Announcements

Connecting with SPARCC national partners in Atlanta

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.

Project Update: Catalyst Fund Grant Award!

We are proud to announce Metro DNA’s selection as one of 14 recipients of the Network for Landscape Conservation’s Catalyst Fund grant!

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.

Partner Highlight: Denver Zoo

denver zoo logo featuring a male lion

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”. 

photo of stephanie stowell and an orangutan at denver zoo

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!!

Stakeholder Convening Summary

Metro DNA Stakeholder WorkshopThank 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.

Next, Dr. Jennifer Neale, Director of Research & Conservation at the Gardens, shared current projects including the Colorado Mycoflora Project, seed collection efforts, and BioBlitzes on the Highline Canal.

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.

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Safe Summer Kick Off on Get Outdoors Day

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.Safe Summer Kick Off on Get Outdoors DayAn 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.

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April 8 – Denver Botanic Gardens hosts the next Metro DNA Convening

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.

Agenda

  • 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.

Front Range Open Space Research Symposium

We’ll be there, and think this kind of dialog is just what we need to inform a people-oriented and knowledge-based Regional Vision for People + Nature! 🙂 Dana

Jefferson County Open Space Logo

Jefferson County Open Space will host the second Front Range Open Space Research Symposium in partnership with Boulder County Parks and Open Space and City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks.

The intent of the Symposium is to help inspire coordination, collaboration, and partnership among scientists and the community. During this event, participants will hear presentations by scientists who have conducted research across the Jefferson County, Boulder County, and City of Boulder open space systems on important land management topics including recreation impacts, flora and fauna surveys, conservation, and riparian biodiversity and restoration.

The Symposium will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Friday, April 19 in the Lakewood Cultural Center. Attendance and parking are free. Parking is limited so carpooling is recommended. You are also encouraged to bring your own reusable coffee cup and/or water bottle to reduce waste.

You can register at this link: https://tinyurl.com/y3kjshz8

Please join us for the next Metro DNA Stakeholder Convening!

We are so excited to celebrate progress building and envision next steps for this tremendous collaboration! Please join us at The Alliance Center next Friday for an afternoon and evening full of programming and partners. Please feel free to come for as long or as short a time as you are able and inspired. Thanks in advance for your RSVP using the Eventbrite links below.

Fri, Dec 7 @ The Alliance Center, 12:30 – 5:00 PM

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 are:

  • Celebrating progress on and envisioning next steps for our first two collaborative projects, Nature Narratives and the Regional Vision for People + Nature;
  • Workshopping Metro DNA’s Equity Principles, a statement of our shared commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion that will help shape the character and direction of our alliance; and
  • Re-committing to partnership and leadership that will keep our work together thriving in 2019 and for years to come!

Fri, Dec 7 @ The Alliance Center, 6:00 – 8:00 PM

Let the networking and collaboration continue as we join manos with the Americas Latino Eco Festival VI for a Green Latinos Tapas + Learn! 

The Americas Latino Eco Festival (ALEF) is a Latino-hosted multicultural gathering elevating the voices of communities of color, women in conservation, and cultural leadership by fostering collaboration to better tackle environmental problems from many angles. With programming spanning Thursday, Dec 6 through Sunday, Dec 9 ALEF VI is bringing together artists, environmental leaders, community members, students, and families to connect, learn, and build relationships.

Who gets to thrive? A Metro DNA founding story.

The Spring 2018 issue of the University of Denver Magazine featured Metro DNA as one of several forward-looking sustainability solutions with which DU faculty and students have been engaged.

Susan Daggett, Executive Director of the Rocky Mountain Land Use Institute and recipient of the 2018 National Wildlife Federation’s Maggie Fox Award for women’s conservation leadership, began the conversations founding Metro DNA at their annual conference in 2014 when she co-hosted, with the Metropolitan Greenspaces Alliance, a featured track on Conservation in Metropolitan Regions and weekend workshop to envision local collective impact opportunities. Since then, Professor Daggett and other faculty and students have played a crucial role in supporting the alliance’s development, as well as continuing conversations advancing urban social-ecological research in Metro Denver through Center for Community Engagement to advance Scholarship and Learning (CCESL) fellowships and class projects from geography to law.

Issues of sustainability and diversity go hand in hand. Faculty and students are working on solutions.