The Songs that Carried Us Through 2020: A Playlist

CDR’s Spotify playlist can be accessed HERE.

  1. Aqua Profunda! by Courtney Barnett
    Why? First, it’s a swimming song. Second, this song is important due to the shoulder replacement recovery and being able to live without 24/7 pain and to do things I love – like swim. -TWin
  2. Hold On by Yola
    Why? Yola was the best find of my year! She describes herself as “genre fluid” —  I call her the “Adele” of country music. It’s hard to pick just one song, but this one is at the top. -EZ
  3. Nobody Else (A-Trak Remix) by Axwell and A-Trak
    Why? Because if there was ever a year that needed more dancing it was 2020 and this was my mid-workday-dance-party-in-the-kitchen jam! -DE
  4. Turntables by Janelle Monae  
    Why? Wow, this is not just a great song, it packs a real punch, too. -TWin
  5. Rivers Deep by Gabby Barrett
    Why? Because this year the kitchen was the only place open for dancing. -EZ 
  6. Life Ain’t Fair and the World is Mean by Sturgill Simpson 
    Why? Because the title perfectly sums up 2020 and it’s a good reminder that humor can be a powerful bulwark against the cruelty of the world.  -DE
  7. Harry’s Wondrous World by John Williams
    Why? This one is important because of 2020 — which at times has felt like a battle between good and evil. There is so much in the Harry Potter books about integrity, friendship, character, courage, and fighting for what’s good. And they beat Lord Voldemort and the Death Eaters in the end. -TWin
  8. The Highwomen by the Highwomen
    Why? Between the lyrics, the remake, and the vocals, this song was my favorite for the year. -EZ
  9. I Don’t Know Where to Start by Bully
    Why: Because it’s loud and aggressive and even though, in 2020, I often felt like I didn’t know where to start, this song seems to make that seem okay. -JR
  10. Rocket Fuel by DJ Shadow
    Why: It’s frenetic and sometimes chaos feels good in uncertain times and energizes you to just move. -JR
  11. Time Stands by Nathaniel Rateliff
    Why: It’s haunting and makes me feel alive. -JR
  12. Starting Over by Chris Stapleton
    Why? This whole album is a must. A great start to the morning with this song playing in the background, a cup of coffee in my hand, and a jig in my step. Give it a whirl. -TW
  13. The Partisan. Leonard Cohen
    Why? A song about the French Resistance that inspires fortitude, perseverance and a reminder for us all to stand up for what we believe in. -TW
  14. Morning Sun by Melody Gardot
    Why? A reminder of hope for the future and the beauty and potential of this world. -TW
  15. Alabama Pines by Jason Isbell
    Why? Perfect road trip song.  -TW
  16. Man on Fire by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
    Why? Just feels good to listen to this one. -TW
  17. Mercy Now by Mary Gauthier
    Why? Because we all could use a little mercy  now. -TW
  18. Energy by Disclosure
    Why? Because where your focus goes, your energy flows! -JB 
  19. Revolution by Heartless Bastards
    Why? Good tune and lyrics: “you were born with a voice so open up and speak your mind” -JB
  20. The Bigger Picture by Lil Baby
    Why? Because “it’s bigger than black and white, it’s a problem with the whole way of life, it can’t change overnight, but we gotta start somewhere”. One of President Obama’s favorites. -JB
  21. (Nose to The) Grindstones by Tyler Childers
    Why? Rocking tune and we need to keep our noses “to the grindstone and keep our feet on the ground” -JB
  22. 7 Summers by Morgan Wallen
    Why? Every good playlist needs a country song or two. -MR
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Meet Our Newest Board Members

German E. Velasco

City planning, public policy, conflict-resolution facilitation.

Origin / Home: Boulder, Colorado, and born in La Paz, Bolivia

Favorite Book or TV Show: The Day the Universe Changed, James Burke / BBC

Since COVID-19 started, what’s one adaptation or “lifehack” that you’ve implemented that you’re proud of?
Eating healthier by cooking at home most of the time

What’s something you’ve done that no one else at CDR has done?
Being governor of a state in Bolivia (The state of La Paz, includes capital + 110 municipalities) 

How will CDR be different at the end of your term?
Perhaps a view with the eyes of someone who had the privilege to live and work in radically different economies and cultures;  what I have seen people do to solve big problems with less resources. How others view the world.

Jayla Ryan Poppleton

Nonprofit Executive Director at Water Education Colorado.

Origin/ Home: Chicagoland, Illinois 

Favorite Book or TV Show: The Overstory by Richard Powers is my current
favorite book. Favorite tv show currently is Schitt’s
Creek, although the Office is an all-time favorite.

Since COVID-19 started, what’s one adaptation or “lifehack” that you’ve implemented that you’re proud of?
Wednesday night dinner and game nights with the family where we all unplug from all forms of digital media

What’s something you’ve done that no one else at CDR has done?
Lived in Amsterdam, Netherlands for three years when I was first married

How will CDR be different at the end of your term?
I would hope to bring a very positive, authentic and relational approach to helping the organization deliver the very best services to its clients/customers and to taking great care of its staff.

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Climate Change: Impacting Our World and Our Work

More than any year in recent memory, 2020 demonstrated the necessity for collaboration. While COVID-19 presented the most salient example of why a collaborative approach to problem-solving is critical in a connected world, other global events–such as ongoing trade wars, famines, wildfires, water shortages, polio eradication in Africa, and online education–are similarly instructive. Based in Boulder, CDR was in close proximity to the wildfires that blazed through Colorado this summer. Experts attribute the increase in wildfires nationwide to climate change, a global problem of ever-increasing significance, and one that CDR navigates across all of its practice areas. Here, we’ll take a look at how CDR is bringing collaborative problem-solving to the fight against climate change in the transportation, land management, and water arenas. 

