photo of Eric Veith, Vibrant Littleton founder, with shark in his armsWhat led you to start VL and tell us about your vision for it?
I’ve lived in Littleton most of my life, but wasn’t engaged on a civic level until I volunteered to participate in the city’s Housing Task Force back in 2019. As I learned more about Littleton’s history and politics through that process, it became clear to me that our town needed a place where solutions-minded folks could come together and work constructively on the issues facing our town. The vision was to create a hub for all the people who loved Littleton and recognized the unique challenges in our town and who were excited about finding unique solutions to those challenges. One especially pressing topic was finding ways to both celebrate our historic identity and harness the power of growth in our booming region. As various members of Vibrant Littleton came together, we realized that those two identities can actually be very symbiotic. For instance, when we’re thoughtful about it, the energy brought by population growth and new investment can be harnessed to improve and expand public spaces like Downtown, and even reproduce new places like them elsewhere in our town. That vision for a Littleton that leans into its identity energizes me and a lot of the other members of our group.

You grew up in Littleton, what changes stand out the most to you?
When I was growing up here, downtown Littleton was kind of an afterthought. There were a handful of thriving businesses, and a few not-so-thriving ones as well. But downtown was far from the hub of activity and civic pride that it is today. Watching our downtown return to what it was historically has been a joy, and given me lots of confidence that citizens of Littleton want more of it. The town has also changed economically, from a borderline “company town” where a large portion of my friends’ parents worked for Lockheed, to one that’s more of a hub for things going on all over the Metro area. That has created a different energy, but also new challenges, including new demand for housing.

What do you see as the biggest challenges for Littleton today?
Our biggest challenge is managing growth wisely. Jobs, lifestyle, and other big forces are bringing lots of people to our region. It’s very easy to identify the challenges that come along with that trend, like winter traffic on I-70, suburban sprawl, and cost of living increases. But people tend to forget all of the good things that come with growth — economic opportunity better public amenities, new friends, etc. So the question becomes: if we want all the good stuff, how do we manage the process and minimize the bad stuff? I think the key is moving beyond frustration and focusing on solutions. For instance, lots of Vibrant Littleton members view strategic increases to density as a really effective way to embrace growth. A new approach to development, where we start diversifying the shapes and sizes of our housing and businesses, will help better meet the demand for housing, while also preserving open space, supporting walkability, and fostering intergenerational community. If our community can identify and lean into solutions like that, hopefully in 20 years we’ll all be bragging about our hometown more than ever before.