Author: Pete Kolbenschlag

Join Us At the Western CO Climate Challenge

Western Colorado Climate Challenge & Solar Fair

May 1 -3 in Paonia, Colorado
Hosted by: Climate Colorado and Solar Energy International


“Solving Colorado’s Climate Crisis through Rapid-Prototyping Change”

Sponsors include The Hive Paonia, Western Slope Conservation Center, Mountain West Strategies, and Community Office for Resource Efficiency

Tickets available here



Wednesday April 29, 2015

PrintThe Western Colorado Climate Challenge & Solar Fair will bring a full weekend of fun, exhibits, presentations, and hands on breakout sessions aimed at resolving the climate crisis.

“Climate Colorado is excited to bring this model to Western Colorado,” said Robert Castellino founder of the Colorado Climate Summit. “Involving area experts and partners, looking at regional issues and resources, this event applies rapid prototyping techniques to craft actionable plans for local change: we see this weekend as a historic opportunity to address the climate crisis by developing collaborative and on-the-ground solutions.”

The weekend opens with the Solar Fair at Solar Energy International that will include the launch of the Solarize North Fork Valley project, and closes with a special Sunday matinee showing of the acclaimed documentary Merchants of Doubt.

“The Solarize North Fork Valley project intends to focus resources, expertise and other incentives to help residents of the North Fork valley install more solar capacity on their businesses and homes,” said Kristen O’Brien with Solar Energy International.  “We are excited to bring together the launch of this much anticipated project with the Climate Challenge.  Both are all about moving past barriers and getting work done in communities.”

The conference “Solving Colorado’s Climate Crisis through Rapid-Prototyping Change” runs all day Saturday and Sunday morning, and focuses on issues specific to western Colorado communities and resources. Sunday afternoon is rounded out with field trips and the matinee.  Snacks, receptions, and Saturday lunch include local farm-fresh offerings and craft beverages.

At the heart of the Climate Challenge is the Switch 2020 Contract that sets a goal of cutting individual, business, and community carbon footprints to net zero and to cutting water consumption in half.  Presentations will orient participants to the issues at hand, and then breakout sessions will develop solutions and plans that will then be tested and reiterated through a rapid prototyping exercise led by skilled facilitators.   At the end of the event participants will be a part of team with an actionable plan to solve these problems.

“The Western Colorado Climate Challenge is a chance to make a difference on the Western Slope,” said event organizer Pete Kolbenschlag with Mountain West Strategies.  “We can no longer wait for the political system to respond, especially when Colorado loses out.  We are uniquely positioned to be a global leader in the new energy economy and a model for smarter resource use.  The purpose of the Climate Challenge is to help bring that transition about.”

Registration & tickets are required for the Saturday & Sunday conference. The Solar Fair is free and open to the public, and includes exhibits, live music by Brodie Kinder and the Killer Bees, Ky Burt and other special guests, and local refreshments. The Sunday (3pm) matinee showing of Merchants of Doubt, at Paonia’s Paradise Theatre, is open to the public for a $5 donation.

Learn more at

Saturday Plenaries:

Presentation: “Water, Western Colorado and Climate Change”

Panel: “Breaking Barriers, Creating Collaboration for Local Power Generation”

Breakout sessions and leaders:

Regional Collaboration for Local Generation

“Overcoming barriers to increasing local power generation”

John Gavan, board member Delta Montrose Electric Association

Rural Solarization

“How to bring more solar capacity to rural communities”

Kristen O’Brien and Ed Marston with Solar Energy International

Rivers & People Need Water- Gunnison River & Water Management in Drying West

“Taking action on water conservation in a drying and thirsty West”

Sarah Sauter with the Western Slope Conservation Center

Moving Colorado to Renewables and Minimizing Water Use

“Moving past policy and political impediments to facilitate the rapid transition of our energy and resource economies”

Robert Castellino with Climate Colorado and the founder of the Colorado Climate Summit


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Summit County Citizens Voice » Hey, Colorado – how about a climate challenge?

