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Green city guide created by students

Scott Condon
Vail, CO Colorado
Courtesy Will EvansMatt Klahn, who graduated Saturday from Basalt High School, distributes the midvalley Green Map.
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Carbondale, Basalt and El Jebel are finally on the map ” the Green Map.

A group of seven high school students and five adults this spring created the first map devoted to showcasing environmentally oriented businesses and community services in the Roaring Fork Valley.

The map resembles the information-packed graphic extravaganzas that National Geographic is famous for. One side features layouts of Carbondale and Basalt/El Jebel. Businesses and services that qualified as “green” were assigned a number on the map, and then users can go to an index and find out more about that business.

The flip side of the map uses boxes of information to discuss cornerstones of sustainability. Concise, clearly written tidbits educate readers about critical issues like water use, energy consumption and wildlife habitat. They assess critical issues in the Roaring Fork Valley and where people can go for additional information.

The vision of the Green Map, the text explains, is to provide an aid for making the valley sustainable ” allowing the valley to meet its needs locally and living within the carrying capacity of its ecosystem.

One important step in promoting sustainability is making people aware of businesses that offer green products or services, said Matt Klahn, 18, who graduated from Basalt High School this weekend. Klahn was a member of the Basalt High School Recycle Club and immersed himself in helping create the Green Map for his senior project.

He believes there are a good number of people like him who are interested in buying green products, but don’t know where they are available. The map serves a dual purpose ” it guides consumers to businesses and helps increase the market for green products and services.

Klahn and six other high school students from the region helped choose businesses for the map. Businesses were encouraged to apply, then the group used a checklist to make sure they qualified. Standards included the esoteric ” “striving to be an environmental leader” ” to the specific ” “conserving water, energy, materials and other resources.”

The Green Map was put together as part of Sustaining Tomorrow Today, a program run by Sustainable Settings, a Carbondale nonprofit organization. Will Evans and Jason White, both of Carbondale, were two of the adults who launched the plan and helped guide the team that created it over the last six months.

White was the spark behind introducing a green map to the Roaring Fork Valley. Evans saw it as a great way to involve high school students in a meaningful environmental project for the valley.

The first green map, created in New York City in the mid-1990s, captured worldwide interest, White said.

There is a loose sort of self-regulating community that promotes the maps. The key is using universal icons that White describes as part of a “global visual language.”

The icons include a juicy, ripe tomato to symbolize restaurants or stores that sell organic or natural food, a green star for a green business, and a deciduous tree for public lands.

White said he is proud of the inaugural effort in the Roaring Fork Valley. “A lot of places, people didn’t know they existed until they saw this map,” he said.

This effort will feed off itself, White predicted. Consumers will pursue more green goods and services. Additional businesses will want to be on the next edition of the map ” possibly inspiring them to increase their green practices so they qualify.

White said businesses that want to participate have already contacted Sustaining Tomorrow Today. “I think the day [this map] came out, it was dated,” he said with a touch of pride.

Green maps can be viewed online at the Web site: http://GreenMap.org


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