A New Path

Animas River Path

Heading down a new path. Feeling appreciation for those who built the trails we tread. Feeling hopeful that I can live up to their dreams, and leave my place better than I found it.




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Cheyenne-Laramie County, Wyoming, Historical Timeline

Cheyenne Souvenir View c.1929

A summary of major (and interesting) events in the history of Cheyenne and Laramie County, Wyoming.

1833 Fort William, later Ft John/Ft Laramie, established by trapper William Sublette at the confluence of the Laramie and North Platte rivers.
1849 US Army purchases Ft Laramie from American Fur Company.
1850 US Army engineers survey guided by Jim Bridger up Lodgepole Creek.
1855 Overland Trail / Emigrant Trail established by Congress. Lodgepole route via Pine Bluffs & Cheyenne Pass cut off 100 miles between Julesburg & “Ham’s Creek” (Ft Sanders/Ft John Buford at Laramie City)
1867 January 9 Laramie County organized by Dakota Territorial Legislature w/County seat at Ft Sanders.
1867 June, Fort D.A. Russell established (predecessor to F.E. Warren AFB).
1867 July, City of Cheyenne & Camp Carlin established. Union Pacific railroad arrives November 13.
1867 John Wesley Illif establishes cattle camp south of Cheyenne to supply beef to UPRR.
1867 September Cheyenne Daily Leader newspaper founded.
1867 October Cheyenne wins election for County Seat.
1868 January 3 Laramie County borders reconstituted smaller, County seat changed to Cheyenne
1868 February 9 First Public school in Wyoming opens in Cheyenne
1868 Wyoming Territory organized from Dakota Terr., Laramie County population 2,665.
1868 City of Cheyenne buys hospital tent from UPRR
1869 May 10 UP completed at Promontory Point
1860s-1897 Texas Trail cattle drives– in Nebraska to PB, under RR at Lodgepole Creek, nw to Valley View School site to Texas Gate Hill/State Line Rd north of PB.
1869 Pine Bluffs P.O. established.
1871 First Cheyenne Central School opens, 20th & Capitol, additions in 1876 & 1879
1872 Granite Canyon P.O. first established. (Was in operation as of 1986)
1872 Iron Mtn P.O. first established  (Was in operation 1986)
1872 Cheyenne Library Association organized.
1872 Wyomng Stock Growers Association founded.
1874 Warren Livestock Company established SW of Cheyenne (Belvoir Ranch site)
1874 Old County Courthouse erected.
1875 First high school in Wyoming established in Cheyenne
1875 Horse Creek P.O. established.
1875-1966 Egbert P.O.
1876 Cheyenne & Black Hills Stage established – Nine Mile Sta on Davis Ranch, Lodgepole Cr Sta 18 miles up (Schwartz), Horse Cr Sta 29 miles up, Little Bear Sta 32 miles up (Bard road ranch 1875, PO 1877), Chugwater Sta 53 miles up (Kelly ranch), on towards Ft Laramie. Deadwood added 1877.
1879 LC School Distrct 3 organized at Egbert, 27 miles north of state line & 27 miles east-west
1876 March 4 marriage of James Butler Hickok & Mrs Agnes Lake Thatcher.
1880s First wave of homesteaders, esp. along Nebraska State Line north of PB.
1880 Cheyenne Club established with 50 invitations; brick building erected in 1881 at 17th & Warren.
1881 Hillsdale P.O. established.
1883 County Hospital opens at 300 E 23rd St
1884 St John the Baptist school opens in Cheyenne with Sisters of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus
1884 Legislature grants Wyoming Stock Growers Assoc exclusive cattle roundups (“Maverick Law”)
1886 Cheyenne Deadwood Stage ceases operations.
1886 Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railway Co survey
1886 Laramie County Free Public Library established.
1886 Academy of the Holy Child Jesus opens, on block west of Capitol.
1886 Drought on Great Plains, beef prices collapse
1886-1887 Winter “Death knell of the open range”
Wyoming State Capitol 1920s
1887 Wyoming Capitol building dedicated.
1887 Cheyenne Union Depot completed.
1887 Swedish settlers founded Salem, later Lindbergh, north of PB.
1888 Salem Cemetary est. S32T16R60
1888 Arcola section house est. with large stockyard, on Burlington RR.
1890 July 10 Wyoming statehood
1890-91 Cheyenne High School erected, 22nd & Central Ave.
1894 Sen Joseph Carey starts Wyoming Tribune newspaper
1895 Cheyenne Daily Sun-Leader newspaper merger
1899-1941 Arcola P.O.

