We love featuring local art at The Alliance Center! In this blog, explore nature and wildlife photography with Jeanne Poling, whose prints will be on display in the upper levels of our building through September of 2022.

Hello! My name is Jeanne Poling. I have been photographing most of my life. I entered my first photography show when I was in elementary school using an old family camera and black and white film. The photo wasn’t great, but it was where I got my start. I bought my first “real” camera with my high school graduation money.

I majored in Mechanical Engineering at University of Colorado. My next 20 years were spent focusing on my career and raising children, with only a small amount of photography in between. Although my degree was in mechanical engineering, my career very quickly drifted to environmental management. You can see this my photography—the environmental management work I did throughout the years inspired me to photograph what I loved most, nature and wildlife. It left me with a deep desire to protect our natural resources and the wildlife depending on those resources. I left my engineering career in 2017 to focus on photography and have never looked back.

I love photographing a brilliant sunrise or sunset, snow capped mountains and gorgeous wildflowers, but it is always the wildlife that grabs my attention and steals the show. My greatest pleasure comes from watching and photographing the interactions of the wildlife with each other. Those interactions can be loving, tender, humorous and even heartbreakingly brutal. I love all wildlife—except snakes! I am truly fascinated by their ability to adapt and live in changing environments.

I try to capture moments that take my breath away, make me smile or tug at my heart. However, as any wildlife photographer will tell you, the job requires a lot of waiting. This is when I turn to what nature presents. I love looking at things from a fresh perspective. You typically won’t see me photographing the landscapes and landmarks that everyone else has photographed. Instead, you will see me photograph a single flower over a field of flowers, or shadows at sunrise or sunset rather than the object creating the shadows. Reflections in water and glass also play a large role in my portfolio. Last year I made a commitment to stop looking for the perfect image and focus on the everyday, with an end goal to photograph the extraordinary in the ordinary.

In my spare time I volunteer at Foothills Animal Shelter once a week, taking photographs of the adoptable animals for the website and social media. There is nothing like a weekly dose of bouncing puppies and spunky kittens to practice fast focus and depth of field techniques—plus an endless supply of smiles!

All photos that I take are for sale. I sell through my website, Instagram or my Etsy shop. I also do custom orders and special requests. One of my prints, “Grizzly Eyes”, which is currently hanging on the 2nd floor of The Alliance Center building, will be featured in the upcoming Louisville Art Association National Juried Photography Show. This show runs for eight days, from May 27th through June 5th,  and overlaps with the Louisville Memorial Day weekend events.

For examples of my work or to purchase prints, visit my website, Instagram, Etsy or email me at natureswildsideprints@gmail.com.

The Alliance Center’s Regenerative Recovery Coalition proudly endorses six new bills this legislative session! After influencing 20 new state laws in 2021, the momentum hasn’t stopped: the Coalition’s recommendations appear in five of the six new bills we support. To learn more, read the Coalition’s 2022 Policy Platform, an innovative, crowdsourced document representing the bold, transformational ideas of the Coalition’s 350+ members.

The need for policy to fight climate change is greater than ever—and our voices are stronger together. You can make a difference with a single phone call to your legislator expressing your support for these bills. Read more on each bill below, and find your legislator here.

  1. SB22-138 Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions 
    • This bill will establish interim GHG goals for the state and require the insurance industry to prepare and file climate risk assessments. 
  2. HB22-1151 Turf Replacement Program 
    • This bill requires the Colorado Water Conservation Board to develop a statewide program to provide financial incentives for water-wise landscaping.
  3. HB22- 1355 Extended Producer Responsibility
    • This bill creates a producer responsibility program for statewide recycling.
  4. HB 22-1159 Waste Diversion and Circular Economy Development Center
    • This bill creates a Circular Economy Development Center in the Department of Public Health and Environment. 
  5. SB22-193 Air Quality Improvement Investments
  6. HB22-1249 Electric Grid Resilience and Reliability Roadmap
    • This bill requires the Colorado Energy Office to develop a roadmap for improving the resilience and reliability of electric grids in the state. 

Learn more about Colorado legislation and the Coalition’s work by watching our most recent Coalition event, Policies for a Thriving Colorado. And if our vision resonates with you, join the Coalition today!

