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Red, white & green for Democrats in Denver

Commentary

Posted: August 27, 2008 7:09 p.m.
Updated: October 29, 2008 5:02 a.m.
 
Media from all over the world descended upon Denver last weekend to kick off the 2008 Democratic National Convention. The media party was held at Elitch Gardens, an amusement park in the heart of Denver. The city may have been painted red, white and blue, but Denver was all about being green.

One of the Democratic National Convention Committee's missions is to have the most environmentally sustainable convention in modern American history. The efforts are very visible. Starting with the "Green Delegate Challenge," delegates are being rewarded for offsetting their carbon footprints. The challenge was offered by House Speaker and Permanent Convention Chair Nancy Pelosi and DNC organizers.

Rewards include preferred seating selection on the floor, a limited-edition "green" prize, and unique wearable "green items." Delegates may obtain their carbon offsets from several domestic community-based clean energy projects through the DNCC's partnership with Native Energy.

The "Freewheelin' bike share" is a fun program that allows users to ride around downtown with ease and at no cost. A thousand bikes are available - 70 will stay in Denver to kick-start a legacy bike program while the rest of the bikes will be sent to St. Paul for the Republican National Convention next week. Bike stations are set up around the convention center as well as major hotel clusters. All bikes are equipped with odometers so riders can measure the positive health and environmental benefits. Hundreds of volunteers are on hand to assist riders with maps, travel guides, safety questions or concerns.

Green Frontier Fest was a full day of celebration and education that offered exhibits, games, notable guest speakers, children activities, live music, entertainment and much more, showcasing everything from renewable energy technologies to everyday products and services. The New Energy Station continues throughout the DNC with information about the Xcel Energy Solar Decathlon House and a 140-foot long wind turbine blade. The station's aim is to create an engaging, educational and empowering view of greener living.

I decided to get involved early and became a member of the "Green Team." As a volunteer and a journalist, I headed to the media party. This first event quickly proved to guests and volunteers, who may not have been aware, that this convention was going to be green. There were no traditional trash receptacles. Instead, a company called Zerohero had numerous waste stations set up throughout the park.

Volunteers were "educating" attendees about where to place their used plates, cups, napkins, etc. Guests were faced with three decisions - recycle, compost or waste.

I learned I was part of the "resource recovery" team and initially thought I was the "trash police." I had no badge and no real arresting powers, so when someone tried to sneak in and throw a compostable in the waste, I just had to smile and "educate." The overwhelming majority of people actually did want to learn and that is one of the goals of the DNC Green Team - not just being green at the convention, but to have people take that knowledge back home. The goal for the evening was only 10 percent waste. Elitches along with other DNC venues have really been doing their part, using plates, cups, flatware and other products not normally thought of as compostable. In just a few weeks these items turn into soil.

Leave no green leaf unturned. There are many other environmentally conscientious measures taking place at the convention; motion-sensor light switches, low-VOC paints, non-toxic cleaners, solar-powered lighting, contractors who are committed to sustainability, recyclable staging materials, alternative fuel or bio-diesel vehicles, water trucks, and even a carbon calculator, just to name a few.

A wise frog once said, "It's not easy being green." But fortunately, it's becoming a lot more accessible.

Debra Jones-Mazotti is a freelance writer, mother of four, resident of Arvada, Colo. and former Santa Clarita resident. Her views represent her own and not necessarily those of The Signal.

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