a very plastic free july

The Alliance Center went all in for Plastic Free July! We recruited tenants, employees and our community as we joined forces to eliminate plastic products. 

Who Participated? 

  • Blind Institute of Technology
  • U.S. Green Building Council
  • Southwest Energy Efficiency Project
  • Rocky Mountain Wild
  • Sierra Club
  • Conservation Colorado
  • Pivot Energy
  • The Alliance Center 
  • Local Community

What Did We Give Up?

Everything from to-go containers and plastic wrapped food to toiletries like deodorant and shower gels. We chatted with participants along the way. 

Check out what they had to say about the challenge!

Cara, from the Blind Institute of Technology, joined this journey. She eliminated water bottles and non-recyclable drinking cups. “Change isn’t always easy, and my habits tend toward grab-and-go convenience. That means more plastic or wax lined cups than I’d like to admit. But if I prepare ahead of time with a reusable bottle and sliding a washable to-go cup in my bag, perhaps I can make a small difference by taking this challenge in the form of a new, healthier eco-habit.” Thanks for your participation, Cara!

Tips and Tricks to Go Plastic Free

What can we learn by going plastic free? How can we continue to be plastic free when it’s everywhere? Our challengers have some advice. 

Shay, The Alliance Center Interim Communications Specialist, has a few essentials. For toiletries, she makes sure she always has her bamboo toothbrush and metal refillable razor.

At the grocery store, or more preferably the farmers market, she arrives armed with reusable shopping and cotton bags for produce and bulk items. If she doesn’t have her mason jars or Nalgene, someone should call a doctor!

Anne, Programs Manager for The Alliance Center, is all for Lush Cosmetics and their shampoo bars. Interested in ordering some online? Anne loves the compostable and recyclable packaging the products come in, including compostable packing peanuts (for municipal facilities, not your backyard)!

Tehri from Rocky Mountain Wild and Amelia from the Sierra Club turned their backs on plastic straws and Josie from Pivot Energy bought spices in bulk. Ready with mason jars, her bulk shopping is plastic free! She tosses her spice jars into her reusable grocery bags. Another tip: buy the bags that pack into a little keychain so you NEVER forget them, like these

Plastic Free July and Beyond

We’re thrilled about the engagement from this challenge, but what about the rest of the year? How do we continue to reduce our plastic use on a daily basis? 

Don’t feel guilty about occasionally cheating. It happens! Be sure to challenge that guilt and remind yourself every action helps. Hopefully, this challenge has helped you develop new ongoing habits. Remember: 

We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.”

-Anne Marie Bonneau

Pat yourself on the back and kick that green guilt aside! Thank you for joining a larger environmental movement and making individual change in your daily life. 

Written by Matthew Katz, The Alliance Center Programs Intern

The Alliance Center is pleased to partner with Girls Inc., an organization that explores and promotes the vitality of young women across the United States and Canada. Girls Inc. offers research-based programming, mentoring relationships and a pro-girl environment that allows participants to navigate gender, economic and social barriers.

The Alliance Center is lucky to welcome two dedicated high school students, Moudji and Shannon, to our team! Moudji, a sophomore from Kunsmiller Creative Arts Academy, is an active member in performing arts and has a passion for creative dance. Moudji hopes to enhance her skills and knowledge in crime scene investigation sciences. Shannon, a sophomore from Lakewood High School, is a passionate piano player and singer. She hopes to turn this hobby into a full career in the music industry.

Both girls are conducting research for The Alliance Center’s exciting new project – our Climate+ Equity Toolkit. This toolkit is a top-down overview of the effects of climate change throughout Colorado at the county level. Moudji and Shannon are offering incredible assistance as they sort through data to evaluate how climate change will affect Colorado’s food and agricultural industries. Their goal is to map relationships between the effects of climate change against societal indicators and opportunities. The Alliance Center is extremely grateful to Moudji and Shannon and we can’t wait to share the final product with our community!

Whose voice do YOU want to hear on the train at DIA?

In many ways, Denver is a thriving city. US News and World Report lists Denver as the #3 Best Place to Live in the US. Our unemployment rate sits at 2.6 percent, which is 1.8 percent lower than the national average. We were recently announced as one of the winners of the Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge for our work to fight climate change at the local level.

