Sustainable Living Fair, Fort Collins, CO

09/24/2009 § 2 Comments


This sustainability shindig was comparable in size to Denver’s Green Festival, maybe bigger, but hosted many local non-profits that offered valuable, meaningful options for their communities. I remember seeing a slew of ecotourism booths and green-washed merchandise spots at the Denver Green Festival and I’m glad to say there were fewer at the Sustainable Living Fair, but they were still there. (New Belgium was selling straw hats imported from China, which was disappointing. They do a ton of good, but they should know better.) A good number of workshops were available to the public, some at cost (e.g., Homebrew Wind Turbine Extended Workshop, $40), most free (e.g., Solar PV 101). I volunteered for the event so I couldn’t attend most of the cool things. I did go to the talk on green roofs and to a workshop on sustainable architecture. I spent the rest of my free time walking around and talking to vendors and learned about some smart developments that are starting to tackle new ground locally/nationally. I also got a chance to go drinking with the great individuals who started the whole thing. Foremost, I’ll describe and comment on several organizations that bring it in spades.

Bicycle Benefits

This program is moving from city to city slowly, but seems like it could help solidify/build the biking movement. If you have a bike, pick up a sticker from a participating store for a few bones, put it on your helmet, and get deals when you show the sticker at participating locations. The website shows member stores by city, and what kind of deal you get. The guy who started this is actually from Saratoga Springs, NY., where my mom and step-dad live. We talked about making a visit to an apple orchard in a few weeks when I make the trip east for my Grandfather’s funeral… so I may become a spokesperson for this in Denver.  We are getting 11 new bike lanes and who-knows how many sharrows painted. And I’m sure my buddy Mark out east in C-bus would take over the town with this as well.

The Growing Project

Picture 2

Now just because the young woman behind the table was one of the most beautiful young women I’ve seen in Colorado doesn’t mean I’m posting their stuff without regard for how beneficial their organization is and will be. Their shit is legit. They’ve had a hard time recently but apparently they’ve made some collaborative adjustments and now seem back on track. ‘Tis the tale of a non-profit. The below is from their blog:

We are currently planting on 2 residential plots, on a volunteer basis, in order to grow fresh produce for the Larimer County Food Bank. In 2010, we will launch the Garden Time program in collaboration with the county justice system in order to provide adjudicated youth with community service hours, teach them usable, sustainable skills while emphasizing the importance of community, and provide produce for the Food Bank. As community and financial support grows, The Growing Project hopes to launch a low-income CSA, participate in Farm-to-School programs, host food preparation and preservation classes and collaborate with the city and local food growers in order to help grow a healthy, vibrant, local living economy.

I believe they also recover distressed plants and un-sellable (but entirely edible) crop from local farms. There are several plusses I see coming from this organization. A low-income CSA will benefit the poor by getting them ridiculously good nutritious food for what they might spend on a trip to KFC. Just think for a second… That, over time, would alleviate some of the burden on the Fort Collins health care system too. Another plus, at-risk youth will be working alongside them, not for them (at least that is what should happen). This may give these kids a break from the power-dynamics of school and family while giving them a space to have an impact. ALSO, Farm-to-school programs deserve all the support they can get. Do you remember those rectangle trays from K-12? Just seeing this picture makes me want to grant-write for them.

Rolling Spokes

This organization gives educational tours by bike. Riders shell out a good amount of cash, but are rewarded with a meal, sometimes beer, and educational presentations on-site by those who are local pioneers, whether they be farmers, residents, or business owners. Visit the site to read through the different routes. I’m waiting for a route on beer or art or history or all-in-one!

Village Earth and IISD


I’ve been thinking about a career in sustainable community development for a little while now. I have my B.A. in literature and writing and as my undergraduate career progressed, I focused more and more on the relationships between the environments of the characters and the characters’ existential and psychological situations. I did this during analysis of postmodern/contemporary texts and while working on character development in my own writing. All the while I became more and more opposed to the activities of multinationals and our nation’s overtly-rhetorical and inefficient political system (I was a history minor.) I site now that placelessness is, and was, an enemy. How dismaying is it to drive through suburban sprawl? What is enjoyable about shopping in big-box development other than the social impact of the purchase within your circle of friends and family? Helping to create sustainable communities seems like a great fit for me. And with my background I’d be able to propose the shit out of cultural, recreational, and economic improvements for revitalization projects. Anyway, I found a non-profit at the fair that offers online classes in community development (IISD at CSU); however, they are focused on international village development. Village Earth will move into an area and help show communities the ways in which they can find solutions within their own cultural practices. They will also share technologies with groups instead of telling them one technology will fit their situation, which is wise. I think their work is awesome, but I feel that reshaping communities in the states is where I’m heading.

Panda Bicycles

At some point last year, Karen ripped out a page of a magazine picturing a bamboo bike and put it on the refrigerator for Kyle and I to marvel at. Little did any of us know then, that roughly an hour away, this company was coming into being. These bamboo bikes are gorgeous. They are solid and smooth and will (probably) range from $850-$1250. Much cheaper than the two or three thousand magazine bamboo bike. At the time of this post there are 15 of 25 pre-production bikes left.  Check out the site for more information.

So late Sunday I was drinking and didn’t really want to stop, so I started asking around for a bed and low and behold, I found one. Props to Dave and Shawna for letting me crash. Long story short, I met some other good-natured, funny, thoughtful, dedicated people who are doing worthwhile things in a great town. And they like to have a good time. Invaluable.

And now the tumble portion of my post:

Two links that you must click on if you live in CO:


Blue Sun Biodiesel

Thanks Kyle, this book is next on my reading list:

Check out the Chain of Eco-homes Competition… and then vote!

Treehugger has quite a few good links today…

London Design Festival

Silicon Nanotubes Boost Capacity 10x

Congestion Charge?

Charge via usb while riding your bike

Okay, I’m done. Peace.

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§ 2 Responses to Sustainable Living Fair, Fort Collins, CO

  • Kyle H. says:

    Good post as usual, i’m gonna have to get me one of those bamboo bikes now that there is a cheaper version. Also that whole bicycle benefit thing is a great idea, i always wanted to give discounts to pedestrians and bicyclists who come to our future pizza place, those car people will have to pay more , hahaha.

  • Mark out east says:

    Nate I will definitely look into the bicycle benefit! That’s an awesome idea.

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