 

The following blog about supporting local nonprofits and communities in need was provided by The Green Solution. The Green Solution is a Colorado-based, family-owned business that aims to increase access to cannabis worldwide while prioritizing consumer safety and social impact. We are proud to partner with mission-driven organizations such as The Green Solution that are blazing a greener trail through their industry. 

The Green Solution (TGS), a Columbia Care company, is a cannabis business built on a foundation of customer service, education, innovation, product excellence, regulatory compliance and supply chain innovation, and we’re dedicated to supporting the communities in which we operate. This past year was difficult for so many people and organizations, which is why it was more important than ever that we support local nonprofits who are continuing to drive change. Throughout 2021, we were honored to have been able to provide $72,000 in donations to a variety of local nonprofits.

At TGS, we are particularly passionate about environmental initiatives. With its mission of creating a more sustainable and equitable world, we are incredibly proud to have donated to The Alliance Center. We’ve also supported other environmentally focused organizations, including Independence Pass Foundation, Glenwood Canyon Restoration Alliance, Denver Urban Gardens, Sustainable Resilient Longmont, Trees Water & People and The Greenway Foundation.

In addition to organizations that work to save our planet, we are proud to support the veteran community. This year we sponsored Colorado Veterans Project’s annual Memorial Day Run and March and with the support of our customers, we collected more than 20,000 pounds of nonperishable food items, which were donated to Care & Share Food Bank to help support the local homeless veteran community.

As the pandemic continued, we partnered with Wana Brands and the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment to host COVID-19 vaccination clinics at our key Denver metro dispensaries. The vaccination sites helped Coloradans as young as 17 all the way up to 73 years old.

We also proudly partnered with The Second Chance Center for National Expungement Works’ fourth annual Free Colorado Record Sealing event in October, which provided free legal support for record sealing and community connections focused on housing, employment, resume building and advocacy opportunities. 

As we work to foster relationships within Colorado and areas around our 20 dispensary locations, we are committed to continuing our assistance for local nonprofits who are making a difference every day.

The following blog about sustainability analytics and accountability was written by Patrick Hickey from Moye White LLP.  Moye White is a full-service law firm offering strategic representation in complex commercial transactions and disputes. Their clients include startups and Fortune 100 enterprises, tax-exempt organizations and associations. They are also a certified B Corp! We are proud to partner with mission-driven organizations such as Moye White that are blazing a greener trail through their industry. 

It’s well known that companies around the country place great emphasis on sustainability. Investors feel the same way and whether a company can demonstrate the impact of their sustainability initiatives is critical to investors. Thus, companies must provide accurate, reliable and understandable information regarding their sustainability programs.

That is where Moye White comes in. For years, Moye White and its clients have been at the forefront of various sustainability standards and data issues. Several of those issues are addressed below.

First, analyzing sustainability programs requires standard sustainability metrics, so that companies and investors can compare sustainability programs. These metrics allow companies and investors to evaluate the financial impacts of sustainability programs. Moye White supported the creation of the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB). The SASB creates standards that guide the disclosure of financially material sustainability information by companies to their investors. The standards are available for 77 industries, and the standards identify the subset of environmental, social and governance issues most relevant to financial performance in each industry. They allow investors to see the financial impact of sustainability in real numbers and not just through vague claims or platitudes.

Second, accurately and efficiently compiling sustainability data is critical. This is because sustainability data is not helpful unless it is accurate and understandable to company leadership and potential investors. Moye White assists its clients by drafting policies and procedures related to sustainability data to ensure the data is usable by all stakeholders.

Third, obtaining and using sustainability data requires drafting and negotiating data use agreements. A data use agreement is a contract used for the transfer of data developed by nonprofit, government or private industry, where the data is nonpublic or is otherwise subject to some restrictions on its use. 

Among other things, data use agreements:

  • Establish the permitted uses and disclosures of data; 
  • Identify who may use or receive the data; 
  • Establish safeguards to protect against unauthorized use of the data; and 
  • Require the recipient of the data to use reasonable measures to prevent the unauthorized use or disclosure of the data. 

The purpose of data use agreements is to establish the rules for using and sharing sustainability data and ensure adequate projections related to the sustainability data. Data use agreements play a critical role because certain sustainability data is created through proprietary algorithms and formulas. Additionally, clients’ sustainability data may contain proprietary information that they do not want publicly available. Further, sustainability data may contain personal information that requires protection. Moye White drafts and negotiates data use agreements to ensure that its clients may use sustainability data safely and efficiently. 