However, Denver is dealing with some pretty significant challenges. For one thing, our air quality is terrible. The harsh reality for many Front Range residents is that Colorado not only flunked the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standard set in 2015, but the state never met the older, less-strict standard from 2008. Our growing population, and the cars that come with it, are making it harder and harder to meet the EPA standards. Poor air quality affects not only people with asthma and respiratory illnesses, but also children, whose lungs are still developing. Our poor air quality is just one of a variety of challenges that the next mayor will face in their position.

Local elections often get a lot less attention than those at the national level, but that doesn’t mean they’re any less important. Denver’s upcoming mayoral election will determine much more than whose voice plays on the airport train; it will determine how our city tackles issues such as climate change, air pollution and affordable housing.

How This Vote Works

Ok, now that we have laid out why to vote, we can discuss how to vote in the upcoming mayoral election. Denver is holding its general election for mayor on May 7, 2019. In Denver, all candidates are listed on the same ballot. In the event that a candidate does not receive over 50 percent of the votes, the top two vote-getters advance to a runoff election scheduled for June 4.

Voting in the general election is relatively simple. There are two ways to vote: 1) vote by mail – ballots will be mailed on April 15, or 2) vote in person at a voting center starting April 29.

Here are a list of important dates to keep in mind:

  • April 15: Ballots begin mailing to active voters
  • April 15: 22-day residency deadline
  • April 15: Drop-boxes open across the City
  • April 29: Vote Centers open
  • May 7: Election Day
    • Voting centers open 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.
    • Ballots must be received by 7pm
  • June 4: Run-Off Election (if necessary)
    • Voting centers open 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.
    • Ballots must be received by 7 p.m.

Here at The Alliance Center, we are deeply invested in the future of Denver. We believe that local government can be a powerful force in the fight against climate change and in creating an equitable and responsible economy. As a lead-up to the 2019 mayoral election, we are hosting a Mayoral Candidate Forum at The Alliance Center on March 21. Confirmed candidates include Michael Hancock, Lisa Calderón, Marcus Giavanni, Jamie Giellis, Ken Simpson and Penfield Tate. Our forum will focus specifically on sustainability-related issues, such as transportation, climate change, pollution and affordable housing. The event is already sold-out, but there are a limited number of scholarship tickets available, and we will be livestreaming the event. Click here to learn more.

Please get out and vote in the election on May 7. Our future is in our hands, and voting is one of the best ways to make your voice heard.

The Alliance Center is thrilled to announce that we are now officially a JUST labeled organization! Sounds cool, right? Want to know what that means? Let us explain!

JUST is a tool that measures how organizations are performing in terms of their social justice and equity work.  It is not a certification, but it does provide a detailed framework for organizations to evaluate themselves. By using JUST, organizations can share how they are operating with the public, such as how they treat their employees or where they source their materials from.

According to Francis Janes, associate director at the International Living Future Institute, organizations are already focused on two of the three important Ps: Profit and Planet. JUST includes the third P: People. JUST is attractive to employers because new employees are looking to work for places that are transparent and honest about their operations and that care for their people.

The goals of the JUST label are:

  • to elevate the discussion around social justice in all organizations
  • to create a common language for social justice issues
  • to elevate the causes of those individuals who lead on these issues
  • to change the policies and practices of thousands of organizations worldwide
  • to make life better for people from all walks of life

We worked to achieve the JUST label because it demonstrates our commitment to social justice and equity issues. 

Our JUST label can be found below. Click to view a detailed breakdown of our organizational scores.

We recognize that we do not have three stars in all the categories but it’s good to know we have a roadmap and direction on what to work toward. We hope to be leaders in social justice and equity work and as such, our work does not end by obtaining the JUST. This is just the beginning. Obtaining the JUST label was the first step and our next steps are engaging our full team on our new commitments, as well as working with a diversity, equity and inclusion consultant.


“The sustainability movement at large has long been a movement of privilege, the privilege to worry about the future and not the immediate struggles or survival of today. To truly transcend theses human constructed barriers, we must all embark on a journey of equity, fully embracing and addressing the social impacts as well as the environmental and economic. It is not a matter of either/or, it has to be all three!  JUST is a great starting point on this journey. – Brenna Simmons-St. Onge, Executive Director

Written by, Ana Portillo, The Alliance Center Office Coordinator

Have you heard of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?

Created by the United Nations, these 17 interconnected global goals are designed to create a better and more sustainable future for all.

