Fort Collins celebrates 20 years of climate action

Marshall Dunham

Man talking in front of crowd
Fort Collins Mayor Wade Troxell addresses kids in the front row at the Lincoln Center on Nov. 14. The City of Fort Collins partnered with Colorado State University’s School of Global Environmental Sustainability to celebrate 20 years of climate action. (Skyler Pradhan | The Collegian)

With a party featuring a panel of multiple generations, as well as roughly 25 booths hosted by various community groups, Fort Collins celebrated 20 years of climate action in the community on Thursday. 

The City partnered with Colorado State University’s School of Global Environmental Sustainability to put on the event, which garnered nearly 300 RSVPs, at the Lincoln Center.

Ad

The multi-generational panel consisted of six individuals, ranging from Fort Collins Environmental Services Director Lucinda Smith to Dunn Elementary School first-grader Charlotte Kirkpatrick.

Abby Miller, a sophomore at Rocky Mountain High School, and Zahra Al-Saloom, a graduate student in the department of political science at CSU, also sat on the panel, and Javier Echeverria, sustainability specialist at Motherlove Herbal Company, and Aaron Fodge, alternative transportation manager at CSU, rounded out the panel.

The panel kicked off with the younger panel members talking about ways an individual could help the environment.

“Ride your bike to school,” Kirkpatrick said. “If you see trash out on the ground, pick it up.”

It’s going to take everyone’s point of view. If we’re all together, we’ll go much further.” -Javier Echeverria, sustainability specialist, Motherlove Herbal Company

Miller added that it’s important that individuals get involved wherever and whenever possible.

“There are so many amazing organizations here today,” Miller said. “Find one that interests you, one that you’re passionate about, and get involved.”

Al-Saloom and Echeverria talked about what they think whenever they hear someone mention a sustainable Fort Collins.

“The broader picture for a sustainable Fort Collins involves meeting all of our goals,” Echeverria said. “We need clean air, clean water and enough water.”

Echeverria also added that a sustainable city is a place with diversity, inclusion and equity. He also pointed out that it is important to reach people that may not be as involved in the sustainability community.

Musicians performing
Live music being performed at Fort Collins’ celebration of 20 years of climate action in the Lincoln Center on Nov. 14. Live music was among many festivities at the event including interactive booths, food, prize drawings and discussions about the City’s climate future. (Skyler Pradhan | The Collegian)

“It’s going to take everyone’s point of view,” Echeverria said. “If we’re all together, we’ll go much further.”

Ad

Al-Saloom pointed out that, as Fort Collins continues to lead the charge in climate change action and sustainability, it’s important not to leave other communities and individuals behind.

“Oftentimes, we’re so forward-thinking in the process of being greener, we sometimes forget about those that can’t keep up with the process of those transitions,” Al-Saloom said.

Smith and Fodge discussed what they were most proud of when it comes to Fort Collins and sustainability.

“I’m really proud to be sitting next to Lucinda (Smith),” Fodge said. “Twenty years later, seeing this climate action plan, you made this happen, and we’re all really proud of it. Twenty years later, it’s still hard to believe it.”

He went on to say that he was also extremely proud of the City as a whole.

The panel closed by receiving questions from the audience, followed by a section in which children in the audience explained how they and their families are practicing sustainability. 

“My dad throws dead plants in the ground to help the soil,” said one child referencing composting.

Many children pointed out that they often ride their bikes to school and recycle.

“My family has an electric car,” another child said. “It doesn’t use gas, so the Earth doesn’t get hotter.”

Toward the end of the event, one audience member asked if the City intends to do anything about plastic bags.

I love this City because we say, ‘What’s next?’ and from a climate action standpoint, we have one of the most aggressive climate action plans in the country. I credit the City of Fort Collins for getting involved early.” -Aaron Fodge, alternative transportation manager, CSU

“You’ll be pleased to know that looking at plastics is a priority for the City Council,” Smith said. “We’re looking at a range of policy options, and we have a work session scheduled for our City Council to talk about it in February of next year.”

Booth with items
The nonprofit group Trees, Water, & People at Fort Collins’ celebration of 20 years of climate action in the Lincoln Center on Nov. 14. The nonprofit group is dedicated to reforestation and the distribution of clean cookstoves and other clean energy products to reduce the use of natural resources for energy creation. (Skyler Pradhan | The Collegian)

Another audience member asked if the City plans to have any car-free days in the future, suggesting they be held once a month and those that have to drive fill their cars to capacity with carpoolers.

“From a transportation perspective, as much as I’d love for everyone to ride their bikes, I think a key tenant of sustainability is trying to meet people where they are,” Fodge said. “Hopefully they’re traveling in a conscientious way, and there are certainly actions that the City will have to take to on the transportation side to reduce greenhouse gases.”

With this, Fodge said the City needs to figure out what is unique to everyone in terms of how they travel. This could mean riding a bike, hopping on a bus or even supporting the City’s public transit system. In any case, everyone’s unique needs cannot resolve to a one-size-fits-all solution.

“I love this City because we say, ‘What’s next?’ and from a climate action standpoint, we have one of the most aggressive climate action plans in the country,” Fodge said. “I credit the City of Fort Collins for getting involved early.”

Marshall Dunham can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @gnarshallfunham.