There’s no doubt about it: 2022 was a strange year. Colorado continued to contend with the effects of the pandemic and climate change. The nation achieved historic climate legislation and faced another contentious Election Day. The world grappled with cost of living crises and the outbreak of a war that greatly changed the global energy landscape.

Nevertheless, we continued our work to create a regenerative future. In fact, 2022 was one of our most inspiring and impactful years to date, with major successes for environmental policy, regenerative agriculture, clean energy and more. Because of your financial support, this year we were able to:

Change Colorado’s policy landscape

Thanks to the hard work of our Regenerative Recovery Coalition members and our innovative strategy for policy development, we influenced 24 new state laws and directed $526 million of state funding in 2022! We are currently developing our 2023 policy platform and preparing to collaborate with lawmakers again in next spring’s legislative session. 

Elevate regenerative agriculture across the state

Our regenerative farm tour in September brought together more than 50 individuals to support local farmers, bridge the urban-rural divide and experience regenerative agriculture in practice. In October, we launched the statewide Healthy Soils Challenge with a party attended by more than 200 regenerative agriculture advocates, including Governor Jared Polis!

Spearhead a managed energy transition

This summer, we commissioned a study to better understand the oil and gas industry and its true impact on Colorado. We found that a just transition for Colorado is not only immediately necessary, but is fully economically viable! Our Just Transition Roundtable Series is now underway. We also activated a 27kW solar array on our building this year, offsetting about 7% of our energy use.

Continue our equity journey

In partnership with The Equity Project, we hosted an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion workshop series throughout 2022 to ensure that the work of our Coalition members is guided and informed by equity. We have also been collaborating with The Equity Project to develop an equity blueprint for our next strategic framework. Our team looks forward to accomplishing deeper and better EDI work in the years to come.

Grow our community of changemakers 

This year saw the Regenerative Recovery Coalition grow to 385 members! We also welcomed six new tenants to our building and collaborated with dozens more changemakers through our coworking, membership and partnership opportunities. In total, we supported more than 30 organizations, 300 professionals, 80 events and 1,200 event attendees through our nonprofit center! Seven hardworking, passionate individuals joined our staff and three joined our board, poising us for success when the Regenerative Recovery Coalition expands nationally next year.

Help Us Make 2023 a Success

The growth and impact of The Alliance Center this past year would not have been possible without our donors. And we have even more exciting things planned for 2023! Next year will bring a new name, a new brand and an evolved strategy for action. This work combines all of the lessons we have learned through our years of convening changemakers and sets forth an ambitious plan for furthering our collective impact.

But we need your support to make it happen! Your donation will go further on Colorado Gives Day. Colorado Gives Day takes place this year on December 6th, but you can schedule your donation today. Whether you donate $10 or $10,000, you are contributing to a regenerative future. 

In these challenging times, bringing people together to solve systemic problems is more important now than ever. We are so grateful for your continued support, and we look forward to including you in our impactful plans for 2023!

The Current State of Colorado’s Energy Economy

Hi! My name is Jane Allen and I am the Assistant Director of Climate and Energy Resilience for the Regenerative Recovery Coalition, a program of The Alliance Center. 

In 2021, the RRC’s Climate and Energy group researched gaps in the state’s climate agenda to determine where our group could provide the most value. It quickly became clear that although the state has set ambitious climate targets, the outsized impact of the oil and gas sector on climate and public health has not been fully acknowledged or addressed by the state. Additionally, jobs in oil and gas have decreased due to the overall viability of the oil and gas sector, which will be increasingly challenged in the coming years as energy markets continue to shift to renewables. This has serious consequences for workers and communities who have historically relied on oil and gas as a main source of income.

We know that the urgency of the climate crisis requires us to rapidly shift from fossil fuels to cleaner forms of energy. Despite this, Colorado remains the 5th largest oil producer and 7th largest gas producer in the country. In addition to the climate, the health and wellbeing of communities are also impacted. A 2022 report found that a quarter million Coloradans, including 74,000 children, are at risk due to their proximity to oil and gas production.