Why are the SDGs useful?

As you may know, sustainability is incredibly complex and sometimes quite messy – it can mean many different things to  different people. The SDGs layout 17 social, economic, and environmental components of sustainability, with goals associated with each of them (see the image above). The creators of these goals set an aggressive timeline to meet these goals – 2030 – which basically means that we have 10 years to tackle issues such as poverty, gender equity, climate change and more if we want to create a better future for our kids and our grandkids.

We realize these goals are broad and can be vague at times. Rest assured these are just the titles, the UN has created 169 sub indicators that identify key areas under each of these broad and ambitious goals to use as a tool to track and measure progress.

This is a big challenge. One that will take all of us. Don’t let this aggressive timeline overwhelm or discourage you, the SDGs lay out the road map to achieve this future, we just have to roll up our sleeves and dive in.

Why is The Alliance Center working toward these goals?

We recognize that there are many organizations, governments and businesses working toward these goals, and we aim to collaborate with these leaders to make the global goals more tangible, actionable, and local to Colorado. Here at The Alliance Center, we have begun to map our work and impact to these 17 goals. We are currently undergoing an in-depth process of determining which goals we are working on and how we can legitimately track our progress toward meeting them. So far, we have determined that our work aligns with seven of the 17 goals. These seven include:

7 – Affordable and Clean Energy
9 – Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
10 – Reduced Inequalities
11 – Sustainable Cities
12 – Responsible Consumption and Production
13 – Climate Action
17 – Partnerships for the Goals

We recognize that even 7 of the 17 goals is A LOT for any one organization to work toward. Our mission and our vision are based on strategic collaboration – which means we understand that we can never achieve these goals alone. At our heart, The Alliance Center is a collaborative working space, home to many of the leading NGOs in Colorado. We have also begun to map our tenants’ (NGOs housed in the Alliance) work to the SDGs. We aren’t sure, yet, but we expect that with the 50 or so organizations working in our building, all 17 of these ambitious goals are being meaningfully addressed. We will share much more about this process as it unfolds in 2019, so stay tuned!

As an organization, we have a lot of resources, passion, and partners to work with to achieve these goals. As an individual, you may be asking, what can I do to make a difference in the face of these ambitious targets? Don’t fret – there are tons of ways you can make a difference – right now, right here.

How can you get involved?

The SDGs are big. Really big. It can be daunting to think about how you as an individual, community member or employee can help push progress on any of these goals. Don’t fret – there is a lot you can do. The Good Life Goals are individual actions that everyone around the world can take to help meet the SDGs. The Good Life Goals are based on the idea that the power of the people matters as much as powerful people.

At The Alliance Center, we have aligned the Good Life Goals with our Act Now Initiative – creating a resource of (relatively) easy, personal actions that you can take right here, right now to contribute to a more sustainable future. This is a work in progress. If you have ideas for more actions or if you are working toward the SDGs yourself – please contact us! We look forward to building a better tomorrow with you.

My name is Betsy Moszeter, and my primary position is as Chief Operating Officer of Green Alpha Advisors, LLC. I am also on the Board of Directors for The Alliance Center, because I’m a firm believer that all of my time must be devoted to creating a more sustainable economy that everyone can participate in equitably.

My vision for a sustainable future is one where we take advantage of the increasingly rapid pace of innovation to create solutions that de-risk us from our worst current problems. We need to apply economic growth quickly, and in the right areas to ensure solutions are deployed at a scale and speed commensurate with the problems we now face. I believe that a sustainable future will rest on four pillars:

  • massive productivity and efficiency gains that ensure we can create quality outputs from fewer inputs
  • the sourcing of materials nearly exclusively from waste-to-value practices instead of using primary geological sources as the majority of our inputs
  • all production and consumption powered by renewable energies
  • an economy driven by far more equitable ownership of these fantastic new means of production.

I work with and believe in The Alliance Center, because they are using their strengths to help Colorado and organizations around the country create a sustainable future. There are too many ways in which they are working toward a sustainable future to list here, so I’ll simply include a few of my favorites:

By renovating a warehouse that was initially built in 1908, and making it into one that is state-of-the-art LEED Platinum-certified, they have both saved a gem that beautifies downtown Denver and created a co-working space whose operations don’t contribute to the global systemic risks caused by an increasingly warmer climate, and resource scarcity.

