In collaboration with our partners at El Laboratorio and Lincoln Hills Cares, Metro DNA is co-hosting a youth workshop on December 27 to inform a proposed public art installation crossing the South Platte River at the new National Western Center.
This event marks the beginning of outreach for a South Platte River Youth Advisory Council, supported by and informing this Regional Vision for People + Nature. The initial outline for what this Youth Advisory Council might look like was crafted by the TRIO Upward Bound Summer Program at Colorado State University.
A culturally diverse group of seniors and juniors from Denver Public Schools (Bruce Randolph High School, John F. Kennedy High School, and Abraham Lincoln High School) produced a Sourcebook, making recommendations for how youth and community can come together advocate for the restoration and maintenance of the South Platte River as one of Metro Denver’s key natural and cultural assets.
Thank you again for bringing your time, talents, and energy to bear at our Metro DNA Stakeholder Convening yesterday at The Nature Conservancy’s office in Denver!
Meeting notes, slides, and participant contact information are available online, along with the meeting evaluation and a simple form to contribute any 2019 accomplishments, 2020 priorities, and/or collaborative project ideas that weren’t captured in writing during the meeting. Please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions or edits to the meeting notes.
At the request of our partner, Mile High Connects, Metro DNA Alliance Director, Dana Coelho, TPL’s Parks for People Program Director, Emily Patterson, and Walk Denver’s Executive Director, Jill Locantore, attended a JUST Learning workshop on Flooding, Green Gentrification and Race this past week. Hosted by the Partnership for Southern Equity, the workshop focused on building skills and networks in support of whole-system nature-based solutions to wicked problems at the intersection of climate, health, and racial justice.
Alongside partners from Los Angeles, Chicago, Memphis, and Atlanta we explored the history of structural racism in land use, flooding, and gentrification in Atlanta and across the US; discussed equitable green infrastructure investment with local government leaders and partners; applied new systems mapping and multi-solving tools to our local and shared challenges; and saw some great work on the ground at the Outdoor Activity Center that brings together green infrastructure installation, workforce development, art, and environmental education in a community-based setting.
Denver is one of several cities across the US participating in the Strong, Prosperous, and Resilient Communities Challenge (SPARCC). The initiative’s long-term goal is to change the way metropolitan regions grow, invest, and build through integrated, cross-sector approaches that benefit low-income people and communities of color. Toward this goal, SPARCC is investing in and amplifying local efforts to ensure that new investments reduce racial disparities, build a culture of health, and prepare for a changing climate.
Hosted by the University of Denver and focused on equity in regional conservation, this convening builds on the September 5 Metro Vision Idea Exchange and previous Metro DNA convenings and workshops. Stay tuned for additional details!
Tuesday, October 8, 2019 8 am – 12 pm
Anderson Academic Commons 2150 E Evans Ave, Denver, CO 80208
These financial resources and participating as a member of this national collaborative conservation network will move forward our work to co-create a Regional Vision for People + Nature in a big way and support the creation of a Youth Advisory Council focused on the South Platte River as a significant and cross-jurisdictional environmental and cultural resource. The Youth Advisory Council will be build in partnership with Colorado State University, Lincoln Hills Cares, and El Laboratorio.
Working to Conserve Local Wildlife with Ongoing Conservation Projects
Bison roaming freely, pikas popping up every so often, and billowing grass. This is just part of the Colorado Front Range, an ecosystem within a few hours’ drive for the average Denverite. The Denver Zoo’s Field Conservation Department works with government and non-profit organizations and the community to preserve spaces for people and wildlife.
Stephanie Stowell, Vice President of Learning and Engagement at the Denver Zoo, explains that, “Underneath it all, we are a conservation and education organization” with a goal to “engage and inspire people to have a deeper sense and understanding and care and empathy for animals”.
While the Denver Zoo’s Field Conservation Department has staff working in places such as Peru, Mongolia, and Botswana, it also has active conservation teams in right here in Colorado. One of the two local conservation efforts is the Front Range Program, which encompasses the Eastern slope of the Southern Rocky Mountains and the neighboring grasslands, including Denver. Through local engagement the Denver Zoo is able to show citizens the impact this has on the region.
The Denver Zoo’s Field Conservation Department works with city, state, and federal organizations to “reduce threats and promote the resilience of Colorado’s wildlife and ecosystems”. The Front Range Project aims to “conserve and restore the function of grassland ecosystems across the state” through restoration and management of bison populations and habitats, monitoring, and supporting the development of Colorado’s highest elevation wildlife byway.
A vital aspect of these conservation projects is to get community members involved, so the Denver Zoo works with local organizations to train citizens to take an active role in monitoring nature along the Front Range. So far, the Front Range Project has engaged 300 middle and high school students in programming and contributed to the longest running citizen science database. With its continued work, the Denver Zoo encourages everyone to care about the nature that surrounds them every day. Next time you are at the Denver Zoo, remember the role it has in conserving local nature.