Twentieth Century

1901 Hospital reorganized as charitable St John’s Hospital.
1902 Carnegie library building opens at 22nd & Capitol. Demolished 1971 :(
1903 November 20 Tom Horn hanged
1904-08 Second wave of settlement Burns/Luther & PB-Salem/Lindburgh-Albin area
1905 Albin P.O. est, moved to J.A. Anderson farm in 1907.
1906 Federal Land & Securities Co establishes townsite of Luther at Burns siding. Attracts many immigrants of German heritage.
1907 JR Carpenter, Federal Land Co, est townsite of Carpenter
1907 Industrial Club (Chamber of Commerce) buys Cheyenne Club building.
1907 First Laramie County Fair at Wheatland.
1908-1916 Golden Prairie P.O.
1908-1919 First brick Pine Bluffs school
1909 City of Cheyenne takes over fire protection from volunteer companies.
1909 newspaper changes name to Cheyenne State Leader
1910 Luther name changed to Burns
1911 Goshen County & Platte County organized from northern Laramie County.
Plains Hotel 1920s
1911 Plains Hotel built just north of the Cheyenne railroad depots.
1913 Lincoln Highway established.
1913 Laramie County Fair at Burns. At Pine Bluffs in 1920s until WWII, when fairgrounds were used as German POW camp.  Moved to Cheyenne after the war.
1914 School District 3 split three-ways: Burns new No. 3, Carpenter new No. 8, (Pine Bluffs No 7, Egbert No. 9)
1915 tornado hits Arcola
1916 first Laramie County Extension Agent
1916 Cheyenne’s Inter Ocean Hotel burns.
Cheyenne City County Building (Laramie County Courthouse)
1917-1919 City-County Building erected.
1919 Laramie County incorporates Memorial Hospital.
1920 Wyoming Tribune acquires Cheyenne State Leader.
1920 Industrial Club of Cheyenne changes name to Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce
1920 First air mail service at Cheyenne airport
1921 Brick Hillsdale School built, 1929 gym + addition (elem as of 1986)
1922 Cheyenne Central HS opens 28th & House.
Hynds Building
1922 Harry P Hynds constructs Hynds Building on site of Inter Ocean Hotel.
1922 Harry P Hynds builds Lodge for Boy Scouts of America, located on land west of town off Happy Jack Rd now in Curt Gowdy State Park.
1923 Old Johnson Jr High at 8th & Hose erected as elementary school
1923 Eastern Laramie County Library branch established at Pine Bluffs.
1925 The Wyoming Eagle started as morning newspaper
Airplane View of Cheyenne 1920s
1926 Yoder-Meriden railroad spur built.
1928 UP spur completed to Egbert, railroad renamed Salem as Lindbergh & platted townsite.
1928 Brick Egbert School built.
1928 Albin Land Co. est Albin townsite on 40 acres purchased from Soderquist & Nelson.
1929-1950 Lindbergh P.O.
1929 McCormick Jr High built at 20th & Capitol (old Central school site).
1929 Lincoln Theater built by Sen F.E. Warren.
1929 Cheyenne airport terminal built for Boeing Air Transport Company.
1930 Brick Albin School built.
1930 Wyoming State Tribune name change
1930 October Town of Albin incorporated.
1933 Catholic school becomes St. Mary’s Academy
Cheyenne Aerial 1930s (Wyoming State Archives)
1936 Chamber of Commerce demolishes Cheyenne Club building, replaces with new office bldg.
1937 The Wyoming Eagle (morning paper) buys Wyoming Sate Tribune (evening paper), publishes separate editions into 1980s.
1938 St. Mary’s High School opens.
1941 “In Old Cheyenne” motion picture starring Roy Rogers released.
1947 World premier of motion picture “Cheyenne” at Lincoln, Paramount & Princess theaters.
1952 “New” St. Mary’s elementary school opens.
1952 DePaul Hospital opened by Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, Kansas.
1952 Cheyenne Storey Gymnasium opens.
1954 Carey Jr High opens on E Pershing
1959 Rural school redistricting closes Egbert & Golden Prairie schools.
1961 Cheyenne East High School opens
1961 New Cheyenne Airport terminal built.
1964 Old Cheyenne Central HS bldg demolished.
1964 World premier of motion picture “Cheyenne Autumn” at Lincoln Theater with movie star Jimmy Stuart and others in attendance.
1968 Voters approve creation of Laramie County Community College.
1969 Two LC School Districts reorganized, Hillsdale HS consolidated.
1969 “New” County Library opens at 2800 Central.
1969 November LCCC opens new campus on land donated by Arp & Hammond Hardware Co (Lummis) and Herbert Reed on Orchard Valley Road.
1971 Amtrak takes over passenger train service, routed from Denver to a point west of Cheyenne, re routed thru Colorado Rockies in 1980s.
1975 New McCormick Jr High opens on north side of Cheyenne.
1975 State of Wyoming purchases McCormick school & renames Emerson Bldg.
1976 New Cheyenne Central opens near new McCormick.
1979 City Hall opens.
1981 Cheyenne Civic Center opens.
1981-1991 Seton Catholic High School replaces St Mary’s.
1982 Chamber of Commerce relocates to historic Tivoli Building.
1992 Laramie County Memorial Hospital buys DePaul Hospital.

