Justin Brice Guariglia
We Are the Asteroid II, a public art installation by Justin Brice Guariglia that will be exhibited at Anderson Ranch Arts Center as a centerpiece of CORE’s 25th anniversary, Imagine Climate: a celebration of climate art + technology.

“The ecological crisis we face today is the moral imperative of our time. At this critical juncture, art must be used as a positive force for social and political change, and to help open our minds to new possibilities.” 

— Justin Brice Guariglia, environmental activist and artist

By the time President Clinton launched his Climate Change Action Plan in 1993, bold moves to reverse the rising energy trends in the Roaring Fork Valley were already underway. The President’s clarion call “for American ingenuity and creativity, to produce the best and most energy-efficient technology” was answered locally by a volunteer group of visionary citizens, governments and utilities who were, by then, three years into stirring up a local energy revolution. Led by former Aspen mayor Bill Stirling, they were about to achieve approval for an agreement to “collaboratively establish an energy efficiency office” tasked with catapulting the brand-new Pitkin Energy Action Plan into reality. Today, that little office is a fully fledged nonprofit celebrating 25 years of helping the Roaring Fork Valley save energy and cut carbon to protect the climate.

“There’s really nothing quite like CORE all over the country,” said Stirling. “It may have been the first such organization to be formed to provide services to help people save energy and be smarter about its use, funded by government and utilities.”

The nonprofit’s first mandate — to reduce local energy consumption to 1990 levels by the year 2000 — was just the beginning of many audacious goals to come that would employ the twin engines of ingenuity and creativity. In short order, CORE established itself as an innovative leader, breaking ground with the nation’s first carbon mitigation fee (REMP), Colorado’s first wind energy program, and one of the earliest solar rebate programs in the US. Since 2001, when the organization started tracking its impact, CORE has served 5,740 local customers, saving almost $3 million in annual utility bill savings and cutting more than 22,000 metric tons of CO2.

So how does a groundbreaking nonprofit mark its first quarter century? With more bold moves that collaboratively engage the community, of course! Innovation comes naturally to us.

“It’s systemic in the organization,” continued Stirling. “Without it, we wouldn’t be where we are today. We’ve always been shooting for the moon.”

Audacity is on deck next month, when we’re kicking off Imagine Climate, a monthlong celebration of climate art and technology in honor of the 25th anniversary. From March 4 through April 1, leading artists, technologists and climate scientists will offer creative perspectives and solutions to the climate crisis through a program of community events. The centerpiece of Imagine Climate is a partnership with Anderson Ranch Arts Center that brings a public art installation by artist Justin Brice Guariglia, and a visual art show to the valley. Thanks to wide support from community partners, all events are free and open to the public.

“We’re leveraging innovation and creativity to accelerate the climate conversation,” said Mona Newton, executive director of CORE. “Imagine Climate is designed to spark meaningful community action and engage diverse audiences. No matter what you’re interested in — mountains, snow, art, technology, or efficiency —  everyone’s invited to participate.”

Operating at the intersection of science and art with a variety of nonprofit, business and municipal partners, Imagine Climate offers a diverse array of free community programming:

  • We Are the Asteroid II” public art installation by environmental activist and artist Justin Brice Guariglia // Mar 4-Apr 1 // Anderson Ranch Arts Center // Snowmass Village
  • Imagine Climate: artists on climate change: a visual arts exhibition with regional, national and international artists // Mar 4-Apr 1 // Anderson Ranch Arts Center and a satellite show at The Collective in Base Village // Snowmass Village
    • Artists: Kate Aitchison, Linda Girvin, Justin Brice Guariglia, Fleming Jeffries, Genevieve Lowe, Jill Pelto, Lauren Peterson, Adrien Segal, Lara Whitley
    • Opening reception + art talk: Mar 5, 5-7PM
  • Future Energy: a technologist, a climate scientist and an artist walk into a bar // Mar 13 // 6PM (doors at 5:30) // Aspen Center for Physics // Aspen
    • Panelists:
      • Bryan Hannegan, President/CEO of Holy Cross Energy
      • Roger S. Pulwarty, Senior Science Advisor for Climate, NOAA-Boulder
      • Sarah Uhl, Environmental Artist
    • Demonstration project: envisioning our energy future
  • The Human Element: film screening + conversation // Mar 21, 7PM (doors at 6:30) // The Temporary // Basalt
    • With Emmy-Award winning explorer and photographer James Balog
  • Put Your Foot Down” carbon drop station at all events, with the opportunity to win an electric bike from Basalt Bike + Ski

Imagine Climate’s month-long focus will take place in March, selected to land when high season has, in recent years, met receding winter. While the 2018-19 season is on solid footing, this sobering trend has signaled the increase in the valley’s frost-free days due to our warming planet. Imagine Climate and We Are the Asteroid remind us that we must stay vigilant and active.

“The highway sign, which warns us to slow down and pay attention to what’s ahead, was ‘this great embedded metaphor,’” said Guariglia in a recent profile in The New Yorker. “‘It’s exactly what we need right now across the planet.’”

To learn more about Imagine Climate, visit us at www.aspencore.org/events. All events are free and open to the public, and reservations for The Human Element screening and conversation are recommended (available at www.tacaw.org).

Imagine Climate would not be possible without generous community-wide support from nonprofits, businesses and municipalities in the valley, including:

Imagine Climate Sponsors