Good examples of collaboration in Valley
Post Independent Staff
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” The communities in the Roaring Fork and Colorado River valleys are “great examples of the West growing up,” according to Daniel Kemmis, former mayor of Missoula, Mont., and an expert on public policy, land use and community building.
“This is a heck of a good example of getting it done right,” Kemmis said of collaborative work being done in the Roaring Fork and Colorado River Valley communities.
Kemmis spoke at the Hotel Colorado Friday as part of the second annual State of the Valley Symposium, hosted by Healthy Mountain Communities, a nonprofit Carbondale-based community organization headed by Colin Laird.
Kemmis made his presentation, “New Visions Governing the West,” to about 120 residents, business leaders and elected officials. The symposium was open to the public and cost $65 for the day-long event.
Grand Junction Mayor Jim Spehar, a Democrat who’s running for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District seat, introduced Kemmis to the crowd, describing Kemmis as his mentor and teacher.
“There’s a lot of Western mythology surrounding the rugged individual,” Spehar said. “What Dan has taught me is that you can’t do it individually. RFTA and the valley’s affordable housing projects are examples of that. You need to concentrate on what unites you ” on what you have in common. Communities need to collaborate. That’s the gospel according to Daniel.”
Kemmis’ presentation followed brief reports from regional organizations working on valley-wide issues. (See related story.)
“I see you all have an obvious commitment to the region as a whole,” Kemmis said. “Even though the people in this room are from many different communities, you’re working effectively together. Give yourselves credit for how far you’ve come.”
He said the West’s aridity, and the region’s dependence on limited sources of water, are key factors in dealing with local community needs like affordable housing, transportation and land use planning.
“All of these things are affected by our need for water. It’s important to understand our interrelationships with watersheds,” he said. “At this point in history, people are realizing the importance of watersheds and the importance of working together. It’s a phenomenon of historical proportions that’s happening right here in this room, and in this valley.
“We’ve had a set way of doing things, and now we’ve had time to understand what works and what really doesn’t work,” said Kemmis.
“I want to leave you with this thought,” Kemmis said. “Personally, I have great faith in the West. People like you are taking responsibility for a highly impressive level of citizenship.
“Maybe you had an idea before that somebody was going to make all of this work ” but there’s nobody there,” Kemmis added. “We’re going to have to do it ourselves. That awareness has dawned on a lot of people ” and that’s good news.”
Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext. 518
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