If only the positive energy on display at Thursday night's sustainability dialogue could power a combustion engine.About 75 people came to the first La Plata Sustainability Forum at the Durango City Council Chambers, to sound off to assembled government officials and wax optimistic.
The event, sponsored by the Sustainability Alliance of Southwest Colorado, brought together officials from Durango, Ignacio, Bayfield and the Southern Ute Indian Tribe and representatives of many of the area's green organizations. The sustainability alliance intends to make the forums a regular event.
Officials sat in front and briefed the audience about their recent efforts and objectives before the floor was opened to the crowd. Many in the audience scribbled notes and talked about their own programs and sustainability efforts when they stood to speak.
Katrina Blair of the Turtle Lake Refuge asked about a push for organic compost in city limits.
"One vision I have for Durango is that we shift away from using chemical fertilizers," she said.
Ginger Richardson suggested an online green business directory to help eco-minded residents make informed transactions. She got a little more stern when she began discussing city snow disposal in the Animas River.
"I'm really appalled," she said.
Put on the spot, Assistant Durango City Manager Greg Caton assured Richardson he would look into the matter.
"Your points are well-taken," he said. "We are looking for a new snow-storage location."
Werner Heiber, the sustainability alliance chairman, saw plenty to be thankful for at the meeting. He noted that it was unlikely a City Council meeting would pack the chambers like the forum had.
"But there needs to be a measure of success," he said.
Before the meeting, Heiber said his group is attempting to monitor green progress in the area with clearly-defined criteria. The group - and the idea of sustainability in general - cannot survive on good ideas alone, he said.
Former 9-R School District school board member Chris Paulson warned of complacency when she spoke near the end of the meeting.
"If a year from now, when we come together, we haven't done anything about sustainability, I would say none of us are really serious about this," she said.