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Bill Dvorak - Browns Canyon Cowboy

Written by Cecilia LaFrance 


“I have a soft spot for wild places and keeping them as natural as possible,” said 72-year-old Bill Dvorak. Growing up on a ranch in northern Wyoming, hunting and fishing his whole life, Dvorak comes naturally to his conservation values. His love for the land and advocacy to protect it live on in the legacy of those he’s taught and in the latest chapters of Chaffee County history.


For 38 years, Dvorak and his wife Jaci have owned and operated Dvorak Expeditions, located along Highway 285 in Nathrop, CO. He’s escorted thousands of people through river ecosystems throughout Colorado, logging 70,000 river miles in his lifetime. In previous work, Dvorak set up an outdoor experiential learning program in Australia, taught through Outward Bound, and worked for the National Wildlife Federation.


Several organizations have named Dvorak as Conservationist of the Year, the awards on display within his home. But, one honor stands out as a grand environmental achievement. Alongside a photo of Dvorak and President Barak Obama locked in firm handshake, a three-paneled framed copy of the Establishment of the Browns Canyon National Monument Presidential Proclamation dominates the wall. Signed in 2015, the designation resulted from years of effort on the part of Dvorak, the Friends of Browns Canyon and other supporters.


“The biggest thing for me is the river,” Dvorak said of the Monument’s protection through a combination of designation as Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management property. Beyond the importance of the water and riparian, the area serves as calving grounds for big horn sheep, a migratory route for elk, and home for mountain lion, bobcat, deer and bear. “And we just keep pushing them further and further away.”


The original goal to achieve 180,000 acres as a wilderness area saw little chance at success, Dvorak said. Instead, with the cooperation of Senator Mark Udall, Dvorak made seven trips to Washington D.C. to sell  the conservation agenda as a National Monument. There he met with Obama Administration officials to educate them on the need. “He knew nothing about wilderness; he’s a city boy,” Dvorak playfully jabbed at the former president. In return, Dvorak came back to Chaffee County to work on the public support the administration requested.


Amid ranching and mining opposition, the public meetings and an “I Support Brown’s Canyon” campaign achieved the local buy-in Obama needed. Now, 21,586 acres are protected. “We got what we could.” Dvorak received a President’s Award for Citizen Advocacy in 2015. The red and brown granite formations of Brown’s Canyon stand undisturbed as the greater testament to his work.


Pal - Ninety year old Salida Original

Written by Megan Juba


“I live 90 years in this house—born and raised here.” Pal sits on the front porch of his small simple white house that is on one side of a large lot. It is one of the few original homes that remains on his street which borders the river near downtown Salida. Every day he watches kids ride by on their bikes, people walking by and tourists try to find a place to park.


Lots of people know him and often stop to talk and hear his stories. He tells about miraculously surviving cancer as a child and rheumatic fever in his 20’s, going out dancing, boxing prisoners, the circus rolling into town on the narrow gage, working at the Smeltertown Country Club and holding his tiny mom in his arms when she died.


He has a huge lawn that he cares for and mows with detailed method to keep it “nice like a carpet.” There are remains of a large garden area out back, weeds that quickly take over patches of dirt and a large handbuilt garage at the rear of the second half of the lot. The doors of the garage slide to the side on tracks overhead and only Pal knows the appropriate wiggle, pull and pressure so they open with ease.


The garage is home to his beloved 1955 Mercury Custom which Pal bought for $500 when working for the Chevy garage as a young man. He had it painted all black because that’s his favorite color. Pal jokes about never having a woman or children and jokes that the Mercury is his baby. “It doesn’t have a name. When people see it, they say ‘There’s Pal.’ Everyone knows my car.”


He shuffles slowly across the lawn with his walker, hovering it above the grass when he steps. When asked about all the changes he’s seen in his 90 years he shakes his head in dismay, stops, puts the walker down on the grass and says  loudly,  “Changes!!—that’s what’s a drivin’ me crazy!”

