Over 65 community leaders in northern Colorado came together this week to discuss sustainability opportunities at the latest in a series of regional roundtables by the non-profit Alliance for Sustainable Colorado
(“the Alliance”). The meeting, hosted by New Belgium Brewing Company (an Alliance sponsor), gave representatives from businesses, nonprofits, local and state government agencies and academic institutions the opportunity to exchange valuable ideas.
“The folks in northern Colorado are leaders in Colorado’s sustainability movement,” said Janna Six, Education & Outreach Director, Alliance for Sustainable Colorado. “Examples range from the Fort Zed smart grid goals to the Colorado State University research programs to educational outreach of the Sustainable Living Fair, to business leadership of New Belgium.”
Participants at the Fort Collins roundtable engaged in rich discussions about which sustainability efforts are working well and which opportunities are ripe for development. Discussions revealed that the leadership in northern Colorado has been key in making sustainability concepts and practices an integral part of the entire community.
To move sustainability forward, the group agreed that encouraging local and community-supported agriculture is an objective which would benefit from collaborative leadership. Growing and eating food that is produced locally achieves multiple sustainability goals: offers more self sufficiency of food supplies, keeps closer tabs on food quality, provides green jobs, reduces transportation impacts, encourages protection of open lands, fosters a sense of community, and brings consumers closer to the land so they’ll have a better understanding of related topics like changes in climate.
A number of next steps were recommended to expand local food production and consumption . The Larimer Land Trust, CSU Extension Office, and AgriCorps (like the Peace Corps) were recognized as having leadership roles. Other organizations, not traditionally focused on agriculture, suggested valuable ways to expand involvement. For example, Poudre School District buys local produce and sends classes on fieldtrips to urban farms.
The roundtables are designed to increase collaboration by engaging regional leaders to share best practices and identify areas where more collaborative efforts might overcome challenges to sustainability at the regional and state level. Hundreds of sustainability leaders are getting plugged into a sustainability network that spans the state.
The Fort Collins roundtable was the fifth Alliance Roundtable this year. Other communities that have hosted a roundtable include Pueblo, Durango, Grand Junction, and Steamboat Springs.
“The Alliance for Sustainable Colorado Roundtables are a great opportunity to identify priorities that will advance the goals of Colorado’s New Energy Economy,” said Mona Newton, Regional Director for the Governor’s Energy Office. “The information the Alliance is able to gather will provide a fact-based foundation for building sustainable communities across Colorado.”
Notes are available from each of the 2009 roundtable meetings. Watch for a summary report to be issued after December 1, 2009. For more information on the Fort Collins roundtable and Alliance for Sustainable Colorado’s statewide initiative, go to http://www.sustainablecolorado.org/programs/outreach.php