My name is Niall O’Connor and I’m a new board member with CCLC. I’ve been really enjoying my early meetings in my first year with Claire and the board because it’s clear CCLC is in good hands with lots of different personalities bringing unique skills to bear on the issues we tackle. My initial goal has been to just sit back and listen and learn from everyone who knows so much more than me while trying to find little ways I can contribute. One idea Claire and Greg have been really supportive of is my attempt to do more fundraising focused on the next generation who tend to give small dollar amounts similar to most successful modern political or issue campaigns. The dollar amounts tend to be bigger than expected, but the bigger number of people is helpful with showing other stakeholders our level and degree of support. We did our first fundraising event at Mountain Toad Brewing in Golden and raised about $500. It was lots of fun meeting the brewery owners who understand clearly how they benefit from clean water and land preservation in the Clear Creek watershed, so building relationships with other breweries like Cannonball Creek seems like a natural fit. And it was really encouraging talking to all the people at the brewery about how they use Clear Creek Canyon for recreation. Finding these natural allies by going directly to them is something I’m excited to work more on in the coming year.
My favorite moment during my first year on the board was going on a hike with our former board member Ann, my wife Kacey, and our board president Greg, along the Beaverbrook Trail. When I moved to Golden in 2013, I had hiked this trail, but it’s truly wonderful how much more you can learn being with someone who considers a place their second home. Greg was in his element telling us about every bird we saw and what every flowering plant was called. As we hiked out of the trees happy as only you can be after a lovely day spent with others in the peace of nature back toward our car and Greg’s pickup truck camper I named Rocinante Two, I thought of one of my favorite books, Travels with Charley, by John Steinbeck, and a quote I like: “I’m in love with Colorado. For other states I have admiration, respect, recognition, even some affection. But with Colorado it is love. And it’s difficult to analyze love when you’re in it.” Steinbeck was talking about Montana, but I’m pretty sure he never visited Colorado, so ignorance probably isn’t bliss in his case! It is a real privilege to live here and enjoy all the Clear Creek’s nooks and crannies found and still hidden, and I’m really excited to be a part of CCLC’s important work to preserve this love we all share in Colorado.