Reflections on Boulder

I’ve been in Boulder for almost six years now, which is just amazing to consider. Besides Sisters, Oregon, this is the place I’ve spent most of my life. It’s late on a Friday night, and I’ve just processed all the email I had, crossed off most of my to-do items and finally have time to sit and think.

Writing helps me think. It has been an amazing exercise for me and something I suggest to anyone that reads. If you read, you get used to rhythms. If you write, you try to cause them.

I feel like Boulder is in its Golden Age for me. It’s pretty damn good. The tech community is flourishing, my personal life is amazing, and I couldn’t ask for anything more of my professional life. Today Boulder, and in turn me, had a picture in the NYTimes. I’ve been a daily reader of the Times for the last 10 years, and it’s just another experience entirely to see yourself there.

That is me on the left, on the phone.

I love this town.  I love my rhythm here.  I love that when I get a tad bored, I can take a flight and explore like I’m a kid that has seen no evil.  There is a level of expectation living here, one set athletically and socially, that you not only have to excel, but excel and be interesting while doing so.  You can’t just do a marathon; you have to do a marathon while wearing prototype shoes.  You can’t be smart without having firsthand knowledge of what you’re speaking about, you know, that firsthand knowledge you gained with that volunteer photojournalism trek you took to Nepal.  I like that on a Friday night, nobody is making me go out for a drink, although plenty have put out invites. It isn’t a social faux pas to work.

I feel like I’ve been sucked in Level 10 to this town.  I’m doing an Ironman in November.  I feel the need to read every book in the bookstore, read every blog that’s posting and participate in every event I can find.

Growing my friend base in Boulder has been painful because of the transient nature.  Entire groups of friends would leave, over and over.  At one point I thought this town was not for me.  At one point I almost left.  The last two years have cemented me, almost to a fault.  I have lead enough events that I can’t be anonymous in most rooms.  When searching for community, this is fantastic. When overloaded with people I really want to get to know, it can be exhausting.

I would say I’m at the level of “level 4 pretend tech celebrity,” at least in Colorado.  Last time I went to DIA, three people I had never met introduced themselves to me.  Fun!  Super interesting conversations, but at a certain point I need to learn to love this. After all, I’ve been a very accessible guy over the years. Or I need to find a way to be happy and away from the crowds.

The simplest reflection I can make is that this town has treated me very, very well – and I feel like I’m giving back and making it better.

Is the fame of being a startup town going to bring bad characters to Boulder?  We’ve got a habit of just ignoring bad people in the tech scene, which could be disastrous.   It isn’t any group’s job to protect this type of thing. When you love something, you want to see it protected and cherished.

The next few years in Boulder are going to be amazing.  The community will continue to grow and develop.   Events like TEDxBoulder and IgniteBoulder are starting friendships that are developing great things.

I don’t know if we have a unified vision.  I don’t know if we need to work together, unify or promote.

We are going to be great at being Boulder, one of the many things we are the best in the world at.






3 responses to “Reflections on Boulder”

  1. jasper9 Avatar

    More reasons to love Boulder:

    <object width=”400″ height=”300″><param name=”allowfullscreen” value=”true” /><param name=”allowscriptaccess” value=”always” /><param name=”movie” value=”″ /><embed src=”″ type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” allowfullscreen=”true” allowscriptaccess=”always” width=”400″ height=”300″></embed></object>

    BOULDER, CO from RAPHA on Vimeo.

  2. timhadley Avatar

    I feel like I'm waking up to discover a treasure that was in the room with me the whole time. I wandered into Boulder a few months ago intending to meet one person (but hoping to find out more about what was going on in town). I started hanging out at Atlas, which led to just meeting people. That led to a visit to BOCC, which in turn led to attending a few BSW events. So far I've loved every minute of it. I don't know what my role is going to be yet, but I feel very strongly drawn in and energized by what I've found. .

    As for the future of the community and how it deals with people who don't have the same love for the character traits that have made Boulder as we know it what it is, I think things can go any of several ways. The love people have for the personality of the Boulder tech community now might establish an ethic against against people who don't have the same respect for it — who aren't prepared to participate in the same way as others or who would take advantage of that to the detriment of others. I think it depends in part on how many of those kinds of people arrive. The community can deal with a few. I don't know if it can deal with a flood.

  3. Selina Avatar

    Congrats Andrew. I love to see someone so excited bringing such passion to their community, town, and nurturing it all is part of loving it. Kudos to you for finding a place where you can engage on so many levels.

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