I’m very worked up about the direction of development and use of donated and public funds here in Jackson. In an era where people are struggling to stay off the streets, frequenting food pantries in greater numbers, forgoing health insurance, and just plain leaving town…Jackson continues on the path of high rents, ever higher ski pass prices, over-building (ignoring voters mandate NOT to overbuild, or at least develop imprudently; even if you push through building projects one at a time, instead of en masse, the result is the same, a glut of empty commercial and luxury residential space), and lobbying for taxes we now may not be able to democratically allocate, expensive marketing to lure tourists who will probably stick mostly to their patterns, putting the idling police on the public’s tail (I know the source of this initiative and it is worthy, but our town’s real, immediate needs are urgent (at the least let’s pass a no-talking-on-cell phones-while-driving law)…Maybe we’re so insulated from our country’s massive tragedies and ruined lives that we just don’t see ourselves clearly.
We cannot, right now, fullfill personal agendas by repeatedly applying bandaids instead of finding real cures. Especially in cases resulting from egregious, imprudent financial planning. This is a time to re-set our compass. We urgently need to keep people here by creating good, long-term jobs and re-think uses for all the empty space. We built a “tunnel to nowhere” in the side of Snow King. It never felt right, and it turns out it ain’t. The mountain was gutted, condos were built that few, if any, people have bought, and now our town is in a position to lose crucial amenities. And more jobs.
I don’t hear our public officials talking in real terms about Jackson’s economic future. What is the vision? How will we get there? Is 10×10 on track? How many of our leaders are even aware of a federal tax rebate program benefitting green building and retro-fits? There are even benefits for government buildings.
Jackson needs a new identity, one that can include ski amenities and culture, but that should not be the major goal for Jackson’s development. Instead we must look to invite new businesses, focus on job growth—everybody else is—broaden our economic base. Let’s prepare for the certainty that there are no certainties. Let’s encourage leadership that inspires us, that is investing in tools we can use to position Jackson residents to flourish locally and globally. Keep track of how our government influences our lifestyles, what it encourages and what it does not.
I can’t predict how the newly formed Factory Studios will ultimately fare because I’m not privy to their accounting. But I admire Travis Walker’s innovation and bravery in the face of hard times. He keeps coming up with new ideas, and HELLO!!!!!! Town and arts vitality factors go up. Some young artists now operating out of the Factory were planning on leaving town until this space was harnassed.
As Travis and I have discussed, this is his version of a business incubator. Something we’ve talked about many times–and definitely here on the Blog. (Use keywords “economy,” “public art,” “smart growth,” or “economy,” “vertical gardens” and “window art” to search for other related articles on the Blog.)
I am hugely impressed with the enterprise behind Teton Artlab’s new Factory Studios, a converted factory space made over into artist studios and work space. Teton Artlab, Strapped Glass, Treefight, the Deadlocks, Caldera Collective, Abbie Miller, Meg Daly, and Dave and Anomaly Farm are based there. Over 6,500 square feet will house a contemporary gallery, glassblowing studio, printmaking presses, and a digital media lab.Walker says eight private studios ranging from 112 to 1,000 square feet are on site.
Even though I may be out of town and miss their Grand Opening, you should not. The party takes place Thursday, January 13, 2011, 6:30 – 9:30 pm. The Factory (hello, Andy Warhol…) is located at 1255 Gregory Lane in Jackson. Lots of parking, check for space in and around Martin Lane and Bison Lumber. The opening party will feature large-scale textile art by local fashionista Abbie Miller and music by the Deadlocks.