He lifts one hand off so he can give a big thumbs down and declares, “My town is going down. Salida is too expensive!” He insists, “You gotta go where you feel better. That’s why I like Buena Vista. I feel so much better over there and people has got common sense and respect and if you need anything or to know about the town they would be glad to help you.” 


Luke Kraska - A Life of Temporary Isolation

Written by Cecilia LaFrance 


Luke Kraska finished his shift at the local golf course. Most days after work, he keeps to himself until he moves his van to any multitude of dispersed camping areas for the night. His sleep and waking hours follow the natural light cycles. He reports to work daily, earns his wage and repeats the pattern for four months of the year.

Luke hasn’t looked for a place to live. “The idea of spending $800 a month for a roof over my head, that’s $800 that could be spent elsewhere.” Each summer, he saves enough money to travel for the remainder of the year.

“My usefulness here doesn’t extend beyond four months of employment.” Luke trades labor for money in a temperate climate with beautiful vistas. The remainder of the year he travels and trades money for other people’s labor in more affordable countries as he looks for his own place to eventually settle. “I just don’t feel like there’s a me-sized vacancy anywhere in the U.S. The United States is a nation of closed doors.”

Luke contrasts Latin American countries, places with more open cultures, as communities he prefers. Meanwhile, the outdoor nature of his seasonal work and accommodations suit him. And, his situation creates a challenge. “If it were an easy life, I would not have found my success.” Luke won’t wax romantic about living out of a van or not having a place of his own. But, he recognizes appreciations he may take for granted if he had a thermostat or walls: the comfort and warmth of a quality blanket or the morning songs of birds.

“It’s a privilege to come here, roughing it, like the old west, and find success in adversity.” Luke says his unconventional approach of making and saving money through “homelessness” initially was inspired through his first stay in Chaffee County five years ago.

“People here don’t really pry into your business.” In other areas Luke’s traveled, especially other small towns, locals outwardly show suspicion of visitors. In larger areas, nomadic lifestyles often get grouped under the homelessness umbrella and its associated judgements of substance abuse, mental illness and crime, among others. Chaffee County residents’ comfort with tourists, use of public lands and seasonal workforces makes it an ideal place for Luke to return to each year as a home base.

“I’m not looking for a life of isolation. But, if living one, Chaffee County is the best location.”


Barbie McCollister - She's on a Mission

Written by Cecilia LaFrance


“This is not just a place that hands out food. Anyone can do that.” Barbie McCollister points her head toward the dining area of the Arkansas Valley Christian Mission in Buena Vista, CO. Neighborly exchanges and updates cross among the occupants at tables during one of the week’s free lunches. At the front office, a volunteer laughs with a familiar guest who delivers a customary joke at each visit. A pastor of a local church joins a table for the meal. To guess at which of the 20 guests today were in need versus those there to serve is to miss the respect and love Barbie intends for all who come through the Mission’s door.

“We have good news to share in terms of life,” Barbie’s soft voice invites calm and safety. Her petite 89-year-old frame sits in correct posture and she raises her hands from her lap in emphasis, “We love people where they’re at.”

Since 1997, Barbie has dedicated herself to helping people in “the hardest part of their journey.” Barbie lists some of the causes behind the hardships: illness, unemployment, substance abuse, failed relationships and family troubles. “You never know who could be in need.” She and other Mission volunteers evaluate every situation and connect people to the Mission’s resources as well as to local agencies for assistance. “We don’t have any dos or don’ts. It’s the person and their need.”

Barbie was once a single mother herself, and then met her husband Paul through a church in Omaha, NE in 1980. “We shared a similar experience in being so blessed by the Lord. We knew we wanted to be in ministry.” She and Paul became commissioned Stephen ministers and answered calls that eventually led them to Buena Vista to form a community ministry.

For 25 years, the Mission has operated purely through the work of volunteers and donations. Barbie adamantly refuses sole recognition for any of the Mission’s impact. “I didn’t do it. Jesus did,” she once told a single mom who credited Barbie with changing her life.

Barbie can’t quote how many people the Mission has served; instead she marvels on its ability to answer calls for help. “We trust that the Lord will take care of us and he does.”