In addition to the building itself, the fact that the tenants they support are all mission-aligned is incredibly impressive. There are amazing synergies being realized every day by putting mission-driven individuals and organizations in close proximity to each other, in a way that allows them to communicate throughout each day.

In addition, The Alliance Center’s programming is truly outstanding, on both the volume on which they’re executing over 300 events annually, that over 10,000 members of the community attend and the high quality ways in which they’re delivering critical inspiration and education centered on creating a sustainable future.

I’m also always amazed by how seriously The Alliance Center takes its responsibility to assist other organizations, to make their learning curves easier and shorter. One example of this is The Alliance Center’s Direct Current Microgrid Project. Not only is The Alliance Center doing the design, testing, and measurement to determine if microgrids are a more effective way to power an office space like theirs, they are also putting huge amounts of time and expertise into documenting everything they do along the way, so that they can publish a manual for other organizations to adopt the winning aspects of the process, while avoiding the pitfalls.

I’m proud to support The Alliance Center as we work toward a sustainable future. Will you join me in supporting the crucial work of this organization? Click here to support The Alliance Center.

Colorado Gives Day is Tuesday, December 4. On this day of giving, thousands of Coloradans come together to support nonprofit organizations across the state. The Alliance Center has set a goal of raising $25,000. You can help us reach this goal! A gift of any amount helps us continue our work toward an inclusive, equitable and sustainable future for all. Visit our Colorado Gives Day page to learn more and schedule your gift. Make sure to check our list of Colorado companies who match their employees’ donations, and reach out to your HR department to double your impact!

You can also help spread the word! Click here to download our Colorado Gives Day social media toolkit, which includes ideas for social media posts and emails to your network. Right click on graphics below to download and share on social media.

Instagram Graphics

         

Facebook Graphics

         

Download full toolkit here.

Why is a sustainability-focused nonprofit weighing in on the ballot measures up for a vote in 2018? Because our democracy, our environment, and our economy are at risk, and now is the time for us to stand up and fight for them.

In 2014, the last time we held a midterm in our country, only 36 percent of eligible American voters turned out to vote. That means 64 percent of voting Americans willingly silenced themselves. Look where that got us. Fortunately, since the 2016 election, a record number of women and minorities are running for office in 2018, hoping to change the demographics of our elected positions across the country. They cannot win with without your vote.

The health of our global, national, and local environments are at stake. President Trump pulled us out of the Paris Accords. We are the only country in the world to refuse to sign the accord that is designed to tackle climate change. Our storms are getting stronger, our global temperatures are rising, and our federal leadership is attempting to revive the failing coal industry. No one thinks coal is a solution for the future. Hurricane Florence illustrated this point perfectly. The hurricane crippled electricity and coal – but solar and wind were back online the next day. Fortunately, climate action didn’t stop when Trump pulled us out of the Paris Accords. Local and regional governments are taking the lead on greenhouse gas reductions, implementing ambitious and strategic emission reduction goals. Initiatives like Proposition 110 aim to increase our ability to manage more traffic on our roads while also providing low-emission transportation options like expanded public transportation and bike lanes.

Finally, let’s talk about our economy – our president’s plan to escalate economic protectionism, heightening political and trade tensions, and waning popular support for global economic integration all point toward a softening in the world economy after 2019. Businesses and our economy can be a force for good in the world, but in irresponsible hands, they can also undermine many environmental and democratic gains. Here in Colorado, we have one of the highest concentrations of B Corps (certified socially-responsible businesses) anywhere in the world. These companies are leading the way integrating profits, people, and the planet.

Back to the ballot measures up for a vote in Colorado in 2018. Many of these measures affect the future health of our environment, our economy, and our communities. Below is a brief description of a selection of ballot measures up for a vote this year as well as our stance on each of these measures. To learn about all of the 2018 ballot measures, please click here.

The good news – it is not too late to turn this ship around. Our democracy is only as strong as its citizens. It’s time to step up, raise your voice, and be counted.

Amendment Y – Independent Commission for Congressional Redistricting Amendment – Vote YES

Amendment Y establishes an independent commission for congressional redistricting in the state.

  • By voting yes, you support this amendment to create a 12-member commission responsible for approving district maps for Colorado’s congressional districts.
  • We think you should vote yes this amendment because a fair and democratic districting process (as opposed to gerrymandering) is a core component to our sustainable democracy.

