Month: February 2015

Colorado Farm & Food Alliance » Localvores, Pick Up Your Forks! Oil and Water Don’t Mix

Localvores, Pick Up Your Forks! Oil and Water Don’t Mix

By @ColoFarmFood, crossposted at

Attention has been focused on Denver, as Governor Hickenlooper’s Oil and Gas Task Force finishes its work, mostly avoiding the contentious issues that surround the industrial realities of oil and gas—noise, pollution, traffic, and impacts to land and existing uses—which led to its formation 18 months ago.429416_175203019251951_153723844733202_246416_1541745135_n

Many of Colorado’s farmers, and the farm-to-table restaurants, craft breweries, wineries and sundry other businesses along those lines, meanwhile, were thinking instead of the weather.  Glad for snow, and the hope for a decent water year.

But watching the weather on the advent of spring does not mean many were not also watching what came out of the Task Force, and paying attention to oil and gas development generally, especially where it impacts or threatens business and operations.  And they always have an eye on their water.

Full article is at

NorthFork Scrapbook »Western Slope: Soon to See Sandhill Cranes

By Courtney Mullin

Cranes-in-Flight1-DurrRocky Mountain Sandhill Cranes have been traveling almost the same migratory route for thousands of years along the Rocky Mountain Range. Over 20,000 of them winter in Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico, and make their way north as the weather warms. One of their first stops is the Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge in the San Luis Valley of south central Colorado where they stay for a couple weeks before making their way to Fruitgrowers Reservoir outside of Eckert.

Fruitgrowers Reservoir is a very special place because unlike most resting areas, the Reservoir is not protected to the same extent as a Wildlife Refuge. The Reservoir is controlled by the Bureau of Reclamation, but all the surrounding land is privately owned, which could have spelled disaster for the birds. Fortunately, landowners have done a terrific job caring for this area over the years and ensuring the cranes are protected.

ColoradoPols » State-funded Science Institutions Host Keynote by Fringe Anti-Science Guy


The wires are abuzz about the latest example of fossil fuel influence attempting to bend science, another Climate Change Denialist hero has been shown as seriously besotted by sooty cash, but failed to note the connection.  His ‘science’ was—in fact—“deliverables” to dirty energy powerhouses, from utilities, coal, oil and gas, the Kochs.

Herd of masai ostriches. Wikicommons/Benh LIEU SONG
Herd of masai ostriches. Wikicommons/Benh LIEU SONG

Meanwhile in western Colorado, the Energy Forum & Expo is also creating a stir.

This annual event hosted by Colorado Mesa UniversityColorado Mountain College, and the John McConnell Math & Science Center (along with the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce, Club 20, and the Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado) is known to include a lot of industry cheerleading.

The purpose of the Energy Forum & Expo CO’s is to educate Colorado citizens on the role we can play in meeting our energy needs today and into the future.

That the ‘Energy Forum & Expo’ of Grand Junction organized, hosted and sponsored as it is,revolves around Old Energy boosterism is not a new realization, but this year it is something else that is attracting criticism.

This year the keynote is being given by a fringe climate change denier (and ‘earthquake predictor’), who is a favorite on the Tea Party circuitwingnut radio, and whose ‘expert opinions’ populate articles, between ads for gold, testosterone boosters, and bunker supplies on sites like NewsMax.

– Full post at


GJ Sentinel » Large-scale industrial activity a tough fit for Colorado’s farm-to-table capital

Large-scale industrial activity a tough fit for Colorado’s farm-to-table capital |

…The majority of the drilling jobs are temporary. Companies like SG acknowledge that they bring in outside contractors for most of the positions, which leads to no long-term benefit to our local economy.

We all want the North Fork to thrive. To many of our existing businesses, farms and ranches, and residents, a huge spike in drilling in our small valley is not a good fit, to say it mildly. We hope that like other places that started in conflict, such as Roan Plateau, we can reach a solution in the North Fork.

We do not want to be subject to the whims of global markets and energy companies. Many here are intent instead on a different path forward, and believe it is incumbent on the BLM, the state and counties, and the energy companies to respectfully consider these concerns.

For Bull Mountain that means presenting a plan that does not propose a large spike in drilling activity and does a much better job beforehand of describing impacts. For oil and gas development in general, that means accepting that communities must have more say in where, how, and when this activity occurs. Most of the North Fork agrees that new, large-scale industrial activity is a tough fit for Colorado’s Farm-to-Table Capital.

