Thursday, September 27, 2007

Telecommuting from the Mountains. (Ned Gazette)

When the sun rises, and the day comes to light, people wake up and go to work. But in Nederland some have taken to a new way of life, and a new way of working, delivering data via satelite, cable or dsl from right here in town. Telecommuters have become a regular sight in Nederland at local coffee houses, restaurants, businesses and public spaces boasting free wi-fi. Nederland has become rich and vibrant with technology that enables people to work remotely for local and national companies, interacting world-wide, and creating revenue globally.

Mark Brundege of Sun Microsystems started working from home just over two years ago. “There was no point to being in the office when your co-workers and bosses are not there,” Mark explained. He had commuted to the office for five years, and a lot of time was wasted. “I can get more hours of work done at home because it’s easier to deal with people in widely dispersed time zones.” Now he can take a phone conference at 1:30 a.m. to India without having to travel to the office. Mark says that reliable broadband internet is most important for telecommuters. He also points out that cell service is very important and is much needed for the telecommute community of Nederland.

Lance Smeltekop is a regular telecommuter at the Happy Trails Coffee House. He can often be found sitting behind his computer in the back of the train car sipping away on his coffee while he works. He telecommutes an average of 2-3 days a week for IBM. Lance explains that he wasn’t able to start telecommuting in Nederland until he found reliable free wi-fi. He commented, “The only drawback in Ned is the lack of cell service, I was very disappointed when the cell tower was squashed.” Lance works in Finance for IBM and often works with clients in Europe and Asia. He has to often wake up early and stay up late communicating to clients abroad. Having a flexable 24-hour schedule optimizes his abilities. Lance explains, “I’m a more productive person now, and my mind has turned into multi-task.”. In a results-driven business, what matters most is that the job gets done.

Telecommuting is supporting Nederland’s local economy because employed people are staying and spending locally. This is not your typical bedroom community, this community is vibrant with technologically inclined, locally motivated, remotely employed, telecommuters. They typically work longer hours and are often availabe 24 hours a day. You may see their office lights glowing through the night, but with rising gas prices and global warming, looking to remote employment is a viable option for locals with like-minded employers.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Following the dots to EcoArts (Ned Gazette)

Ecoarts opened Friday September 14th at Boulder Museum of Contemporary Arts (BMOCA) bringing science to a public dialogue through arts. The program features artists and scientists from around the world working on important global and local ecology issues as well as exhibits, performances, tours, gatherings and talks. The event takes place in additional venues in Boulder, such as The Dairy Center for Arts, NOAA and Boulder Public Library.

The Polar Bear at BMOCA entertained the children as their parents and grandparents interacted with the art and artists on a global dialogue on climate change. Natasha Jugl, 3, was delighted to play with the 8’+ Polar bear featuring Global Warming floaties on his arms. Her grandparents, Peter and Sue Birkeland, had brought her to the event because it was the opening of a project Peter had worked on in conjunction with several other scientists and artists for Ecoarts.

Peter Berkeland, of Boulder and Eldora, a retired University of Colorado/ Boulder professor in Geological Sciences, was contacted to get involved in this project by Shiela Murphy of USGS. Peter was asked to work with her and artist Mary Miss of New York. Mary Miss, originally from Colorado Springs, wanted to mark the level of the water for her large scale installation project for the 500 year flood. Working with Berkeland and Murphy, they planned a project where they could mark the 500 year flood water levels along Boulder Creek Path from the Library to BMOCA.

Miss had a hard time convincing people to allow her to put up the blue dots. Banks, private businesses and public spaces are all within the flood plane and they did not want to bring attention to it. They were reluctant to allow her to publicly display the potential flood level. Eventually, though, they allowed them to place the dots and mark the flood levels. As you walk along the bike path and through parts of Boulder now, you see how the impact of this flood could be devastating.

The 500 year flood is a potential hazard Boulder has been learning to deal with since the Big Thompson Flood in 1976. That flood killed 145 people and sent a wall of water over 19 feet deep destroying everything in its path. Since that time, Front Range communities have implemented several flood emergency operations, and regular testing of the emergency flood siren on the first Monday of the month at 10 a.m. in Boulder during flood season. Every year we have a 1/500 chance of having a flood which is currently marked in Boulder by blue dots.