Learn more

Amendment Z – Independent Commission for State Legislative Redistricting Amendment – Vote YES

Amendment Z establishes an independent commission for state legislative redistricting.

  • By voting yes, you support this amendment to create a 12-member commission responsible for approving district maps for Colorado’s state House of Representatives and state Senate districts; establish qualifying criteria for members and restrictions on prior or current elected officials, candidates or lobbyists being members; and enact requirements for district maps.
  • We think you should vote yes on this amendment because the goal of redistricting should be to draw districts that fairly represent the interests of the communities in our state. Districts should not be drawn to advantage incumbents or to favor a political party. We argue that the best way to accomplish this goal in Colorado is through an independent commission process that is transparent, accessible to, and inclusive of, Colorado citizens.

Learn more

Amendment 73 – Establish Income Tax Brackets and Raise Taxes for Education Initiative – Vote YES

Amendment 73 establishes income tax brackets and raises taxes for an education initiative.

  • By voting yes, you support the creation of a tax bracket system instead of a flat tax rate. Taxes would be raised for individuals making more than $150,000 per year, the corporate tax would also rise, and these taxes would go into the Quality Public Education Fund to fund public schools in Colorado.
  • We think you should vote yes on this amendment because it will raise $1.6 billion a year in additional revenue for Colorado’s public schools. Revenue will be deposited in the Quality Public Education Fund to increase the statewide base per-pupil funding for all students and increase spending for special education, preschool, English language proficiency, and gifted programs, among other things.

Learn more

Amendment 74 – Compensation to Owners for Decreased Property Value Due to State Regulation Initiative – Vote NO

Amendment 74 requires that property owners be compensated for any reduction in property value caused by state laws or regulations.

  • By voting no, you do not support a measure that would charge taxpayers to compensate private property owners for virtually any decrease in the fair market value of their property traceable to any government law or regulation. While expanding property rights may sound good, this measure is incredibly broad and would have sweeping negative implications on local governments and communities across the state.
  • We think you should vote no on this measure because under this amendment taxpayers would have to pay large corporations and special interests to have reasonable rules requiring clean water or clean air, properly zoning industrial activity, or any other regulation they think is beneficial for their neighborhoods or communities.

Learn more

Proposition 109 – “Fix Our Damn Roads” Transportation Bond Initiative- Vote NO

Proposition 109 authorizes bonds for transportation projects without raising taxes.

  • By voting yes, you support this initiative to authorize $3.5 billion in bonds to fund statewide transportation projects including bridge expansion, construction, maintenance, and repairs, and require that the state repay the debt from the general fund without raising taxes.
  • We think you should vote no on this measure because it does not identify where these funds will come from out of the current tax base and has the potential to take money away from public schools and other public services paid for by state tax dollars.

Learn more

Proposition 110 – “Let’s Go Colorado” Transportation Bond and Sales Tax Increase Initiative – Vote YES

Proposition 110 authorizes bonds to pay for transportation projects and raises taxes to repay the debt

  • By voting yes, you support this initiative to authorize $6 billion in bonds to fund transportation projects, establish the Transportation Revenue Anticipation Notes Citizen Oversight Committee, and raise the state sales tax rate by 0.62 percent from 2.9 percent (2018) to 3.52 percent for 20 years starting on January 1, 2019, through January 1, 2039.
  • We support voting yes on this measure because this it will provide a stable, on-going revenue source for transportation needs throughout the state and will reduce state-wide greenhouse gas reductions in the transportation sector through the inclusion of dedicated multimodal (walk, bike, public transit) dollars (the Multimodal Transportation Options Fund).

Learn more

Proposition 111 – Limits on Payday Loan Charges Initiative- Vote YES

Proposition 111 Restricts the charges on payday loans to a yearly rate of 36 percent and eliminate all other finance charges and fees associated with payday lending.

  • By voting yes, you support this initiative to reduce the annual interest rate on payday loans to a yearly rate of 36 percent and eliminate all other finance charges and fees associated with payday lending.
  • We support voting yes on this measure because payday lenders trap Coloradans in outrageously high-cost debt. Triple-digit rates and multiple fees strip millions of dollars annually from the pockets of people across the state. Voting yes on this measure provides basic guardrails for low income families from being preyed upon by predatory lenders.

