As many of our readers know, the Sustainable Economic & Enterprise Development Institute (SEED) at Regis University focuses on fostering the development of vibrant and resilient cities where all citizens can thrive. During our first year, we have advanced this mission through research, high-impact programming, and the development of an array of online tools that facilitate community collaboration and outreach. I’m so pleased to bring you – our blog readers – up to date on our accomplishments this year and to provide a glimpse into the exciting new initiatives we have in store for the coming academic term.
As an academic institute, our primary purpose is to assemble the most dynamic and creative researchers and thought leaders to bring state-of-the-art knowledge to our constituents and partners in the field of regenerative urban development. Advancing this branch of our mission is one of our greatest successes this year! We began by creating the Regis SEED Faculty Fellows Program, which provides financial support to faculty members on the Regis campus in return for their contributions to the research initiatives in SEED. This year’s inaugural group of Faculty Fellows has contributed six fantastic articles to the Regenerative Development Blog – advancing our thinking on topics such as the human-wildlife interface, the regenerative dimensions of healthcare, equity dimensions of gentrification, and affordable housing. They have participated in and helped to organize several of our SEED events across the Denver metropolitan area, including our Gentrification conference – a three-day event that brought together scholars, government officials, students and concerned citizens for educational and impassioned conversation regarding the challenges of gentrification in Denver.
Our Faculty Fellows are also involved in one of SEED’s focal initiatives: The CityCraft® Integrated Research Center in the Sun Valley EcoDistrict, adjacent to downtown Denver. This research collaboratory brings together six colleges and universities across the Colorado Front Range with a focus around regenerative community development. In partnership with CityCraft® Ventures, the Sun Valley EcoDistrict, and the residents of Sun Valley, our research partnership will facilitate traditional and applied research on the regenerative initiatives in Sun Valley, along with educational activities that examine and advance the critical characteristics of regenerative community development. You can learn more about the Sun Valley EcoDistrict at SVED.org.
To serve our Denver citizens, businesses, NGOs and government officials we convened or co-sponsored several key events across the Front Range during the 2016-17 academic year. In partnership with the Alliance for Sustainable Colorado, we hosted the Gentrification Conference in January, which featured distinguished authors and scholars Tammy Lewis and Ken Gould from Brooklyn College. Tammy and Ken discussed their new book Green Gentrification, sharing insights into the ways that “greening” our cities can lead to displacement of the poor and communities of color – even when the goal of that greening was to increase the quality of life of these groups. The conference also featured local development organizations – Michael Leccese of the Urban Land Institute and Chris Parr of the Sun Valley EcoDistrict discussed plans for the Sun Valley neighborhood and the Federal Corridor. Each shared their concerns regarding displacement and their strategies for collaborating with local citizens to foster improved quality of life for their community partners while protecting their access to affordable housing. On the final day of the conference, participants described the contours of the Denver they want, which is first and foremost a diverse and inclusive Denver that provides culturally vibrant and affordable communities for all of Denver’s citizens.
SEED also had the opportunity to work with the Denver American Indian Commission and the International Institute for Indigenous Resource Management (IIIRM) to host two panels focused on natural resources in Indian Country. In March, we hosted a panel of distinguished Water Keepers at the Alliance for Sustainable Colorado to discuss the Dakota Access Pipeline and why Native people from around the country gathered to stand against the project. Panel participants included Lee Plenty Wolf, spiritual leader and Drum Keeper; Angela Bibens, Santee Dakota attorney who provided legal services to Water Keepers on the front lines; Theresa Halsey, editor of the Indian Voices Newsletter and a producer at KGNU radio; and Doug Good Feather, who leads Lakota Way of Healing Center. In April, as part of the Regis University Earth Week celebration, SEED joined with IIIRM to host a two-day roundtable on the development of energy resources by and with tribes on Native lands. The roundtable was led by Merv Tano, President of IIRM, and among the honored participants were Ernest House, Jr., Executive Secretary of the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs; Don Wharton, Attorney at the Native American Rights Fund; Maymangwa Flying Earth, Co-Chair of the Denver American Indian Commission; and Carla Fredericks, Director of the American Indian Law Clinic at the University of Colorado Law School.
One of our most exciting partnerships this year has been with Hunter Lovins, President and Founder of Natural Capitalism Solutions. Hunter became SEED’s first Executive Fellow in December 2016 and will serve in that capacity until December 2017. As part of that partnership, SEED was a co-sponsor of the first annual Regenerative Future Summit, held at the University of Colorado in Boulder. This exciting three-day event brought together over 300 thought leaders, economists, business professionals, and internationally recognized authors to envision a regenerative future for our global economy. Some of the high-impact speakers included: Kate Raworth, author of Doughnut Economics; Donna Morton, Co-Founder and CEO of Change Finance; Bob Costanza, affectionately known as the father of ecological economics and Professor at Australia National University, and Kim Coupounas, Director of B-Lab – a leader in certifying B Corporations in Denver. The primary deliverable of this conference was a crowd funding effort that resulted in over $100K of support for a global organization called Leading for Wellbeing, which will be headed by Stewart Wallace, Founder of the New Economics Foundation. This organization will spearhead global dialogue to advance regenerative economic models throughout our international economic institutions. You can watch presentations and learn more about the Regenerative Future Summit at: https://regenerativefuturesummit.org.
All of us at SEED are grateful for the partnerships and shared initiatives that have helped us to bring scholarly data and insights in service to our surrounding communities. Going forward, we hope you will join us as we enhance our current programming and grow our activities. In the weeks ahead, keep your eyes open for an announcement regarding the addition of a revered Executive-in-Residence, who is joining SEED and the Regis College of Business & Economics. Stay tuned as well for the dates of our panels and conference at the Alliance for Sustainable Colorado; we have a stellar line-up of regenerative development programs in the works, which are focused on defining the regenerative organization. In September, we will also announce the winners of our 2017-18 SEED Faculty Fellowships. So, take a look at our website (http://www.regis.edu/SEED); follow us on Twitter (@RegisUSEED); and, most importantly, we’d love to see you at one of our upcoming events!
About the Author
Dr. Beth Schaefer Caniglia
Founding Director, SEED Institute
Read her bio