As the above information demonstrates, accurately compiling, analyzing and sharing sustainability data is critical for companies and investors. This is particularly true as more and more investors make sustainability a central concern when making investment decisions. Moye White has always been, and will continue to be, at the forefront of these issues.

Moye White partner Patrick Hickey is a commercial litigator representing clients in a variety of industries, including advanced energy, real estate, employment, construction and private equity. He can be reached at patrick.hickey@moyewhite.com or (303) 292-7907.

My trip to The Alliance Center began with a three-hour flight from Atlanta, Georgia. Having been in a number of airports in the United States, spanning from coast to coast, it is often easy to believe that all of those hours in the air only managed to transport you to a building next door. However, in the Denver airport, I could already sense the cultural shift from the Southeast to the West. With the exponential increase in cowboy hat sightings alongside the many public endorsements of more sustainable practices, it was instantly clear that I was no longer in Georgia. Outside, this distinction became even more clear with the slight chill in the morning summer air offering respite from the stifling southern humidity. In the distance, as we journeyed to downtown Denver and The Alliance Center, there was a faint line across the sky of mountains hidden in haze.

Our next stop was Red Rocks Amphitheatre, a performing venue built into the existing red sandstone rock formations. What struck me most, outside the impossibility of going up and down the many stairs to see a concert, was the amazing use of the acoustic properties of a natural landscape to create an incredible performance experience. Even though the venue was not in use for a concert, numerous people were there to take pictures or to use the landscape for their morning workout. Although I didn’t get the chance to see a concert during this visit to Colorado, just by exploring the area I could see how deeply nature and the mountain landscapes are intertwined with the daily lives of Coloradans.

The pinnacle of the trip was our drive up to the top of the Rocky Mountains. From afar, the dark outline of the mountains looked like a painted backdrop, but as we drove toward it, slowly climbing in elevation, we seemingly entered that painting ourselves. From each lookout point, it settled in that the Rockies are the largest mountain system in

North America, stretching across 3,000 miles as mountain peaks rose in every direction. At an elevation of over 12,000 ft, it became clear why life in Colorado revolves around the natural landscape. When faced with the magnitude of these mountains, it is easy to forget yourself and thoughts of the day-to-day. The scope of the natural world beyond the bubble of city or state comes into view.

Through these trips to Red Rocks, Lookout Mountain, Rocky Mountain National Park and elsewhere, I realized how constant contact with nature this awe inspiring could instill a shared need to protect it. Both the experience of new environments and my time spent in The Alliance Center building itself helped solidify the importance in advocacy work of progressing together by sharing knowledge of lived experience and going out to experience the communities for which you work firsthand. This visit to Denver was an invaluable experience because no number of pictures and research can compare to taking the MallRide through downtown or driving through the Rockies or staring out at Denver from above. The opportunity to work for The Alliance Center and explore Colorado this summer was incredibly eye-opening and provided an experience I will not soon forget.

As a Sustainability Skills Initiative (SSI) intern this summer, I certainly did not expect to be given the generous opportunity to come to Denver at the beginning of August. Alongside the three other interns, Hira, Ah’Shaiyah and Daniela, as well as Isabel Mendoza, organizer of the SSI program, I spent three days exploring popular places in Colorado. 

A picture of Larimer Square decorated with lights and flags at nightLower Downtown (LoDo) in Denver was home to a playful city life—full of interesting people and things to do, yet with plenty of open space. During one of our free evenings, my fellow interns and I tried to find interesting things to do on EventBrite and ended up at an amateur stand-up comedy club, then getting ice cream from Hidden Gems in Larimer Square. I had never been in a comedy club before, so this was already a surreal experience. When we reached Larimer Square, full of laughing patrons and glowing lights, I was hypnotized by its charm.

A picture of a yellow house in Estes Park surrounded by trees and a tall hill

We also visited Estes Park, a town surrounded by nature with a boardwalk-like area full of tourist-y stores and restaurants. Notably, we were able to try elk meat, a rare (pun-intended) experience for all of us. It was such a fun place with so many small, niche stores, such as the random Renaissance clothing store we stumbled into after said elk burgers. Like many other places in Colorado, Estes Park was full of charm and offered plenty of new things to explore for both tourists and locals.

