Thursday, February 10, 2011

Reaping local benefits

We all know that we're in a time of economic strife- nationally and locally. A lot of us are wondering, "How can we turn this around and how can I earn a living?" and moreover, "How can I earn a living while also doing something I am passionate about in my community?" How do communities encourage economic recovery that encompasses community and environment, and strives to encourage and utilize local talents, expertise, innovation and creativity?

These are the questions being asked in communities across the country and around the world. Movements like Transition Towns, ICLEI- Local Governments for Sustainability, the US Mayor's Climate Agreement, to just name a few, demonstrate the breadth of what is happening on the local level around the world, in response to this growing concern.

Here, in SW Colorado, I am taking part in a regional Resource and Energy Action Plan (the REAP) where diverse representatives from our five county region (Archuleta, Dolores, La Plata, Montezuma, and San Juan Counties, as well as the Southern Ute and Mountain Ute Indian Reservations) are coming together to create a plan that responds to these needs and desires expressed in our community by collaborating to formulate the REAP.

REAP, a model for REAPing Economic Recovery

The REAP's Advisory Board consists of community representatives, including elected officials, ranchers, farmers, utilities, businesses, oil and gas representatives, non-profits, bankers, planners, educators, economic development, subject matter experts, and other sector representatives of SW Colorado and our regional counties. This process demonstrates true collaboration- bringing multi-stakeholders from different sides of the table- to the table.

REAP's Mission
is to ensure Southwest Colorado uses resources and energy effectively and efficiently to create economic opportunities and improve quality of life by developing and implementing the Resource and Energy Action Plan.

REAP's Vision
is that Southwest Colorado will REAP the benefits of effective use of resources and sustain a thriving region of rural, agricultural, and mountainous communities.

REAP's Guiding Principles
  • Energy and Conservation Ensure significant progress toward more efficient, safe and healthy resource technologies in order to enhance, promote, and diversify the local economy and job market; support and strengthen the region’s agriculture and building sectors; and engage and integrate the existing energy industry.
  • Economic Vitality and Diversity Encourage local economic development and consumption that preserves and protects our heritage, natural resources, agriculture and energy production, thus providing opportunities for our diverse population to thrive in Southwest Colorado.
  • Infrastructure Improve, expand and diversify community systems and services, such as transportation, public utilities, and resource recovery options.
  • Vibrant and Involved Community Increase communication between all sectors and cultures throughout our region; promote education and involvement in existing and potential energy and economic opportunities.
  • Environmental Stewardship Protect, conserve, and ensure the quality of our ecological resources
A REAP-type project take shape any where and can tackle the same the question- "How do we REAP local expertise, talents, creativity and innovation?" and "How do we REAP new jobs that support our community and environment?"