Your Green Guide to the DNC

09/24/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

If you're anything like me, you've landed in Denver. The weather is perfect, and the mountains unlike anything back home.

On the Sunday before the official start of the Democratic scrum, you're most likely planning the week. Where do I eat? How I rent one of those bikes? How can I get into the best party? And how, may I ask, do I get a massage at the HuffPost Oasis?

Andrea Robinson, the DNC's Queen of Green, has tried to provide a partial solution. She has declared this years DNC to be "most sustainable convention in modern political history."

Maybe like me, you applaud these efforts. You even want to help out. But what does it mean? It's hard to plan your trip around an idea. And, if you've done a little research, you'll find there's more going on that first appears on their website.

And so here it is: HuffPost's green guide to the DNC.

In compiling this list, I moved beyond websites to the word of trusted friends. Many of the suggestions included here -- bike stations, hotels, restaurants, bars, events and, lest your time in Denver become dull, a store peddling ladies' lace -- come from them. (To wit: Try Potager for a fine organic dinner, if you can get in.)

The Official List from the DNC:


Freewheelin: 1,000 bikes will be made free of charge to volunteers, delegates, and others during the convention. A series of bike stations, clustered around the convention center, and key hotels, operate much like the SmartBike program. Thi project, called Freewheelin, and overseen by the Humana project, requires only registration through their website. (Last time I tried to pre-register, I received an error message repeatedly, with no guidance. I don't know whether this means they've reached capacity.)

Buses: According to the DNC website, the buses designated to transport delegates and media will be either run either on hybrid, alternative fuel or biodiesel. The buses used to transport delegates and media from all the hotels to the Pepsi Center will be either hybrid, alternative fuel or run on biodiesel. They also claim that bus idling will be kept to a minimal.

Car Pool: There's also a website where delegates, volunteers, media - the full spectrum of the scrum - can register to coordinate driving to the convention center. Remember: there's free parking close to the convention for driving hybrids, so, in this case, size does matter. Register here.

Food: Robinson has tackled food, as I wrote in my other post. There will be no fried foods, and each meal is meant to contain at cross-section of colors. Cups wll be made of biodegradable material.

Al Gore: Gore has been given the coveted Thrusday night speaking slot at Invesco field. Like Obama's Veep decision, words of what he might say has been kept tight. But I'll be live-blogging Gore's speech for HuffPost - come back for more.

Organic Merchandise:
To judge from the coverage I've seen over the years, delegates come for the BLANK, and dress for the occasion. They dress as though in a parade. And so the DNC is trying not to reduce the consumer goods so much as replace them with goods that what first seemed like an impossible task: goods that are organic and labor-made, right here in the USA. Buy them here.

Offset your carbon: With the Live Earth carbon calculator, you can estimate how much carbon you emitted. As I wrote about for On Earth magazine a while back, this can be tricky. But hopefully they're not planting monoculture forests of non-native trees. You can buy credits here, through Native Energy.

The Unofficial List for the DNC:


Potager (1109 Ogden St.): One of the best restaurants in town, arguably the best in its class: seasonal, organic. Small setting, tablecloths, lounge in front. But be prepared: it's expensive, and they don't take reservations.

The Market (1445 Larimer St): Described to me as "Dean and Deluca, but funkier." Try the croissants.

The first Chipotle ever (1644 E Evans Ave): Opened in 1993, near the University of Denver. A bit of a haul from the convention, but if you love it, you love it.

Taqueria Patzcuaro (2626 W. 32nd Ave): Highly recommended Mexican, with homemade corn tortillas.

The Goods:

Tattered Cover (1628 16th St): The famous book store. David Bowie loves it, or so I'm told.

SoL (248 Detroit St): Lest your convention become conventional, head to the best lingerie store in town. I get this on word from a friend.

Get Outside:

In the summer, the mountains of Colorado are beautiful. Think hiking or fishing, or think Kerouac rolling into town. Either way, if you have the time, get out.

REI Flagship store (1416 Platte St): An enormous outdoor sporting goods store in a really old buildling. In a cool part of town near downtown with nice parks and walking by the river nearby.

Fly fishing: Due to large snowpack this winter, the rivers are still running cold and high. As a friend told me the other day, they're damn near perfect.


DNC Kickoff Concert at Redrocks (Sunday, Aug 24): The official concert to kick off the event will include RFK Jr., a senior attorney at NRDC, and Laurie David, a producer on Al Gore's "Inconvenient Truth." Artists will include environmental advocates Dave Mathews, Sheryl Crow and Tim Reynolds.

Rocky Mountain Roundtable (Monday, Aug 25 - 27): The Denver 2008 Convention Executive Committee will host "10 issue-oriented, nonpartisan roundtables" at the Denver Performing Arts Complex. The environmental roundtable will address "Energy and Climate Change," and will be broken down into three sessions: "The Business of Climate Change," "Energy in a Carbon Constrained Economy," "The New Energy Economy" and a keynote lunch hosted by Sir Nicholas Stern. Included in the panels will be: Rick Stengel, Managing Editor of Time Magazine, Carol Browner, longest serving EPA Administrator, Frances Beinecke, President of National Resources Defense Counsel, and Ira Magaziner, Chairman Clinton Climate Change Initiative. There will also be a roundtable on Transportation Infrastructure, and International Relations, featuring Secretary of State Madelaine Albright and Tim Brokaw. By ticket only. Call the Denver Center Ticket Services at 303.893.410 or online at their website.

Colorado Green Frontier Festival (Sunday, August 24): A little something for everyone: showcase of sustainable technology, farmer's market, eco-carnival and children's area. Free, open to the public. 10 am - 6 pm. Denver Performing Arts Complex, Sculpture Park, 950 13th Street.

The Future of Environmentalism (Monday, August 25-26): The New Republic will be hosting a two-part discussion at Denver's famous Tattered Cover. TNR Editor Franklin Foer will be overseeing both discussions. Present will be Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club, Cass R. Sunstein, Harvard University law professor, and Representative George Miller (D-CA). 4-5:30 p.m. Ticketed - Open to the Public. The Tattered Cover Book Store, 1628 16th Street at Wynkoop, Denver.

Tour Ponnequin Wind Farm (August 27, 2008): Colorado's first commercial wind farm, which includes 44 turbines generating 30 megawatts of electricity. According to the website, that's enough to power 9,000 homes. You must reregister by August 26. Note that this is in northern Colorado along the Wyoming border. To register, e-mail or call (720) 497-2169

Tour the National Wind Technology Center (August 28): Tour DOE's National Wind Technology Center at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to see the wind-to-hydrogen, or W2H2. The site says: "Round-trip bus transportation is included for 50 participants - board busses downtown at 550 15th Street between 7:30 and 8 a.m. Pre-registration is required by August 20. U.S. citizens must bring a government-issued photo ID; additional requirements apply for non-U.S. citizens." 15013 Denver West Parkway, Golden. To register, e-mail or call (303) 275-4090