Our View: Promoting a culture of green
June 23, 2010
In Steamboat Springs, it just makes sense to be green.
It makes sense everywhere, of course, but we live in a city that relies on a beautiful environment for much of its livelihood. Many of us also choose to live here because of the outdoor recreation opportunities and because of the clean land, water and air available for agriculture. These assets are also an essential underpinning of our economic prosperity. So there's no reason why Steamboat can't be the benchmark for a green resort community.
But that will require continued efforts from locals, as well as a cultural shift. Sustainability always must be at the top of our minds, and we must as a community remember that our actions — or inaction — have an impact on our immediate surroundings.
Luckily, we have a variety of options to promote sustainability, many of which are happening now.
One is Bike to Work Week, which runs through Saturday. One of its main events is a breakfast for cyclists from 7 to 9 a.m. today at the Routt County Courthouse at Sixth Street and Lincoln Avenue. We encourage residents to get into the habit of cycling, carpooling or using alternative modes of transportation when possible. Don't just bike to work this week — do so whenever you can, and it will make a difference to our environment.
A second is Transition Steamboat, an initiative that's just getting started. It's linked to the national Transition Network. According to the network's website, "A Transition Initiative … is a community-led response to the pressures of climate change, fossil fuel depletion and increasingly, economic contraction."
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Transition Steamboat is holding two events this week. It's partnering with other sustainability-focused groups to show "Energy Crossroads" for free at 7 p.m. Thursday in Library Hall at Bud Werner Memorial Library. The group also will show "A Closer Look at Peak Oil" at noon Friday at Library Hall. That event also is free and will be followed by a discussion.
A third way to work for sustainability in our community is to volunteer at a Zero Waste Initiative event. The program aims to keep waste out of landfills by recycling or composting all materials. The group is tripling its presence at events this year and is looking for volunteers for the Free Summer Concert Series, which kicks off Saturday with Big Kenny at Howelsen Hill. Call Liz Wahl at 871-5163 to help.
Also Saturday is possibility No. 4 on our list: ReTree Colorado. Volunteers will meet at 9 a.m. at Meadows Parking Lot and will plant trees across town until about 2:30 p.m. A (zero waste) celebration will follow. Volunteer at http://www.retreecolorado.com.
Although we've highlighted these events, there are plenty of ongoing opportunities to work toward sustainability. The Yampa Valley Sustainability Council consistently works to promote a message of environmental stewardship. Home ReSource accepts salvaged business materials and sells them at a discount to the public. Twin Enviro Services has made strides toward providing composting at the Milner Landfill. The Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association's Sustainable Steamboat Business Program has grown steadily since its inception.
Steamboat Ski Area, in addition to leading and promoting the Zero Waste Initiative, uses solar and wind energy to power several lifts, has implemented water-conservation methods and more.
But how do we turn these admirable efforts into a cultural shift? How do we make "green" our community identity? Where will the leadership come from? The city? The county? In Aspen, the leadership has come from Aspen Skiing Co. We can see the progress they have made at http://www.aspensnowmass.com/environment. We don't need to be like Aspen, but the common element is a leader or leaders who are capable of catalyzing a community to action and leading by example. These leaders will also see the investment value of promoting this cultural shift. Our environment is the greatest asset we have and the best gift we can give to generations to come.