While these harms cannot be ignored, it is important to recognize that this sector plays an important role in Colorado’s economy and that funding from oil and gas taxes support local communities and public goods. This is why a thoughtful, managed transition is essential to repair the harms of the fossil fuel industry and ensure that Colorado workers and communities are not left behind in the process. Colorado has made incredible progress transitioning communities away from coal. The state now has a moral responsibility to look after the oil and gas workers who have powered Colorado, as well as the communities disproportionately impacted by pollutants, poor air quality and climate change. 

In an effort to better understand the oil and gas industry and its true impact to Colorado, we commissioned a study to examine the labor, revenue, environmental and health implications of the sector, as well as potential pathways for a transition. This was an important first step to determining the best course of action given the state’s unique opportunities and challenges in this arena.

Read on to hear our summer intern from the University of Chicago, Kinar, share more about his research on this topic, key findings and recommendations for future action.

A Just Transition is Both Necessary and Viable

Hi! My name is Kinar and I’m a junior at the University of Chicago studying Economics and Philosophy. I was born and raised in Chicago and have spent my past few summers conducting research into economic and legal policy and refugee asylum reform, Most recently, I have worked in investment banking. Outside of class, work and research, I play for my university’s hockey team and help lead a student organization that provides mentorship and career workshops to undergraduates interested in economics.  

While I’ve spent my life in the Midwest, I’ve long held a deep respect and appreciation for the Rocky Mountains. Protecting our climate and natural resources has always been important to me, and this summer, thanks to Jane and the RRC, I was able to combine my interests in environmental reform with economic development. 

The project’s mandate was to truth-test many of the oil and gas industry’s claims in order to conduct an objective cost-benefit analysis of the environmental, economic and social consequences at stake. To this end, Jane and I decided to narrow the scope even further to look at the tax impact of the oil and gas industry for the state and local economies, labor implications for workers, funding for schools and damage to local ecosystems. We then researched and analyzed the viability of clean, renewable energy to fully replace fossil fuels in a long-term, controlled transition for the State of Colorado.  

Instead of conducting a traditional research report, I decided to use geographic information system mapping (GIS) through ARCGIS to create an interactive and engaging experience that leverages data to tell a story. This technology is being used by many policy and academic institutions to try to better understand and communicate the hidden messages in massive datasets.

Combined with traditional research methods, we found that a full, just transition for Colorado is not only needed immediately, but is fully economically viable. Investment in renewable energy is vast, and combined with community and government support is on track to outpace the positive economic impact of the oil and gas industry within the next 20 years. As such, we recommend that the State of Colorado, the public and private sector and individuals come together to advocate for a just transition to renewable energy.  

The report can be accessed here through ARCGIS. I recommend that you explore and interact with the maps and hope that you will advocate for a clean energy transition for Colorado!

A Letter from Our Executive Director

Dear Alliance Center Community,

At The Alliance Center, we believe that climate justice requires fighting for justice in all aspects of society. Every voice counts as we create a better future for people and our planet. Unfortunately, not every voice has been included in creating solutions. Conversations about climate change, often led by people with compounded systemic privilege, can exclude the communities most disproportionately impacted by climate change. These communities, typically low income communities and/or communities of color, get hit first, the hardest and take the longest to recover.

This is a symptom of systems that no longer serve us. Sustainability is a very homogenous industry. It is an industry of privilege—privilege to focus on the future instead of worrying about how to feed your family today. We can no longer silo these issues or their solutions. We must work at the intersection of social and environmental movements to build a regenerative future—a future where everyone has enough, all life can thrive and we are no longer exploiting ourselves, each other or the natural world.

To actualize that future, we must reimagine and reinvent literally all systems that currently govern our lives— and we must do it fast. This will take deep and coordinated collaboration with a diversity of change agents. How do we work at the pace and scale needed to address the climate crisis as well as the speed of trust needed for authentic equity work? How do we accomplish authentic equity work in a world so divided that we have forgotten how to respectfully disagree?