The End of the Open Range

Laramie County has a rich heritage in agriculture. A few of the prominent early ranching families:
1872 PO Ranch Morton Everel Post & Caleb Perry Organ north of Cheyenne, cattle & horses.  Organ left & ranched mile south of Cheyenne (Lummis place).  Post & Brown 45,000 fenced acres controlled 100,000 acres.  Main ranch “3 miles up Lodge Pole Creek” another L-5 west of Meriden on Horse Creek. Main ranch south boundary 6 miles north of Cheyenne.  Oct 1887 ME Post Banking Co failed.  1888-1901 Ariosa Post Office. By 1890 controlled by John & Charles Arbuckle.
1874 Martin, Alonzo Ranch on Muddy Creek. Martin dug Beaver Dam Ditch Co off Crow Creek (1865?).
1875 Dolan, William homesteaded on Muddy Creek. Born Co. Kildare, emig 1851, Civil War, UP construction foreman. One of first members Wyoming Stock Growers, brand “WD” 2nd registered.
1877 Gilland, George hired on Martin Ranch. 1885 married Martin daughter Cora Belle, bought ranch 1890, eventually expanded to 100 sections/64,000 acres centered on Muddy Creek. Sold 35k acres Nov 1906 to JR Carpenter & CL Beatty of Federal Land & Securities Co of Iowa.
1878 Gilland, John, brother of George, lived north of UP near Egbert. Gillands were New England Irish. In 1986, oldest occupied house in County, built by a Mr Rose with a cattle gate.  Sold in 1908 to Federal Land & moved to Denver.
1880 Thomas, Charles (Welsh) homesteaded near Cheyenne, ranch near Egbert 1886. After 1886, partner w/bro John, north of UP from Egbert to Archer Hill along Pole Creek. Built shelters into rock cliffs at Bull Canyon & Windmill Hollow.  Sold 1906 to Federal Land 32,000 acres.
1891 Wilkinson, Anthony (son of Anthony, from Yorkshire, England) purchased property on Muddy Creek, expanding to 16,500 ac on Muddy & 16,000 on Big Horse Creek.
1897 Wilkinson, John (brother) turned Spring Creek ranch north of Egbert to his son James & moved to ranch at PB, eventually acquired 60,000 acres.  Also bros Thomas, Frank & Felix. Sisters married into Sedgewick & Laycock families.
Ammon, Richard T. Downtown Cheyenne Historic Walking Tour.  Cheyenne DDA, 2011 http://www.cheyenne.org/includes/media/docs/OnlineBooklet2.pdf 
Bastian, Jean, Ed. History of Laramie County. Dallas, TX: Curtis Media Corp, 1987
Field, Sharon Lass, Ed. History of Cheyenne, Wyoming (Laramie County Volume 2). Dallas, TX: Curtis Media Corp, 1989
Wyoming State Archives, http://wyoarchives.state.wy.us


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Railroads Rebuked for Failing Freight Service

Albin (WY) Elevator

It used to be that at the very least you could count on the trains running on time. Not anymore.  The Red River Farm Network out of Grand Forks, ND, has great coverage of agricultural issues across the northern Great Plains of Minnesota, the Dakotas and somewhat into Montana.  In this week’s news digest, they start off with a good overview of the railroad situation, in particular with BNSF’s delays in servicing agricultural users with the tremendous boom in oil traffic.

