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International Mtn. Day celebrated at Western Colorado University in Gunnison!

Watch the short video recap (above) and read the account written for the “Up Bear Creek” column in the Montrose Mirror, by Art Goodtimes (below).

MOUNTAIN RESILIENCE COALITION … The Telluride Institute joined a large swath of mountain organizations to celebrate the United Nations 17th Annual International Mountain Day this Dec. 11th on the campus of Western Colorado University in Gunnison and in the Crested Butte Resort Ballroom at Mt. Crested Butte’s Lodge at Mountaineer Square.

Founded in 2003 by the United Nations General Assembly, International Mountain Day (IMD) has been celebrated under the aegis of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FOA) of the U.N., a separate and independent membership agency with 197 members and headquartered in Rome.

Recently retired FOA project coordinator specializing in forestry, Doug McGuire was a special guest speaker at several IMD events last week. He spoke briefly and gave an introduction to the FOA and its work at a student-sponsored Mountains Matter arts social Tuesday night the 10th at Western’s Coffee Lounge, where I read mountain poems, including the “Valley Floor Rant” with its last line celebrating the “mountains’ mother hum”. McGuire also spoke at the early morning project information sharing with international students and researchers from 10 universities around the world at the distance learning room at Western’s School of Environment & Sustainability.

I don’t think I appreciated how powerful the partnership’s “Doctor John” Hausdoerffer had brokered with various mountain organizations was until I sat through two hours of these reports of mountain projects from around the world – many of them supported by graduate students from Western’s Masters in Environmental Management (MEM) who complete real world international projects rather than shelf-bound theses on the way to getting their degrees. It was particularly moving to hear from youth around the world at this session after FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu announced the year’s theme for IMD at the UN’s Climate Change Conference (COP25) in Madrid: “Mountains Matter for Youth”.

A YouTube video of the entire two hours is available and a short two-minute video celebration of the event can be viewed by watching the video at the top of this page.

Other student activities on campus included a Mindfulness session, Mountain empowerment options and a Mountain prom in the evening.

But the high point of the celebration was a fancy banquet at Vail Resorts newly-acquired ski area with speeches by McGuire, the Executive Director of the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory Ian Billick, MEM’s Hausdoerffer, and a poem/letter from poet and professor Aaron Abeyta of Antonito – probably the most moving presentation of the evening. Hausdoerffer used the occasion to announce yet another mountain organization — MEM’s Center for Mountain Transitions with its partners the Mountain Institute, Butch Clark’s Coldharbour Institute, the mountain-based Sister Cities Network, Americorps, and the Western Alliance for Restoration Management — to add to the mix of the U.N.’s Mountain Partnership and the Mountain Resilience Coalition (Telluride Institute, Aspen International Mountains Foundation, and Western’s School of Environmental and Sustainability). For more info on the great projects MEM students are involved with visit this website.

TECH OR TEK … One fascinating point came in the presentation where Ms. Huizhao Yang, a student at the Centre for Mountain Futures, Chinese Academy of Sciences, explained the importance of TEK – traditional environmental knowledge – in developing seasonal calendars for agriculture and food production. It gave me a whole new perspective on what “tech” could mean.

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