‘Building what builds us’
Led by his strong faith in God and as a long-time public servant, Wade has selected 4 key issues that not only align with his rural raised traditions and values, but also deeply affects the people of Jefferson County today and ‘tomorrow’. Regardless if you are a single professional, retiree or raising a family, Wade believes when you address these issues at the foundational level, it will help to greatly enhance and increase overall quality of life and open pathways to prosperity for all citizens of Jefferson County.
1: Emergency Preparedness
The City of Arvada did an outstanding job in the implementation of their emergency contingency plan and managing the unexpected and historic ‘Biblical Floods’ in September 2013. However, no community is ‘safe’ from being impacted by a natural disaster. The City of Arvada was ready for the storm. But were you ready for the storm? And are you prepared for the next one?
Emergency planning means community mobilization, public safety and having a back up plan when critical infrastructure fails. Wade’s experience living through 2 devastating hurricanes in his home state of NC; extensive background in working with environmental refugees (those displaced by natural disasters); Colorado’s history of natural disasters; Pope Francis’ warning; and The Obama administration’s 800 page climate change report which says that we all need to be prepared for Global Weirding and more extreme natural disasters regardless of where we are located in the states has made Emergency Preparedness his top priority.
Natural disasters cause a logistical nightmare for businesses and residents alike and can greatly compromise one’s quality of life within a matter of minutes. What good is a ‘safe neighborhood’ and effective transportation planning when a flood destroys your house or causes a washed out road and you are left with no alternatives? Or you have no internet access, clean water, mobile phone service or electricity and cannot reach first responders?
Wade’s home is located in a flood plain region. The flood of September 2013 affected people in his neighborhood extremely close to him literally and figuratively. In the course of days and without much warning, many people saw their quality of life turned upside down. Six months after the floods, in the western part of JeffCo, people are living in fear of ‘rainy days’ which could cause more flooding; roads that have not been re-built; and an estimated 40% of farmers along the Front Range are not able to farm their land due to challenges with irrigation or their land. Their businesses and livelihood have suffered tremendously while they try to figure out and ‘work through’ the victim recovery process. This is not acceptable.
In our time of crisis all truths are revealed.
Regardless of one’s political or religious affiliation or socioeconomic background, if a natural disaster occurs, for most people, ‘human life’, whether its their own or a loved one, ranks above all. People must be ready, willing and able to mobilize in their communities as they await for first responders and ‘help’ to arrive. And finally after ‘the storm’ how will people adjust, get re-acclamated to their lifestyle – and deal with the aftermath and challenges such as working with insurance/damaged property; washed out roads and transportation; personal loss; and emotional devastation?
2: Quality of Life
Living and working in a place that you love is a part of the American Dream. A safe neighborhood that is smartly planned, in time emerges into a ‘thriving’ neighborhood – providing a whole community that embraces and supports top schools; continuing education (for youth, veterans, the unemployed and retirees); arts & culture; local food sources (i.e. farmer’s markets); sustainable + diverse growing small businesses; and a dynamic place for youth and families to live and grow. It is nice to live in a place where we have accessibility to modern conveniences such as shopping, restaurants, entertainment and arts & culture. And many times these are the very things that attract professionals and families to certain neighborhoods. But like anything in life it is all about moderation!
WE ALL must work together to ensure that our nation’s principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are not co-opted or compromised by corporate bottom line for profits.
Therefore, as JeffCo continues to grow and we work to improve the quality of life for all residents, as new developments take place we need to take into consideration:
- Traffic + logistics;
- noise pollution;
- new businesses/companies (type & quantity) moving into the region;
- use and development of open land/space;
- environmental health risks;
- potential long-term impact;
- and jobs & economic development for the community
Approximately 1/3 of the average American income is spent on transportation (personal vehicle). And perhaps in 2016 the commuter rail expansion in Arvada will help JeffCo families save on these costs. How will your daily commute be affected during the construction process? What happens during the construction process in terms of noise; the development timeline; and our environment? Who will be managing transportation related questions and presenting the issues on behalf of our community?
As of now, there are still questions that remain unanswered about these developments and it is critical that JeffCo residents are kept in the loop during the lifecycle of these major infrastructure projects.
4: Water Conservation
Historically water has long been seen as a source of life and a scarce commodity (and indeed it is). And wells have been seen as sacred places. Access to free and clean water is an inalienable right for all human beings. For nearly 2 decades Wade has been an environmental evangelist for clean water and water conservation. And he has easily spent hundreds of hours researching and doing advocacy work related to sea level rise in island nations and ‘Environmental Refugees’ (the victim of an environmental or natural disaster). Then the September 2013 Colorado flood showed Wade that any person anywhere could become an ‘Environmental Refugee’. That’s why he’s advocating for advanced planning for every neighborhood Neighborhood Environmental Emergency Defense System (N.E.E.D.S).
“We [the global community] are taking too much comfort in small victories. Our work is not a political debate, but a non-negotiable right of the people to have a clean and livable environment.” – Wade Norris
Whether created by mother nature or man made, droughts, wildfires, farmers, brewers and JeffCo residents like you, have a great need for clean water. In Arvada we have protocols in place for new businesses and the provisioning and accessibility to water they will use. However, there is still a sensitive and gray space with corporations buying up water rights and the extreme amount of water used by fracking when brewers, first responders and JeffCo citizens all need access to that water as well. Coloradans should be deeply concerned about the regulation and distribution of this water, given the water shortage and droughts and high industry needs in the state.
Are you a House District 27 (JeffCo) resident? Tell Wade what matters to you!
Please take a few moments to share any challenges or issues that you have experienced or encountered in your JeffCo. neighborhood that you would like to see addressed or become a top priority.