CP CEO to Meet with ND Lawmakers Today — North Dakota Senators John Hoeven and Heidi Heitkamp will meet [Monday] in Minot with Canadian Pacific Railway CEO Hunter Harrison to discuss the backlog in railcars as the harvest gets underway. A roundtable discussion will be held this afternoon at the North Central Research Extension Center.

NSF Exec Tries to Reassure Farm Audience — Farm organization leaders, ag processors and grain shippers voiced their concerns to BNSF Railway’s top man Thursday at a roundtable in Fargo. BNSF Executive Chairman Matt Rose tried to reassure the crowd, saying they’re getting caught up. “We’ve seen a 77 percent reduction since March. We know exactly where each one of the past dues are. We’re knocking out about 200 units every day in the state. We’ll be down to less than 1,000 within another week. We will have all of those past dues caught up if harvest is a little delayed.” Rose said BNSF is investing $5 billion this year and is committed to restoring speed and service.

More Questions for the Railroad — At a roundtable Thursday in Fargo, North Dakota Senator John Hoeven asked BNSF Executive Chairman Matt Rose if BNSF will have enough track to avoid a railcar backlog next year. “We want to make sure that you build enough track up here; do we have enough locomotives and hopper cars? Are you putting oil trains ahead of grain trains?” Rose said BNSF has seen a 144 percent growth in its business in North Dakota in the past five-and-a-half years. “If you’re going to tell me your state, over the next five-and-a-half years, is going to grow another 144 percent, I would say we’re in trouble.” Photos from the roundtable discussion can be found online.

Watne is Not Convinced — BNSF Executive Chairman Matt Rose told farm group leaders and ag shippers he does not believe his railway has favored oil shipments over grain and other ag products. North Dakota Farmers Union President Mark Watne is not convinced. “Unless they can show me that everybody has the same percentage delayed, whether it be oil, coal or grains, then I’ll agree with them, but, I still think that oil is getting priority.” BNSF’s agricultural group vice president John Miller said low prices will reduce the demand for railcars, as farmers will store their grain. Watne says that is happening, which forces some farmers to ask their lender to extend their operating loans.

Wide Basis Costing Farmers Millions — Arthur, North Dakota farmer, and North Dakota Corn Utilization Council Chairman Kevin Skunes says the extremely wide basis is costing farmers millions of dollars. “For the rail system to be delinquent in their cars, which caused this basis collapse and for the markets to collapse at the same time, has been a horrible problem. Right now we have an 80 cent to $1.10 basis in July and August. That’s incredible for corn. It’s costing the countryside a lot of money. The railroad, I think, should have seen a lot of this coming.”

Berg: I Can’t Work On BNSF’s Projections — American Crystal Sugar Company President and CEO David Berg told RRFN Thursday that his company has about 250 late car orders with BNSF, the same as it had last spring. Berg says Crystal’s three largest customers have been waiting for sugar shipments from five to 21 days for the last 90 days. “The plans are great, but I can’t work on projections. I have to work on actual performance.”  Berg says there is at least a short-term transfer of wealth occurring. “If you take a dollar a bushel out of the value of grain produced in North Dakota, that can only lead one way.”

MN House Candidates Address Rail Backlog — The delay with the Keystone Pipeline has complicated the rail challenge for farmers. State Senator Torrey Westrom, who is the Republican candidate for Minnesota’s 7th congressional district, said infrastructure needs to be improved to help correct the rail situation. “I just had a visit with a local elevator and they continue to have the problem of getting enough rail cars, fast enough to move grain. They’re going to have last year’s crop when this year’s crop comes in. It’s costing farmers extra money in premiums. That is unacceptable.” Minnesota Congressman Collin Peterson has had three separate meetings with rail officials. In his words, they’ve gotten the message. “There isn’t a good short-term solution. I think we need to get these pipelines built. We need to keep the heat on the railroads and we’ll continue to do that.” Peterson and Westrom were part of a forum during Farmfest.

No Teeth in Regulatory Process — With a new harvest season fast approaching, railroads are still working through last year’s crop. Minnesota Farmers Union President Doug Peterson says an unresponsive rail industry can charge whatever it wants. “We have a regulation piece called the Surface Transportation Board that I sat in front of twice,” explained Peterson, “They basically tell you that they take our complaints, they write a letter to the railroads, they write a letter back and six months later, something may happen or the issue goes away because of the weather or the markets; it is an absolute joke.”