Equity work is forever work. It is a journey, not a box to check or a demographic to measure. Unraveling centuries of oppression and exploitation won’t happen overnight, but the arc of progress bends towards justice.

At The Alliance Center, we have made a great deal of progress—and we are not perfect. We are not striving for perfection, but rather progress, compassion and authenticity. This must be a humble journey to uplift the voices of traditionally marginalized people, not a tool for white people’s self improvement. We are deeply committed to centering our work in equity, but we know we have a long way to go.

 Our History

When I started at The Alliance Center in 2015, the board and staff were 100% white. Through intention and internal work over the last four years, we are thrilled to celebrate and honor 50% racial diversity on our staff and 35% on our Board of Directors. 60% of our staff leadership are racially diverse and 80% identify as women. It is important to note that these demographics are certainly worth celebrating, but they are not the final destination. They are a starting point on a very long journey. Getting more diverse voices in the room can be misguided if the room still isn’t a safe space.

I personally have had to confront my own harmful beliefs, behaviors, privilege and fragility to be a better ally. As a white woman, I was formed by, but not aware of, systems of oppression while growing up. I used to believe racism was an individual problem perpetuated by “mean” people—not a deeply rooted systemic issue. I was, on rare occasions, exposed to racist comments, but didn’t recognize microaggressions. I knew there were racist people in the world, but didn’t realize just how much racism shaped the world we live in.

The systems that guide and govern our lives—from healthcare to education to how policy is created, how real estate is sold and how companies hire and operate—are all built on systems of oppression. Our country was founded and built on the backs and bodies of enslaved African Americans. Prior to that, the land was stolen from the Indigenous communities who called it home thousands of years before colonists arrived. This is a violent and appalling part of our nation’s history. While we cannot change what happened, we can do better every day from now on.

By 2018, I had been with the organization for three years and working throughout that time to add more racial diversity to our program members and approach our work through an environmental justice lens. We kept hitting a wall—a wall built by our own industry. No matter how hard we tried, we kept getting more of the same homogeneous job applicants, board member suggestions and white male “expert” panelists. I knew we needed help to make any progress.

Since 2018, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Consultant and expert Dr. Dwinita Mosby-Tyler of The HR Shop and The Equity Project has helped us examine how we repeat the cycle of oppression. She has worked with us to shape our practices with racial equity in mind. We began internally with our recruiting and hiring practices, equity training, employee handbook and team culture. During this time we also launched an initiative to rebuild our Board of Directors. We developed a skills and qualifications matrix and applied a racial equity lens. Through this, we built a board to help advance the work of the organization with racial, political, sexuality, spirituality and age diversity—something that had been lacking since our founding in 2004.

Dr. Mosby-Tyler also officially helped guide and craft The Alliance Center’s EDI (Equity, Diversity, Inclusion) strategy as part of our strategic planning process in 2019. In 2020, after years of our own internal equity journey, we launched our strategic plan with equity at the center.

This effort has since moved into our external work, helping to shape our programs and supporting us in making decisions through an equity lens. This includes a series of training sessions for our staff, board, tenants and Coalition members led by The Equity Project. We hope to continue transforming our well-meaning intentions into positive, helpful action that will keep pushing equity forward. It all starts with listening and learning with humility and vulnerability, and we can’t thank Dr. Mosby-Tyler and Ariana Flores enough for their willingness to work so deeply with us.

A sunset over a mountain trail.Our Future

Times of disruption are opportunities to reflect on the practices that have brought us to the present moment—to identify and nourish what works and release what no longer serves. The pandemic is only one of many crises facing our economy. Climate change, biodiversity loss and systemic racism and inequality are only a few of the headwinds faced by our economy. Built on unequal prosperity, our energy, food, infrastructure, economic and democratic institutions are more fragile than we knew. Some people say that they want things to return to normal, but for too many, “normal” didn’t work. It was degenerative and detrimental to both people and the planet.