When her husband passed in 2014, Barbie stepped down from the Mission’s leadership, but stayed as a volunteer. She’s down to one day per week now, “but I’m on call 24/7.”

Barb McCollister
Luke Kraska

George - Man of God

Written by Megan Juba.


“I don’t have much problem knowing what’s most important to me,” George says without hesitation. “Number one, God. Number two, Family. Number three, caring for people.” He’s lived his 84 years prioritizing these–in this order. He grew up in the rural Gunnison valley where it was hard to make a living and tough on people. He was the second born of four siblings. His mother lived a “physically difficult life” his whole childhood. He shrugs, “My family was a little tougher than most, I guess.” Tears well over from his pale blue eyes as he remembers her. “She asked me to read her bible on her deathbed. When I promised her, she died.” He says he didn’t really have God for 40 years. Until her death, he believed, but didn’t practice. “She knew I would have to accept.” He did, and lives a life that shows it.


George married his wife, Pat, to have a family at age 22. They had three girls and a boy, eleven grandchildren, five great grandchildren and have one more great on the way. Like most men in his generation, work was the priority. He worked hard to provide for his family, paid for everything outright, put money away and didn’t go on family vacations so they would someday inherit something. “Family was second to job, then I became a Christian… Years ago I would do whatever I could do to feed my family. Now, I pray and  know that He will provide for me. The closer you can be to God, the better you can do for your family. A prayer to me is more important than anything else you can do.”


Over the years, George has cared for people by trying to “pay witness” through everyone. He looks at his rough hands and admits, “I probably haven’t done a good job of it. I’ve thought about all the opportunities I’ve missed.” He’s been able to use fishing as a “tool from God.” Friends get to know each other well and talk while on the water. He feels like paying witness to others in a way that is relatable and doesn’t make them feel inferior is important. These last two years, age has finally caught up to him. He’s lost his desire to go fishing. “I haven’t been as good at finding something to keep me going,” he says with his head hung. But he still has one goal. “For God to put someone in my path that I can witness to; share the gospel and ask them about Jesus.”

Escrito por: Megan Juba

Título: Hombre de Dios

Cita: "Una oración para mí es más importante para mí que cualquier otra cosa que pueda hacer".

Descripción del narrador: 84 años de edad y sus prioridades.


“No tengo muchos problemas para saber qué es lo más importante para mí”, dice George sin dudarlo. “Número uno, Dios. Número dos, Familia. Número tres, cuidar de otros”. Ha vivido sus 84 años con esa prioridad, en ese orden. Creció en el área rural del valle de Gunnison, donde era difícil ganarse la vida y la vida era dura con la gente. Fue el segundo de cuatro hermanos. Su madre vivió una “vida físicamente difícil” durante su infancia. Se encoge de hombros, "Mi familia era un poco más fuerte que muchas, supongo".  Las lágrimas brotan de sus ojos azul pálido cuando la recuerda. “Ella me pidió que leyera su biblia en su lecho de muerte. Cuando se lo prometí, ella murió”. Dice que en realidad no tuvo a Dios por 40 años. Hasta su muerte, él creía, pero no practicaba. “Ella sabía que tendría que aceptarlo”. Lo hizo, y vive una vida que lo demuestra.


George se casó con su esposa, Pat para formar una familia, a los 22 años. Tuvieron tres niñas y un niño, once nietos, cinco bisnietos y viene uno más en camino. Como la mayoría de los hombres de su generación, el trabajo era la prioridad. Trabajó duro para mantener a su familia, pagó todo de contado, ahorró dinero y no se fue de vacaciones familiares para que algún día la familia heredara algo. “La familia era lo segundo después del trabajo, luego me convertí en cristiano… Hace años hacía todo lo que fuera para alimentar a mi familia. Ahora, oro y sé que Él proveerá. Cuanto más cerca esté de Dios, mejor podrá hacer por su familia. Una oración para mí es más importante para mí que cualquier otra cosa que pueda hacer”.


