Have You Met?
Name: John Powers
Resident: Boulder, Colorado
Education: Oberlin College (B.A. history and psychology), M.B.A. University of Colorado
Profession: Environmental protection via grant making and coalition building
Family: Mother, sister, three nieces and two nephews
Story by: Phyllis St. John
John Powers is a man with a vision and a purpose. He’s dedicated to making a difference and spends much of his time educating and promoting environmental causes which benefit our population and future generations. It’s hard to get him on a subject that’s not environmentally driven; conversation always returns to his main passion the environment. “My vision is to create the Alliance for a Sustainable Colorado, which will be a collaborative effort among progressive non-profit organizations and green or sustainable for-profit businesses that would ultimately include governmental entities and elected representatives.”
For over a decade John has been interested in facilitating collaboration, communication and cooperation among progressive non-profit organizations in the Denver area by securing a building they could share. “If we can find a suitable building, it would become a showcase of cooperation and efficient use of shared resources, incorporating green building design elements including energy efficiency, non-toxic materials, recycling and that encourages shared transportation.” John is very excited about the next phase of his overall plan. “A project team is in the early development stage; setting up the organization, identifying an appropriate site/building, drafting a building and operations program, completing case studies and searching for funding and financing. We welcome anyone who would like to become involved with this project. You can contact me at 303-449-2522 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
John’s adult journey through life began with his purchase and renovation of a ranch in Rifle, Colorado. Next, he obtained his real estate license, then bought and remodeled a house in downtown Rifle. Not one to sit still, it wasn’t long before he was onto his next venture. “I got a bit antsy after seven years in Rifle so I went to Amsterdam, in the Netherlands, and worked in a hotel kitchen.” When John came back to the states, he went to business school and received his MBA at CU. After a training stint with Abacus Group in Boulder, he became the store director and then product manager for Microland S.A. in Geneva, Switzerland and a served as a board member for CAD Distributors in Boulder. “When I came back from Switzerland I was curious as to what I could do that would have more meaning. I started looking for areas wherein humans and nature were working in harmony to create something”.
Did you always have an interest in the environment? My sister was a strong influence on me in my younger years. She was always taking care of little creatures and taught me a sensitivity I probably wouldn’t have found elsewhere. I visited my father in 1966 when he was a trustee for the Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies and a love for the Colorado outdoors began in earnest. When I got out of college, I bought a rural piece of property north of Rifle. It didn’t have electricity or functioning water. I bought a mobile home and a backhoe, got lessons from the fellow who introduced me to the property and I put in a water system, a propane gas tank, piping and the foundation for the mobile home. I knew nothing whatsoever about any of this stuff. Ray Barlow and his wife, Lou, were the foundation for my life. I wanted to use my hands and they taught me how to be self-sufficient, how to use common sense and how real people lived. That was the beginning of the direction my life would follow.
What prompted you to become an advocate for the environment? In 1985, I took an Ecology of the Green World Sunday morning walk with Stuart Mace. I was captivated because he was so real; he cared so much about the natural world. He walked his talk.
What’s important in your life? Working with special people for environmental protection, personal growth and meditation, learning and enacting love and peace.
What’s in your future? The creation of the Alliance for a Sustainable Colorado, which will include non-profit organizations as well as green/sustainable for-profit businesses; I’m looking for a building around downtown Denver, preferably by the state capitol, where I can create a multi-use office building for non-profits and for-profits working toward sustainability.
What are your volunteer activities? Board President, Colorado Environmental Coalition and board member, Colorado Conservation Voters, advisory board member, P3 Colorado, and board member for three other foundations.
Who is the most interesting celebrity you have ever met? Denis Hayes, who created Earth Day
Do you have any pets? Two dogs
When you move, what will your home tell its next owner about you? That it’s a thoughtful design, environmentally sensitive, open to others and healing.
What word describes you best? Gifted (that is, the recipient of many gifts and opportunities)
How would you like others to describe you? Purely intended
What was your first job? Odd maintenance jobs and life guard, Aspen Meadows
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Being judgmental
What trait do you most deplore in others? Lack of self-awareness
What is your greatest indulgence? Eating frequently in restaurants
What type of clothes do you like? Casual, comfortable, unusual
Tell me something about yourself that people would be surprised to know about you. I don’t think there’s any task that I’m too good to do
What is the best gift you have ever given? House payments
What is the best gift you’ve received? Compassionate understanding
What or who is the greatest love in your life? My sister, my dog and my close friends
What is your current state of mind? Very concerned to free this country and the world from the destabilizing, small minded, fundamentalist menace of the plutocratic Bush administration
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Contributing to the building of coalitions and collaboration among progressive non-profit groups in Colorado
What is your most treasured possession? A portrait of my dog and MacKenzie, my moose puppet and alter ego…the innocent, pure, loving side
What is the quality you most like in a man? Thoughtful intelligence applied to social benefit
What is the quality you most like in a woman? Gentle wisdom, understanding and self-awareness
Favorite books/writers? Illusions, Richard Bach; Mr. God, This is Anna, Fynn; Initiation, Elizabeth Haitch; Kinship with All Life, Boone; 2150AD, Thea Alexander; Powers of Mind, Adam Smith; Education of Little Tree, Forrest Carter
What is the best advice you have ever received?
To love yourself is not to judge yourself.
To love another is not to judge another.
Love surrounds. Judgment is the barrier
Do you have a motto? Life is a team sport
If you could come back in another lifetime, what/who would you like to be. And why? Myself, only starting with the wisdom and lessons I’ll end up with by the time I die
What are your hobbies? Other interests? Travel, scuba diving, movies, music, meditation, sports, exercise, yoga, being with nature
Who is your mentor? Stuart Mace, naturalist, preserver of the Ashcroft valley above Aspen and TV double for Sergeant Preston
What would you most like to be remembered for? That the coalitions are successful in protecting our planet’s life-support systems (environment) and improving quality of life for Coloradoans.
If you could go anywhere and do anything, what would it be? Go to a rainforest with a waterfall that lands in a beautiful pool where I could dive in from a height and swim
What do you like about the town you live in? The progressive mindset, intellectual and spiritual curiosity, proximity to the mountains, health consciousness