WEAVING A NEW SOCIAL FABRIC IN DENVER

Society is also enriched by a countless array of organizations which work to promote the common good and to defend the environment, whether natural or urban. Some, for example, show concern for a public place (a building, a fountain, an abandoned monument, a landscape, a square), and strive to protect, restore, improve or beautify it as something belonging to everyone. Around these community actions, relationships develop or are recovered and a new social fabric emerges. ENCYCLICAL LETTER LAUDATO SI’ OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS

I finished reading the Pope’s new encyclical on my return flight from Denver this past week. I met folks there who are defending the environment and weaving a new social fabric, as they pursue sustainability initiatives to continue improving their communities and address climate change.

Tears-McFarlane House was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1976 and is operated by CHUN as a community center.

Tears-McFarlane House was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1976 and is operated by CHUN as a community center.

Capitol Hill United Neighborhoods [CHUN] is a registered neighborhood association acting democratically for more than 40 years to involve all who care and will participate to improve the quality of life on Capitol Hill. They have been planting and pruning trees for decades. In June every year, their People’s Fair turns Civic Center Park into Colorado’s third largest city over the weekend of the festival, with over 200,000 fair-goers and numerous exhibitors, vendors and volunteers.

One of CHUN’s emerging issues is promoting new composting opportunities, while addressing the challenge that owners of multi-family buildings are not required to even recycle. Denver’s diversion rate is only 14%. The People’s Fair diversion rate reached 44% in 2013. CHUN is advocating that more sustainability requirements should be place on developers than just bicycle racks.

This strategy of “3 Bins” for composting, recycling, and not just “trash” came up in several of my meetings. An initiative at the Auraria Campus of Metro State University of Denver, the Community College of Denver (CCD), and the University of Colorado at Denver is striving to change the behavior at their tri-university cafeteria by labeling the third bin as “Land Fill” so students realize the consequences of their choice to discard.

Photography by David Lauer, Design Architecture by Gensler

Photography by David Lauer, Design Architecture by Gensler

The Alliance for Sustainable Colorado is a nonprofit organization dedicated to transforming sustainability from vision to reality. Their Alliance Center [a 100 year old, 41,000 square foot building in Denver’s historic LoDo] is Colorado’s Hub of Sustainability serving as a center for innovation and learning in order to accelerate the implementation of sustainability in Colorado. It was the first historic building in the world to earn two LEED certifications: Gold for Existing Buildings and Silver for Commercial Interiors.

They provide multi-tenant shared office space and programming to enhance the productivity and innovation of The Alliance Center tenant-partners. They conduct educational events that share examples of changing operating paradigms and piloting new models. The Alliance is striving to catalyze the Sustainability Movement by mounting campaigns, educating the public, convening key leaders and activating collaborations.

Denver Urban Gardens [DUG] is celebrating its 30th anniversary, growing from 3 to 150 community gardens, plus 46 schools. Their mantra is: “We grow community – one urban garden at a time.” DUG offers neighborhoods the essential resources for community gardens, including ongoing technical expertise. They advocate for policy changes such as the Denver’s new home occupation classification to permit residents to grow and sell food.

Denver Gove GardenGove Community Garden is being used by the local Veteran’s Affair Hospital as part of its rehabilitation program. To further promote community, the garden also donates a portion of their harvest to Metro CareRing, a local hunger relief organization. Gove Community Garden is also home to DUG’s demonstration compost site and Learn to Compost workshops.

Inter-Neighborhood Cooperation [INC] is a coalition of Registered Neighborhood Organizations who receive City notices and have standing in public review process. Their mantra is: “Neighborhoods work better when they work together.” INC advocates that neighborhoods need to be listened to. In partnership with the Denver Community Planning & Development, INC is recruiting for the first ever Citizens’ Planning Academy with three-part curriculum to empower residents and business owners so they can engage in and guide planning efforts effectively.

Mayor Michael B. Hancock celebrates  opening of first Denver B-cycle station included in design of new development.

Mayor Michael B. Hancock celebrates opening of first Denver B-cycle station included in design of new development.

Jerry Tinianow is Denver’s Chief Sustainability Officer, whose mandate from Mayor Michael B. Hancock is to “go to scale and assure everyone plays.” He works with a Sustainability Advisory Council of over 30 residents, who were self-nominated and appointed by the Mayor, to address issues such as: Climate, Energy, and Air Quality; Food and Health; Housing, Land Use, and Workforce; and Materials, Mobility, and Water. He is also working with every City Department to update Denver’s 2020 Sustainable Goals and to convene a Sustainable Denver Summit in December to leverage new commitments and collaborations.

I truly appreciated the warm welcome from the Technology of Participation (ToP)® facilitators and the Institute of Cultural Affairs’ alumni, many who facilitated Town Meetings as part of ICA’s Bicentennial program in 1976 and/or served Human Capital Development Projects as part of the Band of 24. I am especially grateful to Parry Burnap, Catherine Welch, Jim and OliveAnn Slotta for the extensive introductions and making me feel a part of the ICA family.

OliveAnn offers this week’s addition to the U2Cando playlist. With the aid of ICA’s Archives, the lyrics were found as “tweaked” in the ICA’s Global Songbook from 1983-84:

I see wonder coming everywhere.
This strange presence seems to fill the air.
New communities emerge that care.
I wonder why? I wonder why?

Old worlds passing quickly out of sight.
New is dawning with its shocking light.
Old despair is finally in the past,
Our destiny recast
I now know why!

The whole world is arisin’,
It is no time for cryin’.
The old way’s death is but new birth.
Beyond all expectations,
The new aeon’s awaitin’
A wake now! See the common earth.

I KNOW WHY
Tune: You’re Just in Love by Irving Berlin

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