Kudos and Kindness

Football help is much appreciated

My name is Kevin Espinoza. I played for the Aspen 2 team of the Three Rivers Youth Football League this fall. I really had a great time, and I hope I can play again next year.

I would like to thank the Elks Lodge No. 224 for sponsoring us and the league for making it possible. Also, I would like to thank the Aspen Parks Department for letting us use its fields for our games and practices. Thanks to all of the coaches for not giving up on us.

Thanks to all of the people who helped us get better at football. I hope you guys can help us out again next year.

Kevin Espinoza

Sixth grade, Aspen Middle School

Off to a great start

Western Colorado entrepreneurs can be found in every town. Aspen is a prime example. Harry Teague shared his experiences at Startup Weekend Aspen. He began by saying everyone in Aspen was an entrepreneur at the time he started out. Teague designed the amazingly beautiful venue at the Aspen Music Festival and School campus.

Tania Dibbs’ talk connected with the 90 entrepreneurs and 20 guests on many levels. An incredible story of struggle and success!

Marc Ostofsky generously shared insights published and unpublished with eager entrepreneurs. Everyone received a copy of “Get Rich Click!” a New York Times best-seller that details how social networks and targeted ads can be extremely useful to startups.

Friends told me Aspen events often come down to the wire and then folks decide and go. Co-organizer Jon Fox-Rubin and I set our sights for this inaugural event at 60 participants. Ninety got in. Friday, Saturday and Sunday were a little stretched, but we managed it. One hundred percent of respondents to our survey said they’d recommend Startup Weekend Aspen to an entrepreneur.

I personally know how difficult it can be for tech startups to find roots in the valley. I moved my Aspen-based broadband Internet/DSL startup to California to find the resources we needed to be successful. Aspen was the first place in the nation with low-cost broadband. I’d have preferred to stay in western Colorado.

The first Startup Weekend was a rousing success, according to those who attended. Thirty-two ideas were presented by attendees in a one-minute pitch. The crowd voted, and 10 where chosen. Notably, six of the 10 were led by women! We made a special effort to contact businesswomen and offered a 20 percent discount on the $99 ticket (included seven meals, snacks and all the coffee you could drink)!

Students were encouraged to attend with a 50 percent discount. I and Mary Cate Hauenstein, a local pro yoga instructor, talked over a yoga stretch for entrepreneurs. I’d never seen a yoga stretch at the four Startup Weekends I attended, but given the Aspen Idea of mind, body and spirit, it was perfect for us. The turnout for morning stretch was impressive; most participated. I did, and I felt invigorated. Launching a startup isn’t without stress. It’s possible yoga was part of the reason we had no attraction. Each team worked to the Sunday presentation. The winning teams, Sneak Peak and Rental Ease, received contributions of time from Laszlo Law and Marcos Rodriguez, expertise they can use to move forward.

Startup Weekend is a 501(c)(3), and as lead organizer, I am a volunteer, just as Jon Fox-Rubin and Scott Courts are. Don’t worry that you missed Startup Weekend. Startup Weekend Aspen will be back April 25.

It was great to see so many community activists, entrepreneurs, teachers, coaches and mentors there. When I decided to bring Startup Weekend to Aspen back in June, I knew our community would rally, and rally we did. Thank you!

Alex Huppenthal


Here for our health

I am writing to thank our amazing community, which joined together to make Food Day on Oct. 24 in Aspen Elementary School and Middle School a huge success. Food Day is a nationwide celebration and movement toward healthier diets and a sustainable- and affordable-food system in America.

With sky-high rates of childhood obesity — at the same time that millions of children have limited access to healthy, fresh food — teaching children about the benefits of a nutritious diet and how to eat healthfully is invaluable to the success of our students.

Every student in Aspen Elementary School and Middle School was presented with a free tasting of local, healthy, sustainable food prepared by local chefs, vendors and volunteers.

Aspen Elementary students were served table-side, by the Parent-Teacher Organization, a sample tasting of lamb meatball that was raised and processed by Crystal River Meats and Rock Bottom Ranch/Aspen Center for Environmental Studies in our very own valley. It was served on top of mac and cheese made by local chef Jaime Theriot, of Smoke Modern BBQ, with the support of Michael Masciocchi.

Aspen Middle School students were exposed to four tasting stations that included: Wendy Mitchell’s Avalanche Cheese Co. cheese samplings; salad from Randy Placeres, of Nutrition Cafe; lamb meatballs from Carbondale-raised lamb by Crystal River Meats and processed by Jason Smith, director of Rock Bottom Ranch; and fresh-pressed apple cider on site by ACES’ Peter Arthur and the students of Aspen Middle School, using apples coming locally from Paonia being donated by Jack Reed.

We were also fortunate to have the support from Steve Bartolacci, of Shamrock Foods Co., in giving generously to make the event happen.

But most importantly, a special thank-you to the Aspen School District food-service staff of the elementary and middle schools — Elisa Orcajada, Elizabeth Ford, Reghan Mahaffey, Juan Campuzano and Tonya Kuhn — for being 100 percent supportive and dedicated to the Food Day mission, not just one day a year but every day of the school year, and providing healthy, sustainable and delicious food for our students every day.

Our community is lucky to have all of these great people to support and educate our children of future generations on healthier diets and a sustainable and affordable food system in America and using it to raise awareness about healthier options in Aspen Elementary School and Middle School that are served every day.

Come have lunch with us sometime.

Tenille Folk

Chef/food service manager, Aspen Elementary School and Middle School

Sponsors make Harvest Party a success

The Aspen Center for Environmental Studies would like to thank the community for another wonderful Harvest Party at Rock Bottom Ranch!

We’d especially like to acknowledge our generous sponsors, without whom the party would not have been possible. Presenting sponsor: Smoke Modern BBQ. Supporting sponsors: The Aspen Times, KSPN and Glenwood Springs Post Independent. Partners: Alpine Bank, Charles Cunniffe Architects, Whole Foods Market Roaring Fork, and Of Grape & Grain.

Thank you to Blazing Adventures and Waldorf School on the Roaring Fork for generously donating the use of their buses. Additionally, there were numerous local businesses that contributed items to our silent auction. The event was a huge success in raising funds in support of ACES environmental-science-education programs for 42 regional schools!

We have lots of ideas to make the event even better next year and to accommodate more people. Please come by Rock Bottom Ranch again! We are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with farm tours at 11 a.m.

Chris R. Lane

CEO, Aspen Center for Environmental Studies