Mike Drake is the president of the Paonia Chamber of Commerce board of directors.

Read full guest column at

ColoradoPols » Sage Grouse Efforts Get Steamboat Boost

Sage Grouse Efforts Get Steamboat Boost –

…Colorado is currently needing to complete a strong conservation plan to show the federal government that it, along with the other ten states that have greater sage grouse habitat, is serious enough about protecting the grouse that it can avoid a listing under the Endangered Species Act.  That decision could come in September unless the states are successful in making their case. 


Routt County definitely has its own skin in the game–especially to the south, upstream on the Yampa (centered on the town with that namesake), and west, downstream, toward Hayden and Moffat County–there is both lots of potential habitat and a substantial amount of occupied habitat in the county.  

Read blog at


ColoradoPols » Sage Grouse Sonnet, Because its All About Love

Sage Grouse Sonnet, Because its All About Love –


From  Photo Credit: Jeannie Stafford/USFWS
From Photo Credit: Jeannie Stafford/USFWS

Musings for St. Valentines Day

From @PiceanceDog


The grouse courts on its sagebrush steppe

At winters end in familiar lek.

To strut and puff as the hens inspect,

A dance, like a sonnet, in a metered step

To find love with the right one and make a nest.


But now upon this spring-like day

As we look ahead to this ancient dance

When hopeful, lonely greater sage grouse prance

We can also look ahead, but not clearly say

If we will long get to see this western display.


For it could be that all too soon

When lovers walk through a sagebrush sea

That the greater sage grouse is just memory.

That back here now we dithered and sued,

But couldn’t save the sage grouse from its doom.


But it is also true that it could be

That we decide we cannot stand

To kill the grouse off from the land

That we vow to save the sagebrush sea

That we protect the sage grouse, and its right to be.

GJ Sentinel » Gas-drilling foes turn out in force, against tall odds

Gas-drilling foes turn out in force, against tall odds |

PAONIA — North Fork Valley residents are rallying again to try and stop oil and gas development involving tens of thousands of acres, but in this case face a daunting challenge because the land already is leased.

Some 200 people turned out at a Bureau of Land Management meeting at Paonia High School regarding SG Interests’ plan to drill up to 146 natural gas wells in the upper North Fork Valley, with many in attendance indicating their concern about the project.NF Shows Up

Some 30 people addressed the BLM and crowd, and none voiced support for the plan. Many in the crowd raised their hands when one speaker asked them if they worried that the project could hurt their property values.

Residents Tuesday voiced concerns including possible air and water impacts, heavy truck traffic on Highway 133, the potential for harm to the Paonia area’s burgeoning organic farm industry, and whether the local economic benefits are enough to justify the risks. They raised similar concerns a few years ago when the BLM proposed leasing some 30,000 acres for oil and gas development in the area, before deferring the leasing plans following the local outcry.

“There’s no reason to use clean water for dirty energy extraction,” Jere Lowe, who owns a local organic farming supply company, said Tuesday.

Pete Kolbenschlag pointed to the boom-and-bust nature of oil-and-gas development, as evidenced by the current national drilling slowdown due to low prices.

“It’s not exactly a safe basket for our own economic eggs when you look at it,” he said.

Read full GJ Sentinel article here

Gift Workshop: The Art of Advocacy-Finding the Way to the Winning Campaign

The Art of Advocacy: Finding the Way to the Winning Campaign

Thursday, February 12, Lunch at 12 Noon with program from 12:30 – 1:30 pm. 
The Learning Council at the Old River Road Trading Post
15495 Black Bridge Road, Paonia


“Be the Change you wish to see in the World” Gandhi


A brief overview of what makes a successful advocacy campaign considering some teachings from the Tao Te Ching and Sun Tzu’s the Art of War.

Presenter Pete Kolbenschlag brings over 20 years of grassroots and campaign experience into his discussion on what makes a successful organizer and advocacy campaign, applying intuitive wisdom and strategic insight from ancient China to today’s work for positive change in the real world arena.

So, What is ‘Advocacy Campaigning’?

Cesar Chavez – “We don’t organize to educate. We educate to organize.”

Sweet Victory!

