What do you do?
Joanne Karlson

Where do you work and what is your title?
       Volunteer and board member at the Old Colorado City History Center.
What do you do there and/or what are you responsible for?
       Plan and co-ordinate many of the educational and historical programs and some of the special events. I also work with a small group of active volunteers to learn more about local history and share it with others, especially Westsiders. As a board member, there are many responsibilities - primarily to fulfill the OCCHS Mission Statement, to be fiscally active in maintaining our site and to plan for future growth. A group of members is studying what the History Center might be in 5 to 10 years and how to get there.
How long have you been doing this kind of work (total)? How long on the Westside?
       I have been an OCCHS member about 10 years….and a community volunteer most of my life! We don't actually "live" on the Westside, but bought a business in 1975 and basically "lived" here while operating the business for 16 years: the Dairy Queen on West Colorado Avenue at 22nd Street. We know many Westsiders and had many Coronado and Manitou Springs students as employees.
What do you like best about it (other than quitting time)?
       I especially like the "ah-ha" moments when people of all ages get excited and interested in the Westside, its history and neighborhood culture. Researching history is often like a detective story… searching for clues and connecting the dots.
If you could change one thing (other than pay), what would it be?
       Really TWO things… 1. Increase the OCCHS Endowment Fund through fundraisers and donations to the point that a History Center director could be hired. We are fiscally sound, but look to future possibilities. 2. Have more volunteers and members become actively involved. There are many opportunities to help keep this history alive, through short-term projects as well as longer ones.
What part of your work did your training/education never prepare you for?
       Computer skills beyond word processing and the various skills of a museum professional. I have always enjoyed history, planning projects, education, and working with people, so that was easy. I didn't realize that 'retirement' would be the best “job” I ever had!
What makes working on the Westside special?
       The friendly, relaxed atmosphere and continuing pride in the neighborhood is like a small town. Its variety of independent yet community-minded people makes this a unique area… a challenge to remain connected in the midst of growth, change and faster pace of life.

“What do you do?” is a regular feature in the Westside Pioneer. If you know someone who has an interesting job on the Westside (but doesn’t live here), he/she might be a candidate for this column! If you know someone who might qualify, give us a call at 471-6776.