The Story of the Red Lady Prayer Flag Project
Red Lady, or Mt. Emmons, is the sentinel peak of Crested Butte. Visible from anywhere in town, it lies at the western end of Elk Avenue. For residents and visitors, it is the place where the sun and the moon set. For backcountry enthusiasts it is the place of plush skiing, exhilarating hiking and boundless wildflowers. At its base is the source of our drinking water – Coal Creek. It is home to elk, black bear, deer, lynx, mountain lion and a myriad of other, smaller creatures living in the old growth spruce, fir and aspen forests that blanket its ridges and valleys.
The Lady has a looming threat, however. A mining company is proposing to open a massive scale molybdenum mine on the mountain. This project would be devastating to the health of our water, air and soil. It would damage vast acres of open space home to wildlife and the recreational playground for residents and visitors. It would devastate our sense of peace, and create detrimental noise and light pollution. In short, it would demolish the way of life we have chosen, one intricately bound and dependent upon our natural environment. And, it would fundamentally alter our local economy, which is so attached to the natural environment.
In an effort to bring about positivism, unity and awareness, the community was asked to think of how they would like to see Red Lady, rather than encumbered by a massive mining operation. What came forth were over 100 prayers written for Red Lady by a diverse palette of individuals. Six local artists set the words to art. This outpouring of spirit has truly been a community-wide project.
Tibetan prayer flags date back several thousand years as a means of sending prayers to the deities. They were created from and are meant to fly in high places, such as mountains. As they flutter in the wind, the prayers are sent to the heavens. Traditionally, they are five separate colors, representing the five elements. The Red Lady Prayer Flags are all red. For the elements, red symbolizes fire.
These flags demonstrate the diversity of our community under this one collective voice of keeping Mt. Emmons moly-mine free. Our goal is to have these flags hanging from every business and home in Crested Butte, emitting a positive message of why this land means so much to us.
We encourage you to buy multiple strings of Red Lady Prayer Flags. Hang them high, hang them outside. From your rooftops, in front of your doorways and windows. Only by being visible will they demonstrate the solidarity of the community behind this issue. Only in being touched by the mountains’ wind will they be able to send their message.