Conference puts food economy on table


Transition Colorado is the reorganized, combined version of nonprofits Transition Boulder and Boulder County Going Local.

Got that? Well, all you have to know is that the new mission is a modern twist on “Think globally, act locally.” Transition Colorado puts that kind of thinking into action in a number of ways.

The latest will be a weekend conference on growing and sustaining the local economy, Feb. 25-27, at the Millennium Harvest Hotel in Boulder.

The focus here will be on stoking “food localization as economic development,” an expansion of the organization’s ongoing EAT LOCAL! campaign.

“If we can increase local food production as much as possible, it will mean new jobs, new economic activity,” says Michael Brownlee, co-founder of Transition Colorado. “It’s an area of production that our economists and government are not regarding as economic development.”

And that is odd, because we all need to eat. And no matter what we eat, for most of us it means a lot of people are needed to get it from the field to our tables, even when close to home. When you boost the number of those jobs within the community, it boosts the local economy.

“More than $700 million is spent annually on food in Boulder County,” says Brownlee. “Less than 1 percent of that is spent on what is locally produced.

“Our goal, what we call the 10 percent Local Food Shift Challenge and Pledge, is to be able to devote about 10 percent of our food budget on locally produced food.”

(The food expenditure information is based on a 2009 study for Colorado State University, using 2007 Agriculture Census data done by Ken Meter for the Crossroads Resource Center in Minneapolis, Minn.,

The conference will begin with the showing of a documentary on bringing economic empowerment home, “The Economics of Happiness,” Feb. 25 at 7 p.m., Unity of Boulder, 2855 Folsom St. General admission is $5.

The rest of the weekend’s activities will be given over to special speakers and discussions on putting ideas into action.

The theme on Feb. 26 will be Bringing the Economy Home, with morning keynote speaker Nicole Foss, co-author of the blog “The Automatic Earth.” Foss runs the Agri-Energy Producers’ Association of Ontario, and has an extensive background in energy and finance.

Afternoon keynote speakers will be Michael Shuman of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, Woody Tasch, founder of Slow Money, and Brownlee.

The second full day of the conference will focus on bringing community producers and movers of our local foodshed together for practical brainstorming.

The entire conference costs $50 in advance, $60 at the door — but don’t let the cost hold you back.

“We’ll have student discounts and scholarships,” says Brownlee. “Call Transition Colorado’s office if you really want to attend but can’t afford it.”

For more information on Transition Colorado, call 303-494- 1521 or visit Also check out The Automatic Earth at, the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies at and Slow Money at

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