WANTED: Community Leaders!

If you are reader of the Our Town blog, I bet you love Glenwood Springs, love being “in the know” about the issues facing our town, and want to make a positive impact in our community.  If any of those things are true about you, you really ought to consider applying for the upcoming Glenwood Springs Community Development Academy, a dynamic training program sponsored by the Sonoran Institute and the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association

What would you learn in this program?  Over eight weekly sessions, you will discuss choices and issues facing Glenwood Springs, as well as the role of effective leadership and decision-making in creating successful communities.  Have you ever wondered how transportation-related decisions affect business viability?  Or how housing choices are connected to economic development?  Or what a community can do to nurture leadership and public engagement for sound decision-making?  And what can we as a community be doing RIGHT NOW to address all of these questions?

You will be able to explore these pressing questions (and more!) with regional experts in the Glenwood Springs Community Development Academy. 

The course will take place on Monday nights in Glenwood Springs from 5:30pm – 8:00pm from September 16 to November 4.  The cost for the 8-week course is $100, which includes all materials and catered dinners.  Limited scholarships are available for the course, so don’t let the price tag scare you off if you are interested in participating.

Heads up – class size is limited and applications must be received by 5pm on Friday, September 6.  For further information, please contact Jillian Sutherland at the Sonoran Institute by calling 970-384-4364 extension 4002 or by email at jsutherland@sonoraninstitute.org.

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Participants from the 2012 Garfield County CDA explore redevelopment concepts with Chuck Perry, a nationally-recognized expert in community based planning.

What is “Small Town Character”?

Confluence Area from Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park tram

Confluence Area from Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park tram

Well, it’s been a quiet week in Lake Wobegone . . . er . . . Glenwood Springs . . .

My sincere apologies to Garrison Keillor. This blog lacks the eloquence of Mr. Keillor’s musings but, in some very small way, perhaps serves a similar purpose – simply informing the local folks about what is going on around town – particularly concerning local concerns. No, we don’t have a Chatterbox Café but we have the always popular Daily Bread. We have no Bertha’s Kitty Boutique, but we have the caring staff of All Dogs and Cats Animal Hospital. We also don’t have a Ralph’s Pretty Good Grocery but we have a fantastic Downtown Drug. Come to think of it, Glenwood Springs IS the quintessential small town America. We have the best of all worlds, right here, squeezed between some red mountains and roaring rivers. Lake Woebegone should be so lucky!

I attended a couple of meetings this week that simply drove the fact that Glenwood Springs is what all the urban planners or smart growth advocates mean when they talk about small town character. While working on the 2011 Comprehensive Plan we debated the meaning of “small town character” and while a dictionary definition is elusive, a definition by example is crystal clear. Let me see if I can illustrate.

Wednesday evening the Sonoran Institute, an organization fondly described to me (NOT by me) as “responsible tree-huggers” but self described on their web site as “Shaping the Future of the West” facilitated a community goal setting meeting for what locals know as the “Confluence Area.” This confluence area has been delineated as a roughly 23 acre area bordered on the west by the Roaring Fork River, on the north by the Colorado River and – depending on who you talk with – an area encompassing School Street to the east and extending to 11th or 12th on the south. It is a mixture of public and private land whose potential has been unlocked by the relocation of the City’s sewer treatment plant.

Google Maps - Confluence Area

Google Maps – Confluence Area

I have participated in a few exercises and programs that the Sonoran has facilitated and Clark Anderson and Jillian Sutherland did, as usual, an amazing job of keeping the focus of the group on the task at hand. Through a grant by the Gates Family Foundation, the Sonoran Institute, in collaboration with the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) and the City of Glenwood have been successful in bringing in some outstanding consultants, Jim Charlier of Charlier Associates as well as Tim Van Meter a partner, architect & urban designer at Van Meter Williams Pollack and a lecturer for the University of Colorado Leeds School of Business to assist in this endeavor. They are working with a group of various stakeholders from throughout the community to explore, develop and recommend opportunities for this area.

At this meeting plenty of ideas were discussed through a guided conversation and some team activities. You could feel the excitement and optimism building as the evening progressed. I heard several comments from various participants to the effect that it was encouraging that people with often differing views on many things were able to agree on major goals for this area.

Light bulb!!!!

THIS is small town character!!! People working elbow to elbow in cramped City Council chambers, pouring over some graphics of a triangular piece of land literally in the heart of town, discussing, disagreeing, putting forth ideas, listening and finally being able to agree on some key principals of what this area means to this community. These are some of the same people who have been at loggerheads over other issues in town – but – as a community – a true kinship is forged. This is small town character. This is Glenwood Springs. Eat your heart out Lake Wobegone!