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 floods, 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 Assistant Director, Jolie Brawner, for more information on participating in or benefiting from our regenerative agriculture initiatives.

Everyone can:

  • 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 (CDA) and Zero Foodprint (ZFP) 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!

 

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.