For one of the performers at Wednesday night’s Roaring Stories storytelling event at Rock Bottom Ranch, the moment came when he was mountaineering and an ice field that had been there when he was younger was nearly gone. For another, the moment came when her time in Mexico showed her that there were smarter ways to stay cool than just running air conditioners around the clock. For yet another, a sushi chef, the moment came when he realized he could make soil his magic ingredient.

They’re tales that answer the question, “When did climate change become real for you?” This is the theme of Wednesday’s event, which is in its second year but under a new name (it was called Fire in the Belly last year). Roaring Stories, a collaboration between the Community Office for Resource Efficiency, the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, Writ Large and KDNK, gives a diverse cadre of locals a stage and a microphone to tell their stories to help move climate change from an abstract concept to something that resonates on a more intimate level for the audience.

“We’re using stories because of how personal and potent they are as a way to engage and touch people’s hearts,” said Lara Whitley, CORE’s brand and creative strategy director. “Stories are a powerful tool for galvanizing change.” The storytellers will include Samuel Bernal-Urbina, Bill Kight, Mike Marolt, Mona Newton, Beatriz Soto and Taylor Hale, Valley residents who have been coached by Alya Howe, the driving force behind the Writ Large storytelling series. Tasked with helping her mostly inexperienced public speakers draw out the compelling stories around their moments of realization, Howe asked them to look inside and think about why it was important to them.

“I want them to ask questions and mine the story a little bit,” said Howe. “What popped out for you? What was the beginning moment that just lit a fire in your belly around climate change?”

The results, delivered beneath the ranch’s open-air pole barn, should make for a fine centerpiece to an evening that will also include a solar seed house tour, story engagement station, mini farm stand, drinks from Marble Distilling Co. and Capitol Creek Brewery and food for purchase from Slow Groovin’ BBQ, all set against the idyllic backdrop of ACES’ stunning Rock Bottom Ranch. It’s a setting that CORE deliberately chose for its power to help inspire green thoughts.

“We work in energy and environment; that’s CORE’s space,” said Whitley, “so to have an event in the natural environment is absolutely one of our creative strategies.”

Another strategy of CORE’s is to try to reach as wide a range of people as possible, so when Whitley and Howe went looking for storytellers, they made sure to curate a show that spoke to a wide spectrum, with young and old male and female voices from both the Valley’s anglo and latino communities taking the stage.

“We’re trying to get the whole community to feel like they’re represented,” said Whitley. “We have people who live up and down the Valley. We have men. We have women. We have different ages. We have people of different ethnicities. We’re trying to represent the Valley.”

The stories about the moments are intended to entertain, certainly. Hearing tales of adventure in a spectacular setting with a drink in one hand and a plate of barbecue in your lap is supposed to be fun, of course. But beyond that, they’re meant to be a call to arms, a chance to spread the seeds of change in every community, and Whitley attested to the power of personal stories to aid in the task.

“We find that our audiences are moved,” said Whitley, “and that’s what we’re trying to do: move people to action. And our storytellers help us do that.”

Last year’s Fire in the Belly event sold out, so get tickets ($18) while you can at The event starts at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 5. Attendees are encouraged to bike or carpool to Rock Bottom Ranch to earn VIP seating.

Todd Hartley writes for the Aspen Daily News. He can be reached at