We are now at a tipping point of deep societal change. The Alliance Center is harnessing this potential for systems level change through the Regenerative Recovery Coalition. The Coalition started through deep community listening in 2020, which generated the eight fundamentals of a regenerative recovery. Equity is central to them all: it is the foundation upon which we build. When I started tracking our audience demographics back in 2015, The Alliance Center’s audience achieved only 5% racial diversity. Now, through the work of the Coalition, we have improved that to at least 36%—better, but still not where we need to be. So, what are we doing now?

We will continue to work with Dr. Mosby-Tyler and her team at both The Equity Project and The HR Shop. The Equity Project is guiding us once again to develop an equity blueprint for our next strategic framework, which will take us through 2027. We continue to conduct EDI trainings and workshops for our staff, board, tenants and Coalition members. The HR Shop will continue to help with policy review and recruiting as we build our team for the growth ahead. We also developed an equity lens upon which we now vet all decisions and projects.

Our internal staff is continuing to develop the competencies and areas of expertise needed to advance our EDI work both internally and through our programs. Yet we are constantly on a learning journey to accomplish deeper and better EDI work. I have personally joined the Colorado Inclusive Economy, a group of CEOs, executives and equity champions supporting each other as we build specific EDI strategies into each of our organizations.

The next chapter for us includes a continual focus on internal improvement, intentional relationship building and partnering with stakeholders, frontline communities and organizations who are centering their work in equity. The Coalition is growing wings to scale across the nation in the years ahead, and we aim to do so as an antiracist organization helping to lead the regenerative movement.

The Alliance Center has always demonstrated sustainability in action. It’s now time we focus on regeneration in action, with equity at the center of everything we do. The journey ahead is one of healing: healing the centuries of embodied trauma we have bestowed upon ourselves, each other and the natural world.

With gratitude and appreciation,
Brenna Simmons-St. Onge

Why Vote?

The Alliance Center exists to bring people together to solve systemic problems. This often takes the form of powerful, cross-sector partnerships that drive innovative solutions. Through collaboration, we have influenced 44 state laws, revolutionized policy development, tested groundbreaking sustainable technology and amplified the work of hundreds of individuals and organizations striving to create meaningful change. 

This progress takes place year-round, but the outcomes of this work often hinge on one single day: Election Day. Although voting may seem like a purely individual act, it is actually an act of collaboration. By casting your vote, you join your voice with millions of other voices to build a better future for us all. Bold and comprehensive climate legislation, such as the Inflation Reduction Act, couldn’t find success without voters. Your vote is one of the most powerful tools for creating a significant, sustained transformation at both the local and federal levels.

This year, The Alliance Center endorses two ballot measures. Read more about the measures below, and please be sure to cast your vote this election season!

We Endorse

The Alliance Center endorses ballot measure 306. This zero waste initiative, championed by grassroots environmental group Waste No More Denver, will require all businesses—including apartment complexes, condos, restaurants, hospitals, hotels and sporting arenas—to provide compost and recycling pickup services. It will also require all construction and demolition waste to be sustainably managed. A whopping 82% of Denver’s waste comes from businesses, apartment and construction sites, so voting yes on ballot measure 306 will make an enormous difference in Denver’s environmental impact. In addition, ballot measure 306 will strengthen Denver’s economy by creating local green-collar jobs and will make sustainability more accessible by ensuring that every Denver resident can choose to recycle or compost. Vote YES on ballot measure 306!

The Alliance Center also endorses Proposition 123. Home and rental costs have outpaced the increase of wages and have made living in Colorado more expensive than ever before. Proposition 123 will seek to make Colorado more affordable by dedicating .01% of taxable income to building affordable homes and expanding home ownership opportunities for Coloradans. This will allow hardworking people to remain in the cities they call home, limiting urban sprawl and the increase of emissions, congestion and pollution that come with it. Proposition 123 explicitly prioritizes funding for high-density, mixed-use, environmentally sustainable projects. Vote YES on Proposition 123!

