Twenty-Five Square Miles Surrounded by Reality

The New York Times Magazine had an outstanding article on Boulder today.  The photos paint an accurate picture and the article captures the essence of a place that I love.

I moved to Boulder in 1995.  Last year while fundraising, I was regularly asked "how did you end up in Boulder?"  Following is the short version of the story (which will sound familiar to anyone that has heard it – feel free to skip the indented paragraph.)

I moved to Boston from Dallas in 1983 to go to MIT.  I lived in Boston for a little over 12 years – that was 11 years and 364 days too many.  I liked Boston and wouldn’t trade my experience at MIT for anything, but Boston was just never home for me.  I sold my first company in 1993 and told my wife Amy that by the time I turned 30 (12/1/95) we’d have left Boston.  Two months before I turned 30, Amy told me she was moving to Boulder and I was welcome to join her if I wanted.  I figured that my worst case scenario was that we wouldn’t like Boulder and we’d keep heading west to the bay area.  When we got to Boulder we knew one person; he moved away six months later.  So we were really starting from scratch.  Every day was better than the preceding one and after six months we bought a house in the mountains and knew that Boulder would be our home base for the balance of our time on this planet.

I have now lived in Boulder longer than I lived in Boston (and not quite as long as I lived in Dallas.)  Every day when I wake up in Boulder I fall in love with the place all over again.  I have houses in Keystone, Colorado and Homer, Alaska – which are also amazing places that I’m fortunate to spend time living in. Amy and I travel regularly (for work and pleasure) to a bunch of big cities that we love spending chunks of time in (New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, Paris, London, and even Boston.)  However, coming back to Boulder and our place in Eldorado Springs is always magically grounding.

The article had a few inaccuracies and missed plenty of things.  I’d add a couple of quick ones that jumped out at me:

  • Trustafarian – that’s the local word for the "vestigal hippies and wannabes" that live in their "trophy shacks."  Boulder is a safe place for a trustafarian.
  • Food – I’m bummed that the writer (Florence Williams) didn’t say more about The Kitchen.  My friends Kimbal and Hugo (and their incredible staff) have created a phenomenal local institution that any visitor should have a meal at.
  • Transplanted Silicon Valley millionaires: While dining at L’Atelier, the writer comments on being surrounded by a "mix of atmospheric scientists and transplanted Silicon Valley millionaires."  While Boulder has its share of transplanted Silicon Valley millionaires, I’d bet that the ones at L’Atelier that night were mostly of the home grown variety (there are a lot more of those than the transplants) as well as some trustafarians who felt like a nice high end meal.

While Boulder certainly isn’t for everyone, it’s definitely for me and Amy.