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What Denver can learn from Portland


One of the ways we at the Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation promote civic engagement is through the annual leadership exchange trip.

This three-day whirlwind finds 150 of Denver's influencers visiting another metro region to explore the successes and challenges of that city. September will bring such a journey to Portland, Ore., for the Leadership Foundation's 21st annual exchange.

I have been studying metro Portland and pondering its quality-of-life attributes that attract great young talent from across the globe. The culture of commitment to the environment and sustainable practices is palpable as I walk the city streets. Urban density is defined by shorter city blocks, a robust, multi-modal transit system, infrastructure that supports bicycle commuters and a built environment shaped by very specific regional growth regulations.

The city has a vibe, a culture and a vibrancy that showcases its value of commitment to the making of places. For Portland, green living and sustainability have become a brand of sorts. I can't imagine that there are very many cities in the United States that have a Bureau of Planning and Sustainability. In April of this year, Portland received $20 million in ARRA funds for residential and commercial energy retrofits - part of the U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) program.

What is it that comes to mind when you think of the metro Denver brand? What is our own sustainable legacy? As you think about metro Portland, what do you think we can learn from leaders there? Post a comment and let us know your thoughts.

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Maureen McDonald

Maureen McDonald has been the Executive Director of the Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation since January of 2000. Prior to joining the Leadership Foundation, Maureen worked in institutional advancement in the field of education. She directed the alumni and development teams at St. Mary's Academy and the University of Colorado at Denver. At CU Health Sciences Center, she served as Director of Community Affairs for University Hospital. She started her advancement career at her alma-mater, Washington University in St. Louis, as Associate Director of Alumni and Parent programs.

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