Carbondale will be featured in a forthcoming documentary on communities’ battles with growth.
Colorado Springs producer/director Dave Gardner filmed the appearance of big-box battler Michael Shuman as he made a presentation to Carbondale while residents were grappling with the possibility of a Home Depot. The prospect was dividing the town, but ultimately, Town Council members opted against.
“I’ve been scanning the landscape for communities that really have been heroic in terms of protecting their identity and character and not succumbing to a lot of the mythology of growth and development,” said Gardner, a self-described “growthologist” who has crusaded against Colorado Springs’ sprawl.
Gardner will present a 20-minute sampler of the film, “Hooked on Growth,” next week at the Energy Film Fest presented by the Roaring Fork Group of the Sierra Club. Gardner is expected to be on hand for the presentations, set for Nov. 20-22 in Basalt, Carbondale and New Castle. While Carbondale is slated to be in the full-length film, don’t look for a cameo in the sampler.
“It doesn’t have the stuff I shot in Carbondale, sadly,” he said.
Gardner set out to chronicle the growth ethic that spread across the Front Range, including his home city, and uses the area as a poster child for the growth that has likewise raged in cities like Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles.
Many of the communities Gardner deals with fought big-box developments and lost. Some didn’t fight at all. Carbondale is an example of a town that fought a big box and won.
“We’re busy ruining the Front Range as fast as we can because we didn’t appreciate what we have,” Gardner said. “We didn’t act quickly enough. People live in Carbondale because they really have an acute appreciation for the character of that community.”
He came to Carbondale last year to shoot Shuman’s appearance. The author of the book “The Small-Mart Revolution,” Shuman encourages communities to avoid big-box development.
“I think it’s a great role model,” said Laurie Loeb, a founder of the group the Town Mothers that battled Carbondale’s big-box development. “I think community organizing is great and I think one of the things the film will do is show that people can have power and they don’t need to roll over like a dead dog and get steamrolled by big business that’s wiping out the individual characters of communities.”
Loeb said she received numerous calls from organizers in other communities trying to repeat her success.
Gardner said his film will be a controversial one that goes beyond blocking Wal-Marts from small towns.
“I’m not saying let’s stop sprawl or slow growth,” he said. “I’m saying, at the end of the day, we need to stop growing. And that’s pretty radical.”
The 20-minute version is part of a series that will screen at 7 p.m. Nov. 20 at Riverside Grill in Basalt, Nov. 21 at Dos Gringos Burritos in Carbondale and Nov. 22 at Main Street Coffee House in New Castle. Other films, most with a more strictly energy focus, include “The End of Suburbia,” “Oil on Ice” and “Fighting Goliath.”