Monday, April 28, 2014

Rebuild Right – the Alliance for Sustainable Colorado

Location: 200 East Colfax Avenue, Denver, CO 80203, USA
The Alliance for Sustainable Colorado
I had the opportunity to attend the Alliance for Sustainable Colorado's 10th Annual Legislative Briefing in the Old Supreme Court Chambers at the State Capitol. This year's theme was, Rebuild Right: Safeguarding our Future with Resilient Communities and it included briefings from legislators about the bills they were sponsoring for flood recovery efforts as well as sustainability related legislation.

The Alliance's Rebuild Right Campaign is a process to initiate natural disaster adaptation and resilience planning to help Colorado become more economically stable and safer for all. Their goal is to develop a prioritized plan to reduce risk and adapt to potential future natural disasters that can be implemented as part of disaster recovery efforts; and for all recommendations to be vetted to ensure they forward the realization of Full-Spectrum Sustainability.

In part of the planning meeting, I explained that in Nederland we were forced into a similar social experiment in sustainability when Boulder Canyon closed immediately after the flood. Some of our locals at Wild Bear Mountain Ecology Center began a series of meetings to address self-sufficiency, self-reliance, local food production, transportation and simple survival skills on a community level. Our community reaction during the emergency situation could be applied in a holistic manner, to habits and behavior during non-emergency times to prepare. Through this process, we could further define sustainability, and embrace opportunities to encourage simple local solutions for current issues. I explained more details in a blog post at the time.

[See Related StoryCan We Live for Two Weeks, Without Driving to Boulder?]
The Alliance for Sustainable Colorado's Rebuild Right Campaign was applying similar logic considering that Colorado has been besieged by natural disasters. There are reasonable expectations that there will be more fires, floods and other catastrophic emergencies in the future. (In fact, due to the above average snow pack, Boulder County does expect some type of emergency event to occur when spring run-off season begins) When disasters occur, there is an urgent need to rebuild public works infrastructure, buildings, utilities, and social/communication networks quickly. Now is the time to plan how to rebuild these systems to make them more resilient to future disasters, before the next disaster occurs.

How is the 'Rebuild Right' idea Played-Out on a State Level?

Mayor Gierlach in a crowd listening to Senator
Matt Jones at the Rebuild Right Legislative Briefing
At the briefing I heard from many Colorado Legislators about the bills they were sponsoring and how they affect sustainability. In particular, Senator John Kefalas discussed the 12 member, bi-partisan Flood Disaster Recovery Study Committee as well as HB14-1005 which would allow the owner of a ditch to relocate the ditch's headgate if changes to the stream prevent the headgate from effectuating the diversion; Representative Diane Mitsch Busch spoke about HB14-1030 which would streamline the process for small hydropower permitting, as well as HB14-1301 which would create more healthy, sustainable communities by fully funding the Colorado Safe Routes to School program; Representative Randy Fischer spoke about SB14-103 which would phase in more water efficient plumbing fixtures, and SB14-29 which would create a paint stewardship for Colorado; and Senator Gail Schwartz discussed a number of pieces of water legislation.

I also heard from House Majority Leader Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, Senate Majority Leader Rollie Heath, Representatives Max Tyler, Jonathan Singer, Janak Joshi, Mike Foote, David Balmer, Rhonda Fields, Dan Pabon and Brittany Pettersen, as well as Senators Matt Jones, Andy Kerr, and Rachel Zenzinger. It was a full house, and I was recognized by Representative Jonathan Singer as I sat in the center of the audience pictured above.

As the Alliance for Sustainable Colorado advocates for policy change regarding healthy vibrant communities, promoting economic vitality, and mindful stewardship of natural resources, they maintain a list of sustainability related bills and legislative tracking. If you are interested in keeping informed about sustainability related legislation, you can also follow the Alliance's Twitter Page, and see event highlights/photos from the briefing on their Facebook Page here. Their blog posts are pretty interesting too.

This year, I've continued my hobby of advocating for Nederland's local control, by lobbying at the capitol for many of these bills, with quite a bit of success. So, I believe that our legislators do listen to the voice of small towns and have a desire to help us shape our community in our unique way.
[Related StoryLoitering at the State Capitol, without Getting Thrown Out]

[Here is a Video Valediction] This is performance artist, Heather Hansen with her experiment in kinetic drawing, Emptied Gestures. She explores ways to translate movement directly onto paper, emptying gestures from one form to another. [What is a Video Valediction?]
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