A lo largo de los años, George se ha preocupado por las personas tratando de “dar testimonio” a través de todos. Mira sus manos ásperas y admite, “Probablemente no lo he hecho bien. He pensado en todas las oportunidades que he perdido”. Ha usado la pesca como una "herramienta de Dios". Los amigos se conocen bien y conversan mientras están en el agua. Siente que es importante dar testimonio a los demás de una manera que se entienda y que no los haga sentir inferiores. Estos últimos dos años, la edad finalmente lo ha alcanzado. Ha perdido el deseo de ir a pescar. “No he sido tan bueno para encontrar algo que me mantenga en marcha”, dice con cabeza gacha. Todavía tiene un objetivo. “Para Dios poner a alguien en mi camino a quien pueda darle testimonio; compartir el evangelio y preguntarles sobre Jesús”.


Buffalo - Veteran helping Veterans

Written by Megan Juba 


Buffalo sits on a folding chair in the Murdoch’s parking lot next to his dented BMW, donated to him years ago. On white plastic tables he has carefully displayed his silhouette painted rocks and signs that say things like, “No Cure for Stupid.” There is a faded and bent business card duct taped in the center that reads “Vets for Vets,” with his personal phone number. Each piece of art costs ten dollars and has been crafted by his own hands.


Buffalo laughs and pats his belly, “I’m not as aerodynamic as I once was.” If it weren’t for his huge smile, he could be somewhat intimidating – a large man, wearing full camo, a dark Army cap, and a cane propped next to his folding chair, which he jokes he’d hit you with if needed. He has been called “Buffalo” since the age of 17 because only a buffalo could have survived what he has in his lifetime. But, he is the softest buffalo you’ll ever meet. Each person that comes to his table sees themselves in his reflective sunglasses and ends up telling a piece of their own story to him in turn. Each conversation starts with a smile and a sarcastic comment like, “I’m a hell of a guy, just ask me” and ends with Buffalo leaning sideways on his chair to put bills into his worn leather wallet and a sincere, “Thank you for supporting the veterans.”


Vets for Vets was formed over drinks with two friends. “We met to get drunk because we are all in the same squad. There was a guy who came by who needed some help and we each gave him some money.” He looks at his arms and goosebumps raise there. He smiles and shakes his head and says, “It just felt so good!” It was decided that “we would use our individual skills and raise money to help other veterans.” Money raised buys a vet’s family a Christmas – the tree, decorations, full meal and all gifts. Buffalo goes to businesses to buy gift cards and their generosity in giving him more than what he asks makes him emotional, for the first time he brings his glasses down to wipe his wet blue eyes. He also takes veterans in wheelchairs to Walmart so they can buy new clothes. Using his cane to push himself a little taller, he sits up with pride and a seriousness in his voice he says, “Watching that monkey jump off the veteran's back is such a feeling.”

Escrito por: Megan Juba

Título: Veteranos para Veteranos

Cita: “Soy un gran tipo. Solo pregúntame."

Descripción del narrador: Veterano ayudando a veteranos

Buffalo se sienta en una silla plegable en el estacionamiento de Murdoch junto a su abollado BMW, el cual le donaron hace años. Sobre mesas de plástico blanco, exhibe cuidadosamente sus rocas pintadas y letreros que dicen cosas como: “No hay cura para los estúpidos”. Hay una tarjeta de presentación descolorida, pegada con cinta adhesiva en el centro que dice "Veteranos para Veteranos", con su número de teléfono. Cada obra de arte cuesta diez dólares y ha sido elaborada por el.


Buffalo se ríe y se da palmaditas en la barriga: “Ya no soy tan aerodinámico como antes”. Si no fuera por su enorme sonrisa, podría ser algo intimidante - un hombre grande, vestido todo de camuflaje, con una gorra militar oscura y un bastón junto a su silla, con el que bromea que podría golpearte si fuese necesario. Lo han llamado “Buffalo” desde los 17 años porque solo un búfalo podría haber sobrevivido lo que él ha sobrevivido en su vida, pero él es el búfalo más suave que jamás haya conocido. Cada persona que se acerca a su mesa se ve reflejada en las gafas de sol de él y a su vez acaba contándole una parte de su propia historia. Cada conversación comienza con una sonrisa y un comentario sarcástico como, "Soy un gran tipo, solo pregúntame" y termina con Buffalo inclinándose hacia un lado para poner billetes en su gastada billetera de cuero y un sincero, "Gracias por apoyar a los veteranos”.


