Rocky Mountain Sustainable Living Fair: Ideas slowly into action

Last year I went to the Rocky Mountain Sustainable Living Fair, biking back and forth, and I’ve been looking forward to this year’s event ever since. Nothing earthshaking or of immediate import happened last year, but I had a fine "day off" and learned about new things that I’ve slowly but surely been able to implement. Same sense this year.

One of my goals is to get solar panels on my house. So far, I haven’t been able to find a way to afford them. (Fantasy: a booth with a sign that says, "You provide the roof. We provide the power." There was an outfit that was close to that offer last year, which worked because the excess power was sold by the panel-provider back to the grid, although the start-up costs were still beyond my budget.)

Another connection I located last year provides locally recycled printer cartridges. I’ve recently managed to shift to using their products in my printers—it takes a while to make such a change. Part of making this particular shift involved connecting with the suppliers when they’re open . . . no weekend hours, and my weekdays are pretty crammed with work. So are my weekends, come to think of it. . . .

Recently I read in Edible Front Range about SPIN farming, the use of suburban land that would ordinarily be covered with lawn for the production of food. SPIN in this case stands for Small Plot Intensive farming. My type of spinning involves fiber, but this kind is extremely intriguing as well. There’s no way that I have time to take on a major gardening project
(beyond my plants on the deck), but I’d sure rather look at a garden
than deal with so-called lawn, which isn’t an appropriate use of space
or water in a semi-arid climate.

The article mentioned that the initial steps of such a project were being undertaken in the city where I live, although there was no contact name. After reading through the property-providers’ guidelines for the Boulder project (our space qualifies), I e-mailed Kipp Nash, who is coordinating the Boulder efforts, who forwarded my message to someone in our county offices here who is just at the initial stages of developing a resource list of interested people. She asked if I’d be willing to be a guinea pig on a collaborative mapping project, I said yes, and our site is the first on the list of available spaces. However, it’s hard to tell how long it will take the local interest to reach critical mass since so far there are only about seven people on the mailing list for the mapping.

While at the fair, I was talking with my friend (and fellow shape-note singer) Hill, who is spearheading a local food project called the Northern Colorado Food Incubator. (I wish there was a similar business-support effort for very small publishers: I could use it.)

Our conversation naturally came to the point that anyone who wants to start this type of farming in our area needs to be locating space and beginning to prepare the soil and plan crops now if they have any hope of getting it off the ground (pun intended) next year. Hill’s on the county-person’s guinea-pig list for the development of the map and knew that I was interested in this. We talked about accelerating the communication to see if we can jumpstart the effort. I’m going to be sending him info on our space and he’s going to send it to his mailing list and we’ll see if anyone bites.

Maybe by the time of the fair next year we’ll have instigated a bit more change in the local food scene. . . . Hill’s effort is already well on track. I’d like to be part of a parallel project, while continuing primary work on my own passion of writing and publishing and textiles.

A whole lot of potential:


A whole lot of potential from another direction:


It might look pretty much the same next year. It might not.


Three days a week, I leave my office and spend a couple of hours at a coffee shop or the library, where I can focus on one or another task without many interruptions. On Monday mornings, the coffee shop of choice is part of a renovated building that contains offices with a shared receptionist in the front lobby. The receptionist puts a different quote in a frame on her desk every day. Here’s today’s, which seems like a particularly appropriate follow-up to the overall atmosphere at the Rocky Mountain Sustainable Living Fair:

  • "Nothing strengthens the judgment and quickens the conscience like individual responsibility." —Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902)

5 thoughts on “Rocky Mountain Sustainable Living Fair: Ideas slowly into action”

  1. That’s an impressive amount of green you’ve got there given the climate. I’m surprised your backyard isn’t all brown! Lovely flat big yard!

    So, you don’t have too much to do as it is? Are you really thinking about taking care of a garden or whatever it is that your backyard might be turned into? Seriously? Last I checked, there were only 24 hours in a day and I figure you’re already using most of them. Where will you find the time?

  2. I have long thought this was a great idea! I will be excited to see if it comes to fruition in your yard.:) In the meanwhile, I took time off on a sunny day to go to the farmer’s market, library, and get a haircut. It is amazing how a few hours off can restore one’s well being. I am now going to attempt to do some work soak up some more sunshine. Your suggestion to me was right on,too–a couple of naps and good nights’ sleep later, I am beginning to feel more chipper!

  3. Just checking in. I’ve been behind on a lot of blog reading lately and so I just caught up with you for about a month. Things are busy. SOAR is coming and I have lots to do before I leave. Love you book sketches and I love reading about your putting it all together.

    The gardening…I have not one inch of sunny patch in my yard. I’d better rent some space from the neighbor:-)

  4. If your SPIN effort would like some good 1/1/1 mulch, the llamas are producing it in mass quantities that could easily be gathered for use in soil amendment!

    Tell me more about the effort–now that I can picture where the non-pasture areas might be, it would be great to join!

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