Think you need a stop sign on the corner? Want to stop a fracking waste pit? Homeowners’ board giving you trouble? Then you might be considering how to develop an ‘advocacy campaign.’  Boiled down, an advocacy campaign is a methodical and strategic approach to reach a specific, time-sensitive goal.


What is advocacy campaigning?

Developing and running an effort to force a specific change: advocacy campaigning starts with a general assumption that the target decision makers need both the rationale and the encouragement (sometime relentless pressure) to take the right action.


The rationale usually comes from a good idea, a needed policy change, or in opposition to a bad one, but it needs to be communicated effectively and delivered well; and there usually needs to be some level of popular or stakeholder support.


It’s all about the campaign goal

The primary reference point for any advocacy campaign is the win—the destination the effort is working to reach.


The campaign itself may be part of a larger movement for change or for a new direction.  But for any particular campaign the reference must remain the particular result being sought.


One way to understand the campaign goal is to ask the ‘decision, decider, and deadline’ question.  In an advocacy campaign each of those should have a very specific answer.


What about strategies and tactics?

Tactics serve the strategic objective, which can be described as an optimal position to obtain the campaign goal.  Strategies describe how the campaign intends to reach certain objectives.  Tactics are the necessary steps taken to get to each strategic objective, or more often to reach certain outcomes in a progression toward it.


The main needs of a particular campaign—for instance a good (or winning) proposal, solid communication, and good organizing—often represent three primary strategies many advocacy campaigns deploy: policy, communications, and field strategies.  Tactics usually are grouped under these.


As an example, the field strategy objective might be: “Achieve the necessary grassroots support and stakeholder buy-in necessary to compel (swing) decision-maker John to decide correctly on decision-date.”


A stronger strategic objective would include (or be connected with) a specific set of stakeholders and publics you need to engage, such as “Achieve the necessary grassroots support from county voters and stakeholder buy-in from Main St businesses and community opinion leaders necessary to compel (swing) decision-maker John decide correctly on the decision-date.”  Field tactics would then work to achieve outcomes that work toward the particulars of that objective.


What make for good tactics?

Good tactics originate in a strong strategic vision—of the overall context and situation, and of the campaign goal.  Tactics also rely on clear direction (‘on the ground’), which shows up as situational awareness or ‘tactical vision,’ and manifests as effective action when properly applied.


Martin Luther King Jr.– “A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.”


In general, good tactics start where those that need organized are at, both in attitude and location, working them toward an anticipated outcome.  Good tactics usually also find their initial root in a point of agreement or commonality, and build from that; to solidify and shape that commonality or begin shifting it in a specific direction.  Finally good tactics require good timing, and that means being attuned to larger currents and dynamics in play—in the campaign and in the larger arena and world, and being steadfast in pursuit of the campaign goal.


X Marks the Spot: Campaign Plan as your ‘Treasure Map’ 

Developing an advocacy campaign includes beginning with a good, clear-eyed assessment of the current situation and effort at hand.  That information can be used to develop a basic campaign map, or plan, that helps to guide the campaign.  Unlike a road map, it does not try to depict every turn and juncture along the way. Rather it shows a destination (goal) and such things as major challenges or opportunities along the way that will need to be overcome or utilized.


The campaign plan itself is built on a timeline that leads up to the deadline, or decision date.  Other key events or benchmark dates are also noted, and then tactics are filled in moving forward toward each key date and the deadline, usually grouped by the strategic objective they work toward.


 Gandhi – “First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.”


Frodo had the Fellowship (and Gandalf)

Every adventure needs a team of comrades.  And putting together the right campaign plan, and the right campaign team, and being able to guide that smoothly and effectively toward its goal, takes skill, experience and a certain art.  Understanding a little of the theory, and the ‘how to’ of developing an advocacy campaign before setting forth can provide a great head start on your quest to a campaign win.


And it may not be a magic ring, but having a wizard involved never hurts either.


Mountain West Strategies provides the strategic consultation to help with your campaign as well as workshops to teach some theory, skills, and provide hands-on training that can help any campaign toward its goal.



Advocacy Campaign Workshops

This post is developed from background materials for a recently introduced series of workshops to teach theory, skills and techniques behind successful advocacy campaigns.


Current workshops being offered include:


For more information on workshops, contact Mountain West Strategies at 970-510-0678.



