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The Telluride Institute is an innovative non-profit organization that fosters the transition to a sustainable world. We work with communities, businesses, and the public sector to create and advance real solutions that support the health of environments, cultures, and economies. We collaborate with leading artists, scientists, and educators to map a progressive future.

The Telluride Institute was established in 1984.  In that time it has raised some $4.25 Million towards its charitable goals, millions more in volunteer time, and has played a significant role in giving Telluride some serious cultural and educational identity during the period when the shape of the maturing resort was in flux.

Founded to create strong local environmental and cultural activities in our corner of Colorado, we’re making change happen through freethinking research that has crossed continents, politics, and disciplines. Our programs demonstrate innovative and practical methods for building and sustaining healthy communities and environments.

Rocky Mountain News called us “the World’s highest altitude think tank.”  Others have called us a “think-and-do-tank” because of the practical, hands-on, results-oriented nature of our programs.  We work both locally and globally.

Locally, we are working to inspire and inform a growing group of citizens and help turn them into stewards who care for and protect their surroundings and do business with the health of the San Miguel Watershed in mind. The Watershed is a one million acre basin through which flows the San Miguel River, from its headwaters in the 14,000 foot alpine peaks above Telluride to its confluence with the Dolores River in red rock canyon country at 5,000 feet elevation. Over 60% of the San Miguel Watershed is public land, including some of the nation’s most beautiful and biologically intact landscapes. But there are many pressures on these high, dry, fragile ecosystems, as the Watershed is also one of the two fastest growing areas on the Colorado Plateau, facing tremendous growth and change.

In response to these pressures and to Wallace Stegner’s challenge to Westerners to “build a society to match the scenery,” Telluride Institute has developed major programs, Sense of Place and Deep West Futures, which act strategically to inform and equip local communities with the institutions and tools to care for these

We have been very successful at being a germinator – turning creative ideas into solid, practical organization that later becomes independent institutions.


Telluride Institute is run by a volunteer board of directors known as Trustees and managed by a terrific crew of dedicated staff & faculty.


John Lifton and Pam Zoline
John Clute, The Science Fiction Encyclopedia and
John Naisbitt and Patricia Aburdene, The Megatrends Books
Amory Lovins & L. Hunter Lovins, Rocky Mountain Institute