Sep 212008
Authors: Trevor Simonton

A diverse crowd of students, flannel-wearing farmers, dreadlock-clad hippies, white-collar businessmen and simple suburban families clamored around the lawn of the Rocky Mountain Raptor Center this weekend.

More than 40 booths and a dozen interactive workshops covered the lawn located just west of the intersection of LeMay Avenue and Vine Drive for Fort Collins’ ninth annual Sustainable Living Fair.

Fort Collins residents came by the thousands to the fair, which aimed to raise awareness of green energy program benefits, sustainable living practices and the importance of local business patronage.

Products on display ranged from homemade wind turbines and a solar-powered oven to New Belgium beers and bright-colored hammocks.

Dana Duprey, a member of the fair’s Steering Committee, said that the expected headcount is around 13,000 — about 10,000 people came to last year’s fair.

Saturday afternoon, hundreds of cars were lined along both sides of a 90-yard stretch of Vine Drive, as the event parking began to exceed capacity.

While many CSU students came to attend the festivities, others came to tend the booths and volunteer their time.

Victor Sam and Andrew Jones are two CSU environmental engineering students who volunteered at the fair.

Sam summed up sustainable living as “living with the least possible amount of impact to the environment,” which entails renewable resources, recycling and renewable energy sources.

“It’s cool to see so many renewable technologies here,” Jones said. “It’s really exciting as environmental engineers. This is what we want we want to do.”

Standing out from such a multitude of people was no easy task, but Gailmarie Kimmel gave it her best shot in her “Be Local” bee suit.

Kimmel is the founder and director of the Local Living Economy Project, an organization that aims to encourage northern Colorado communities to shop, farm, eat and live independently from other communities.

“Keeping farmers on a local landscape lessens their environmental impact because they don’t have to move food all over the country,” she said. “It also deepens a sense of community.”

“Be Local” is an undertaking of the Local Living Economy project; it has compiled a coupon book that features over 150 local businesses.

“It’s a celebration of independent businesses that aims to build a local industry business network, so local businesses can find each other and work together,” she said.

Kimmel said that developing a local economy is beneficial not only to the environment, but also to community life and long-term economic viability.

“You have to inherit this economy,” she said to students. “So start paying attention to it now.”

More information on the LLE and Be Local:

More information on sustainable living:

Senior Reporter Trevor Simonton can be reached at

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