Transportation: A transformation in the mobility and transportation sector has been occurring for years. As emissions from vehicles contribute to climate change, there is a need to find creative solutions that reduce emissions and move toward carbon neutral or even “climate positive” industry norms. These ambitious goals increasingly intersect not just with CDR’s transportation projects, but also with our organizational values around building a sustainable and equitable future. 

CDR has expertise in a wide variety of transportation projects––including interdisciplinary planning and environmental processes (NEPA, PEL, CSS, etc.), and community transportation plans––yet our focus is on meeting the challenge of climate change, namely emerging mobility and multimodal planning. Communities across Colorado are planning for a more sustainable future by fast tracking projects that will prepare them for less reliance on fossil fuels and overall improved climate outcomes. Projects such as Electric Vehicle Readiness Plans, inter-city passenger rail, transit and bicycle and pedestrian-focused projects all fit under this umbrella. This is exciting news for the fight against climate change and for the future of transportation. CDR’s public engagement expertise benefits our clients and communities on these projects by allowing agencies and local governments to better understand public sentiment around change, which in turn allows impactful climate-related transportation policy to be informed and crafted with the public playing a key role. 

Land Management: Conservation, sustainability, resource management––these are common themes in CDR’s land management projects. They are crucial concepts when thinking about climate change mitigation, especially in planning for the utilization and conservation of public lands. While the human health and economic impacts are generally the first to be considered in climate change scenarios, it’s the wildlife––namely plants and animals––that will continue to bear the brunt of this human-caused phenomenon. 

With this in mind, CDR is warding off negative impacts of climate change through effective land management, not just for humans but also for our furry and botanical friends. As the facilitator for the Colorado Wildlife and Transportation Alliance, CDR works with multiple agencies, including Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) and the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), to stymie undesirable changes to the state’s ecosystem. One aspect of the Alliance’s mission is to ensure and enhance wildlife habitat connectivity through transportation planning that accounts for wildlife movement. Such planning, when implemented, allows big game animals like deer and elk to maintain their centuries-old migration patterns amid the encroachment of society. In other land management projects––whether facilitating the Master Planning process for a new state park or working to conserve and enhance the network of biospheres––CDR is continually thinking about how a collaborative approach can be leveraged toward climate change strategies and solutions. 

Water: Climate change and water are intrinsically linked. While on a global scale scientists have long been raising the alarm about melting ice caps and rising ocean levels, the flipside of the same coin are water shortages, prolonged drought, and desertification. For inland geographies like Colorado, reduced snowpack and snowmelt have led to severe drought throughout the state. CDR works with experts in the field and community leaders to develop solutions and programs in the water arena. Managing the outreach component of the State’s investigation into demand management for the Colorado River Upper Basin, CDR brings together experts and stakeholders to determine how Colorado’s growing demand for water can be adequately addressed in years to come. CDR also leads the strategic planning effort between Colorado State University and Denver Water to design the Western Water Policy Institute, which will focus on solving critical water problems through policies that rise to meet the challenge of rapid global change, including climate- and growth-induced impacts to Colorado. 

If 2020 taught us anything it’s that we have to work together when facing global challenges––and climate change is the biggest global challenge of the century. How we rise to meet it will depend on our collective ability to coalesce around a common cause, connect the best scientific data with decision-making, and develop policies at scale that lead to sustainable solutions. CDR is committed to continuing this critical work. 

Written by CDR’s Daniel Estes (

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Inclusive Engagement in the Era of COVID-19

This has been a year of learning and listening for many of us. At CDR, we quickly adjusted to COVID by moving our projects online. And now, as 2021 begins, it feels like the world would be a very strange place without at least one Zoom meeting each day.

During this adjustment, we struggled to find ways to ensure our online approach was not only technologically functional, but inclusive to the communities and stakeholders we work with. In the public engagement field, you often hear the mantra: meet people where they are. In the past, we’ve cherished getting out into the field (the literal and figurative one)––whether that means meeting people at their local clubhouses for a conversation, going to community festivals (in giant fields) with baby goats, or even setting up pop-up booths at local grocery stores or ice cream socials. 

In 2020, we couldn’t meet people in-person where they were. People were in their homes––being teachers, being parents, being caregivers, being first responders. So, like the rest of the world, we adjusted. We looked towards a more inclusive approach to where we not only met people where they were, but also on their schedule.

We’ve found a few tools that have worked for helping our team engage those who may not traditionally participate in the public process:

  • We’re offering live interpretation on our virtual public meetings. If we know a community has a large Spanish-speaking population, we work with groups like the Community Language Cooperative to utilize the Zoom interpretation setting. People can join via Zoom or via phone and participate in their preferred language.
  • We’re translating our websites and outreach materials every chance we get. For some projects, instead of hosting live meetings, we’ve created standing websites. Attendees are able to access the website at their convenience, in Spanish and English, when it fits with their schedule.
  • We’re engaging and facilitating inclusivity panels and expert groups on our projects, made up of individuals who advise us of the most inclusive and community-specific approach for engagement. These individuals understand community needs best, and offer advice as well as connections to important community leaders.
  • We’re using existing Social Media networks and apps to engage participants. Whether that means broadcasting a Zoom webinar on Facebook Live or posting on a community forum like NextDoor or WhatsApp groups, we’ve found many community members are using social media platforms to gather information on what is happening in the community.
  • We’re reverting back to traditional forms of outreach. In the past 9 months, we’ve sent out hundreds of postcards to stakeholders and set up project phone numbers to ensure those who are unable to access information via the internet are still able to participate in the public process.

How have you found opportunities to be inclusive during COVID? We’d love to hear your ideas and expand our growing toolkit to reach underrepresented members of our community.

Written by: Melissa Rary,

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