Fruita family embraces community

PursersFruita, Colo. – For Cullen and Jeannine Purser, community involvement has created an extension of family.

The Fruita couple in May 2011 started Cavalcade, a music venue and creative space, in downtown Fruita.

Since then, it has become a partnership involving a handful of other community members. Thousands have come through the Cavalcade doors for live music, poetry readings, a monthly variety show, community potlucks, family-friendly holiday parties, movie nights, vinyl parties, philosophy discussions and more.

It is a home away from home for many involved.

And that was the vision. 

“We started Cavalcade to create a platform for people to have a safe place to express their creativity,” Jeannine Purser said. “Through that mission, it has created a diverse community. By being so diverse in talents, thoughts and opinions, it has brought people into each other’s lives that would not have otherwise met.”

That web of relationships, as the Pursers describe it, creates a community of people concerned less about themselves and more about each other’s wellbeing.

Cullen Purser, a former Fruita City Councilman, considers his role at Cavalcade to be keeping the original inspiration of the space alive. He does that by truly being interested in the people who walk through the doors.

“People always have a story to tell, and Cullen is great at listening to what people have to say,” Jeannine said. “That’s the investment piece. When people feel invested in, they will happily invest in you in return.”   

Jeannine works to create a welcoming atmosphere and keep the lights on. You’ll find her selling tickets or concessions at events, filling in at the sound board and cleaning up afterward.

At Cavalcade, both of the Pursers’ daughters, Fen and Isa, have also found a home through performing and a community of young people that floats on the periphery of the events.

While Cavalcade is a family focus, it isn’t the only community involvement for the Pursers. Both Cullen, who is an artist, and Jeannine, who works part-time for Mesa Valley Community School, are on Fruita’s Downtown Advisory Board, which is tasked with recommending to the City Council how to grow downtown Fruita. Jeannine serves as the group’s chairwoman.

“It’s about caring about what’s going on around you,” Jeannine said. “If we expect our town to care about our thoughts and opinions, we need to care about our town. It’s reciprocal.”

The Pursers are also fixtures at local shops such as Aspen Street Coffee and the Vintage Common. You’ll see Cullen riding his bike to Fruita’s City Market and volunteering at his youngest daughter’s school. Jeannine is a former Parent Teacher Organization president at Shelledy Elementary.

For them, it’s simple.

“Many people invest in the stock market and Wall Street,” Jeannine said. “Because of how we both were brought up, we have chosen to invest in people. The return on that investment is security and a sense of belonging for us and our girls. Wall Street may be more lucrative, but our investment is a more diverse security.  It’s a diverse security to have real humans in your portfolio.”

And why Aspen Street Coffee instead of Starbucks?

It’s not about the convenience necessarily, Jeannine said, though she is grateful to not need to jump in her car to get coffee.

“It’s the mindset of ‘us,’” she said. “The owner has a name to us. He’s our friend, and his success is our success. We care about his success and he cares about ours. It comes down to relationships and wanting to support each other.”