How to Vote

Election day is on November 8th, but early voting in Colorado can begin up to 15 days before election day. You can register to vote through Election Day! Check out Vote.org or the Go Vote Colorado webpage for information on registering to vote and finding early voting near you.

Midterm elections often see decreased voter turnout, though they remain as important as presidential elections in determining our collective future. Please remember to vote and encourage your loved ones to vote as well. Feel free to share this blog and its included resources far and wide.

Thank you for doing your part to build a better world! Systems level change is impossible without individual action. 

Healthy Soils and the Climate Crisis

Can we combat the climate crisis by paying more attention to… soil? 

Yes, we can! Transitioning to regenerative agricultural practices is one of the most effective solutions to the climate crisis, and soil health is a key component of regenerative agriculture. By storing more carbon and retaining more water, healthy soil improves the quality of our food and water, increases the resilience of our land and combats rising global temperatures. 

Unfortunately, due in part to wildfires, droughts and unsustainable land management practices, many farms and ranches in the US suffer from poor soil health. Our nation’s approach to farming has historically prioritized profits over the health of land and people, and we are now paying the price. The current system harms farmers and ranchers, consumers and the environment.

Luckily, there’s something we can do about it.

The Healthy Soils Challenge

A partnership between the Colorado Department of Agriculture, Zero Foodprint and The Alliance Center’s Regenerative Recovery Coalition, the Healthy Soils Challenge is a fundraising campaign for Restore Colorado, a program to help Colorado farmers and ranchers restore their land and implement climate smart agriculture. Just $48 can pull a literal ton of carbon out of the atmosphere—imagine what millions of dollars can do! Restore Colorado will team up with the state’s farmers and ranchers to plant cover crops, apply compost, manage rotational grazing and more.  

Restore Colorado’s first project will be the McCauley Family Farm. Check out the video below to learn more!

What You Can Do

Are you a farmer or rancher? Are you a chef or restaurant owner? Are you a diner or consumer? No matter your role in the food system—and we all have one—you can be part of the solution! 

Individuals can:

  • Donate to the Healthy Soils Challenge. 
  • Patronize businesses that have committed to contributing a few cents per meal to supporting regenerative agriculture.
  • Get involved in the Coalition’s other regenerative agriculture efforts. 

Business owners can:

  • Commit to contributing a few cents per meal to supporting regenerative agriculture.
  • Sponsor the Coalition’s regenerative agriculture efforts.

Farmers and ranchers can:

  • Reach out to the Coalition’s Director, Jolie Brawner, for more information on participating in or benefiting from our regenerative agriculture initiatives.

Everyone can:

  • Join the Regenerative Recovery Coalition, a cross-sector collaboration of organizations and individuals working to create a finer future.
  • Attend the Healthy Soils Launch Party on October 11th, 2022 from 6-9pm! This event, featuring food, drinks and inspiring conversations about building strong and resilient food systems, will kick off the Healthy Soils Challenge. Attendees will have a chance to network and connect with regenerative agriculture leaders, chefs, media outlets, funders, farmers, ranchers and government leaders, including Governor Polis. We hope to see you there! 

Last month, in a thrilling and unexpected move, the U.S. Congress successfully passed the Inflation Reduction Act. Although this bill addresses inflation, healthcare costs and more, it also happens to be the boldest and most comprehensive climate legislation in our country’s history. 

But what, precisely, does this mean? Where does the bill succeed and where does it fall short? What are the next steps for change agents in the environmental movement?

Where The Bill Succeeds

The Inflation Reduction Act has a number of monumental provisions targeting the climate crisis. These include:

  1. Tax credits to incentivize more energy efficient lifestyles. These tax credits will make things like electric vehicles, rooftop solar panels and housing retrofits more accessible to the general public.
  2. Funding for the manufacturing of solar panels, wind turbines, batteries and other clean energy technology. This funding will help reduce the price of these technologies and relieve supply chain bottlenecks.
  3. Tax credits and grants to decarbonize the economy. By incentivizing greener manufacturing processes and greener commercial vehicles, these provisions will reduce emissions across all sectors. 
  4. Funding to reduce environmental injustice. Among other things, this funding will invest in public transportation and air quality monitoring in the communities most affected by pollution.
  5. Investments in climate smart agriculture, forest restoration and land conservation. This funding will ensure that rural communities are at the forefront of climate solutions.

