Trying to ‘be prepared,’ but unsure what for | AspenTimes.com

Trying to ‘be prepared,’ but unsure what for

John Colson

Forward-thinking activists in the Roaring Fork Valley seem to be getting ready for something big, something possibly cataclysmic, although putting a single name on the dreaded future event is hard to do.Headlines over the past week, both locally and nationally, have clearly indicated this concern.For example, one story dealt with a festival focused on a growing perception of the need to return to a food production system founded on renewability, low-tech rather than high-tech methods, and short-distance distribution instead of trucking unripe foods around in diesel-belching behemoths while chemicals hasten the ripening process.There were also the stories about the Rocky Mountain Institute turning 25 this year.The Snowmass-based think tank pulled out all the stops with the kind of symposia and parties normally reserved for venture capitalists congratulating each other on their recent gains in the stock market.And the speechifying included statements by captains of industry that being green is good for business, which more than anything else signaled the success of RMI’s chief brainiac, Amory Lovins, in convincing the barons of commerce that there is money to be made by being environmentally responsible and energy-efficient.Then there was the appearance in the midvalley of aging eco-warrior Ernest Callenbach, whose 1975 book “Ecotopia” helped spawn the German Green Party in the late 1970s and a worldwide wave of environmental awareness that is still in motion today. The events where he talked were sponsored by a relatively unknown group called Carbondale Economic Localization, which is dedicated to the proposition that the best communities are those that stress local production of goods and services, as opposed to the globalization of everything.Also in Carbondale, a small band of determined organizers have created something called the Carbondale Community Food Co-op, which states its founding principle as “a need to have healthy, affordable organic food” available to local consumers. The co-op has been active for some time, but is hoping to expand its influence by finding a storefront where it can offer its wares to its membership and to the general public.Up and down the valley, communities, organizations and individuals have for years been seeking ways to reduce energy use and make use of renewable energy resources, as a way of both doing their part to reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil and reducing their own “carbon footprints” at the same time.On a broader note, it was an interesting coincidence that The Aspen Institute last week brought some leaders from the New Orleans area to talk about how things are going in the Crescent City two years after Katrina blew the town down and blew the wheels off the mythical emergency preparedness image of the U.S. government.As the rest of the nation watches New Orleans and the Gulf Coast struggle back from Katrina’s whammy, we cannot help but compare that region’s plight with the capacity of the nation as a whole to deal with catastrophic occurrences. And we’re not just talking about cyclonic storm surges here, but a whole host of potential problems that could put a serious crimp in our lavish lifestyle – lavish, at least, compared to the rest of the world, even if you or I might not view our lives that way.The old Boy Scout motto, “Be Prepared,” is something that seems to be taking root here in the valley, just as it is in other locales around the nation, even as it becomes crystal clear that most of those in charge were either never in the Boy Scouts or ignored everything they learned there.So, as noted at the beginning of this screed, we all seem to be getting ready for something, even if we can’t put a finger on what, exactly, that “something” is. And this growing trend, perhaps more than anything else, should remind us all of why we put up with the various difficulties we face in living high in the Rockies, far from the crowded cities, vulnerable coasts and troubled plains.I can’t be alone when I think with a mixture of pride and stubbornness, “This is where I make my stand.”John Colson can be reached at jcolson@aspentimes.com

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