Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Denver's State of the City 2013 – Forney Museum

Location: 4303 Brighton Boulevard, Denver, CO 80216, USA
Nederland Mayor Gierlach and Monica Petit,
Event & Education Coordinator for the Forney Museum
Part of 'mayoring' is that I get invited to a whole lot of ribbon-cuttings and ceremonial events around the region. It is written in our Municipal Code (Ch. 2, Sec. 22, Ord. 177 §):
"...The Mayor shall be responsible for ceremonial purposes. He or she will act as the official representative of the Town and is authorized and empowered to sign his or her name officially for and on behalf of the Town on all contracts, documents and papers to which the Town is a party, and to require that the conditions in any instrument are faithfully performed. ..."
Most other cities in the region divide-up the duty of externally representing their city among council members. Nederland, had a history of not participating in regional efforts, so I made a personal commitment to become an active member of the Colorado Municipal League (CML), the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG), Metro Mayors Caucus, and the Boulder County Consortium of Cities.

Sometimes this role I play, feels a bit like Christie Brinkley (the original PETA Spokesmodel) highlighting animal rights issues against the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus – First they'll say, "Aren't you from that town with the frozen dead guy?", or "Hello mayor, nice Ivy League tie." Only after that, can I bring up more genuine topics like transportation funding, or how Nederland is becoming the first town in the region with a community-wide EcoPass.
Denver Mayor Hancock at the Forney Museum
For all practical purposes, it is impossible to attend everything I get invited to. However, I do make the effort to listen to Mayor Hancock's State of the City Address in Denver each year. It is always inspiring to watch the mayor of one of the most important cities in the country, lay out his policy direction. Mayor Hancock's 2013 speech did not disappoint. He even described how Denver is competing in the global marketplace.

Colorado Independent writer, Tessa Cheek, explains here: In State of City Speech, Hancock Celebrates Connection, Touts Power of Public Sector, and the full speech from CBS News: Mayor Hancock's State Of The City Address.

The event was held at the Forney Museum of Transportation. Their tagline: Anything on Wheels! Antique Cars, Locomotives, Buggies, Bicycles, Motorcycles, Rare & Exotic vehicles, and more.

I had the pleasure of meeting Monica Petit, Event & Education Coordinator for the Forney Museum. I was explaining to her that my daughter and I developed a long tradition, where she can ask me any question. She once asked, "Daddy, what was the first invention ever?" I answered, "Why, the wheel, of course." I might not have been correct, but we have to admit that the wheel was pretty important – Right up there with language, or discovering fire.

Mayor Hancock linked the progress of Denver to the different modes of transportation. How the original railroad almost passed Denver by, the impact of the automobile, direct flights to Tokyo and Reykjavík from Denver International Airport, and the new RTD FasTracks light rail system.

The Forney Museum of Transportation
Transportation has such a profound impact on our cities. I once gave a presentation on a 130 year history of Nederland's economy, and how it can be mapped directly to the condition of the canyon road to our town. Within our community, we have been determined to resolve transportation issues in very unique ways which reflect our value system of sustainability, and living within nature. Walking around the Forney Museum, I can see the evolution of transportation options that have been used in the past, how towns without a train station disappeared almost overnight, and how very different, the future of transportation could look.

As much as Nederland wants to maintain its local distinctiveness and authentic character, at its most basic level we also have to maintain our connections within the region, physically through modes of transportation, and philosophically through our organizational partnerships. My impression is that someday people will look back and realize how important is was for Nederland to have the first community-wide EcoPass in the RTD region.
[Related StoryUS Regional Patent Office in Denver]
There is a growing trend among young Millennials who are not buying cars, or paying for gas, maintenance, and insurance. I see the car sharing programs developing in Denver when I attend regional meetings downtown. (Here's a 5280 Magazine article on them.) I wonder if we could get one of those companies to make a couple of pick-up trucks available in Nederland for residents to rent out.

Seeing the old cars at the Forney Museum, reminded me that I learned how to drive in the late 1970's when Billy Joel's music became popular, and people had a choice between an only AM, or AM/FM radio. (8-Track player sold separately) Coincidentally at the same time, Billy Joel was recording the songs for his Turnstiles album (1976) at Caribou Ranch Recording Studio in Nederland with members of Elton John's band. But, he later re-recorded the album with his own touring band in New York. 

As a footnote, I also attended Mayor Hancock's 2012 speech at the Museum of Nature and Science, which was equally inspiring. Here is the Denver Post Coverage of Denver Mayor Hancock's 2012 State of City speech. But that's another story in my head about governance, science, and nature.

[Here is a Video Valediction] This is Mike Squillante (and Rhett Price on violin) on a rooftop in New York City, covering Billy Joel's (1977) Only The Good Die Young (notice the bloody finger) [What is a Video Valediction?]
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