Of course, for tourists, one of the biggest draws to Colorado is its natural beauty. As a tourist to Colorado, I had expected the natural and urban life to be completely distinct from each other; people would work in the city during the week, then drive hundreds of miles to some remote mountain hiking trail. I quickly realized this was not the case. 

The natural aspects of Colorado, from Rocky Mountain National Park to Red Rocks Amphitheatre to the Denver Botanical Gardens, were gorgeous—definitely a sight to marvel at after studying in the topologically flat state of Illinois and residing in the similarly uniform Connecticut for so long. As breathtaking as this scenery was to me, it must be no more than the ordinary backdrop of life for Colorado residents. Despite the wildfire haze, craggy peaks of huge mountains peeked out from behind tall office buildings, and plains of green-yellow raced past in time with highway traffic. The nature of Colorado was embedded so smoothly into the urban landscape of Denver, Boulder and other cities, and consistently reminded me of a new realization I had: that moving to a city did not necessarily mean I had to give up elements of nature in my life.

Plants on the windowsill next to a desk in the Alliance Center building

The Alliance Center building, with its environmentally-friendly design, many potted plants and blue-green-brown nature theme seemed to embody this ideal as well. During our tour of the building, I learned of the recent remodeling that specifically incorporated these themes, showing me yet again that this kind of balance between urbanization and environmental sustainability could be achieved in any building by utilizing space more efficiently. The Alliance Center is very focused on not only achieving environmental sustainability in energy and space usage, but also on catering to the needs of their clients. I was very impressed by the features in the building, like the open space cubicles that allow for more collaboration, the quiet “wellness room” that offers people the chance to relax alone for a bit and even the integrated exercise equipment. Overall, I think I would have loved to work in this building if I had stayed in Colorado long term, and I admire that the building is constantly being improved not only for the sake of the environment, but also for the clients and employees within.

Before coming to Colorado, I had always looked upon my future with trepidation and a bit of resignation. I figured I would end up working in a chaotic city even if I majored in environmental studies, and would then have to wait until retirement or something in order to regain the slice of nature that I’ve always treasured having in my daily life. Coloradan city life showed me that it was possible to retain both, and I look forward to seeking this rare balance in my future.

Here at The Alliance Center, we view sustainability as a holistic endeavor: a mission that necessitates the participation of both nonprofit and for-profit sectors. We are honored to collaborate with dozens of organizations in our Best for Colorado program who work in the environmental sector or are dedicated to evaluating and improving their environmental impact. We also run the Regenerative Recovery Coalition, which is in part dedicated to fostering regenerative and sustainable business practices across Colorado.

But how do you demonstrate your business’s commitment to sustainability? With few regulations on the labeling of sustainable business practices, and with rampant public misinformation about ethical consumption, many businesses either knowingly or unknowingly resort to a strategy called “greenwashing”. Greenwashing is a marketing tactic that deceives consumers with unsubstantiated claims or with misleading or false information about the environmentally friendly nature of a product or process. Greenwashing degrades consumer trust and can even result in further damage to the environment.

 Here are a few guidelines for avoiding greenwashing as a socially responsible business owner:

    • Avoid using buzz words or offering vague claims about your product or your business like “natural”, “green”, “environmentally friendly” or “sustainable”. Instead, be honest and specific about how your product or your process is sustainable—and even how it isn’t. For example, instead of stamping “eco-friendly” on your packaging and calling it a day, create a page on your website dedicated to explaining the materials, ingredients and/or sourcing of your product. Reveal the steps required to create your product and the areas of your process that could be improved. Honesty and transparency from a corporation can go a long way for an ethical consumer.
    • Don’t expect consumers to take you at your word. Instead, if possible, offer evidence from a reliable third party that your product is or does what you claim. Certified B Corporations meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, but there are other green business certifications available as well.
    • Avoid using irrelevant terms. Instead, only use specific terms that genuinely apply to your product and make sense for your audience. For example, there is no need to call your product organic if it does not make use of ingredients that are grown organically.
    • Don’t create fake labels or certifications. Trust that your honest explanations of your product or process will mean more to your consumers than unverifiable accolades.
    • Don’t only focus on advertising your consumer-facing products as green or sustainable. Instead, try to practice sustainability and social responsibility behind closed doors as well. This might manifest in multiple ways: implementing diversity and inclusivity trainings, giving back to your community through charitable donations or even networking and collaborating with other sustainability-minded businesses and organizations in The Alliance Center’s coworking space or as an Alliance Member.

