Roaring Fork Technologists - The Beginnings
After moving deep into the Rocky Mountains of Colorado I wanted to reach out to my new community to see if there were others that share my interest in technology. After nearly ten years working in the technology industry I find it important to keep a network of similar professionals around so we can support and learn from each other. As soon as I got on my feet in a new home I started a group called the Roaring Fork Technologists since a similar group didn’t seem to exist. This post is to introduce who the Roaring Fork Technologists are today and what they hope to become.
Photo by Me of Mt. Sopris standing over Carbondale.
Who are the Roaring Fork Technologists?
Over the last year the Roaring Fork Technologists have grown (still growing) into a small community of talented professionals with diverse skill sets. We are the people who build, create, and empower business through digital solutions:
- We are software developers
- We are cloud infrastructure engineers
- We are content managers
- We are graphic designers
- We are GIS specialists
- We are digital marketing experts
- We are educators
- We are entrepeneurs
We started with the modest goal of simply meeting other technical professionals but are becoming a voice in the valley for supporting entrepeneurship and more generally economic development. We are not a business with a revenue stream. We all have day jobs. We are serving our community with a Give First mentality to see how we can improve the world around us.
Sounds a bit ambitious right?
Many might think that a rural valley of five towns separated by mountain roads and totaling only around 35,000 people is not the kind of place where technology and entrepeneurship thrive. Well, I can tell you now that assumption is becoming less and less accurate. Thanks to a variety of factors (another blog post) this valley is ripe with enthusiasm to build business and supportive communities where rural living doesn’t have to result in compromising career opportunities.
We galvanize around collaborative spaces
Co-working spaces are popping up all over rural America. These spaces often become a place to meet and collaborate. A place to learn and teach. A place where professionals can operate for local or remote companies. A place where business can grow to reach local or global markets. While more traditional or mixed-use office spaces have existed for a long time and are definately an important part of local business in the Roaring Fork, co-working offers a different set of opportunities. Co-working spaces like GlenX in Carbondale and Aspen Entrepreneurs in Aspen emphasize community building and professional development focused programming. The opportunity to congregate in a place made to embrace the community has had a tremendously positive impact on the recent growth of the Roaring Fork Technologists.
We're not alone
While the Roaring Fork may have unique characteristics to support a budding entrepreneurial and technology community there are a number of other rural communities on similar paths. Telluride, Grand Junction, Montrose, Ridgeway, and Vail are just a few towns with growing entrepreneurial spirit. Rather than competing we are all working together and learning from each other to help boost up the collective community. This means that technologists and entrepeneurs are increasingly less isolated in rural communities as there are growing networks of people figuring out how to thrive with a different set of resources than might be found in a bigger city.
The road ahead
The people behind this movement are ambitious and eager to help others. There are a couple paths forward that we would all like to take but we are planning out how to do it in stages across major focus areas.
Focus Area 1: Establish A Consistency Plan The first step is to plan out 2018 with regular meetings that combine educational project collaboration with meetup style talks. This will include a series of software projects we work on collaboratively while sharing techniques for software development across the whole software life-cycle. A major component of this is having a consistent meeting space that supports this effort. We see that being GlenX Co-working in Carbondale for the foreseeable future.
Focus Area 2: Community Educational Support We want to include local professionals and students that want help working through projects or building skill for future projects. This will likely be informal small group or 1 on 1 mentor style support.
Focus Area 3: Local Business Support We want to provide technical guidance and mentoring for local businesses and startups who need help navigating the technical landscape. We want to be a resource that helps minimize blocking obstacles for businesses trying to grow in the Valley. Our hope is that we can have a tight relationship with groups like Aspen Entrepreneurs and GlenX who are helping startups get started and thrive in the valley.
"It's not about what we should do for ourselves today. It's about what kind of community we can leave for future generations so they can thrive. - Altai (paraphrased)"
Dave Mayer has been instrumental in helping to kick this group off and connect us with people around the community. Keep doing what you do Dave!
Altai Chuluun has been incredibly welcoming and supportive through efforts around GlenX. We see this space and the GlenX team as fundamental for the future success of growing this group to meet the ambitious goals hinted at above.