Ugochi Anyaka's Blog

Day 12

It's amazing how technology brings people together, and even more amazing when the connection moves from virtual to physical. I've been on Julia Urlaub’s timeline for over 1 year, retweeting and getting acknowledged, but never thinking that we would be meeting one-on-one. We were so excited to meet each other. Julia is the director of the Taiga company, which is focused on business sustainability. She is such a phenomenal woman, and a great inspiration. She had a dream and built her dream to a successful business. She shared her experiences starting her business and taught me a lot about building an online brand. Julie is also such a warm person. We had a short time together, I learnt a whole lot, we hugged, said our byes, and promised to stay connected virtually. Her fashion was all green, depicting what she believes. Green car, green patterned dress with a pretty matching green bag, and a perfect green nail polish. I believe she just wasn't showing off the colour green - she was living it.

We take a drive to meet with Anna Zawisza, education and outreach director of the Alliance for a Sustainable Colorado. Our host also had limited time so we hurriedly took a tour of the building, and got to know the idea behind the alliance. From recycled/recyclable material to eco-friendly insulation, lighting and water fittings, the alliance is a hub for sustainability, bringing together community and leadership to focus on sustainable development. The building houses over 20 organizations working on policies and practices of sustainability; making the collective efforts of non-profit, business, government and education more effective in overcoming roadblocks to progress. I have a dream that cities in Nigeria can become more focused on sustainability, and that citizens would be mindful of their carbon footprint.

Our next meeting is a tour of the Growhaus. Everyone deserves a healthy meal, but in some communities, healthy food is a long way away. Most women in rural Africa walk miles to fetch water and wood for food. Some communities in the USA don't have access to food other than pre-packaged fast-food, which lacks vital natural nutrients, and is very unhealthy. The Growhaus is a non-profit urban farm and education center in a community, Northeast Denver, using a historic building to grow fresh healthy greens, and to teach people about healthy living. Here, innovation meets farming. Recycled water from fish ponds goes to the soil for the plants, and back to the fish. It's called aquaponics. Just like a science laboratory, healthy food for a community is researched and served on tables, to reduce obesity, change lives and save the planet. But unlike a very serious science lab, this food lab incorporates art to create a perfect environment. The building has beautiful graffiti on its long wall, with pictures of food, community life, everything that the Growhaus is about. It was such an impressive tour for me. If homes and communities in Nigeria would go back to how it used to be in the past when almost every family had their little farm by the house to grow some fruits and veggies, food insecurity would be no threat whatsoever. Urban farming is not a myth. Our host, Coby Gould, Executive Director of Growhaus is a young man whose passion for a healthy community drove him and his colleagues to transform a 20,000 square foot abandoned building into a fresh food haus (German for house).

Colorado Energy office

I'm really tired, but with Steve and Irene as company, the fun never stopped as I headed back to my hotel. Tomorrow is my last day on the award tour. Good byes are not always easy to say.

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