Sustainable business practices and products have never been more important, more relevant or more sought out than they are today. For example, a recent survey conducted by GreenPrint found that nearly two-thirds of Americans are willing to pay more for sustainable products! Companies who successfully navigate the demand for environmentally friendly products will increase their resilience and improve their reputation. We are proud to partner with so many socially responsible businesses—and look forward to the day that all for-profit organizations are committed to “doing business better”!

Happy Pride Month, Alliance community! Pride Month takes place each June to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall Uprising, a milestone for the queer liberation movement. It offers us a chance to honor LGBTQ+ folks who are no longer with us and to celebrate the love, joy, diversity and affirmation of queer and trans communities.

Here at The Alliance Center, we envision a future that is sustainable, equitable and provides all communities the opportunity to thrive. To accomplish this, our work must be intersectional, recognizing how our various identities influence our interactions with the world and how systems of oppression affect each of us in differing ways. Indeed, the environmentalist movement and the queer liberation movement are irrevocably connected—many of the same unjust power dynamics that perpetuate inequality and intolerance against queer and trans people also perpetuate unsustainable practices that are harmful to our environments, our communities and our futures. 

For this year’s Pride Month, we’ve assembled a list of some of the changemakers that are working at the intersection of queer liberation and environmentalism. We hope you’ll take some time—throughout the rest of June and beyond—to reflect on your own identity and how your unique voice might contribute to the environmentalist movement, the queer liberation movement and their intersection.

A person in a floral button-up shirt with a green hat on, holding a flower next to their face with other flowers in the background.

Vanessa Raditz is an environmental health researcher and youth educator dedicated to community healing, land and resource accessibility and the creation of thriving local economies based on human and ecological resilience. They are part of the founding collective of the Queer Ecojustice Project, which hosts events and workshops about queer ecojustice theory and strategy and offers a curated selection of multimedia resources for self-organized learning nodes. Raditz is working on a grassroots film project, Fire and Flood: Queer Resilience in the Era of Climate Change, rooted in their lived experience of the 2017 fires in Northern California. They also co-organized the Queers4ClimateJustice contingent to the RISE March for Climate, Jobs, and Justice in fall of 2018 and continue to manage the #Queers4ClimateJustice instagram.

A woman wearing ski goggles and a ski jacket stands on a snowy mountain.

Lindi von Mutius is an attorney, an educator, the Director of Board Operations and Strategy at The Trust for Public Land and a Board member for OUT for Sustainability, a platform for co-creating climate resilience and environmental justice by and for LGBTQ+ communities. Her work centers on bringing diversity to the environmental movement and highlighting the necessity of representation in outdoor spaces. In her article “The Look We Give”, von Mutius writes: “There’s a human need to find people like you doing the things you love; a yearning not just for acceptance, but for owning a shared experience. A biracial, bisexual, immigrant is still an oddity in the outdoor space. I once dated someone (for far too long) just because he was the only black man kayaking on Match.com. My bisexual pride flag is pinned to the outside of my backpacking pack, so that other queer folks know I’m there. I feel that this land—taken and colonized by white men; but shaped by the work of slaves, immigrants and people who look like me—is there for me to enjoy and protect.”

A person with dark hair, blue and pink highlights and a septum piercing sitting next to a dog with plants in the background.

Pinar Sinopoulos-Lloyd is a queer indigenous activitist and co-founder of Queer Nature, a nature education and ancestral skills program serving the LGBTQ2+ community. Although it is now permanently based out of Washington state, Queer Nature originally began in Colorado, right here in the Front Range! Along with their partner and co-founder, Sinopoulos-Lloyd works to increase cultural access to outdoor pursuits, especially survival skills like bushcraft, tactical skills and ethical hunting. They are dedicated to building interspecies alliances and an enduring sense of belonging for marginalized communities while maintaining awareness of impact and good land stewardship practices. 

A drag queen with long red hair wearing backpacking clothes stands in a forest holding a cardboard sign above her head that says "Mother nature is a lesbian" in all caps.