Klobuchar Taking Input on Rail and Propane Logistics Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar is spending part of the August recess traveling rural parts of the state. That included a stop at Farmfest. In an interview with the Red River Farm Network, Klobuchar said she is getting input about propane and rail concerns. “We were happy to get the Army Corps to approve some infrastructure in Benson to bring propane in by rail and that will get in about 100 million gallons that they wouldn’t get otherwise,” said Klobuchar, “I’ve personally gone to the CEO of Burlington Northern and told him we need more rail cars.” RRFN’s Farmfest coverage is sponsored, in part, by DuPont Pioneer.

Top photo original; other photos from RRFN, links added.  AP covered the Senators’ meeting mentioned at the top:

MINOT, N.D. — North Dakota Sens. Heidi Heitkamp and John Hoeven are asking the head of Canadian Pacific Railway to improve agriculture shipping delays before harvest.

The senators met Monday in Minot with company CEO E. Hunter Harrison and agriculture producers to discuss a backlog in railcars entering the upcoming harvest.

Hoeven says the meeting was productive and it was important for Harrison to hear firsthand from farmers and ranchers.

Heitkamp says the railway must commit to decreasing the backlog and wait times. She says the wait times for CP cars increased between June and August and the company has been reluctant to give information about the delays.

The senators met last week with BNSF Railway executive director Matt Rose.


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There’s Always Grad School

August is back-to-school time (unless you’re in Minnesota, then it’s one-last-trip-UpNorth time).  Two months on my new job trail and things are looking up, but if the usual suspects don’t come through, there’s always the option to go back to school.

Are Doctorate Degrees Worth It
Source: Online-PhD-Programs.org


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What Makes a Great Planner?

The Planning Institute of Australia—counterpart to our American Planning Association—is asking its members a simple question:  What Makes a Great Planner?  Kristy Kelly, PIA’s CEO, shared their inquiry on the LinkedIn APA discussion group recently.  As I’ve worked through my job search, I’ve asked myself the same question, and also how I might apply the skills I’ve learned as a “Planner” (whatever that is) out in the real world.

Planning Institute of Australia Short Question

This is part of a larger effort to reorganize the group to be more relevant to their members.  That seems like a worthy effort, but it’s the specific framework that seems particularly transferable across countries, at least across those with a similar tradition in English common law.  The six core competencies identified include:

  • Professionalism and Integrity
  • Spatial Understanding (Ability to understand and communicate spatial concepts)
  • Technical Knowledge (of planning content areas)
  • Planning Framework (Understanding and ability to work within)
  • Community Engagement (Ability to communicate and engage with a range of stakeholders)
  • Creative Integration (to develop balanced solutions)

Planning Institute of Australia Long Question

It is a good sign that “ethics” is the very first bullet listed. Good luck to our friends Down Under in their current Search for Excellence.


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The Best of the New? Or the Worst of Both Worlds? A Walk in a Hybrid Power Center

Front Range Village - Google Map

New Urbanism and neotraditional planning offers to bring the best of traditional town planning to new development.  I generally like the idea, in large part because the “new” that I’ve lived out in the suburban sprawl hasn’t stood up well.  Yet living in smaller communities that haven’t tried the idea, I can’t say how well it holds up out in the “real world”.

On a recent jaunt to Fort Collins, I took a few minutes to check out a prime example before my customary stop in Old Town.  Old Town Fort Collins is prime, old-fashioned downtown development done well.  It is a mixture of walkable streets, diagonal parking, restaurants, galleries, bookshops patronized by a mixture of professional office workers, millennial college students and tourists.  The full measure of success…after many, many years of hard work by man, many people.

Snow Mesa Drive

On the growing south side of the city, the Harmony Road corridor has been the focus of suburban development for 20+ years.  When the real estate market tanked about 10 years ago, the corridor was already in full swing with the typical power centers and office parks.  There are two interesting developments on the north side of Harmony, between Timberline Rd and Ziegler Rd that were built after I left the Choice City in 2004.  One is shoe-horned into a narrow parcel between a mobile home park and the busy road.  I thought for certain the mobile home park would fall to redevelopment, but it stays providing much-needed affordable housing in this fast-growing community.  (By the way, check out Shelby Sommer’s nice summary on retaining mobile/manufactured housing communities, in this month‘s Western Planner if you can.)

Council Tree Roundabout

The other, larger project is called Front Range Village.  Bayer Properties claims credit for this development as a “Hybrid Power Center”, which opened in 2008.  There are a SuperTarget and Lowes anchoring the rear of the 735,000 square foot shopping center, which takes up a good part of a quarter section of land.

