This month’s Featured Friend is Open Boulder, a local grassroots organization that is working to make city and county governance more effective. The group is offering big ideas and practical action to help more Boulderites engage. Describing itself as nonpartisan and practical, Open Boulder is striving to build a membership of moderate individuals of all ages, cultures and economic backgrounds. We wanted to introduce you to one.
Attorney, Principal with Hartman Employment Law Practice LLC
Years lived in Boulder County? Since 2000
Where did you grow up? New York City
What drew you to Boulder County? Career opportunity and family. My in laws had moved here several years earlier from Ann Arbor and it was an opportunity to raise our children near family and in a completely different environment from where we were – living and working in downtown Chicago. It was a time in our lives to take chances instead of staying on the path we were on.
Interests and hobbies? Travel, theatre, books, cooking, skiing and hiking. I am on the Board of Directors of the Dairy Center for the Arts and I also enjoy acting as a mentor for law students at the University of Colorado Law School by teaching employment law as part of the Entrepreneurial Law Clinic and helping advise students.
How did you find out about Open Boulder? I am friends with one of the original founders, Jim Butterworth. We had talked about many of the issues on which Open Boulder is focused over the years.
What is your involvement? I am on the Steering Committee.
What are you hoping to achieve, short term, long term? My particular interest and focus is on an improved governance model for the city of Boulder and not any particular single issue. Our current system is too reactive rather than pro-active, and suffers from a lack of vision in the governance model. On a macro level, efforts at change are resisted because they don’t reflect historically how the city has operated, instead of alternative approaches actually being thoughtfully and carefully evaluated.
While Boulder is continually recognized in the media as an advanced city with excellent leadership and cutting edge advances in the areas of technology, sustainability, arts, culture, science and even food and wine, for those who actually live and work here the bureaucracy and effort that it takes to accomplish such excellence can be stifling, and at times almost prohibitive. For me, Boulder is a great place to live and work, but increasingly it is that only for a narrow band of residents. It could be so much more for so many more.
If there was one thing you would make better about Boulder County what would it be? Several things, actually: A more democratically and representationally elected city council that reflects the composition of Boulder. Reduced bureaucracy and a city that encourages all of the economic and social good that emanates from the companies and individuals who choose to make Boulder their home. More inclusivity on commissions and boards to broaden the number of voices being heard.
What are your suggestions to other community members who aren’t involved in local governance? You can make a difference and you can effect change, but not from your living room. If we want to change how we are governed and what the priorities for the city of Boulder are, we have to do more than talk about our concerns. We have to get involved and make change happen from the top down. I understand that many people have tried to get nominated for committees and to participate in local governance, but they feel that their efforts have been re-buffed in favor of existing special interests or candidates. We have to keep trying to be heard. And Open Boulder is here to help. I am encouraged by the breadth of individuals that have come together to participate in Open Boulder. There are business owners and single moms, people who are new to Boulder and people who have been here most of their lives, recent CU grads and retirees. It may sound cliché, but Open Boulder is a very big and diverse tent.