Colo. native returns home to organize for W. Colo. Congress |

Colo. native returns home to organize for W. Colo. Congress

Sharon Sullivan
Sharon Sullivan | Free Press
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Emily Hornback was introduced at an early age to community activism, growing up in the old mining town of Montezuma, population 80.

Hornback was 6 when she first heard about a potential land swap between the U.S. Forest Service and the Interwest Ski Corporation. She remembers attending meetings with her parents and seeing her neighbors active in the governance process. The ski company’s proposed expansion would have reached the town’s boundaries, Hornback said.

“The community didn’t want that,” she said. “Our little town took on a big international company.

“It left a big impression on my mind and I’ve been active ever since.”

Hornback graduated from Colorado State University with degrees in anthropology and Spanish. She spent a semester in Bolivia where she gained fluency in Spanish and watched Bolivians participate in their political process. She became inspired to be more active in her home country.

Hornback, 29, became an organizer with Western Colorado Congress in February, after working six years for another nonprofit based in Maine called the Beehive Design Collective.

The collective is an art and education group that uses narrative mural techniques to talk about controversial issues. She traveled through Appalachia — Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee and Virginia — conducting interviews of people impacted by mountain-top removal coal mining.

Stories are drawn and printed on fabric and used for education of various groups such as schools, churches and community groups.

“We bring stories alive through art,” Hornback said.

She said learning about coal and energy issues is what led Hornback to return to her native Colorado.

As an organizer for WCC, Hornback is focusing on uranium and public lands issues. She said she is learning what the concerns are of the community and will work to ensure the public has an active voice regarding issues affecting them.

“WCC was born out of these communities,” Hornback said. “We empower communities to take on complex issues and find common-sense solutions. I’m proud to be a part of it.”

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