There’s a scene in the Coen brothers’ 1998 film The Big Lebowski in which Jeffrey Lebowski asks the Dude, “What makes a man?” before trying to answer the question himself. “Is it being prepared to do the right thing, whatever the cost? Isn’t that what makes a man?” The Dude, played by Jeff Bridges, follows up with an obvious and crude—and typically funny—rejoinder, which I will not reprint here. Notwithstanding the Dude’s indelicate answer, what I love about this exchange is what I love about The Big Lebowski as a whole and, really, what I love about the Coen brothers’ oeuvre: the ability to address what, on its face, seems like a straightforward question by tweaking it just a little bit with thoughtfulness and humor.

This scene popped into my head as we were working on this month’s issue—in particular, “33 Things Every Coloradan Should Know How To Do,” which starts on page 70. At its core, the package attempts to address the question “What makes a Coloradan?” And, not surprisingly, there is a simple, straightforward response: A Coloradan is someone who lives in the state of Colorado. On the other hand, as those of us who actually live here know, there is so much more to both the question and the answer, and part of it is the depth and breadth of Coloradans’ personal interests. We are, or perhaps more accurately, you are, a well-rounded bunch. You might be a high-powered executive in your downtown office, and yet you telemark backcountry terrain during the winter and bag fourteeners during the summer—plus you dabble in oil painting and teach yoga on the side. You garden heirloom rhubarb. You make your own cocktail bitters. You play volleyball, ride horses, kayak, and ice climb.

The point is, more so than many other places in the country, residents of this city and state seem to have a broad array of interests and pastimes, and Colorado, it seems, has an almost magical power that encourages us to be proficient in a wide variety of things. Each of these pursuits requires specialized knowledge—and I often wonder how people here have the time and the seemingly unique ability to work and to master a host of interesting hobbies. Even so, I think it’s safe to say no one knows everything. So, please, dig in and see what you can learn about living life in the Centennial State—and about what makes us truly Coloradans. And if one, or more, of you happens to already know how to do everything on our list—or has suggestions for things we missed—we’d love to hear about it.

—Photography by Jeff Nelson

This article was originally published in 5280 March 2014.
Geoff Van Dyke
Geoff Van Dyke
Geoff Van Dyke is the editorial director of 5280 Publishing. Follow him on Twitter @GeoffVanDyke