While riding quite a few miles up and down the Rio Grande Trail over Thanksgiving, I also did a bit of online research of goings-on in the Roaring Fork Valley between Glenwood Spring and Aspen, Colorado.
One of many things prompting my research was observing quite a few yard signs around the area stating:
“United for Thompson Divide”
Nice signs, and I wish I’d taken a photo, but you can find one here in this story of the year that was back in 2015 for the Roaring Fork Valley. Particularly striking was that, amid the cows and birds illustrated in the sign, the wording stays positive (“for”) and has nice interplay between “united” and “Divide.” All in four words. A most excellent slogan.
As for what the slogan is “for,” that’s summed up in the mission of the “Thompson Divide Coalition”:
The mission of the Thompson Divide Coalition is to secure permanent protection from oil and gas development on Federal lands in the Thompson Divide area including the Thompson Creek and Four Mile Creek watersheds, as well as portions of the Muddy Basin, Coal Basin, and the headwaters of East Divide Creek.
The Coalition makes an excellent story, one captured extremely well by Jason Blevins of the Denver Post back in September, 2016. The story starts with the diversity of Coalition membership:
Ranchers arm in arm with mountain bikers. Cross-country skiers in lockstep with snowmobilers. Elk hunters, fishermen, farmers and tree-hugging hippies joined by ATVers, small business owners, conservationists and cattlemen.
“Cross-country skiers in lockstep with snowmobilers?” Is that even legal?
Yes, it apparently is, as the Coalition has, with plenty of bumps, bruises and bellicosity along the way, effectively stayed together and successfully fought expanded oil and gas exploration, at least up to now.
Famous, or infamous if you prefer, Woody Creek Tavern and its Thompson Divide environs a few miles “Down Valley” from Aspen
The guiding collective thought of the Coalition is best summed up here:
“We all think it’s crazy to develop oil and gas everywhere. I don’t graze my cows everywhere,” said Bill Fales, the Carbondale cowboy with the wide brim and Dodge pickup who has been ranching in the Roaring Fork Valley since the early 1970s, long before Aspen become “Glitter Gulch.” “There are some places that have value beyond oil and gas.”
And the best crystallization of how collective agreement between disparate groups is:
“If everyone isn’t happy, then something is working,” said Jason Sewell, a fifth-generation rancher in Carbondale whose great-great grandfather, Myron Thompson, built his family’s home, where one wall boasts the framed 1893 homestead document signed by President Grover Cleveland, allowing the ranching clan to set roots that linger today on the banks of the Crystal River.
You said a political mouthful, there, pardner.
Taking the wisdom and framework above, how can Albuquerque’s “active transportation” (i.e., walking [including to a bus], cycling, using a non-mechanized wheelchair, in-line skating, skateboarding, skiing) community come together and present a slogan something, tentatively, very tentatively, like:
“United for Enjoying Albuquerque Roads”
Okay, it needs some work, but I use the word “enjoying” as a less viscerally combative way of proffering “staying alive on.” We Active Transportation folks can wordsmith a final version in a long series of bump, bruise and bellicosity-filled meetings to come.
And to do that, we on the Active Transportation front need to meet, and that won’t be any easier here than it was up and down Roaring Fork Valley. For example, we in/around Albuquerque have two separate boards, one very generally for walkers and another for cyclists, and yet another board for those who walk to the bus. And many on each of those three boards look askance at skateboarders, truth be told, as folks with which “we” have almost zero in common.
There’s plenty of work to be done, no doubt about it.
Still, it is work worth doing and that can be done. While “United for Thompson Divide” is a bit “apples and oranges” in comparison with Albuquerque (and who doesn’t tire of the “but X isn’t Albuquerque!” mantra from those opposed to doing anything, ever), there are lessons to be learned from Colorado and myriad places elsewhere.
Work is being done between even more hugely disparate groups in other communities. We can study those efforts and successes, learn from them, and move active transportation forward.
P.S.: Another excellent turn of phrase from the Coalition comes from its website:
Colorado is already doing its part to supply the nation with natural gas. Garfield County, for example, has more than 10,000 active oil and gas wells and produces nearly twice as much natural gas and coal-bed methane as any other county in the state.
“Already doing its part.” Nicely stated. Kinda makes me think of Paseo del Norte @ I-25 and a few other roadway projects around these parts over the past few decades…