Veteranos para Veteranos se formó cuando se tomaba unas copas con dos amigos. “Nos reunimos para emborracharnos porque todos estábamos en el mismo grupo. Pasó un tipo que necesitaba ayuda y cada uno de nosotros le dimos algo de dinero”. Se mira los brazos y se le pone la piel de gallina. Él sonríe, sacude la cabeza y dice: "¡Se sintió tan bien!" Se decidió que “usaríamos nuestras habilidades individuales y recaudaríamos dinero para ayudar a otros veteranos”. El dinero recaudado le compra a la familia de un veterano una Navidad - el árbol, las decoraciones, comida completa y todos los regalos. Buffalo va a los negocios a comprar tarjetas de regalo y la generosidad al darle más de lo que el pide, lo emociona, por primera vez baja sus gafas para secarse sus ojos azules. También lleva a veteranos en sillas de ruedas a Walmart para que puedan comprarse ropa nueva. Usando su bastón para hacerse un poco más alto, se sienta con orgullo y con voz seria dice: "Ver al veterano quitarse ese peso de la espalda es una gran sensación".

Buffalo Spanish

Nora - Sweet Girl in her Sweet World

Written by Megan Juba


Nora is 8 years old, going into 4th grade, full of favorites lists, rambling sentences, joy and excitement about what she can learn in her world. It’s 10am and she sits cozy on the couch in pajamas next to her little brother, Ash; her two dogs (Louise the puppy and Pax the old guy) that lay lazily amongst toy trucks, sheet music and books on the floor. She’s ready for an interview because she’s got “danglies” in her ears.


Like a true Montessoi student she says, “I really want to go somewhere where I can swim because I really like the water. It’s my favorite type of biome.” She likes birds, dolphins, turtles, sea horses, chickens, and her favorite of all, the wolf. “I did my third grade project on wolves and that is how I got to know them so well! She exclaims because now she truly knows wolves. She wants to be a marine biologist AAAAND an artist.


She has her own desk with her own computer, in her own pink and purple room with a window looking out into an aspen tree with the birds she loves most (mid sentence, she demonstrates the sound the Western Tanninger makes “cheecheechee cheeeee”), in a house “full of treasures,” in a town where she can walk to school by herself (“At first Mama was so worried but now that I’ve done it like 15 thousand times, she’s good.”), and ride her new periwinkle bike on S Mountain with her Papa (“He  is very tall!”), FIBArk and Bluegrass, best friends and “all these fun stuff.”

The only thing she’d change is to be closer to grandparents–Coach and Layla, Mimi and Poppy. “All I’ve wished is that Sherman, Texas, Tallahassee, Florida and Salida, Colorado were all in a peace sign shape of territories so they’d just be, like, next door.” 

Escrito por: Megan Juba

Título: Perspectiva de 8 años de edad

Cita: "Es mi tipo de bioma (paisaje bioclimático) favorito".

Descripción del narrador: Dulce niña en su dulce mundo

Nora tiene 8 años, va a cuarto grado, tiene muchas listas de sus cosas favoritas, oraciones incoherentes, alegría y entusiasmo por lo que puede aprender en su mundo. Son las 10 a. m. y ella se sienta cómoda en el sofá en pijama junto a Ash, su hermano menor, Ash; sus dos perros (Louise la cachorra y Pax el viejo) quienes están tirados perezosamente entre camiones de juguete, partituras y libros en el suelo. Está lista para una entrevista porque tiene “cosas que cuelgan” en sus orejas.


