This month we were chosen to receive an award from a locally based magazine, Edible Aspen! We're being called out as "Local Heros" in the Beverage Artisan category. These awards are given out based on votes online, which means that people who live around here and read Edible Aspen really did go online and vote for us. Here's a link to the piece that spells out the award and what it means.
Maybe you've heard of the Edible Communities publications — they're lovely magazines published all over the United States to promote the locavore movement. What's the locavore movement, you ask? It's all about eating food grown, raised, and prepared as close to your home as possible. In fact, here's a little blurb about Edible Aspen magazine that spells out their belief system a bit more: "Edible Aspen is a quarterly magazine that celebrates the abundance of local food in the Roaring Fork Valley and neighboring communities. Started by Lisa Houston in 2007 the magazine helps connect consumers to local food and beverage producers, and to the chefs, restaurants and markets all dedicated to sourcing local food."
It's something we can get behind, and it's great having Edible Aspen around to introduce us to all sorts of local products we didn't know about before. Just last month I went to Whole Foods and spent a surprising amount on a bottle of salad dressing that's made in our state. Now I can't stop talking about because it's so wonderful, and worth the money. (And here it is: the Purple Carrot dressing from Dressed Up Salad Dressing and ohmygosh you must check it out, it's so good.)
I like to think that being crowned a "local hero" in the beverage community will make someone read about our little tea company, spring for a box and become just as addicted to our tea as I am to that salad dressing. But the truth is, being a claimed a "hero" of any kind ... well, that's a lofty word, you know? Marketing coordinator Christy Garfield and I had a chuckle about the fact that we'd be delighted with a "Pretty Darn Good Tea" award, because any sort of declaration that you're a hero pales in the face of people we surround ourselves with who we truly consider Heroes, with a capital H.
There's Chris Klug, an Aspen local and professional alpine snowboarder who is the only person to ever win an Olympic medal after receiving a liver transplant. Our community celebrated with Chris when he won the bronze in the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, and we see him and his family around town frequently. Not only is he a great guy, but he's dedicated to the fact that he lives his life courtesy of a family in Denver who lost their young son in a tragic accident, but chose to donate their son's organs to people who needed them. His Chris Klug Foundation and Donor Dudes spreads the word about organ donation, and saves lives regularly because of that awareness. At its heart, it's about the impact one life can have on so many others.
Amanda Boxtel is a wonderful woman who lives not far from the two leaves tea company™ office; she was paralyzed from the waist down in a freak skiing accident 21 years ago. Amanda hasn't let that slow her down — she helped found Challenge Aspen, a nonprofit that brings mentally and physically challenged people to the mountains for adventurous activities. You should see Amanda fly down the mountains while sitting in her mono-ski, although these days she inspires a word of paraplegic people through her work with Ekso Bionics. We've got a heart-swelling three-minute video of Amanda demonstrating how Ekso has gotten her back on two feet, and you can watch it here. (Seriously, watch it — you'll be glad you did.)
Auden Schendler is another guy we admire and consider a local hero — he first caught attention locally, and then nationally as the Vice President of Sustainability for the Aspen Skiing Company. Auden knew that global warming was going to change the face of the skiing industry, but let's face it — the ski industry is a huge drain on natural resources, between keeping ski lodges warm and draining creeks for snow-making. So if you want to change the world, you start with yourself, right? With his help, the Aspen Skiing Co. became the first ski company with a climate change policy, found efficient snowmaking equipment to save 6 million gallons of water per year and now uses biodiesel fuel in snowcats. Auden, who was named one of Time Magazine's Environmental Innovators in 2006, lives with his family in our neighborhood here in Basalt, Colo.
If we're going to get historic about local heroes, did you know that Aspen as a ski resort was built by some very visionary WWII vets? The 10th Mountain Division training camp at Camp Hale brought adventurous men to the mountains who learned how the could help win the war in the snowy terrain overseas, particularly in some regions in Italy. When the war was over, some of those men came back to Colorado and rediscovered Aspen — an old silver mining town that had boomed in the late 1800s and then busted. These young men brought their families to this dilapidated town and created community, not to mention ski runs we're still shushing down. We feel grateful they looked around our valley and saw such potential, and we're reaping the rewards of their vision.
We're surrounded by heroes, and you probably are too. List some of your local heroes in the comments — we'd love to read about them! (And if you find our tea heroic, well, we're just happy to be giving you pleasant tea times every day. Cheers to that.)