A couple of weeks ago I attended the Mountain Towns 2030 Summit in Vail with hundreds of representatives from all over our mountain region. This is a gathering of people interested in addressing the increasingly alarming environmental issues we face in our mountain towns and around the world. When I attended this conference last year with fellow commissioner Patti Clapper, we were surprised to discover how far ahead Pitkin County and the Town of Aspen were in the climate action arena. We were well underway with almost all of the mitigation ideas presented last year. This year it was a welcome surprise to hear other jurisdictions have picked up their pace significantly and are now engaged in many programs to mitigate climate change.
One speaker in particular really moved me – Molly Kawahata. In addition to being a talented big mountain climber, Molly worked as a climate advisor in the Obama White House. She is also a gifted, inspirational speaker and she inspired me to think about Pitkin County and my job as your commissioner differently. Her speech was about the power of hope. As Molly said, “When we can lead with hope, everyone can be a part of it. Understand the problem, identify that you have the agency to address the problem, and then proceed with the hope that a solution is possible.” Most importantly, she said, “The language of hope includes the words ‘I believe…’”.
The recent decisions by the Pitkin County Board of Commissioners are based on “I believe…”. We do, indeed, believe that the people of Pitkin County can have an impact in mitigating the effects of climate. Because of the work of the Community Growth Advisory Committee and our county administrative staff, we now have a well-scripted set of guidelines to move us forward. Already at the leading edge when it comes to climate action, Pitkin County is now engaged in an innovative process to help our community meet resiliency, sustainability, and conservation goals which will, we hope, set a standard for others.
As we appreciate that Pitkin County is an exceptional place to live, the Board of County Commissioners wants all of our employees to know how much thanks we give each of you. You are the ones who keep us humming and it is your dedication and hard work that grease the wheels of our well-tuned community. I wish all of our citizens could see what an amazing group of people are working for them and how their work keeps our hope alive.
Molly Kawahata helped me return from the Vail summit to Pitkin County with renewed hope that we can have a positive impact on climate change and that, as we all work together, we will continue the belief that the work of good people is the most important ingredient in maintaining a healthy, positive community. As Molly said, “With the climate movement, you have to know that the solutions, that promised land, are there, and we are well on our way. That’s why, when you lead with hope, when you know that it’s possible, it keeps you fighting another day.”
Hope and thankfulness in this season of harvest.
- Francie Jacober, co-chair of the Pitkin County Board of County Commissioners