Gilpin gets sustainable

John Scarffe, Gilpin County.  Nederland and Gilpin County residents and officials mulled over the County’s sustainability and resilience during a meeting at the Gilpin County Library at 6:30 p.m. on October 10, 2017. Nederland residents Dennis Duckett and Dianne Fleming led the meeting, and Arwen Ek with Holistic Homestead, provided support.


“Together we can create and implement a vision to protect our beautiful home, utilizing principles of sustainability and community resilience, create a paradigm shift in our relationship with the earth and one another for a positive future for all of us, (including the bears),” Duckett wrote in the invitation to the event.


“A small group of folks here in Gilpin County are calling for a community meeting to discuss making our community here sustainable and resilient in the face of future impacts of our unsustainable condition. There is not one sustainable place on the planet right now. Many think that our human species is at risk. I won’t go into the environmental catastrophe we’re facing, but I know it is grave.”


About 25 people attended the meeting, including two Gilpin County Commissioners, staff, Democratic chair, artists and business owners. Duckett told the group that he has been working on sustainability for years.


In 1988, a climate change scientist went to Congress and told them about climate change. We all know where we are at now, Duckett said. “A lot of people say it’s too late, and the human species is at risk.”


Communities all over the world are making themselves resilient and preparing for emergencies by the way we live, Duckett said. “I’m here for my mother earth.”


Since he moved to Nederland in 1974, Duckett has watched the growth up here. “I’m concerned about the growth. We’re past the carrying capacity of the earth. We’re so far over capacity and using renewable resources faster than they can replenish.”


The United States is the biggest contributor, Duckett said. “I would like to see our community think about the ecosystem.


I’m hoping to see this small group grow and become an interconnected ecosystem for the County. We have a lot of work to do.”


Duckett showed videos about the definition of sustainability at Einstein said that we can’t solve our problems by thinking the same way about them. We are currently forecasting 7 billion people on the earth today.


Forecasting helps understand problems and be more resilient. The Harvard Business Review said don’t start from the present. It’s better to start from the future.


We need backcasting for success, planning from the future. Duckett explained that backcasting is creating a vision. You have a vision of what you want your sustainable world to look like — It restricts growth to the things that we want, such as an elder care facility and a food co-op. If you develop those, that’s growth, and we need to stop growth, but you use sustainability principles to see if those can fit.


After those present identified themselves and explained their interest in attending, Duckett said he worked for a year with Nederland on a sustainability resolution. Fleming said she also worked on the 2011 resolution.


“If they would have followed it, it would be a different place right now,” Fleming said.


“That’s what I see for Gilpin County.” Residents should recognize their differences and come together under a council, and bring local organizations together as well, but it should not be done through the government.


“I hope we can create some enthusiasm to meet again and go deeper in each meeting,” Fleming said. Duckett said he would like to document this by making a documentary film, and we could be a model for a sustainable county. “It’s happening all over the world.”


Gilpin County Resident and Artist Virginia Unseld asked what successful communities are doing. Fleming said that Whidbey Island in Washington has community gardens and meals. They are a transition city or town.


The concept started in Europe and is making its way into the United States, Fleming said. How do we grow food in Gilpin County? It starts with creating a community. There are models out there, so when we gather next time we can review those.


Duckett said, “We are in an emergency. The planet is dying. There is a global emergency and we have to get serious about it.”


Ek said she has been visiting with Duckett about ideas congruent with having a clinic and a co-op. “We don’t have the basic services for people who live here, and I don’t want to just shut the door and not let people in.”


Holistic Homestead is located in the High Country Professional Building down Highway 46 from the Justice Center. She is opening the co-op and wellness center because, for the last few years, she has been reaching out in Gilpin County, and the overwhelming response is that we need access to food.


In an emergency situation, when fire or snow shuts down the canyon, we need to be able to serve the residents of Gilpin County, Ek said. She is starting with Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).


“We have people who are growing produce and have milk we can take advantage of,” Ek said. Each neighborhood could have its own central farm or greenhouse, and she can facilitate bulk buying.


“We really want to serve the people here,” Ek said. She will open as soon as financing is arranged, and she wants to put in a commercial kitchen and have workshops on how to make your own home supplies, such as soap.


Duckett said this co-op could be a central distribution point. “We could put in orders to her and we could send one person to get that food instead of all of us driving.”


(Originally published in the October 26, 2017 print edition of The Mountain-Ear.)