Como una verdadera alumna de Montessori, dice: “Tengo muchas ganas de ir a algún lugar donde pueda nadar porque me gusta mucho el agua. Es mi tipo de bioma (paisaje bioclimático) favorito”. Le gustan los pájaros, los delfines, las tortugas, los caballitos de mar, las gallinas y su favorito entre todos, el lobo. “Hice mi proyecto de tercer grado sobre lobos y así es como llegué a conocerlos tan bien!”. Ella exclama porque ahora realmente conoce a los lobos. Quiere ser bióloga marina YYYYY una artista.


Ella tiene su propio escritorio con su propia computadora, en su propia habitación rosa y púrpura, con una ventana por la cual puede ver un álamo temblón (aspen tree), con los pájaros que más ama (a mitad de la oración, demuestra el sonido que hace un tipo de pájaro llamado Western Tanninger, "cheecheechee cheeeee"), vive en una casa “llena de tesoros”, en un pueblo donde puede caminar sola a la escuela (“Al principio mi mamá estaba muy preocupada pero ahora que lo he hecho como 15 mil veces, ya está bien”), monta su nueva bicicleta azul violeta en la montaña con la letra S, con su papá ("¡Es muy alto!"), le gusta FIBArk y Bluegrass, sus mejores amigos y "todas estas cosas divertidas".


Lo único que cambiaría es estar más cerca de sus abuelos - Coach y Layla, Mimi y Poppy. “Todo lo que he deseado es que Sherman, Texas, Tallahassee, Florida y Salida, Colorado estuvieran todos en un territorio en forma del signo de paz, para que estuvieran, como, al lado”.


Rama - A Lifelong Learner

Written by Megan Juba


Like the baklava Rama makes and shares with his customers, his story is sometimes sticky and layer upon layer. He explains, in the tone of an educator, that since 1923 when his ancestors' land of Kurdistan was split into four Turkish nation-states, anything Kurdish – the names of the villages, music and even the language was banned and seen as a threat to Turkish authorities.


His dark eyes look longingly at a painting of his childhood home. It is a simple rural landscape with rolling hills and farm animals. He grew up with his parents, six brothers and one sister in a small village of thirty families. “I developed a really deep relationship with the land. From older generation, everything was passed to me. I would love to see that again.”


At age seven, he was forced to go to school and “that is the place where we get punished, assimilated by force.” There is a fence like a high security prison with a Turkish flag above it. A teacher holds a stick to beat the children. Rama recounts this memory and folds his hands in his lap, looks down at them like a subservient child who doesn’t know what is expected because the teacher does not speak his language.


Rama was the first generation of his family to go to middle school and, later, Gazi University in Ankara. To enter the university, students had to step on the Kurdish flag. “I was stepping on my identity…. It was them forcing me to do something that I didn’t want to do.” So, he quits school and joins the Kurdish human rights movement. Shifting in his chair, he recounts “One morning at 5am I woke up and ten police officers with guns in my apartment looking for anything related to Kurdish culture. They found Kurdish music in my laptop.” So, with fear, he gives up activism too.


After this, Rama was trading work for English language classes. This center found him work in the US but a Turkish political coup broke out two weeks after he arrived, so he stayed knowing he would be arrested and put in prison if he returned. He is now able to stay under political asylum.


Eventually, Rama made his way to Salida through the Salida Circus. With childlike wonder, he describes seeing a performer for the first time ever and wanting to learn himself. He says, “Seeing everybody as someone that I can learn something from. That has got me a lot of magical places. If you become a learner, everybody becomes your friend.”

Escrito por: Megan Juba

Título: Creciendo kurdo en Turquía

Cita: “Si te conviertes en aprendiz, todos se vuelven tus amigos”.

Descripción del Narrador: Rama, un aprendiz de por vida

Al igual que el baklava que Rama hace y comparte con sus clientes, su historia es a veces pegadiza y tiene capa sobre capa. Él explica, con el tono de un educador, que desde 1923, cuando Kurdistán, la tierra de sus antepasados, fue dividida en cuatro estados-naciones turcas, cualquier cosa kurda - nombres de aldeas, música e incluso el idioma, fue prohibida y vista como una amenaza para las autoridades turcas.