What an exciting moment in our country’s history! This legislation reflects decades of work  accelerated by The Alliance Center, our community and the greater environmental movement. We have long understood the importance of investing in green buildings and green technologies: our building is one of the most energy efficient buildings in all of LoDo, and our Living Laboratory program pilots innovative solutions to the climate crisis. Additionally, our multi-issue Regenerative Recovery Coalition drives action with a number of regenerative agriculture initiatives, including a healthy soils challenge and a series of farm tours that aim to foster urban-rural relationships. After many years of work on these issues, it is uplifting to see significant federal funding and attention directed toward them. 

Where The Bill Falls Short

Of course, the bill is not perfect. Unfortunately, it also contains provisions that reduce obstacles for fossil fuel projects. Oil and gas operations contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions and are a primary cause of air and water pollutants. Despite Colorado’s commitment to reducing emissions, we continue to be one of the top oil and gas producing states in the country. The Alliance Center remains committed to supporting workers through a managed decline of the fossil fuels industry, and we hope that federal policy will one day follow suit. Until then, the Regenerative Recovery Coalition will continue to spearhead projects devoted to a just transition for oil and gas, including an upcoming roundtable series and an analysis of the oil and gas sector in Colorado.

What Comes Next

This groundbreaking bill is certainly cause for celebration. However, the journey to reach this point was arduous and its outcome was never clear. The unpredictable process of passing this legislation only highlights the everlasting importance of sustained, local action. We still have a long way to go before we achieve our vision: a sustainable and equitable future in which all communities thrive, democracy is strong, the economy works for everyone and the planet is healthy.

It will be exciting to observe the positive effects of the Inflation Reduction Act. In the meantime, stay engaged! Join the Regenerative Recovery Coalition, attend our next capacity building event, donate to support our work. The movement still needs you.

Regenerative Agriculture in Action

What does regenerative agriculture look like? On a sunny Friday morning, half a dozen Regenerative Recovery Coalition members stand surrounded by 1,200 fruiting or useful trees or shrubs. An Australian Shepherd puppy named Pablo scampers after them. The ducks and chickens have been fed, the eggs have been collected and the sheep have been watered. A shy ten day old lamb, Theo, stands by the trough with his mama, near a shelter that was built entirely out of wood and clay from the land. 

The Coalition members move on to pick chamomile and calendula flowers. Like every other plant in the farm’s exotic forest garden, these flowers serve a purpose. They attract pollinators, deter pests and will later be dried in a solar-powered dehydrator to make teas and medicines. This land has been intentionally shaped to capture and distribute water effectively, leaving no need for irrigation. It produces drought resistant crops and is home to a variety of wildlife. 

A Coalition member supports regenerative agriculture by holding a basket filled with chamomile flowers and spreading them out on a solar dehydrator.

Welcome to Elk Run Farm, a project of Drylands Agroecology Research (DAR).  DAR is one of the 370+ Regenerative Recovery Coalition members banding together to create a regenerative future. At The Alliance Center, we are often asked what the word regenerative means and why we sometimes use it over the word sustainable. To understand the difference, look no further than Elk Run Farm. The farm’s previously dry and barren landscape has not been sustained, it has been regenerated. It has been restored, renewed and transformed into a lush and self-sustaining ecosystem through holistic land management practices.

Efforts to Support the Movement 

Regenerative agriculture is an important solution to the climate crisis, because it draws carbon out of the atmosphere and helps restore the carbon cycle. But it can often be out of reach for many farmers and ranchers. The Coalition’s Regenerative Agriculture Working Group aims to change that. From field work to policy work, the Coalition has several initiatives dedicated to uplifting the regenerative agriculture movement in Colorado.

