Antigrowth documentary to screen Tuesday in Steamboat


Past Event

Talking Green: Local garden potluck and "Growthbusters" screening

  • Tuesday, August 28, 2012, 6 p.m.
  • Bud Werner Memorial Library, 1289 Lincoln Ave., Steamboat Springs
  • Not available


Correction: The time of the film screening was incorrect in an earlier version of this story. A potluck event is at 6 p.m., and the film screening will follow.

When David Gardner shows up Tuesday with his film about the ills of growth, there may be a few old locals nodding their heads and thinking back on the halcyon days of Steamboat when the town was smaller and people fewer.

But Gardner’s message in his documentary “Growthbusters: Hooked on Growth” isn’t about turning back the clock to the time when horses were free to enter saloons. He wants economies across the world to stop chasing what he calls the Holy Grail of economic growth.

“We need to be talking about economic health rather than economic growth,” Gardner said Friday by phone. “GDP is not a good measure of quality of life.”

Gardner’s crusade against growth began in his hometown of Colorado Springs and with his curiosity about why, in his mind, the town had so little to show for its 1990s boom.

“We give up quality of life, give up environmental quality, give up money in pursuit of this grow-or-die mentality. And yet the prosperity wasn’t materializing,” he said.

The film, which cuts between his experiences in Colorado Springs and a more macro view of growth, is Gardner’s way of starting a dialogue about what he sees as a serious addiction.

Gardner admits the wide scope of his film makes it somewhat of an overview for many topics he hopes to explore more thoroughly. One of these topics is water resources in the American West.

In Colorado, Gardner questions the state’s ability to maintain agriculture while diverting more water to growing population centers on the Front Range. The governor is courting businesses to come to Colorado but what he isn’t saying is what the costs of that growth are, Gardner said.

Gardner wants to “connect the cost with the behavior.”

He said there was once a time when growth was good — it brought infrastructure and resources to the West — but “we’ve reached the point now where growth has become uneconomic.”

“Cities can’t balance their budgets, partly because of growth subsidies but also because of all these growth related costs,” Gardner said, citing the costs of water resources, monitoring air quality and the construction of infrastructure.

He encourages towns and communities to level off and find a size that’s sustainable for them.

Gardner said if towns need to shrink, so be it. “Shrinking is the short-term pain. But that’s the reason not to be addicted to growth for one more minute. We’re going to shrink.”

It’s not news to Gardner that these are not easy ideas to sell — and he admits the audience for his film probably is self-selecting toward people already sympathetic to these views — but it’s all part of opening up a dialogue.

“It would be easier to make a film that says the pope is the antichrist than make a film that says growth is not the Holy Grail,” Gardner added.

A shortened version of the film will be screened at about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Library Hall at Bud Werner Memorial Library and follows a 6 p.m. potluck that is part of the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council's Talking Green program series. Gardner will be in attendance.

To reach Michael Schrantz, call 970-871-4206 or email

“Growthbusters: Hooked on Growth” trailer


Andy Kennedy 4 years, 7 months ago

In conjunction with YVSC's Talking Green program's Annual Local Garden Potluck in conjunction with Transition Steamboat, the screening actually starts around 7pm, after dinner. Locals are invited to both events, bringing local food from gardens or suppliers to the potluck. Gardner is also showing a shortened version of the film. For more on this event, see


Michael Schrantz 4 years, 7 months ago


Thanks for pointing that out. I updated the story to include the potluck time and the link to the event. Sorry about the oversight.

Michael Schrantz 970.871.4206


mark hartless 4 years, 7 months ago

Ahhh yes. The "good ole days." Back when there were no cell phones, computers or e-mail. Sounds great.

Go back100 years and start the "no-growth" crusade. With any success you would now live in a world with: No phones. No real electricity. No computers. No plastics. No refridgeration. No reliable weather forecast. No insulation. No ski-lifts. No 55 mph transportation, much less jet service. No 911. No agricultural advances that allow us to feed 6 billion people.

Growth brings changes that none of us want. But it also brings life-changing and life-saving progress.

What do we do with the 9 billion people our planet is going to have in a few years? How do we feed the masses? How do we house them? Where will they live if they can't find housing in their home-town? Who will provide for the retiring generation if no new people are born, a problem Europe is facing right now? If we can't get $16 trillion from 300 million people how do we get it from even fewer people with even less ambition?

This guy is just plain wrong. We need more growth, in the range of 5-7% in order to get out of the hole we are in.

What a selfish notion to suggest that our children should grow up in a world with no advances beyond their parents. I'm glad my parents didn't think that way.


Fred Duckels 4 years, 7 months ago

In ten minutes time I could provide a complete sign up sheet so that it would not be necessary at the door.


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