I was mentionning in my article about Colorado how Gunnison impressed me by its sustainable development initiatives. My host in this little student town was Tawny, a young woman well involved in her community. On the five to six thousands inhabitants, about 2.000 are students. That gives quite a young demographic to the city! Tawny works for Wilderness Pursuit, an organization that gives the opportunity to students to participate in outdoor’s activities and rent equipment for camping, hiking, climbing and biking at minimal cost.
Tawny gave me a tour of her university campus that recently implanted a free bike system, managed by the library. A book and a bicycle for 48 hours, they are borrowed with the same card! The objective is to encourage the students to move around the city on bicycle instead of by car, and eventually acquire their own bicycle.
I also visited an urban farm, an initiative from Ian, helped by his roomates. The objective: being self-sufficient. The task is not that easy and demands time, but according to Ian, it is possible to transform a land lot, as small as it can be, into subsistence production. The grocery market? He doesn’t go anymore. He gets what is missing to the farmer’s market or by exchanging surplus. Although I visited late at fall, I could see the organization of the site. Chickens are producing eggs in their apartments and are living with ducks that will make a feast. Rainwater is collected from the roof to water the garden which is producing vegetables and cereals. He would like to implant an automatic watering system that would make him save some time. He dehydrates or put in cans food for winter. Without necessarily starting everything the same spring, it is possible to go one step at a time, that would make saves dollars at the grocery. His passion is also his work, at Mountain Roots Food Project, an organization promoting an healthy alimentation on local scale, through, among many things, programs for children.
Sincerely, I have been quite surprised by the United States. Who knows, I was probably having those prejudices or being influenced by those already made images of “America” with all those chain brands in every corner and this daily over consumption. It is not the United States that I have seen. It is a fact though that I stayed away from bigger cities and services town along interstates. I think I have seen my first Starbucks in Colorado, many weeks after entering the country. I was surprised by the quantity of local businesses, cafes and micro-breweries, by the efforts made by the people I met to buy local or organic, to recycle and use alternative transport. In fact, it gave me hope!