I'm a member of Trasition Denver and also a member of the Platt Park Green team. Both groups are beginning a visioning process for Denver. Here is one I presented at the PP team meeting. The format was taken from Rob Hopkins Transition Handbook. Please send your visions. Thanks.
I've decided to write a story about what Platt Park looks like in 2018 and how it got there.
Platt Park is far more locally oriented with many changes having been made in food and farming, medicine and health, education, the economy, energy, and housing.
Transformation was born out of rising oil prices forced by OPEC in response to global demand issues and peak production, climate change agreements reached after new administrations took over after 2008, and findings of the US Department of Agriculture on America's food security system. Both the Federal government and Colorado and Denver's local governments were forced to reconsider their commitment to the World Trade Organization's pro-globalization /free trade stance. The government is now (2018) focusing on national food security over international trade. This has brought about a surge in local food production and local farms. Platt Park has co-opted with the city and is offering allotment plots for apartment/condo dwellers at Platt Park itself, as well as the schools in the neighborhood and some property owners have agreed to let out their yards to willing gardeners for a share of the produce. After the peak of the Real Estate market in 2006 some developers had huge losses. By 2010 they were selling their lots to the city at hugely discounted prices. The city decided, after much pressure from the communities, to make available many of the plots for production farming creating even more plots for codo and apartment dwellers. Property owners who were farming their own plots grew everything from food to medicinal herbs on what used to be their front and back yards. A plan, in 2009, to add thousands of production trees, from cherry, apple, and peach, to various nut trees and berry bushes has been a huge success, and the neighborhood is having group harvest festivals. The plan incorporated using organic permaculture techniques. A huge re-skilling curriculum was taken on by Denver Parks and Recreation including classes in canning and freezing, permaculture gardening, tree planting, garden tool sharpening and repair, mulching etc. The Denver Botanic Gardens had started an Urban Homesteading program in 2008 that became so successful, t hey added many classes and teachers who donated a series of seminars to teach the Platt Park consumer science teachers various permaculture techniques. By 2011 the Colorado State University added Urban Homesteading and permaculture to their curriculum. The neighborhoods have joined with the schools and Whole Foods to can and preserve their own produce and there is truly a "local" Farmers market each year. The schools are selling the excess preserved produce to help pay for seeds, books, and gardening and preservation equipment. It is truly amazing. Their is enough produce for everyone in Platt Park and enough to sell to other neighborhoods.
In 2009 neighborhood captains were reintroduced and part of their "job description" was to inspire the neighbors on their block to start a tool share program. It became so successful that most blocks have two snow blowers and two lawn mowers all run on biodeisel. The garden tools and ladders are shared by all. The sense of community that was born out of this project is growing each year, with many block parties and neighbors looking out for one another, taking care of their elderly and teaching their young.
In 2008 preventive medicine was on the fringe, forging it's way, ever so slowly, into the mainstream. Platt Park's Green Team made it a priority to partner with their neighborhood schools and Whole Foods. In 2009 they began a push to familiarize the kids with eating for health. This, of course, included organic gardening on school plots. The kids were taught about the entire food cycle, from seed to food on the table. The section above describes how CSU, Denver Parks and Recreation and the Botanic Gardens played their parts. Porter Hospital was invited to give their input. They designed, and the green team implemented, a neighborhood disaster response plan. They also pushed the State to include human biology, nutrition and basic herbalism in all school curriculums. This will be fully implemented by 2020.
In 2008 it was becoming more and more clear that students leaving high school had not been prepared for a 21st Century world. This seemed to be daunting to the Platt Park Green Team. What, if anything, could they do about that. Well, one garden led to another. Teachers became involved and the whole concept of re-skilling became the buzz word in many households. Through pressure brought on by parents, students, organizations, corporations, and the eonomy itself, a great re-skilling was introduced into the Denver school system, partially mentioned above. Their was a huge re-emphasis on vocational education that once again gave honor to skills that develop sustainability and resilience in a community. ( gardening, cooking, preserving, construction, green architechture, mechanics and repair, woodworking, tailoring, waste management, conflict resolution, renweable energy systems, recycling, community leadership to name a few.) These new skills promote entrepreneurial skills and small businesses. I'll tell you, the green team had no idea in 2008 that their visioning and small localized projects could bring about such awareness and consciousness raising.
The economy of the late 2000's brought much unemployment. Corporations that had been American stalwarts went bankrupt. People had to help one another. Platt Parks block captains became central organizers for the community, sharing information with one another as to who needed help. The Depression that started in 2008 eventually brought the US to the realization that globalization wasn't the best approach( mentioned earlier.) When oil production peaked OPEC put the squeeze on the non producing nations,and slowed output to keep the price of oil high. Platt Park responded by walking, riding bicycles, using small motor scooters and the Light Rail. They worked with city planners to make Old South Pearl a pedestrian walkway, car and scooter free.
The green team worked hard with informational lectures, given at the rec. center and Cameron Church, to inform the community about green alternatives to everything from clothes dryers to fireplaces. Most folks in the neighborhood use a closeline in the summer months for drying their clothes. There have been many fireplace conversions to pellet stoves and the latest green alternatives. There are many solar panels dotting the rooftops of the homeowners as the new administrations brought tax credits for retrofitiing our older homes. We even have solar power for our hot tub now.
Our local businesses came to a group conclusion that they would reduce their carbon footprint, thanks to all the information they were given by the Green Team. It is now 2018 and they are using 60% less carbon than they were in 2008.
When you walk the streets of Platt Park today there are benches in peoples front yards, with strawberries as groundcovers beneath them. People stop and talk to their neighbors to and from the Light Rail. Community meetings are ongoing, presenting a constant flow of information on how to create a more sustainable resilient community. The topics are endless. Neighbors are no longer strangers, they share resources and information, time and skills.
It is a better place, in so many ways, than the impersonal, globalized concept of community we had in 2008. Carol McFadden