Talking Green: Local entities launch new sustainability speaker series |

Talking Green: Local entities launch new sustainability speaker series

Kate Brocato
For Steamboat Pilot & Today

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Nonprofit Yampa Valley Sustainability Council has rebranded its long-standing Talking Green Event Series into the new Sustainability Speaker Series. This shift comes as a result of a new partnership formed between the Sustainability Council, Colorado Mountain College Steamboat Springs and Bud Werner Memorial Library. The Sustainability Speaker Series is an ongoing series that seeks to connect the community with timely insights, research and actions that inform and inspire how we build our sustainable Yampa Valley futures. The series and discussion topics advance an integrated approach to social, economic, educational and environmental dimensions of sustainability challenges that lead toward collective solutions.

To kick off the series, the partnership is bringing in Dr. Elizabeth Parks to host a free, virtual presentation from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday. The topic of her talk is “Listening Differently: Creating Space for Sustainable Collaboration.” To register for the event, email or visit

Parks will explore what it takes to build collaborative relationships where we truly try to understand each other through listening, especially among people who have very different backgrounds or values. During this conversation, Parks will offer a model for sustainable dialogue marked by expanding our understanding of what listening is, different listening styles we might adopt and how expanding our listening toolkit can help foster organizational and stakeholder interactions that meet our shared goals.

Parks is an assistant professor of communication studies, dialogue and diversity specialist with the Center for Public Deliberation and an adjunct assistant professor for the Colorado School of Public Health at Colorado State University. Her research and teaching blends social scientific and humanistic methods to better understand how we can improve ethical listening with people who are different than ourselves, whether that be based on diverse ethnicity, race, language, culture, gender, ability or other identity performance. Parks has grounded her scholarship in the belief that our individual, relational and organizational lives are enriched by bravely creating hospitable spaces of dialogue across difference. Her first book, “The Ethics of Listening: Creating Space for Sustainable Dialogue,” was published in 2019.

Parks is committed to creating academic environments that are not just spaces for deep thinking, but also places where ideas impact individual lives, and theories change community processes. As a pragmatist, she strives to lean into paradoxical questions to better understand the values, attitudes and skills that can make intercultural dialogue a challenging but constructive practice for everyone.

The Sutainability Council, Colorado Mountain College Steamboat Springs, and Bud Werner Memorial Library look forward to hosting Parks as the first speaker of the Sustainability Speaker Series. Her work is especially important at a time when structural and interpersonal racism, class divides, political partisanship and inequity have been laid bare, while the impacts of the pandemic and worsening effects of climate change continue to be felt unequally nationally and globally.

Kate Brocato is Yampa Valley Sustainability Council’s communications and program manager.

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