Locals launch a community platform on local issues
Local Realtors Alexandra George and Peter Grenney recently launched a new public policy interest group to better engage locals with local issues.
Aspen Deserves Better is in its fledgling season as a platform for information on local issues, but founders George and Grenney say they see its future as a place for local experts and community members to contribute to the town’s historical record.
“We’re trying to build a library of facts on local issues to facilitate a conversation in the community,” Grenney said. “We think conversation is community building.”
The site, aspendeservesbetter.com, hosts pages for nine major issues for Aspenites, including: APCHA housing, child care, and “Aspen homeowner.”
There is a “Wikipedia-style” fact sheet on each issue’s page, written by George and Grenney with input from experts, they said.
“We’re asking, not necessarily for the community to be watchdogs, but for people to share what they’re passionate about,” George said. “So we’re less the experts but more providing this platform to get organized. And you know, lend the platform to a bunch of different voices.”
They also said that they will include local voices and opinions on the pages, and that they will measure their success by the diversity of voices included on each topic.
“We’re hoping with the summaries on each topic, somebody can go on (the website) that’s new to town or interested in understanding the lay of the land a little bit better,” Grenney said. “They can see a summary of the issue and then we’re going to have a weekly or biweekly newsletter, with just new information on those topics as we get information from the experts in the community.”
The site also has a link to redirect viewers to the Pitkin County voter registration website. Encouraging civic engagement is part of the goal of Aspen Deserves Better, they said .
By launching the site and opening input to any and all community members, George and Grenney hope to fill gaps they see in local news coverage or local government press releases on key issues.
It also may be something local elected officials can lean on when looking for community opinion on certain proposals, they said.
“Something that you couldn’t expect an article or a news clipping or just passers-by on the street to be able to portray (is) really what we’re trying to accomplish. And the way that we plan to do that is by getting more people involved in this conversation,” George said. “And the more people that we have (provide) a bit more anecdotal evidence, more dimension, more perspective, hopefully what that yields is a better conversation and, in doing so, ultimately better processes and a better community.”
To fact-check the community comments they gather, George and Grenney said they will rely on community input.
“We’ve already had somebody say, ‘Hey, this isn’t entirely accurate.’ We looked at it. We changed it on the website,” Grenney said. “We’re really going to be relying on expert sources, and we’ll continue to modify (the site) until it’s 100% accurate.”
George is a broker in Aspen and led the effort to create and sell The Aspen Cookbook, a collection of Roaring Fork Valley recipes. Proceeds supported the local restaurant industry through a grant program. She has lived in the valley since 2015.
Grenney is a broker, as well, with Snowmass Sotheby’s International Realty. He has served on the Wheeler Advisory Board.
“We’ve already had a great response from people that have reached out that said, ‘This is a big issue or this is information you need to post or share,’” Grenney said. “So, we’re excited to hear from more people to fill out this platform with the big issues in the community and with any facts and information they want to share.”
Last month, the City Council adopted 49 amendments to the International Building Code that will go into effect April 1 — no joke.