The freedom to pee in “Urinetown: The Musical” helped start a conversation with local officials about regulations and planning for the future following a performance of the show on Sunday.
The show focuses on the trials of a drought-stricken town where private bathrooms have been outlawed and everyone must pay to use public restrooms, hurting some of the town’s poorest people. Lifting the restrictions on restrooms pollutes the town’s water and eventually the water supply dries up.
“The good guys take over and everything falls apart,” states Little Sally, a character in the play.
Following the play, Durango City Councilor Dean Brookie, La Plata County Commissioner Gwen Lachelt, La Plata Electric Association board member Guinn Unger and state Rep. Barbara McLachlan spoke to a crowd of about 60 at the Mainstage Theater at Fort Lewis College as part of a Talk Back.
The Fort Lewis Environmental Center and Theatre Department hosted the panel, which was meant to tie together the work of both departments, said Rachel Landis, the Environmental Center’s coordinator and panel moderator.
The event was inspired by Zach Bauer, a student who participated in the play and works for the Environmental Center. she said.
It was also an opportunity to explore: “Where do we slip up in terms of underregulation and overregulation?” Landis said. The play also brought up the question of balancing the immediate needs of the population and those of the future.
LPEA Board Member Guinn Unger discussed the short-term and long-term consequences of climate change. Left unaddressed, it could cause ice at the poles to melt, flooding coastal areas, destroying trillions of dollars in property and displacing people.
“Do you have the foresight to look out and say this is a big deal?” he asked.
McLachlan addressed a similar problem with increasing funding for education at the state level.
“Nobody wants to say that education costs money,” she said.
Colorado now ranks below Mississippi and Alabama in education spending. However, efforts to increase spending are hurt by the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights and the Gallagher Amendment, both rules written into the state’s constitution, she said.
“What’s best for the next generation? What’s best for the kids that are going to be running our world?” she asked.
McLachlan encouraged the crowd, including many students, to seek out good information on political issues and not to trust all headlines shared on social media.
“None of this democracy stuff is going to work if we don’t know what’s going on,” Unger said.