colorado Springs even more.

This may not be Isaac Davis’ Manhattan, but it’s the best we’ve got — and we’re damn lucky to have it.

After all, would you rather be in Conway, Ark.?