Learn more

Proposition 112 – Minimum Distance Requirements for New Oil, Gas, and Fracking Projects Initiative- Vote YES

Proposition 112 Mandates that new oil and gas development projects, including fracking, be a minimum distance of 2,500 feet from occupied buildings and other areas designated as vulnerable.

  • By voting yes, you support this initiative to set new oil and gas development, including fracking operations, to be set at least 2,500 feet away from homes, schools, hospitals, playgrounds, permanent sports fields, amphitheaters, public parks, public open space, public and community drinking water sources, irrigation canals, reservoirs, lakes, rivers, perennial or intermittent streams, and creeks, and any additional vulnerable areas designated by the state or a local government.
  • We support voting yes on this measure because it works toward safer neighborhoods, schools, and communities in Colorado. By setting oil and gas operations a safe distance away from these areas, we can reduce air pollution that affects some of our most vulnerable populations, especially children.

Learn more

The Climate Gap in Colorado

Many of us have heard about the big challenges climate change is bringing to Colorado. From forest fires to drought, and from extreme floods to abysmal snowpack, we’re beginning to see the fallout from climate change across the state. What we used to think of as tomorrow’s crisis is happening today. Underserved communities in our urban centers are being hit first and worst by the effects of climate change. The Climate Gap is the disproportionate and unequal impact the climate crisis has on people of color living in more polluted areas and the poor.

In Colorado, many people have been struggling to manage the challenges of climate change for decades. For example, the climate gap means that communities of color living in inequitable conditions and the poor are suffering more during extreme heat waves. We are already experiencing intensified heat waves in our urban centers due to rising temperatures and the heat island effect. The western United States has seen a larger increase in average temperature in the past decade than any other part of the country. The heat island effect describes urban areas that experience much higher temperatures than neighboring rural areas. Without access to air conditioning or cars to escape the heat, families living below the poverty line are at a much higher risk for mortality than others.

The climate gap also means that communities of color and the poor will breathe even dirtier air. Denver is notorious for our sub-par air quality, in fact we were just rated the 14th most polluted city in America for high ozone according to the American Lung Association. In fact, according to The Denver Business Journal the Denver zip code 80216 in north-east Denver is the most polluted zip code in the entire U.S. What does this mean for families living in Denver? The highest majorities of people of color and low-income residents are in some of the most polluted neighborhoods of Denver. These communities are projected to suffer from the largest increase in smog associated with climate change. More air pollution means more cases of asthma among children, more missed school days, more unpaid days for the caring parents, less income for families who already struggle to access reliable and affordable transportation, more missed hospital and health care appointments, and a host of other concerns that ripple outward as we link climate change to equity, diversity and inclusion.

Where America Stands

With Trump in the White House, America has pulled out of many of the national and international climate mitigation initiatives including the Paris Agreement. However, in the vacuum of federal leadership on climate, many local, state and regional governments have taken the lead on greenhouse gas reductions. Initiatives such as the U.S. Climate Alliance,  America’s Pledge and We Are Still In represent non-national actors that are committing to reduce emissions to meet the Paris Agreement goal of keeping the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels; and to aim to limit the increase to 1.5°C. The organizations and individuals who have signed on to these initiatives represent $10.1 trillion in GDP from the United States alone.

In Colorado, Governor John Hicklenlooper recently announced a 2018 update to the Colorado Climate Plan. The state objective is to cut greenhouse gases by 26 percent from 2005 levels by 2025, and to cut carbon from the electricity sector by 25 percent compared to 2012 by 2025 and 35 percent by 2030. The updated plan outlines advances in climate change management at the state level, as well as the progress that has been made since the release of the initial plan in 2015. Over the last three years, some examples of progress that has been made toward climate change mitigation in Colorado include joining the U.S. Climate Alliance, the adoption of the statewide electric vehicle plan, and the passing of the Denver Green Roof Initiative. The report also takes into account changes in both global and federal climate policy. In the updated Climate Plan, the authors recognize that “for communities with inequitable living conditions, such as low-income and communities of color living in more polluted areas, climate change is likely to exacerbate existing vulnerabilities.”

So, there is some good news. Through strategic collaboration, individuals and organizations across the country are advancing climate change action despite federal-level barriers. In Colorado, our climate policies and plans are integrating environmental justice into the equation for climate change solutions. But there is still a long way to go.

