Community Ag Alliance: Cultivating the torchbearers | SteamboatToday.com

Community Ag Alliance: Cultivating the torchbearers

Nancy B. Kramer/For Steamboat Today

Last year, on a visit to Denver, a conversation ensued with a friend about the emerging Northwest Colorado Cultural Heritage Program. After listening to the description of the program, she responded, "Oh, you are cultivating the torchbearers."

Until that moment, such a poignant description of the program had not been expressed. And it continues to resonate today.

A torchbearer is defined as a person who leads or inspires others in working toward a valued goal. Over the past six years, more than forty torchbearers have worked tirelessly to establish an organization to meet their dedicated common philosophy/goal, so aptly expressed by Irina Bokova, director of UNESCO: "We need to protect our past to builds a better future."

The program and its role in the region would not have been realized if not for the encouragement and support of one of the most critical torchbearers, the Community Agriculture Alliance. As a torchbearer, CAA has been undaunted in sharing the heritage and stories of the agricultural ways of life in our valley over the years. Thank you, CAA, for paving the way for the many other torchbearers to share their stories of the ways of life and forces of nature of Northwest Colorado.

Who are the other Northwest Colorado torchbearers? They come from the dozens of museums, travel destination organizations, economic development organizations, historic preservation organizations such as Historic Routt County, municipalities, government agencies and the hundreds of volunteers, such at the remarkable "Friends of Crossan's" group in Yampa.

Emerging from the original Colorado Tourism Office's Heritage Program, the NWCCHP has facilitated a collective and collaborative process since 2009 to bring basic technical assistance, educational and financial resources and community development projects to regional communities and organizations so they can better share their unique and diverse stories with residents of and visitors to the region.

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Their stories celebrate the boundless landscapes and spirited people of Northwest Colorado. Now established as an independent 501(c) (3) IRS charitable organization, NWCCHP is the "go to" source for advancing cultural heritage programs, projects and experiences on behalf of 17 communities in a five-county (Jackson, Routt, Moffat, Rio Blanco and Garfield) region of Northwest Colorado.

Take some time to visit nwcoloradoheritagetravel.orgto and see the collective results of the NWCCHP and its incredible torchbearers' good works. Explore the journeys, short video, regional museum map, the ever-growing community gateway interpretive sign map and more.

And when you find time to travel the region with these trip tools and meet one of the torchbearers, thank them for being a part of collectively preserving, protecting and sharing our past to make a better future. And if you would like to become a torchbearer or help us to cultivate the torchbearers, contact me at nbkramer@nwcochp.org.

Nancy B. Kramer is program coordinator for Northwest Colorado Cultural Heritage Program.