Hey, Colorado – how about a climate challenge?

Paonia event focuses on solutions for western Colorado

Staff Report

FRISCO — Everybody is talking about climate change, but that palaver doesn’t always translate into action. Not so in Paonia, though, where community and climate activists will gather May 1-3 for the Western Colorado Climate Challenge & Solar Fair.

The three-day event features exhibits, presentations, and hands-on breakout sessions aimed at resolving Colorado’s climate crisis. Click this link for the full schedule. The Climate Colorado event site is here and you can also stay in touch with the event on Facebook.

The weekend opens with the Solar Fair at Solar Energy International and closes with a special Sunday matinee showing of the acclaimed documentary Merchants of Doubt, which exposes the climate denial movement as being funded by anti-environmental corporate interests.

Full article in the Summit County Citizens Voice.

ColoradoPols » Step Right Up and WIN! This Boom will never Bust, Baby!

Step Right Up and WIN! This Boom will never Bust, Baby!

Colorado is about to lose thousands of jobs, again, as the latest boom and its promise of vast riches crashes into the reality of a volatile commodity market.  Again.

Like in the last bust in 2008 that hit the western Colorado gas fields, it was just months prior that the boosters, peddlers, hucksters and snakes, oil-salespeople were all saying this time would be different, this time we would ride the mineral riches to everlasting everything.

Until we’re not.  Until the prices, in the most volatile of animal spirited commodities—fossil fuels, drop. Again.  And then Colorado is left holding the bag.  Again.

Read full article here.

North Fork Scrapbook » Unicorn Arts Collective Presents: Elemental Rising

Unicorn Arts Collective Presents: Elemental Rising | North Fork Scrapbook

The Paonia Fashion Show is back! This time the Elements are rising to the occasion. More than just a fashion show, this year The Unicorn Arts Collective is bringing a multi-media arts experience to the Paradise Theater.


Originally conceived as The District 81428 Fashion Show, created by Regna Jones, it was a staple of the community for many years. When the Paradise was sold the fashion show lay dormant and was greatly missed. In 2014 the Unicorn Arts Collective was co-founded by Chelsea Bookout and Sharon Bailey to resurrect and recreate the production. Working tirelessly, the members of the Collective have been hand crafting the endeavor of reviving a beloved community experience. “I am constantly blown away by the level of talent in the valley and the beautiful collaboration happening with this years’ show.

Read the whole article at Elemental Rising 2015 Fashion Show.

North Fork Scrapbook »The North Fork Seed Library

The North Fork Seed Library

Spring is approaching and it’s time to start plotting your garden. First, what are you hoping to grow? A specific variety of squash or particular heirloom okra? Whatever it may be, the Hotchkiss Seed Library probably has it! They have a vast array of seeds to peruse that any library member can check out.

Read all abut the Hotchkiss See Library at

Colorado Farm & Food Alliance » Fracking in the North Fork Valley by Eugenia Bone

Fracking in the North Fork Valley by Eugenia Bone – Colorado Farm & Food Alliance

When I told friends in New York that my husband and I had bought a ranch in Colorado, I was surprised to discover how many had fantasized about living out west. I didn’t realize that even the most citified among them had willingly repaired fences at guest ranches, donned heavy backpacks and dreamt of big spaces and blue mountains and long afternoons sitting on a porch.

Because I never did. title page

I was perfectly happy with our life in New York and its surrounding seashores, and our occasional trips abroad. But my husband Kevin wasn’t. It had been coming on for a few years: He suffered from a kind of yearning without name, a desire he couldn’t articulate, a lack of vigor and contentment that would have been mopey in a lesser man. There was, quite simply, an empty place in him that was not being filled; not by our marriage, not by our family, not by his work as an architect and professor. As this was clearly not a problem I could solve, I encouraged him to go figure it out for himself.

Read the full article at

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