Where You Come In: Climate + Equity

Governor Hickenlooper and his senior staff will be visiting The Alliance Center on June 14 to discuss the updated Colorado Climate Plan and how we can meet Colorado’s state goal with actions at all levels – personal, community, and government. The event is sold out, but it will be live-streamed here.

Here at The Alliance Center, we intentionally integrate equity into all aspects of our work. We believe that a climate change solution that is not founded on environmental justice is not a solution at all. Integrating equity into each aspect of our work takes dedication, clarity, and a lot of help. In 2018 we are creating new educational and collaborative initiatives that feature equity at their core.

Our Climate + Series connects climate change to everyday issues that people can relate to such as health or housing and gives them tools to take action. At all of our Alliance Center-led events we are offering free translation services as well as limited transportation for members of underserved communities who want to participate in our events but would not be able to do so if transportation services were not provided.

As we bring people together to create sustainable solutions, we are working to break down the barriers to participation for members of underserved communities. Climate change is affecting each of us, and no community should have to carry the burden of these challenges more than another. With your help, we can scale up our impact and create solutions that honor each other and the planet.

The Alliance Center is proud to partner with organizations like Re:Vision to create a better future for all. As we prepare to break ground on our own sustainable urban garden next month, we are thrilled to share Re:Vision’s story of the incredible, life-changing impact urban gardens can have on communities.

 

At Re:Vision we believe access to healthy food is a right, not a privilege. Whether through teaching families to grow their own food with our Re:Farm program, or beginning to plant the seeds of community-owned wealth at the Westwood Food Co-Op with Re:Own, our purpose is to create a thriving, resilient community. We achieve that using a three main strategies; we cultivate community food systems (Re:Farm), develop local leaders with our Promotoras (Re:Unite), and grow community wealth by creating a locally owned economy (Re:Own). We believe by providing residents with tools, training, and inspiration, the community will come together to solve some of their most pressing issues.

In 2009, Re:Vision started working in the Westwood neighborhood of southwest Denver. Westwood is bordered by Federal to the east, Sheridan to the west, Alameda to the north and Jewell to the south. You might know the area for its amazing taquerias and Vietnamese food. What you might not know, is Westwood faces significant health and economic disparities because of decades of underinvestment and inadequate resources; 37% childhood obesity rate (compared to the state average of 27%), and while Westwood has the most residents under the age of 18, it also has the fewest open spaces and parks in Denver. The average household income is less than half the Denver average, and less than 4% of the population has a college degree. There are no supermarkets, schools are overcrowded, and it is dangerous for youth to walk through the neighborhood. Yet, despite decades of neglect, Westwood is one of Denver’s most vibrant and diverse neighborhoods, where 84% of residents are Latino, and approximately 60% of whom are first generation immigrants.

So, with all of these alarming statistics, why focus on food access and sustainability? Because that’s what the community wanted. When we spoke with residents, they mentioned a desire to be able to grow their own food as not only a means to save money on their grocery bills and improve access to and consumption of healthy foods, but also as a way to reconnect with the land. Many of our community members have agricultural backgrounds, and had to give those up in Denver’s more urban setting. They also gave up traditional ways of cooking because fresh produce, like chiles, and various herbs needed to cook certain dishes weren’t accessible, due to their price or actual availability. When budgets are limited, often times families are forced to make a choice between purchasing foods that will go a long way (think processed and shelf-stable foods) and produce. With the Re:Farm program, families don’t have to make that choice. Their gardens yield enough produce to feed the family and often times their neighbors as well. And if they have excess produce, they can take a variety of classes at our educational kitchen, La Cocina, to learn new culturally relevant farm-to-table recipes, or how to can and preserve so they can enjoy their produce year round. Families who participate in the Re:Farm program report continuing to eat more fruits and vegetables even in the off season.

What began with teaching seven families how to grow food in their own backyards, is now a thriving program changing food access in one community. To date, Re:Vision’s Re:Farm program has helped families throughout southwest Denver establish 1,765 annual gardens, collectively producing more than 500,000 pounds of fresh produce and saving those families over $1 million in grocery bills. In this current 2018 season, we have just over 260 families participating in the Re:Farm program.

 

Written by JoAnna Cintron, Re:Vision Director of Communications and Individual Giving