In addition to hosting volunteer days with Elk Run Farm, the Coalition has partnered with the Colorado Department of Agriculture and Zero Foodprint to develop a statewide Healthy Soils Challenge. This challenge will generate funding from the private sector to support farmers as they implement practices such as composting, cover cropping and no-till farming.

The Coalition is also working to foster a sense of community among regenerative agriculture proponents. To do so, the Coalition will host an annual series of farm tours. These will build a network of climate smart practitioners in Colorado, connect people to the food they eat and help bridge the urban/rural divide. 

Finally, the Coalition promotes and influences regenerative agriculture policies in Colorado through our annual policy platforms and legislative endorsements.

Get Involved!

Are you a farmer, rancher or otherwise involved in the regenerative agriculture movement? Please join the Coalition and reach out to our Coalition Director, Jolie Brawner, to explore opportunities for partnering with us. Are you interested in learning more about regenerative agriculture? We encourage you to join the Coalition, participate in the Regenerative Agriculture Working Group and/or keep your eyes peeled for our next Elk Run Farm volunteer day! 

In just two legislative sessions, the Regenerative Recovery Coalition has contributed to the passing of more than 40 new Colorado state laws. Together, these laws have directed almost a billion dollars in state funding toward regenerative projects! This volume and breadth of influence is nearly unparalleled. How does the Coalition affect legislation on everything from air quality to waste diversion to affordable housing? What do the Coalition’s efforts actually entail, and can they be replicated in other states? To answer this, we must learn more about the Coalition’s unique, innovative approach: crowdsourced policy. 

How It Works

Before each legislative session, Coalition members submit their bold, transformational policy ideas through a Google Doc and then digitally collaborate to refine and rank the submissions. The resulting product is an expansive policy platform that represents the interests of a diverse group of citizens. This process was developed in spring of 2021 when the Coalition was asked by Speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives, Alec Garnett, to produce a stimulus project list to help guide the allocation of ARPA funds. After mobilizing through Google Docs, over 200 policy ideas were generated by the Coalition in just one week!

Once the policy platform is finalized, the Coalition works to share it with key influencers and decision makers. Coalition members meet with legislators, testify on legislative committees and distribute the platform across the Colorado House, Senate and the state administration. In some cases the Coalition does officially endorse policy and carry out grassroots lobbying, but more often the Coalition advocates for regenerative values over specific policies. If the Coalition’s efforts are successful, numerous bills that align with its policy platform will be signed into law! This year, the Coalition’s co-founder, Brenna Simmons-St.Onge, was invited by Governor Polis to a dozen bill signing ceremonies in recognition of the Coalition’s legislative role. 

Why It’s Important

A bill signing ceremony for a law influenced by the Coalition's crowdsourced policy platform.

The U.S. government strives to be “of the people, by the people and for the people”. However, many often go unrepresented in policymaking, especially low income people and people of color. Many American citizens do not have the knowledge or connections necessary to influence policy. The Regenerative Recovery Coalition, with its diverse, cross sector membership and its innovative approach, is working to change this. Through the Coalition, anybody interested in building a regenerative future can join us and make their voices heard. Last winter, Speaker Garnett praised the Coalition. “From zero to sixty in a flash, they have mobilized a powerful coalition and partnered with the legislature in a new and refreshing way to help drive systems change,” he said.

Crowdsourced policy is new but not unprecedented. Around the world, from France to Malaysia to Taiwan, innovators are experimenting with crowdsourcing as a method of civic engagement. Indeed, the Coalition’s process is entirely replicable. In 2021 we were awarded a grant from the Hewlett Foundation to write a replication playbook! The Regenerative Recovery Coalition looks forward to leading this charge across the United States. Please learn more, join us and/or reach out to the Coalition’s director, Jolie Brawner, at jbrawner@thealliancecenter.org to otherwise get involved.

Read our 2022 Policy Platform and 2022 Legislative Recap.

Read our Guide to a Regenerative Recovery and 2021 Legislative Recap.

 

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!