The summer of 2021 was a challenge for Dylan Stein. Living in Portland, Oregon, working for a startup company, the pandemic was raging as were the wildfires of the Pacific Northwest. The air was hard to breathe, Covid was progressing, and the world and future felt uncertain. A longtime lover of outdoor activities, stories from his father’s adventures of living in Aspen as a ski bum reinvigorated his dream to live in a mountain community and connect with the outdoor industry. In July of 2021 Dylan packed up and hit the road, spending three months traveling and wandering the Western U.S. He worked odd jobs on a ranch and goat farm. After a brief one-month stay in Hawaii with his aunt, he eventually landed in Summit County.
Originally from Seattle, Washington, (Building Hope’s Event Coordinator) Dylan recalls growing up in “the most beautiful city in America.” He thought everywhere was this beautiful, and later in life, after many travels, he realized this just wasn’t true. After high school he headed to Eugene, Oregon, to study journalism. He quickly gravitated towards advertising and marketing, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in advertising and a minor in history.
When he first arrived in Summit County he took a retail position with Patagonia before accepting his new position at Building Hope. I asked him how he liked his new job. Dylan shared: “Passion is what gets me out of bed in the morning. The opportunity to be involved in an organization that is breaking down the stigma of mental health while meeting people of the community and creating connections is more rewarding than any amount of money.”
Dylan’s role at Building Hope involves coordinating all free events for the community connectedness program as well as the HYPE program for youth aged 12-18. He sees the importance of the program and brings his passion to these events because he can relate to the desire of making connections in a new town. “It can be hard to meet people with similar interests in a new community. A lot of people move here alone without family, and it is crucial to meet with other locals in our tourist community. We also provide a safe environment to connect and provide alternatives to the party culture, which can be isolating.”
In his own mental-health journey, Dylan lives by the motto “motion is lotion.” An avid skier, he receives many benefits from spending time outside and participating in all the physical activities that Summit County has to offer. He also participated in talk therapy during a challenging time in his life in Portland. After opening up to his therapist, friends, and family, he found solace in working through the thoughts he was experiencing in his own head. Socializing with the community and making connections also helps him maintain a healthy mentality, proving his new role at Building Hope is a perfect fit.
I asked Dylan if he had any advice for the residents and, more specifically, other males as the negative stigma around asking for help remains strong. “Don’t be ashamed to ask or look for help. There is no shame in getting help to be a better man for yourself and others. It’s more masculine to admit you have problems and seek help in solving them. Talk openly to your male friends, be the ice breaker as you may find they are also going through something similar.” He also suggests reaching out to Building Hope for resources and reiterates the importance of making a strong connection with your therapist. It’s OK to try a few different options.
Dylan admits that he left Portland to escape certain problems in his life. Summit County is often a hub for many to escape and get away from life’s problems. Although he is content now, he is honest and says, “You can change your environment and move locations all you want, but your problems will continue to follow you.” He also reminds me that it is OK to feel down and experience different emotions regardless of living in such a beautiful place. This does not make you ungrateful or take anything away from all that Summit County has to offer.
Every day Dylan experiences gratitude to live in such a beautiful place. A simple view at Peak One or Baldy Mountain puts a smile on his face and reminds him how lucky he feels to live in such a unique and breathtaking place. Nonetheless, we live in a world that isn’t perfect. Similar to the stressors he felt before his “escape” from Portland, he continues to work on anxieties that develop over bad news in the media and the questionable future. For now, he is committed to living in the moment as much as possible. When he becomes anxious about something in the future, he reminds himself he is safe and happy right now in the present.