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Wednesday July 17th 2019

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That's what she said

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Remembering Al Bartlett


Editor’s note: On Tuesday, November 1, the Boulder City Council will hold a public hearing to designate Professor Albert A. Bartlett’s home a city historic landmark at the request of the Bartlett family. To mark the event, we’re running a letter that Council member Lisa Morzel read to Professor Bartlett from the dais a few weeks prior to his passing. Learn more about Al’s home and his remarkable life by attending or watching the council hearing Tuesday night.

August 4, 2013

Dear Professor Bartlett,

On behalf of the Boulder City Council, we write to express our sincere admiration and appreciation for all of your contributions to Boulder.  Your clear vision has been a guiding beacon for decades and has resulted in making Boulder the beautiful city it is today.  Your dedication to students, staff, and the Physics Department at the University of Colorado for more than 60 years is well recognized and appreciated.  You well deserve the universal respect and reverence you so rightly enjoy.



We appreciate the thoughtful stewardship you have provided in your 63 years as a Boulder resident, as well as a citizen of our great nation.  Your commitment in working towards a sustainable society has made significant differences in our lives.  You raised the public’s awareness of the perils of population growth and energy consumption in the thousands of lectures you have presented on these issues.

We recognize your strength of conviction and clarity of thinking in proposing, with several of your like-minded colleagues in 1959, the Blue Line Initiative.  This changed our City in two fundamental ways.  First, it saved our mountain backdrop from the development juggernaut that gripped many postwar cities at that time and, second, it taught the people of Boulder that citizen action can simply and effectively change the future to be more in line with what the citizens want.

People’s League for Action Now has helped shape Boulder over the past 50 plus years. We fully recognize your leadership in forming PLAN-Boulder County and advocating for a permanent solution to protecting our mountains and perimeter from expansive growth.  This resulted in Boulder becoming the first city in the nation to tax itself to buy open space—to provide marvelous recreational opportunities, to protect the land and habitat, and to establish a permanent urban growth boundary around Boulder.

We thank you for delivering your renowned lecture “Arithmetic, Population and Energy” over 1700 times, which has enlightened several generations on the practical application of the exponential function and the fact that even a low-sounding growth rate like 2 percent results in a city (or anything) doubling in size twice in a lifetime.

We recognize your commitment and thoughtfulness in producing a long and steady stream of essays, articles, and letters to the editor on a huge variety of topics that affect our fair city.

Mostly, we thank you for your wisdom and your kindness and your humor and dedication in sharing that wisdom.  You have taught us how to represent and shape our city, and, because of your example, we are less hesitant to speak up and are better prepared to face the ever-present and future challenges.

Thank you, Al!  You embody the ideals of Boulder in spoken word, action, and deed.

Sincerely grateful to you, we are,

Boulder City Council

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