Telluride as a community is one that is aware of the impacts of climate change on the environment. Private businesses and governments alike strive for carbon neutrality. We’re a town of recyclers, electric car drivers and public transportation users. But still, those concerned about climate change may wonder, “What can I do?”
According to Madeline Gonzalez Allen of InnoVital, there are a number of positive actions that can be taken to address the issue of climate change. Allen is facilitating a launch event for the New Community Climate Solutions Initiative Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at the Wilkinson Public Library. There will be a panel discussion with representatives from San Miguel Power Association, the U.S. Forest Service, Telski, EcoAction Partners, Pinhead Climate Institute, San Miguel County government and San Miguel Authority for Regional Transportation. Light snacks will be served.
Given that there are more than a few local organizations focused on environmental concerns, what sets this initiative apart from the rest?
“To my knowledge, this is the first time all these regional organizations and other new participants are coming together to offer this kind of public education plus action series,” Allen said. “We’ve currently mapped it out through May, and will expand it if there’s community interest. We’ll start with this introductory panel session to share with the community what the climate goals are, where we’re currently at, what resources are available to help us get there, and what we could each be doing.”
It is Allen’s goal to follow up the launch with ongoing education based on what the community would like to learn more about and “solution frameworks we’re most excited and hopeful about.”
Allen is the cofounder — with partner Alex Rudbäck — of InnoVital, an organization that focuses on providing education and consulting in sustainability innovation. The nonprofit is based in Telluride, where Allen has lived for many years.
“We’d grown increasingly frustrated at the lack of progress we’ve been able to make through the institutions we’ve worked for and been part of,” she said. “We’ve both experienced how offering engaging education could spark inspiration and evolve understanding.”
According to a recent news release, InnoVital offers “a combined 40 years of consulting and educational expertise, working with nonprofits, local governments (including city, county, and tribal councils), K-12 and higher education, Fortune 500 companies, startup accelerators, research labs.”
What Allen is hoping to do is provide a vision for a world we want to live in and strive for that through concrete action. It’s a way, she said, to address feeling helpless or powerless in the face of climate change.
“Our best science is showing us that we have about a decade to have radically transformed how we are living on this planet,” Allen said. “But the good news is it is possible. We already have solutions that can help address the problem and there are other inventions and discoveries that could accelerate our progress even more. But we need local action that can most matter and scale most quickly. And for this to happen, we need to be willing to keep learning, coming together as a community and agreeing to what our priorities are locally, and asking ourselves what we can each be doing personally and in community.”
InnoVital’s vision is global. Allen and Rudbäck each have multi-national backgrounds. Allen was born in Cuba and grew up in the former Panama Canal Zone. Rudbäck was born in Brazil to Russian and Swedish parents.
“Alex and I want to offer the kinds of innovative educational and consulting services we’ve seen valuable in other settings, to accelerating innovative scalable solutions that address climate change,” Allen said. “We are also both global citizens and hope to be able to offer our services across the Americas, including through Rotary International”
The two are members of the Telluride Rotary Club, and Allen serves as advisor to a new Rotary International environmental area of focus.
There are a number of upcoming events that Allen will talk about at Thursday’s launch event, including a regional tree-planting initiative in collaboration with the U.S. Forest Service and others; "How to Change the World" documentary and author discussion at the library on March 9; "Earth Optimism Teen Event" March 14 with the Pinhead Institute/Smithsonian; and Reversing Global Warming: Introduction to Drawdown, an InnoVital talk, March 30 at the library. In April, InnoVital is teaming with Telluride Adventure Accelerator and Sheep Mountain Alliance for the Plastic Alternative Bootcamp showcase at the Sheridan Opera House, and in May there are two events — a composting workshop and farm tour at Tomten Farm. A "Fate of Food” book discussion will take place the week of May 18 at the library.
Allen has one encouraging message for those concerned about climate change and any attendant feelings of helplessness.
“It is not too late yet,” she said. “Let’s be willing to keep learning, be inspired and be asking ourselves what we can each be doing personally and in community. Let’s be cultivating a felt sense of connection with this amazing Planet Earth that is our home and be open to imagining the kind of world we want to live in and leave to future generations.”
For more information on InnoVital and upcoming climate action events, visit the Facebook page at facebook.com/innovital.world/.