LINC: Big and Beautiful

Editor’s Note: This story is written by Peter Derk, emarketing specialist for the High Plains Library District. It was originally published in the Library Newsletter.

Growing up a Greeley kid wasn’t easy. When you met kids from other places, you always heard the same thing: Greeley… Isn’t that the smelly place? In Eric Schlosser’s much-read FastFood Nation, Greeley is mostly profiled by its smell, and it’s given the label “rural ghetto.”

When I went to college at UNC, most of the people I met asked me the same thing: Why didn’t you get out of Greeley? I always had a few things in my back pocket, stuff about Greeley that I’d bring up.

I’d show someone some of Distortions’ stuff, and I’d say, “That happens in Greeley!” Some of the best breweries in the nation? Yep, Greeley. I visited my sister in New York City, and when her friends all decided we should go out for Mexican food, my sister pulled me aside and said, “Lower your expectations. This isn’t going to be like Greeley’s Mexican food.”

Lately, I’ve had more to choose from when it comes to telling people that there’s a lot to love about Greeley. And LINC is poised to be one of the things I bring up.

But in a different way. It’s kind of hard to explain.

LINC is big and beautiful, and that helps. LINC has so many things that extend the idea of library service way beyond the normal boundaries, and that helps, too. Yes, I look forward to using some of the stuff in the woodshop. Who has space for a planer? Who has the cash for a SawStop? And, of course, shooting my own videos and recording my own podcasts in the studio? Awesome.

I’m excited to point to LINC as an example of what Greeley really is. To tell people, “Check this out.” To bring out my phone and show them pictures, and to hear that phrase, that music to my ears: Wait, that’s in Greeley?!

All of that wonderful stuff still doesn’t express what LINC’s opening means to me, though.

The Lincoln Park Library I went to as a kid was the one where the Double Tree stands now, and that old Lincoln Park holds a lot of great memories for me. The huge tree in the storytime circle, the Rattlesnake Kate dress. The Lincoln Park Library we’ve had since 2016 has served wonderfully, but it’s also kind of felt like a promise to be fulfilled, a temporary solution, a way to provide library service downtown for now. I always felt like it was a brick and mortar I.O.U.

Which is a nice metaphor for living in Greeley. Because living here does mean living in a place that has promise, that has potential. Some days, it feels like Greeley will never escape its status as an underdog, specifically, an underdog that could use a bath. I’ve stuck it out my entire life so far, and there are days I get tired of waiting for tomorrow. You start thinking how you could move 25 miles north and be in a tomorrow that’s a little closer to what you’d like. 50 miles south, and you could be in another tomorrow. Just a short drive away, you could live somewhere a lot more metropolitan, or you could live somewhere a lot more rural.

But I have to say: When something great happens in Greeley, when it’s years in the making, and when there are times it’s not a sure thing—when you see something big come together, and it’s better than you expected, it sure is satisfying.

It’s taken me a long time to figure out what I love about Greeley. If someone asked me about moving to Greeley, I’d probably tell them that it’s a great place to live. I’d probably tell them that it’s a little more expensive than they think. And I’d probably tell them that moving to Greeley isn’t like moving to Fort Collins, Denver, or Boulder.

If you move to one of the bigger surrounding cities, you’re moving into a place that has fulfilled its promise. It’s achieved a lot, and you’ll have a good time. If you want to take part in those good times, those other cities will be a great fit. But.

If you want to live in a place where you get to be a part of creating the good times? If you want to shape the future of a place that’s still not quite set? You want to move here. And I want you to move here.

That’s what I love about Greeley.

It’s a place we still have to build, a place where we have to make our own art, where we have to make our own fun.

LINC is a gateway. It’s a toolbox we can all dig into to build the city we want to see, touch, and, okay, smell. What I love about LINC is what I love about Greeley: it’s ours to make wonderful.