Sus ojos oscuros miran con anhelo una pintura de la casa de su infancia. Es un paisaje rural con colinas y animales de granja. Creció con sus padres, seis hermanos y una hermana en un pequeño pueblo de treinta familias. “Desarrollé una relación muy profunda con la tierra. Todo me fue pasado por generaciones anteriores. Me encantaría volver a ver eso”.


A los siete años lo obligaron a ir a la escuela y “ese es el lugar donde nos castigaban, nos asimilaban a la fuerza”. Hay una valla como en una prisión de alta seguridad y arriba, una bandera turca. Un maestro sostiene un palo para golpear a los niños. Rama cuenta este recuerdo y junta las manos en su regazo, las mira como un niño servil que no sabe lo que se espera de él porque el maestro no habla su idioma.


Rama fue la primera generación de su familia en ir a la escuela secundaria y, más tarde, a la Universidad Gazi en Ankara. Para ingresar a la universidad, los estudiantes tenían que pisar la bandera kurda. “Estaba pisando mi identidad…. Eran ellos obligándome a hacer algo que yo no quería hacer”. Entonces, deja la escuela y se une al movimiento kurdo de derechos humanos. Moviéndose en su silla, cuenta: “Una mañana a las 5 a.m. desperté y diez policías armados estaban en mi apartamento buscando algo relacionado con la cultura kurda. Encontraron música kurda en mi computadora”. Entonces, con miedo, él también renuncia al activismo.


Después de esto, Rama intercambiaba trabajo por clases de inglés. Este centro le encontró trabajo en los Estados Unidos pero dos semanas después de su llegada hubo un golpe político en Turquía, por lo que se quedó, sabiendo que sería arrestado y encarcelado si regresaba. Ahora puede permanecer aquí bajo asilo político.


Eventualmente, Rama llegó a Salida a través del circo de Salida. Con asombro infantil, describe haber visto a un artista por primera vez y deseando aprender por sí mismo. Él dice: “Ver a todos como alguien de quien puedo aprender algo me ha llevado a muchos lugares mágicos. Si te conviertes en aprendiz, todos se vuelven tus amigos”.


Storm - A Person Outside the Box

Written by Megan Juba 


“I was meditating. I was sitting on a friend's porch and the sun was setting…thinking specifically about Druidism and how they tend to thank the earth, the air and the water. And I was,like, if the earth is masculine and the air is feminine then I must be the water. I started to realize that maybe I’m not a woman the way that I thought I was.” After this epiphany (along with a big move away from home in Philly), they started identifying as non-binary and gave up a “too girly” given name to choose a new one–Storm. This was the beginning of their social transition which “is when transgender people go in public and use a name that is true to their heart and present in the way they want to be perceived.” And not long after this, medical transition which, for them, was top surgery and taking a weekly low dose of testosterone which brings “...voice changes, being stinky, growing a beard…and all the teen angst that comes with it!” Regarding their advocacy work with the local PfCA (Partners for Community Action)--which supports local LBGTQ kids–they laugh,” It’s kinda nice to be going through that second puberty with a bunch of middle schoolers that are going through their first one. I’m glad I can give my wisdom to them but they also remind me what it was like and that I’m not the only one going through it.”


Storm is living in Chaffee County as an Americorps member. They wish Salida were more queer friendly. So much oppression is still happening (here and everywhere). “People are like, ‘Oh there’s rainbow flags around town, everything is ok.’ That’s not always the case.” Storm says, “People would be more accepting if we learned to educate each other on those who are not like us.”


Storm is 24 years old and has big wistful dreams for the future. They get giggly and smile big when talking about their partner. They would like to someday settle in a safe location, to have a cute little house with a yard and a couple of cats, to be financially stable, to own a business or work in theater, to live abroad and become bilingual. To be themself in the world! “I wish I could just be seen as a person, not just my trans identity. There’s so many other parts about me that are important. It’s just putting people in boxes. The whole point of living your true authentic self is to not be in those boxes anymore.”

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