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Jacob Vasquez - Discovering Salida

Written by Bianka Martinez 

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“I mean if I didn't work with Southwest Conservation Corps I would never know this place existed.” Jacob Vasquez says discovering Salida was pure happenstance. After a season away in New Mexico, he ended up finding his way back. He had home, and the community of his coworkers turned friends.

 

His choice to stay, however, is driven by the sense of passion he sees in the people here and the ease of building community. “It's harder to get settled in bigger places. This place, the community, is small. You're going to see the same people, and when you make friends here, they know someone who knows someone, that’s pretty much the whole town.”

 

Having lived in Austin, Chattanooga, and Albuquerque he compares his experiences. “In a big city, there's more people, but It's hard. There's too many people. Even when you make friends it's still such a drop in a bucket. Even a smaller city that's five…eight hundred thousand people. Too much” He takes off his hat and combs through his hair, almost re-living the stress of a bustling city. “That's what I like about Salida. It's enough for me to handle at this point in my life ‘cause it's hard otherwise. “ Driven by outdoor recreation and the lack of diversity, he muses on how Chaffee County, and greater rural Colorado has so much room for growth. “I think that you can look at it as ‘everything sucks’ or you can look at the things that we can actually change. It takes people of colour, also allies that aren't people of colour to actually f**k with…sorry, I'm sorry. I just think there's potential. I'm a person of potential.”

 

“Front range money is what runs this place. There's nothing but rich white people everywhere. The brown people get shit on. The poor people get shit on. That's just the way it goes. That's Colorado in general. The difference with Salida is that it brings people from a lot of places here. It brings in different mindsets and perspectives that allows small communities like these to exist. You could be rich here, you can be poor, but there's somehow still a place for you here. I don't really know how that works out but it does.”

 

“The access to the outdoors here…” He points right outside the office window, towards S-Mountain. “It's just right there. You can be as close or as far away as you want.”