Voices Topics Info

Lonnie Roth

Crestone Creative Trade Co. - Religiously Unaffiliated

Interview Conducted by: Caroline Mckenna


Lonnie Roth is a native Coloradoan who has lived in Crestone Colorado for the last 13 ½ years. Creating his own spiritual path, Lonnie is not affiliated with any particular religion, but he associates with all of the spiritual communities in the surrounding area. Lonnie practices mediation throughout his daily activities, which creates a sense of balance and connectedness. Lonnie values the deep sense of community building that is present in Crestone as the people learn to accepts and understand the diversity of different cultures. As the local shop owner of Crestone Creative Trade Co., Lonnie explained his appreciation of being a part of an economy based on eco-tourism and spiritual retreats. Lonnie said that if natural gas is found in the Crestone area, he would strongly consider moving, as it could provoke many influential community members to leave, thereby dissipating the unique community of Crestone. Lonnie He resides in Crestone with his children, where he is dedicated to his business, and actively involved in creating music.

“I am spiritual, officially unaffiliated, although I associate with all of the spiritual groups around here and I feel am comfortable with that…Spiritual I have worked out my own path over many years. I am quite at home with that.”

“I walk around meditating daily. I keep meditating with my walking, with my problem solving. I don’t sit and meditate as much. I try to not go too fast so I can be in balance and feel the connectedness which I call my meditation. If I go too fast I get disconnected. I try to keep the pace which I relate to the ‘OM’ vibration… it’s a vibration where you feel that connectedness if you don’t go too fast, if you don’t go too slow. You feel the connectedness to all things as your going through your day.”

Discussing Crestone and Its Culture:

“This place just fit me like a glove, its just because I have all these leanings towards my spiritual side. When I came up here there were posted meanings about yoga and various other new age postings, and I could just tell that this was a place where I wouldn’t stick out more with my leanings. It just as mostly an energy match.”

“This place doesn’t look like anything but it is. This place doesn’t look like anything but the depth is amazing. The depth of this community. Everyone here is pretty sincerely working on themselves, even if they’re not successful at it. They’re pretty sincerely trying to make their own life better, their understanding of their surroundings better. There is a genuine quality here.”

“I think it’s a harsh environment, but a beautiful environment. This is such a harsh place to live if you live through winters. Its take some people with real desire to get away from these warm and easy places to live in where here its somewhat inhospitable, and there’s obviously a huge energy here besides that.”

“I think this local space, it was pretty well understood by virtually everybody here that there’s something energetically going on in this location. So they would commonly call it a vortex that’s here. A vortex is like a tornado like energy...its the spinning energy. I guess I definitely feel a magnetic quality here. This place has a very strong quality. Its almost so strong it can make you ill. There’s a huge quality here with the land.”

“Here, in general, it’s a little bit of a cleaner energy. People work a little harder on themselves here, and that includes pretty much all of the beliefs. I would say that the self-discipline of working on our faults, or at least working on some level of having a greater understanding is a pretty common thread here.”

“In a way Crestonians pick and choose. They pick some of the easy aspects for our culture to adapt to the other cultures. Some of the harder aspects, other cultures are very hard, very difficult to really engrain. We find it just as difficult to learn other cultures or be a part of other cultures. We pick and choose, we pick the positive aspects of those religions, and we use them in ways that make it more functional for us. Sometimes we don’t face the hard parts of other cultures here. Tibetan Buddhists they’re very against abortion. This community chooses to look the other way at that. We pick the aspects we like of those cultures, of those religions, and we practice that.”

“It’s a little embarrassing, to be a group of white people practicing other peoples cultures. We’re not very engrained with a lot of dark skinned people here. We have dangerous parts and really positive parts. We are endanger of being spiritual elite which is not a real place to be elite, you can’t be a spiritual elitist, it doesn’t work. Loosing our diversity, being rich people claiming to be spiritual. We’re endanger of being a little over selective, of holding the kind of judgment over society because of spiritual practice.”

“We have a lot of really good qualities. The people here have really worked hard on other levels. We’re a better bunch than most on a lot of levels. The people are what attract me here. But we are in danger of loosing that if we’re not careful.”

“You get different religions, they will tend to spend all of their time together, they tend to get to know each other. But the most difficult aspect of that for me is I only see some of these people once or twice a year, because they’re so almost engrained into their group.”

“There’s just a very few events where we come together as a community, and the rest of the time there seems to be a very separate feeling.”

“The town of Crestone is funny, it’s got a very old flavor to it. It has somewhat less of a relation to the spiritual institutions. The Baca goes in with the spiritual institutions, so that a close symbiotic relationship there. Crestone is a part of it however.”

“The Tibetan Buddhist, you hardly ever see them coming into town, they’re somewhat politically affiliated together. It does kind of separate them, which is unfortunate because a principle of Buddhism is community. The ashram, they have kind of their own thing going on, so there’s some separation, but mostly it’s the positive than the loss.”

Discussing the Impact of Exploratory Natural Gas Drilling:

“I chosen that is primarily now my battle, because I am really involved with family, working to make a living. I have music as a hobby that takes a lot of my time, and I just don’t have, I would have to give up one of those things to get more involved. I haven’t gotten involved, as much. I’ve supported it. I put the petitions in my shop, they post the meetings in my window, I’ve discussed it, but I haven’t really got deeply involved in it.”

“We do need economy, but I think we would rather build eco-tourism and spiritual retreats as a source of income. We’ve already gone way down that path why would we turn around now.”

“The concerns are definitely very legitimate concerns about noise in the mediations and retreats that we have around here that are very large part of our community and income. We have a lot of Tibetan Buddhist retreats that are similar to tourists coming here; they come from California from all over to just be silent. Large groups of people…we have the Carmelite monks and they have a month of silence…we have a lot of ceremonies that require a pretty peaceful environment. From many different spiritual institutions here. I think that is very legitimate. Environmental damage is a very legitimate concern of course, contamination of the water here, the water has been one of the most fought over aspects of this area for a long time, because we have really great water. Contamination has happened, sometime happens, we just don’t know if that will happen here or not. It’s a risk that is pretty significant.”

“Its very distinct because of the retreat, because of the many spiritual institutions on this hill. This is unlike any other community in that fact. The wildlife is probably a factor. As far as altitude, the higher up you get the harder it is for land to recover… If you look at what mining did to this state, you can see the mine dumps, very little change since they dug those mines 100 years ago. Very little change. Colorado has a tuff recovery period for that kind of stuff.”

“We have almost developed to a Native American standard of having our own little culture here. It’s very unique. We’ve become a real culture here, a mini culture. I would say this community in general between the Baca, the different spiritual institutions, Manitou institute, which was the foundation for all the spiritual institutions to come together here. It’s on the level of the Catholic Church in Rome. You wouldn’t want to dissemble it. We’ve got something that wouldn’t dissipate unless it was really torn a part. It (drilling) would definitely affect the culture that we’ve got going here. Your talking about 10-25 and the really richness of these people that are really involved in their community, looking else where, if not more. If it was somewhat bad, we would get a certain percentage of people leaving here that are very involved and very integral to the community, and we’ve got a really rich asset here of community of people, we’re really unusual. That would dissipate, and that would maybe lead to a really different flavor of community down the road.”

“If ground water is poisoned, if it becomes a noisy place, a lot of the people here are going to be somewhere else…my family would be upset. It might even cause me to move. If something really happened here, if they found gas here, I would consider…there’s little things that makes me want to move anyways, it’s a harsh environment and stuff, the more negative things, the more I lean towards getting somewhere else.”