Wyn Wiley, also known as his backpacking drag queen alter ego Pattie Gonia, uses humor and entertainment to raise awareness about climate change and to bring attention to intersectional environmentalism. With her high heels, sustainably sourced outfits and heartfelt captions, Pattie Gonia works to make outdoor spaces safer and more accessible to marginalized communities. “Intersectional environmentalism lets us weave in our humanity, our culture, our queerness and our color into environmental work. We tell ourselves that all these issues are separate, but I think the magic happens when you intersect one thing with another. If you look at any space where people are making change, you will find queer people, you will find people of color, you will find indigenous people—and you’ll find women,” explains Wyn.

Once again, happy Pride Month, Alliance community! We love, appreciate and stand in solidarity with our LGBTQ+ colleagues and friends.

This March, in honor of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, we are featuring four women leading the intersectional environmentalism movement. Climate change disproportionately affects communities of color. These women are leading the charge to change the way we think about environmental and climate solutions!

1. Dr. Carolyn Finney

Carolyn Finney

Dr. Carolyn Finney authored the book Black Faces White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors. In her book, Finney explores the histories of slavery, Jim Crow and racial violence in the United States and their continued relationship to present day perceptions of who should and can have access to the “great outdoors”. Finney utilizes her unique perspective as a cultural geographer and storyteller to address how privilege affects the course of environmental action, policy and leadership. Check out her 2020 TEDx talk at Middlebury College and her continued work in the environmental movement.

2. Sonrisa Lucero

Sonrisa Lucero is a Sustainability Engineer and expert with experience in the public and private sector, committed to climate justice. She works as the Sustainability Strategist in the Office of Sustainability for the City of Denver and owns and operates a sustainability firm Sustainnovations, LLC. Locally, Sonrisa serves as a board member for The Alliance Center and Conservation Colorado. Previously, she served as a board member with Groundwork Denver. Learn more about her climate justice work in her 2020 TEDx talk, “Stopping Climate Change Starts with Heart and Latinx Communities” and listen to her discuss the Paris Climate Agreement on our latest Climate Bridges podcast episode.

3. Leah Thomas

Leah Thomas is an environmentalist and the founder of the Intersectional Environmentalist Platform. The Intersectional Environmentalist platforms shares resources, information and actions to dismantle systems of oppression in the environmental movement. In her 2020 Vogue article entitled “Why Every Environmentalist Should be Antiracist” she explained, “The systems of oppression that have led to the deaths of so many Black people were the same systems that perpetuated environmental injustice. This realization pointed me to the term ‘intersectional environmentalism,’ and compelled me to introduce it into environmentalist dialogue—to spark conversation and mobilize the environmental community to be anti-racist and not complicit.” Learn more about Leah here.

4. Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson

Ayana Elizabeth Johnson speaks during the Unplugged Session at TED2019: Bigger Than Us. April 15 - 19, 2019, Vancouver, BC, Canada. Photo: Ryan Lash / TED

Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson is a marine biologist, author and policy expert. She founded the think tank, Urban Ocean Lab and OceanCollectiv, a conservation consulting firm rooted in social justice. Johnson’s work centers on building community to create climate solutions. Her diverse body of work includes her podcast How to Save a Planet, academic publications, editorials and public speaking.

This blog post was written by JennaLee and Devani, who interned with The Alliance Center this summer through the Girls Inc. Eureka! program. The Alliance Center recently hosted the Colorado Emergence Series to develop solutions to some of the biggest issues in Colorado, and the interns conducted interviews with Fatuma Emmad, a series participant, and Hunter Lovins, who helped lead the series. To implement the series’ proposed solutions, The Alliance Center is leading the Regenerative Recovery Coalition. Learn more and find out how you can be part of the solution here

On the farm with Fatuma Emmad

With many world issues such as human rights violations, racism and sexism, local leader Fatuma Ammad, co-founder of Front Line Farming, takes on farming as a path to building a better Colorado. 

Front Line Farming is a community that runs a multi-plot farm and is committed to growing and providing healthy food and food education to all people no matter their income level. Fatuma is always pushing for change and bringing attention to farmers and food security. Front Line Farming is currently based in the Denver metro area, but they’re always looking for opportunities to expand throughout Colorado. 

