Aspen U speaker to explore community development, inequality

Clay Fong will present “A Short History of Race, Class and Housing in Boulder” at the Limelight Hotel Aspen on February 9, 2022.

Clay Fong and Auden Schendler go a long way.

The two have known each other since the early 1990s, long before Fong became program director at the Office of Human Rights and Community Relations in the City of Boulder’s Department of Housing and Human Services and Schendler became vice -Aspen Skiing Co. senior president of sustainability.

And as two people in their fields of work are used to doing, they had a lot of “casual conversations” about communities, inequality and sustainability, Fong said.



It’s a conversation Fong will continue with an audience at Limelight Aspen on Wednesday at 6 p.m. as part of the Skico-produced Aspen U Speaker Series, when Fong will present “A Short History of Race, Class, and Housing in Boulder “. Schendler will give a brief introduction and help moderate questions after the presentation.

The presentation centers on Boulder, where Fong has worked for more than two decades in the fields of environmental sustainability and human services. But the ideas he plans to explore with the Aspen U presentation aren’t limited to the city limits of a Front Range community.



“I think with a little bit of everything that’s happened in the world over the last couple of years, and some of the things that we’re talking about here at Boulder, we realize that this presentation has a lot of resonance with what’s going on. has happened historically in Aspen and what the future holds,” Fong said.

By “everything happening in the world,” Fong is referring to “large-scale” movements like Black Lives Matter and the protests sparked by the murder of George Floyd, “which have really kind of given people who maybe weren’t as directly affected by these issues (a realization that) ‘OK, we kind of have to re-evaluate some things,'” he said.

“In that process, what happened was that we re-evaluated the policies in Boulder that we realized had, for lack of a better term, some kind of racist impact, even though that’s not Maybe it wasn’t the express intention, or if it was, it was top secret,” he added.

These policies were touted as “somewhat benign environmental restrictions” – things like acquisition of open space, height restrictions, development limits above certain elevations, single-family zoning and occupancy limits properties.

Intentionally or not, these concepts have impacted affordability, diversity and inclusiveness in Boulder, but they are hardly isolated within the city limits of a Front Range community, he said. They might even ring a familiar bell in Aspen, Fong said.

“While there are distinct differences between how Aspen and Boulder have evolved as communities, I think the similarities outweigh the differences. … I think we (in Boulder) can learn from Aspen, but I also think the other way around,” he said.

The event is free and open to the public; the presentation starts at 6:00 p.m., but attendees are encouraged to arrive by 5:30 p.m. for a drink before the talk begins.

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Norma P. Rex