Tim Coons worked for a church in the Highlands Ranch area for five years beginning in 2013. He always admired the beautiful neighborhoods, expansive trails and towny shopping districts. That, he thought, was a place full of happy people.
But the church did a survey of the residents in the area, and as it turned out, they were lonely. They felt isolated. They weren’t happy. The study was an eye-opener for Coons, a longtime spiritual musician in Greeley who’s released several albums and now works for the Weld Community Foundation.
He’d thought about those subjects for a long time, admitting that community and family were core values of his for the last two decades. As proof, he had a successful solo career as a singer/songwriter but formed Giants & Pilgrims, his latest music and visual art project, with his wife Betony, so they could collaborate together.
“That’s the starting place of spirituality for me,” Coons said. “I’m much more into community instead of individualism. That’s where I find love.”
Coons hopes to foster that, as well as perhaps work on the problem of isolation and loneliness, with his new podcast, Weld Found. He hopes to tell stories about Weld County, explore non-profits and even help close the division that seems to be a big part of life among Weld residents. Coons plans to do all this in a style heavily influenced by National Public Radio’s longtime show This American Life. As much as Weld Found is a podcast for the community at large, he also wants to do it for himself.
“There is a bit of, ‘I need this’ coming from me,” Coons said. “But that’s OK. Most albums are cathartic as well, right?”
Catharsis aside, it’s also his job with the Weld Community Foundation to connect with the city, non-profits, law enforcement and other entities to get a feel for what the community needs. Doing so helps the organization offer grants as a result. The podcast could help with this in a big way.
The foundation is a sponsor, promoting the podcast on its website, but when he pitched the idea to his boss, CEO Rand Morgan, Coons told him it wouldn’t just be an advertising platform for the foundation. Regardless, Morgan was supportive right away.
In the first podcast, “Out Of The Garage And Into The Neighborhood,” now streaming, Coons starts with a story of when he was 9 years old, trying to get his bike out of the garage so he could go to a birthday party. Instead, because of a power outage, he found himself locked inside.
He compares this moment of isolation to the same general sensation many appear to be experiencing today. Studies indicate that more than half of the U.S. believes no one knows them well, and that half feel as though they do not have a confidant. Studies have also shown that social media only adds to this depression. The point, he said, is to metaphorically get out of the garage.
Upcoming episodes of Weld Found will be released every two weeks, the next few of which feature courageous women and the county that loves them, like the infamous Rattlesnake Kate and the new life breathed into her legend by former Lumineer and UNC grad Neyla Pekarek’s album Rattlesnake. There’s an episode about joy that features Greeley’s model railroad museum, an episode about human trafficking told by survivors, and an episode about being a welcoming community to immigrants.
He knows the topics may be combative, “but I’m not trying to throw grenades,” Coons said. “I would love for the podcast to ask about the middle ground,” he attests.
The initial run of five episodes will run through October, though Coons may also release Halloween and Christmas episodes. He’d consider that a complete first season and plans to work on season two in the spring.
Coons’ ultimate hope is for people to connect with the podcast and ultimately each other. “I really won’t know if it’s catching hold until two full seasons are done,” he says, but like a strong community itself, Coons acknowledges “it takes time.”