Front Range Village Kiosk

In addition to an unrelated (as far as I know) office building on the corner, there are a couple medium-sized big box stores (could be anchor stores in a more usual-sized project) on the west side, against the mobile home park.  It’s the middle of the sea of parking where the “hybrid” comes in.

Council Tree parking

Bayer dropped a roundabout in the middle of the usual sea of parking, off of which runs a short neo-traditional street of diagonal parking flanked by two-story retail with office above.  There’s even a regional library tucked in back.  I visited just before noon on a hot summer’s day.  Even at 90* there were plenty of people walking and dining outside, although I and most others I saw stuck more on the shady side of the street.

Alley dining

Overall, I liked the concept.  The faux Main Street may look a bit cheesy in plan-view, but it works on the ground.  All of the diagonal parking spaces were full…but there is also the usual sea of parking just around back.  One thing I did notice is that the designers made use of all 4 sides of their buildings as much as possible.  Service entrances doubled as outdoor dining doors.  In the photo above, what could have been a dank alley was spread a bit wider to provide a veranda and park-like covered dining.  Later, in Old Town Fort Collins, I noticed the same idea, where alleys have been adapted and retrofitted to be welcoming, funky spaces rather than leftover utilitarian pavement.  A few degrees cooler and I doubt a seat in this space would stay open long.

Dog Park

Is this new town in the suburbs the answer to sprawl?  Well, sprawl is still sprawl.  Zoom out on a google map, and you can still see it’s not terribly inviting to walk to this place from anybody’s cul-de-sac home.  And why in the world did they drop a Dog Park in the middle of it all?  To paraphrase one of my college adjuncts, dogs don’t buy Slurpies.  It doesn’t add a sense of vitality to the place.

It could be worse, but it could be better.  The fact is, these developers tried, and I give them a lot of credit for that.




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Beyond Red and Blue: Sifting through how people sort themselves

Voting Preferences of the Typology Groups

It is clear that Americans believe our best years are behind us. Unless you’re in in the other half that says America’s best years lie ahead of us.  The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press released the second helping of their poll results on political polarization in the American public.  This release sorts respondents into a political typology, using cluster analysis, to help sort out commonalities among and between folks along the political spectrum.

On the Right (the old Blue-bloods/the new Red conservatives), Pew sifts the sort into three groups who generally support the Grand Old Party:

  • Steadfast Conservatives:  Socially conservative populists
  • Business Conservatives:  Pro-Wall Street, pro-immigrant
  • Young Outsiders:  Conservative on government, more libertarian on social issues

On the Left (the old Red socialists/the new Blue liberals), Pew again sifts out three groups, and adds skeptics in the middle to the Democratic coalition:

  • Solid Liberals:  Left-wing across the board
  • Faith and Family Left:  Racially & ethnically diverse, uncomfortable with social change
  • Next Generation Left:  Younger, liberal on social issues, less so on government
  • Hard-Pressed Skeptics:  Financially stressed and pessimistic

We’re familiar with the media stereotypes of Left and Right.  Those fat-cat Republicans and those Old Hippie Democrats.  But bury down into the data, again, and you find much more diversity and commonality between and among the typologies.  Faith and Family liberals may agree more with Steadfast Conservatives on social issues, while Next Generation Left may actually find common ground with Business Conservatives on supporting entrepreneurship.  And that doesn’t even count the Bystanders who, well, stand by and wonder what all the fuss is about.

Public Evenly Divided in Views of Government Regulation of Business

While most of us go to great efforts to stay political neutral, or at least welcome all perspectives, it can help to remember no one interest group is likely to speak for “All Conservatives” or “All Liberals” in our communities.  As well, even within the politically active respondents, less than half admitted to following public affairs most of the time—more on the ends of the spectrum, less in the middle.

We can’t just talk to the folks who show up.  Life is more complicated than that.


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Liberals Want Walkable, Conservatives Require More Room, And Other Ways the Glass is Half-Full

Liberals Want Walkable Communities, Conservatives Prefer More Room

Half of all Americans prefer to live in a community where the houses are smaller and closer together, but schools, stores, and restaurants are within walking distance. The same recent survey by the Pew Research Center found that the other half of all Americans prefer houses that are larger and farther apart, with amenities driving distance away.

The headlines on the survey results emphasized a confirmation of the “Red State—Blue State” dichotomy.  America is hopelessly divided!  Oh, woe is me!

