Sustainable tourism. Eco-tourism. Green tourism. Regenerative tourism.
The idea of utilizing travel as a means of enhancing culture and revitalizing business has taken on a variety of names over the last three decades. In Carbondale, Colorado, one man added art into the mix into the equation.
The result? A circular economy that can be mimicked in any destination around the world.
Alleghany Meadows found his love for pottery early on. He received his MFA from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University before earning a fellowship for field study of potters in Nepal. Alleghany traded the Himalayas for the Rocky Mountains in becoming the artist-in-residence at the Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass. Though his adventure in creative arts continued pushing forward, he and his wife planted their roots in Carbondale to raise a family because of its highly rated schools and strong sense of community.
Alleghany worked at the Carbondale Clay Center as studio manager to support the local arts scene and bring national recognition to the Roaring Fork Valley. Next, he was ready to make his talents available to the world and opened his own pottery studio outside of town as well as a studio in aspen, selling his work primarily at the Aspen Farmers Market.
It was around that same time when the Studio for Arts + Works (SAW) Project came to fruition. Alongside partner Gavin Brook, Alleghany purchased a former auto mechanic shop in Carbondale and redesigned it into an artistic cooperative using salvaged and recycled materials. Space inside the SAW Project has been rented out at a subsidized rate (up to 50%) to artists specializing in an array of fine arts, from jewelers and pottery to architecture and design.
Alleghany described the concept in its early days as “pre-coworking with a more messy vitality.”
He was onto something, as this messy vitality has been operating successfully for nearly 20 years with no manager and no administration. Artists decide the local rules and when to hold open studios.
This infusion of art into the Carbondale community has paid off, with various projects finding their roots around town. The Rio Grande ARTWay, which encompasses the Latinx Folk Art Garden, DeRail Park and the Youth Art Park, and Carbondale’s inclusion as a Colorado Creative Corridor are two landmark art projects that Alleghany has had his fingerprints on.
Yet it is the more localized, unseen efforts though that speaks to Alleghany’s role in building a circular economy. He has worked closely to interweave Carbondale’s ranchers with its art community. Nowadays, residents and visitors may find themselves enjoying a steak from a locally-sourced, grass-fed cow, served on a ceramic plate in a building both designed by SAW Project tenants.
In this fashion, the artistic culture continues to expand while remaining cognizant of Carbondale’s ranching roots. And all the while, dollars flow in and around the Roaring Fork Valley.
Now that’s sustainability….or regeneration…or whatever you’d like to call it!
Alleghany’s Perfect Day in Carbondale