Focus of new nonprofit group is building local community
A new Glenwood Springs-based nonprofit organization has grown out of the fruitful local presence of another group that has helped leaders shape communities here in the Roaring Fork Valley and across the western United States.
Clark Anderson, an Eagle County native who formerly headed up the Arizona-based Sonoran Institute’s Glenwood Springs office, has officially broken off to form the new Community Builders.
“The decision really emerged over the last couple of years after we started Community Builders as an initiative within the Sonoran Institute,” Anderson said.
Through that program, the local team of researchers, planners, leadership trainers and facilitators has focused on issues ranging from housing, land use and transportation across the western states to new ways of thinking about economic development.
Community Builders will continue that effort and step up its efforts on the training front, but on a more limited regional scale focusing on Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.
“We gained so much traction in local communities, and the program was growing so fast that we had more demand than we could keep up with,” Anderson said.
“We’re still committed to working with communities to help them understand and diagnose their own problems and help find own solutions,” he said.
Anderson, through the Sonoran Institute, has been heavily involved in helping the city of Glenwood Springs update and revise its Confluence Area Master Plan, focusing on a group of public and privately owned parcels near the confluence of the Roaring Fork and Colorado rivers.
City Council and the Downtown Development Authority recently retained Community Builders to continue that effort as the Grand Avenue Bridge construction and new Glenwood Springs Elementary School project get under way.
A recent similar project in Eagle identified ways to connect that community’s downtown area to the Eagle River, Anderson said.
The new organization is also developing new trainings on housing and redevelopment, new research projects on housing affordability and regional trends, and expanded assistance programs, Anderson said.
Other upcoming initiatives will be focused on coming up with new ways to create affordable, or attainable housing, identifying transportation needs, and creating safe walking and biking routes in local communities, he said.
“Ultimately, our goal is to create stronger, more livable communities around the west,” Anderson said.
In addition to Anderson, the core team at Community Builders includes Jillian Sutherland and Kathy Trauger, who sits on Glenwood Springs City Council, in the Glenwood office. John Lavey and Alison Berry staff the Bozeman, Montana office, and Cameron Ellis is in Hailey, Idaho.
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Roaring Fork School District board candidates shared their views at a Monday forum hosted by the Glenwood Springs Chamber, and will do so again Wednesday prior to the regular school board meeting.