Sunday, September 29, 2013

Can We Live for Two Weeks, Without Driving to Boulder?

Location: Nederland, CO 80466, USA
The U.S. National Guard blockade in Boulder Canyon
I had a personal escort and assessment of Boulder Canyon with CDOT Executive Director Don Hunt. Yes, we did pass through the U.S. National Guard blockade. We stopped a few times to assess the damage, and learn about the reconstruction plan for each area.

There are places where only one lane is open (mostly at the bottom, east of Magnolia Road) and those are the places where the contractor has to work. The CDOT Project Manager explained, "Every car that the national guard allows through (including ours) causes the track hoe to stop their work, and back out of the lane, which delays the project for about 20 minutes to a half hour."

Right there, in the hybrid SUV, I made a deal with the CDOT executive director. If I can keep vehicles out of Boulder Canyon, the road will be open in two weeks. If I cannot keep vehicles out of the canyon, it will be six weeks. I'm grateful to have the opportunity to make such a deal.

Mayor Gierlach assessing the damage with CDOT
Project Managers and Executive Director, Don Hunt
I thought about the workers from CDOT, and Boulder County Transportation that were already going through the blockade. I thought about all the stories on the Nedheads Facebook page regarding "what to tell the National Guard" in order to get through. Each one slowed down the project by 20-30 minutes. We talked to the guardsmen who are becoming familiar with the locals. They're now a little more skeptical of our folktales, and are equipped with information to call someone's bluff. I'm sure there will be a report when this is over.

For my assessment trip alone, they drove up to get me, drove back down to get Don Hunt, back up, and back down again, with three places where track hoes had to move. [3 x 4 x 3 = 36, x 20 minutes = 12 hours in lost time]

There were some interesting new canyons, freshly cut by the rock slides. The CDOT project manager predicts that these will become new tourist attraction points along the Boulder Creek Trail. We can wait two weeks to appreciate them. They'll be there for a long time.

While I spent all afternoon, taking pictures, and basically slowing down the progress of the work on Boulder Canyon, some of our residents were thinking about this event from a different angle, "What if we used this time of inconvenient transportation to discuss how our town might address sustainability, or have our own Peak Oil experiment?"

One of Nederland's Envision 2020 statements:
In 2020, [six and a half years from now] Nederland’s economy is local, community based, self-sufficient and is characterized by diverse and essential products, services and jobs that both support the local community and are mindful of potential impacts on the environment.
Newly carved, natural attraction in Boulder Canyon
Some of our locals at Wild Bear Mountain Ecology Center, have been discussing this opportunity for a teachable moment in our community. With folks panicking about gasoline or food shortages, and beginning to hoard these things, "How can we saddle this enthusiasm into a simple idea for our town to encourage self-sufficiency, self-reliance, local food production, or simple survival skills?" On a community level, we could further define sustainability, and embrace opportunities to encourage simple local solutions for current issues.

I think this idea is brilliant. – Therefore, as a social experiment in sustainability, let's see if we can live for the next two weeks without driving to Boulder. Shop local, find some things around the house to winterize, participate in a local event, get to know your neighbors, whatever it takes – As if it were the end of cheap oil, as we know it.

If we succeed, we will get the use of Boulder Canyon two weeks from now.

This social experiment in sustainability is brought upon us by necessity, but I hope that we can come up with a few other social experiments voluntarily. Let me know in the comments section below, if you have any realistic ideas.

[Here is a Video Valediction] This is ortoPilot (Matt Hutchison) multi-instrumentalist covering the R.E.M. 1991 classic, It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine) ortoPilot started out posting on YouTube and now has over 15 albums on iTunes and Spotify [What is a Video Valediction?]
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