During our time with Fatuma, we asked her about being the co-founder of Front Line Farming and the many other organizations she leads. We asked, “as a leader of so many organizations, does it ever become really stressful, if so how do you manage?” Fatuma said that it all comes down to how she and her team work together and love each other. She pointed something out that really stood out to us, “there’s a lot of different types of racism you have to deal with, even when you get to the top… I knew this before I started my organization…so I’ve really built my team and our organization with resiliency.” We weren’t aware that racism can still take place at high levels of leadership, like the position she’s in. She also explained that her team doesn’t operate with white supremacy either. Fatuma’s really broad and outside of the box perspectives on these topics were amazing! 

Fatuma also talked about the working environment for farmers. To continue to make change and make sure her workers are in the best care, she brings safety supplies, money, and policy work to communities. She describes, “the environment for farmers is crucial, farming labour is done by immigrant and undocumented people in conditions that are completely unacceptable, and it’s not about justice issues but human rights issues.” These hard workers are called illegal and aren’t welcomed, yet they are still essential workers during this time, risking their own safety. She wants people to recognize all the hard labor that people of color are doing for this country.

With the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement, one of Fatuma’s strongest opinions that stood out to us was when she talked about the Black community in farming. She says, “Black people owned more land in the United States in the 20th century than they do now.” This issue has been going on for so long that people choose to ignore the issue because it serves them. The government wants to act like they’re not in the wrong, that we have solved the problem and it’s gone. That is why Fatuma chooses to use her voice in policy and legislation spaces. She wants to represent young people, people of color and women.

Another major topic that Fatuma talked about was women in the field and women empowerment, one of the main focuses of Girls Inc. and Eureka. She started the conversation by saying, “you know I’m a woman and I farm, I’m not like some big strong guy.” Many believe that women aren’t strong enough for farm work and hard labor. Over the years, female operated farm percentages haven’t really gone up, although in many countries women are the ones in the field doing all the hard labor. This is a problem that stands out to us because women need to work twice as hard to get recognized in a leadership role. That is what Fatuma tries to advocate for change and why she is such a great role model. 

Having Fatuma as our second interview was a great experience! This opportunity was definitely a success for developing our skills, and it was so great to hear the amazing thoughts and opinions that take place in Fatuma Emmad’s mind. 

Economic Sustainability Mission with Hunter Lovins

Hunter Lovins is a major influence in the field of sustainability in Colorado. She is the founder of Natural Capitalism Solutions (NCS). NCS has only the best in class sustainability professionals who work together to help develop pragmatic ways to bring efficiency and sustainability to government and corporate clients. Ms. Lovins has over forty years of experience with change management and sustainability. 

We asked Ms. Lovins where sustainability is needed most, and she answered, “everywhere.” She explains that in the U.S, the measure of success is dependent on wealth and that this is the reason why the world is crashing. Hunter sees our current world as having the greatest amount of inequality due to the false narrative that was made to believe true. She states, “…economists like Thomas Piketty, who wrote the book Capital In the Twenty-First Century, show that high levels of inequality is causative of collapse.” Ms. Lovins has a very passionate and broad perspective on changing that narrative in order to create sustainability. 

Ms. Lovins goes more into depth about inequality in the world, when she speaks about people who have always been discriminated against. She recognizes that being white, having plenty to eat, living on a beautiful ranch, doing well for herself, are all a great privilege. She even went into depth about police brutality, saying it’s just not right, “If I were black and stopped by a policeman, my life would be at risk. I’m white, I’m elderly, if I get stopped by a policeman, I’ll hear “Ma’am how can I be of service to you?” She has committed her life to ensuring that everyone on the planet has the same privilege. She wants to have conversations about institutionalized racism, empowerment and giving voice to people who have not had one. 

Hunter’s perfect vision of a sustainable world was so wide, with so many ideas. In her book, A Finer Future, the narrative was that it’s 2050 and we made it, we have solved the problems facing humanity. Ideas such as a sustainable palm oil that stops the loss of rainforest or a cohousing community in Indonesia that has cleaned the air, and even that the main street of Broadway, New York, is now a massive urban garden, all things that would make the world a better place. Hunter said, “We have the technologies that we need to solve the problems, and the question now…is will we do it, will we do it on time?” 

There is no doubt that Ms. Lovins has great expectations for change and sustainability in the world. Since she was a child her whole life has similarly evolved around the field she is in now. From our interview or from getting the amazing opportunity to talk with Hunter, you will see how knowledgeable, inspirational and passionate she is about her life’s work. 

Written by: Devani Dominguez and Jennalee Casias