This episode is a part of a mini-season titled, “Sustainability is a Buzzword”. A series of conversations about conservation, water, agriculture, creativity, and everyday life. They took place in Paonia, CO as part of an artist-in-residence program at the ever-magical Elsewhere Studios.

Rich Rudin has lived in Delta County since the mid-1970s. Today, he oversees irrigation and domestic water – a series of ditches and creeks – on a mesa that 50 families live on in the North Fork Valley of Colorado. This is an important and arguably tricky job, as the Valley is located in the high desert of Colorado where it barely rains.

Originally from New York, Rich let his intuition and love for nature bring him out west. He shares a bit of his back story as well as an inside look into the tension the valley is under in this conversation. We also get into the nitty-gritty of how water rights and distribution work in the Valley, especially during the drought we were experiencing when I was there. Listen above or on iTunes or Spotify.

Show notes

In this episode, we talk about:

  • how his community provides water for their animals in the winter 
  • how 2018 was the worst drought he’s seen and what that meant for the community 
  • the greenhouse effect 
  • what could happen if they don’t get a good snowpack this year
  • his experience as a mercenary firefighter
  • what it was like being in college during the Vietnam War and why he didn’t finish 
  • how the North Fork of Colorado was truly the wild wild west in the 1970s
  • fighting with the coal people to the point of death threats being made
  • and becoming best buddies with them later 
  • the threat of natural gas to their water 
  • water pollution events decision makers need to recognize 
  • his love for cowboying 
  • the importance of sharing and listening to perspectives from “the other side” 
  • blindspots to the true cause of some of the county’s real issues in the leadership 
  • learning to not be against money but rather the love of money 

Resources mentioned in this episode:

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