The Denver Zoo partners with Metro DNA as a way to further bring conservation and nature access to communities, giving local relevance to the Denver Zoo’s global mission to “secure a better world for animals through human understanding”.
On a personal note, we wish our long-standing leader and dear friend, Stephanie Stowell, the best as she and her husband relocate to Albuquerque, New Mexico. She will be overseeing zoo operations and programs at the Albuquerque BioPark.
Thank you, congratulations, and we will miss you!!
Creating opportunities for youth of all backgrounds to enjoy nature
Interview with Loretta Pineda, Executive Director, Environmental Learning for Kids (ELK) By: Ben Soofer, Maddie Buel, Brady Olcott, and Maggie Albro (University of Denver)
Dondre Smallwood is a freshman currently enrolled at Colorado State University, but his road to get there started nine years prior. Growing up in Montbello, Dondre lacked access to the resources for engaging with nature until he was introduced to Environmental Learning for Kids.
Throughout nine years of being involved with ELK, Dondre was given the opportunity to fish, hike, camp, visit Mesa Verde, and go to museums in Denver. With the help of ELK, Dondre improved his skills in leadership and self-development.
“Environmental Learning for Kids has helped me see that just because I am a young black man or a minority it does not mean that I cannot get into a good college or get a good job. ELK has given me, and continues to give me, the tools to help and encourage me to keep moving on during hard times in life. They let me know that I can become a useful source in our community and that I am important. I am a Daniels Fund Scholar and that dream was made possible by ELK. Coming into this program is like meeting another family.” – Dondre Smallwood Read more
Thank you to Metro DNA partner, the Denver Botanic Gardens, for hosting our Stakeholder Convening on Monday, April 8, and thank you to everyone who participated in a full day of workshops, presentations, and collaboration! This semi-annual gathering is an opportunity for partners and friends to get together and network, learn, and co-create collaborative projects.
We started the day in collaboration with the University of Denver’s Grand Challenges Environmental Sustainability Cohort by exploring collaborative projects around the Metro Denver region to ground and expand their understanding of what is being done, what can be done, and how to measure our collective impact and progress toward shared goals.
After lunch, the meeting turned toward updates and dialog around our primary collaborative projects: Regional Vision for People + Nature and Nature Narratives. Table-based dialog was facilitated by CU Boulder graduate students and members of the Metro DNA Steering Committee. Many of the ideas, questions, and opportunities shared cut across both projects. The conversations also surfaced needs to better define and communicate expectations of and benefits of becoming a Metro DNA partner and serving on committees and project teams.
June 8th at Garfield Lake Park in SouthWest Denver
Get Outdoors Day Colorado and SouthWest Denver Coalition are joining forces to host Safe Summer Kick Off on Get Outdoors Day (SSKO GO), Saturday, June 8, 2019, at Garfield Lake Park from 10am to 3pm. This free, family-friendly event is designed to promote access to healthy and safe outdoor spaces, support under-resourced communities, and celebrate nature exploration.An exciting coming together of two long-time successful events, this partnership facilitated by the Metro Denver Nature Alliance seeks to strengthen connections between resource providers and the communities they serve; promote healthy, active, outdoor lifestyles; and reflect and celebrate the diversity of people and nature in our region.
Metro DNA’s semi-annual Stakeholder Convening is an opportunity for partners and friends to get together and network, learn, and co-create collaborative projects. At this gathering we:
Invite partners to join in the co-creation of a Regional Vision for People + Nature.
Offer opportunities to engage effectively in the upcoming City Nature Challenge.
Empower partners to share their work, learn from others, and dream big toward new collaborative projects.
9:00 – 11:00 am . Sustainability World Cafe
Part of the University of Denver’s Grand Challenges work, the Environmental Sustainability Cohort invites you to participate in a World Cafe style exploration of collaborative projects around the Metro Denver region to ground and expand their understanding of what is being done, what can be done, and how to measure our collective impact and progress toward shared goals.
11:00 am – 12:30 pm . Guided Tours of the Denver Botanic Gardens
Our event host, the Denver Botanic Gardens, invites you to explore the Gardens with their skilled docents. Tour groups of 15 will be departing at 11:00 am and 11:15 am.
12:30 – 1:00 pm . Metro DNA Overview + Orientation
New and potential partners are invited to this brief Metro DNA Overview + Orientation. Current partners are also welcome and we encourage you to share your experiences with others.
1:00 – 4:00 pm . Metro DNA Convening & Working Session
Facilitated dialog around Metro DNA’s current collaborative projects including the Regional Vision for People + Nature, Nature Narratives, STEW-MAP, and City Nature Challenge. Exploration of potential collaborative projects and next steps!
Learn more and RSVP @ https://www.eventbrite.com/e/metro-dna-convening-tickets-58756749018.