A quote by an American essayist named Agnes Repplier reads: “Fair play is less characteristic of groups than of individuals.” I want to put that to rest as far as the citizens of Fairplay, Colorado, because they are a kind, generous and amazing group. I blew into Fairplay during a fierce storm, but couldn’t blow out because the roads were closed. I spent the night.
Remember sleepovers when you were young? Another family invited you or maybe a few friends over to spend the night. The host family made it special with their own touch of hospitality, dinner, and maybe a treat of some sort to make you feel comfortable and welcome. OK. Replace the other family with the citizens of Fairplay. Instead of one or two friends, consider over 700 stranded travelers. (That doubled the town’s population.) Oh, and forget the invitation. This crowd just landed unannounced in Fairplay because the roads were closed. Bonus item: approximately a quarter of these people had dogs.
The gale force winds blew me into the kind and generous hands and hearts of the citizens of Fairplay. It blew me away. In the space of a few hours, they assembled and served up coffee, hot chocolate, spaghetti, garlic bread, cooked vegetables, cookies, dog food, cots, blankets and welcoming smiles. Almost all of the blankets came from residents of Fairplay, who drove into the storm to deliver them to the refuge locations.
The people of Fairplay dropped everything they were doing on a holiday weekend to open up the fairgrounds and high school and provide warmth, shelter, food and an overnight stay for everyone who was stranded. They asked for nothing; they gave everything. On the tail end of Thanksgiving weekend, I have much more gratitude and thankfulness. The good folks of Fairplay reminded me of the old small-town tradition of looking out for the common interest. Now that I am a suburbanite/urbanite, and because I work in the “common interest community” legal realm, the kindness and hospitality in Fairplay reminded me that we have strayed from the path.
I came of age with JFK, who uttered a great (yet somewhat forgotten) inaugural address quote: “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” The “Me First” generation glorifies self-interest at the expense of the tribe. This in turn leads to petty rivalries and disputes which damage relationships, blur common values, and blunt community progress. The selfless people of Fairplay reminded me of the importance of giving to others. It was a powerful and unexpected reminder, and I am grateful. So, please go do something for somebody else and for your community. You will help yourself, your community and our country.
Please contact me at Altitude Community Law, 303.432.9999, with any questions about this article, or if you want the address in Fairplay where I’m sending a donation.