The overall share of Americans who express consistently conservative or consistently liberal opinions has doubled over the past two decades from 10% to 21%. And ideological thinking is now much more closely aligned with partisanship than in the past. As a result, ideological overlap between the two parties has diminished: Today, 92% of Republicans are to the right of the median Democrat, and 94% of Democrats are to the left of the median Republican.

The full results of the survey are fascinating, if you’re the sort of person to be fascinated by surveys (as I am).  The act of planning is an inherently political act, and too many planners are effectively isolated from people who don’t think like they do, who have an essentially different American dream.  I don’t think it’s a bad thing that our political parties are more consistent today.  I do think it’s a bad thing when we infer our own values rather than working to understand the spectrum of our constituencies.

What the Headlines Leave Unsaid

That said, I am also drawn to what the headlines left unsaid about Americans’ preferred community.  Yes, 3/4 of “Consistently Liberal” respondents prefer walkable communities, and 3/4 of “Consistently Conservative” respondents prefer larger houses miles from amenities.  But that also means 1 in 4 “Consistently Conservative” citizens (such as myself) feel at home in town, and 1 in 4 “Consistently Liberal” folks yearn for the sprawl.  We may be a 50-50 nation, but we’re 25-75 even within our silos, hardly a study in lockstep groupthink.

Looking more closely within our 50-50, we’re 50-50.  When asked where they would live, if they could live anywhere in the United States that they wanted to, 20-30% of respondents chose either a city, suburb, small town or a rural area.  Yes, there are considerable ideological and demographic differences in preferences in ideal community type.  Only 20% of high school-grad respondents prefer city-living, while only 15% of college-grad respondents prefer rural-living.  I get it, the sky is falling and the glass is half empty.

Yet even when the glass is half empty, that same glass is still half full.  We don’t, typically, build a community for just half of our population.  Metropolitan areas are made up of center cities, suburbs, small towns and rural areas.  A well-rounded, resilient community provides diverse neighborhoods for all sorts of people—walkable, historic neighborhoods AND newer neighborhoods with more elbowroom, commercial corridors for industry AND vibrant, walkable downtowns and new urban centers.  Some folks prefer a bit of this.  Some folks prefer a bit of that.  Overall, people want places that work.  A successful place fills the glass for them all.


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Development Professional Available

Friends, I am looking for a new job.  As a seasoned Development Professional, I am considering opportunities in Community and Economic Development, primarily across the Mountain West and Upper Midwest states.  I have particular experience in long-range community and regional planning, infrastructure, and strategic planning.  I have particular interest in how communities thrive in the New Economy.  If you find a topic on this blog, I’m probably interested in helping you out!

Any tips or ideas would certainly be appreciated.

UpdatedResume-John Shepard AICP (2pp PDF)

John Shepard on LinkedIn

John C Shepard, AICP on Twitter (Professional Account)


Professional Experience

LARAMIE CO. PLANNING & DEVELOPMENT, Cheyenne, WY October 2012–June 2014

Senior Planner

Team leader for long-range planning, including infrastructure and transportation planning, in 11-member planning and building department. Proficient with ESRI ArcView GIS and Microsoft Office Suite. Also conducted current planning activities including zoning, site plan, and subdivision review.

External Leadership

Led projects involving local public and private stakeholders:

  • Engaged rural community leaders in assessment of 12-year old county comprehensive plan.
  • Facilitated unincorporated community’s neighborhood association’s South Greeley Highway Corridor Plan, as a strategic alternative to a rejected re-development plan.
  • Worked with City and Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) on contentious update of award-winning PlanCheyenne, a cooperative regional land use and transportation plan.
  • Presented on Planning for Broadband at APA National Planning Conference 2013 in Chicago.

Internal Leadership

  • Lead planner on specialized applications including wireless siting and wind energy systems.
  • Lead planner for Planning Commission; presented projects to Board of County Commissioners.

Technical Assistance and Problem Solving

  • Secured support for University of Wyoming student project to review best practices in county comprehensive planning.
  • Completed FEMA 5-year review of Community Rating System (CRS) participation.
  • Member of MPO transportation planning technical committee.



Development Planner

Conducted comprehensive, long-range planning for region, including county and city land use plans, local water management plans, regional transportation planning, and FEMA all-hazard mitigation plans. Provided technical assistance to local units of government on grant writing, zoning, active living, GreenStep Cities, solid waste and recycling, water, sewer, and telecommunications infrastructure. Regional Census data center.