Berkeland participated in this project because he wanted to make people more aware of the hazards associated with rivers. He explained to us how the huge boulders between the Justice Center and Eben G Fine park were deposited when a likely 500 year flood happened to move them to their current locations.

Berkeland thinks it’s super that the art community has questioned us to think about this issue. As it describes in the project outline on, the major threats to Boulder of a 500 year flood include high rainfall over a short period of time, forest fires, Barker Dam failure, and combined events (spring snowmelt plus thunderstorms).

These events also affect Nederland because the canyon is our major transportation gateway and playground. It is important that we participate in these public dialogues, and art is a way to reach people and get their attention. The Ecoarts event is a great way to get public awareness, and stir participation and involvement.

You can find a complete list of events and program highlights online at

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Technically Burned (Ned Gazette)

There were several Nederites who ventured out into this unwelcoming harsh environment to brave the elements, just to solder LED's in dust storms. Burning Man is the largest Participatory Arts Festival in the world, with well over 40,000 participants traveling to the Black Rock Desert to see the 21st Man Burn.

Nederland had several community members actively participating in granted art projects like the Black Rock Glacier. Burners typically camp with major theme camps at Black Rock City, where they focus on specific contributions to the community. There are 198 members on the Boulder Burns Yahoo Group, and over 800 members on the Colorado Burning Man Yahoo Group, making this is a very active community within Burning Man.

This was my fourth Burn, and my son's third. Burning Man is not something many people can claim they have an entire family, three generations, attending. This year I traveled with my son Jared, "The Cuss Kid," age 10, my father Dave, and husband Edwin, to the Black Rock Desert. Here we played in alkaline dust of a dried lake bed called a 'playa.' The fine dust becomes a second skin, a glow of ghosts in the desert disco lights. We had worked for over a month finishing all the final details for our mobile pedal powered jellyfish, with upstairs pillow lounge. It is uniquely upholstered and designed to be the most comfortable jellyfish you've ever played on. Complete with Led Spotlights, El Wire and fabric sewn tentacles this jellyfish was perfectly styled for the hot days and cold nights. The outrageous art vehicles and mobile discos float across the playa in a sea of creativity, through islands of installations and sculptures.

This year we were lucky to witness a full lunar eclipse on Tuesday at 2:53 a.m., when the whole city came to a stop and watched the earth's shadow eclipse the full moon. Just as all of our heads were turned towards the sky, someone climbed up to light the ‘Man’ on fire. The irony is ‘The Man’ burned twice in a Green Year. Most of the art this year, as in all years, is geared towards the theme, and in 2007 the theme was Greening the Man. This year's theme burned twice in a year dedicated to 'green' education.

Participating in the community of Burning Man is a key element to the festival's success, bringing some of the most profound art home to so many hearts. There is not a better place on earth to learn about sustainable living, radical self-reliance, and trade economies within such a groundbreaking technologically advanced event. And this year, there were more green vehicles and sustainable art than ever before. Burners built entire cities (off the grid) using the latest technologies, and for what? Well, a good party, for the hell of it, because we can!

We camped with Entheon Village and the Pyronauts of Giza. These two theme camps built some of the largest structures at BRC to feature art, speakers, music, dance and fire. I spent two evenings doing visual art for Dj's and dancers to enjoy, projecting on 7 hexagonal screens in a 90' dome with over 75K Watts of sound. It’s about the boundaries that we can push and the limitations that we can exceed, how far can we go. This is not a festival for the light hearted, it is not a simple camping trip in the desert, or a party at the beach (although it used to be).

Every year a "temple" is built, dedicated to the ones who have passed on or those who need forgiveness. People write on the structure, leaving messages and mementos for their loved ones. Then the structure is burned on Sunday, the final night of Burning Man, releasing all the energies that participants have infused within it.

Burning Man is a life changing experience, it is a culture, a way of thinking, and a style, and Burners are here in Nederland plotting and scheming for "The American Dream 2008."