The Art of Advocacy: Finding Your Way with Strategies and Tactics

 “To see things in the seed, that is genius.”   Lao Tzu


In its simplest sense an advocacy campaign is a methodical, strategic effort to convince a decision-maker to make a specific decision by a certain deadline.  It involves a campaign goal (as described above), strategic objectives, development of tactics and anticipated outcomes, campaign protocols, policies, systems and metrics.



In teaching some of the tricks and tools of the trade that I have developed and picked up over twenty years of organizing work, I often start by taking a step back, before delving into those somewhat technical details, with a philosophical approach that, for me, frames how I set out to develop and implement successful advocacy campaigns.


Campaigns need to be developed, planned, staffed and managed well, and doing all that requires both skill and art.  So I start my workshops with talking a bit about the art.  For this I turn to the wisdom of thinkers like Sun Tzu, whose seminal The Art of War remains on the reading list of many strategists and the more mystical Lao Tzu, legendary author of the Tao Te Ching.


Some of the art is an innate ability—different people, thankfully, are adept at different things—but a lot is also gained from experience and practice.  And I find these two ancient thinkers from China very relevant for providing both a simple and profound understanding about how campaigns function, and how the successful advocate operates within them.


“When torrential water tosses boulders, it is because of its momentum. When the strike of a hawk breaks the body of its prey, it is because of timing.”  Sun Tzu


Campaigns are dynamic things, not static (although they do need solid structure and efficient systems).  Campaigns of any duration include an ebb and flow, a cyclical not linear force (even though they are imposed on a set timeline).  Campaigns are implemented by successful, adept advocates. And, finally, campaigns require balance between strategic vision and tactical action, with those informing the other, finding success in the proper function between those polarities. 1999.139.2_IMLS_PS3


It would not end well for a hawk that tried to roll a boulder by striking it, and a rabbit would simply move out of the way of a flood rolling boulders down an arroyo.  Rather in both the hawk’s strike and the torrential waters, it is the application of proper tactics informed by correct strategic objectives, that allow the rabbit to be gotten and the boulder to be moved.


“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”   Sun Tzu



The material presented in the Art of Advocacy goes into some detail with four ‘virtues’ or qualities of the functional campaign, five ‘attitudes’ or level of engagement of the successful advocate, and four progressions the functional campaign moves through between strategic vision and effective action (and back again).


The Art of Advocacy workshop fits into a larger system of campaign development that teaches how to craft plans covering the goal, strategies and objectives, and includes a ‘hands on’ training in the development of effective tactics.


This framework provides the basis for that later work.  For instance, the four virtues of a functional campaign are a key part of the system, with each serving a specific role within the campaign.


Four Virtues               Campaign role

Perspective                  ‘Strategic vision’

Awareness                   ‘Tactical vision’

Adaptability               ‘Tactical action’

Steadfastness             ‘Strategic action’

>> Proper Function


The takeaway is that advocacy campaigns are dynamic with a cyclical and not only linear force at play, and which require a balance between strategic vision and tactical action.


The final, and probably most important, lesson is that successful campaigns are implemented by successful advocates.  As the basis for advocacy campaigning, the wisdom of both Sun Tzu and Lao Tzu coach us to look within: to be an effective advocate for change one must strive to be that change, as another great strategist also reminded more recently.


“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”  Gandhi



Of course campaigns are designed to win.  Within the bounds of ethics and appropriateness the model that works is the one to pursue.  But since there is more to winning than just putting together a good plan,  an understanding of the ‘art’ of advocacy is also an important step to crafting and running winning strategies and tactics.


That is why in starting my trainings I like to start long ago and far away, to make the ‘Art of Advocacy’ relevant today by borrowing from philosophers in feudal China.  Success starts with certain qualities and attitudes that can be cultivated, in both the campaign and in ourselves as advocates.


Crafting campaign strategies and tactics can seem like a technical and dry process, but its genesis for ultimate success starts by ‘seeing things in the seed’ and a basic understanding–about the work we are doing and about ourselves–that moves our efforts toward effectiveness and success.



Advocacy Campaign Workshops

This post is developed from background materials for a recently introduced series of workshops to teach theory, skills and techniques behind successful advocacy campaigns.


Current workshops being offered include:


For more information on workshops, contact Mountain West Strategies at 970-510-0678.