  • Completed comprehensive plans for rural counties and small cities.
  • Facilitated and authored state-mandated Local Water Management Plans for several counties and watershed districts. Initiative recognized for innovation by National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) and Association of Minnesota Counties (AMC).
  • Facilitated and authored all hazard mitigation plans for all counties in region.
  • Conducted training for Planning Commissioners, County Commissioners, and Boards of Adjustment.

Grant Writing and Technical Assistance

  • Worked with communities, non-profit organizations, higher education, Extension and local business to improve use of broadband infrastructure through the Blandin Foundation’s
    Minnesota Intelligent Rural Community (MIRC) project.
  • Secured $140,000 state and federal funding for 7 multi-jurisdictional all-hazard mitigation plans.
  • Encouraged walking and biking to schools through State DOT’s Safe Routes to School program and the Minnesota State Health Improvement Project (SHIP).

Problem Solving

  • Completed cooperative analysis of socio-economic data related to outmigration in rural Minnesota; made case to US Economic Development Administration (EDA) that outmigration meets federal criteria to access infrastructure and business development funding.


LARIMER CO. PLANNING DEPARTMENT, Fort Collins, CO December 2001 – December 2004
(Larimer County Community Development Division)

Planner II

Hired in department’s expansion of long-range planning team. Completed land use plans, including analysis, GIS mapping, public participation, and publications. Performed zoning and development review, and demographic analysis. Served as liaison with County parks, open space, and trails planning group and with Extension ag-based business task force.


  • Served on multi-disciplinary team and as primary author of area plan for county’s oldest village facing significant growth pressure. Presented options, helped achieve consensus in community.

Problem Solving

  • Enabled community task force to visualize scenarios for alternative land use recommendations by completing detailed, parcel-by-parcel land use inventories with GIS.


GALLATIN CO. PLANNING DEPARTMENT, Bozeman, MT August 1998 – November 2001

Planner II

Hired in expansion of small department’s long-range planning team to support scenario-based growth policy, neighborhood and regional transportation plans. Performed compliance reporting for $111,000 federal National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) GIS demonstration grant.



Executive Director

Worked with small communities on all aspects of rural development, including value-added agriculture. Managed marketing and legislative affairs. Conducted grant-writing and administration, oversaw budget and loan/grant program. Staffed volunteer Board of Directors and managed part-time staff.



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Placemaking Pays Off in the Place and in the Making

Creeque Alley Plein Air

Cheyenne’s Celtic Musical Arts Festival took over Depot Plaza downtown this weekend.  The usual Fridays on the Plaza offered up high-octane Celtic grunge leading up to a romping good time with Celtic Americana of The Elders, a favorite from my KRFC days.  Put together some food, some music, some folk art and even some weekend rain couldn’t keep the crowds away.

The Elders in Cheyenne

Us community development types call this sort of thing “Placemaking“:

The concepts behind placemaking originated in the 1960s, when writers like Jane Jacobs and William H. Whyte offered groundbreaking ideas about designing cities that catered to people, not just to cars and shopping centers. Their work focused on the importance of lively neighborhoods and inviting public spaces…

Placemaking is both design and management.  Here in Cheyenne, the Depot Plaza is a fairly new place, carved out of half a square block of parking during a 2001-2006 renovation of the historic (1886) Union Depot.  This block itself once was the location of the Burlington railroad depot, and later the bus depot.  Where once people gathered to come and go, today they gather on the Square for all sorts of festivities, from New Years Eve to the big Kiwanis pancake feed for Cheyenne Frontier Days.

Cheyenne Depot Square

The Depot Plaza is a place, and it has been made, but there is constant making to be done to keep it a safe and vital part of the community.  As the Project for Public Spaces explains:

Rooted in community-based participation, Placemaking involves the planning, design, management and programming of public spaces. More than just creating better urban design of public spaces, Placemaking facilitates creative patterns of activities and connections (cultural, economic, social, ecological) that define a place and support its ongoing evolution…


I expect that the rank and file residents of my community (and yours) don’t call this sort of thing anything.  Its the sort of thing−the place, and the event−that most folks don’t miss if its not there.  But when it is there, a well designed community space invites activity, and the activity provides value to the space.  Its not easy, but when it is done right it feels like the most natural thing in the world.

Kudos to a few of the people Placemaking in Downtown Cheyenne:


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