A Sustainable and Historic Berlin by Ms. Kayla Gabehart

“Du bist verrückt mein Kind, du mußt nach Berlin.”

“You are crazy my child, you must go to Berlin.”

-Franz von Suppe

Berlin, an absolutely massive city, abounds with opportunities for exploration, and so, the nine of us on the inaugural semester of the “Sustainabilty in Berlin” program, set out to conquer it. Jet lagged and probably more than a little overwhelmed, we muddled through what little German we knew to buy groceries, order at restaurants, send mail, and navigate the public transportation system. At first it was scary… but that was almost the best part; comfort zones are no place for personal growth.


Where the Berlin Wall once stood on the corner of Bernauer Straße and Ackerstraße, one of the first locations the Wall was erected.

The only word I can think of to describe this experience is: surreal. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity to be able to live and study in another place. Berlin, a historic locale and one of the most sustainable cities in the world, has so much to offer.

The Berlin Cathedral in Lustgarten, during WWII and today.

The Berlin Cathedral in Lustgarten, during WWII and today.

Our first week has been filled with walks along the bridge that East Berliners crossed over into West Berlin after the Wall fell, views of the Berlin Cathedral where Nazis once marched, strolls underneath Oberbaumbrücke along the Spree River, walking the floors of Charlottenburg Palace once frequented by royalty,“family” dinners in our Prenzlauer-Berg apartments, and restaurants lit solely by candlelight. A sustainability scavenger hunt through the Kreuzberg District; a captivating talk by Robert Swan, the first and probably the last man to walk across both the North and South Poles; and orientations to spectacular internships introduced us to sustainability in a way absolutely unknown in the United States. On this issue of sustainability, Robert Swan asserted that whether we are causing it or not, climate change is happening and we have to do something about. The difference between Germany and the United States is that they are implementing measures to stop and reverse that change.

Sustainable practices abound in Berlin. The grocery stores provide refunds that can be put towards purchases for recycling plastic bottles, their public transportation system is extensive and impressive and many fewer people drive, and plastic bags in supermarkets are only available upon purchase. In Kreuzberg the Prinzessinnengarten, an urban community garden grows fruits and vegetables sustainability, and the streets boast organic clothing shops, cafes that purchase produce that would otherwise be thrown away en masse, and a small store that encourages the purchase of reusable containers to reduce plastic waste. These small things, coupled with the work of NGOs, activist organizations, and the German and EU governments make sustainability an efficient and cost-effective reality.


Prinzessinengarten, a sustainable community garder in Kreuzberg.


Culinary Misfits, a sustainable café in Kreuzberg that purchases deformed fruits that would otherwise be thrown away en masse.

It’s an eye-opening place, really. The entire city is dripping with incredible history, much of which took place hundreds of years before the United States ever existed. And in terms of sustainability, Berlin is proof that it is viable on a large scale, and that whether or not we are causing global climate change (which we are), we can actually DO something about it. We can have a hand in reversing it in a local, grassroots way, effectively implementing change from the bottom up until substantive policy and funding in the United States instates top-down change.

And that is only in the first week…


Our first “family” dinner in Berlin in one of the apartments in Prenzlauer Berg.

The Western Conservative Summit by Ms. Ariana Busby

CU Denver Poli Sci with Ben Carson

CU Denver Political Science students pose with Dr. Ben Carson.

Last month the CU Denver Political Science Department, with the help of the wonderful Ms. Elly Steinmetz, brought a small group of (mostly) conservative students to the Western Conservative Summit. The three of us, media passes in hand, got the opportunity attend community seminars, hear future presidential candidates give keynote speeches, and meet these influential leaders in exclusive backstage interviews. Most importantly we got to be a part of the youth movement at the Western Conservative Summit and experience the changing atmosphere of the Republican Party first hand.

When you ask people, especially young people, to describe the Republican Party they often rattle off labels such as: white, old, and male. As a young, female minority these same people are often shocked that I am so passionate about the republican platform. This year’s Summit gives me hope that this shock won’t last for long.

This year’s Summit gives me hope that this shock won’t last for long.

An example of the Summit's emphasis on the Twitter feed.

An example of the Summit’s emphasis on the Twitter feed. Notice Ariana in 4th place!

The Western Conservative Summit (WCS) is the conservative event of the year. It is known for drawing out the most influential republican leaders and an older voter base far from center-right. This year was different; not only was the message more moderate, but at least half of the over 3000 attendees were under the age of 30. Young people were celebrated and highlighted throughout the Summit with speakers focused on the priorities of young voters (hello, higher ed reform) and a strong reliance on social media. Large projector screens featured live-stream Twitter feeds and a leaderboard, which the CU Denver Political Science Department and I dominated on the second day of the Summit, and all three days of WCS were trending nationally. The young turnout and focus proved to be the first hint of a changing Republican Party.

The CU Students meet US Senator Mike Lee.

The CU Students meet US Senator Mike Lee.

The Western Conservative Summit managed to debunk another stereotype this year: not all republicans are white males. The speaker list included conservative minority leaders such as Governor Bobby Jindal (TN), Senator Elbert Guillory (LA), Senator Tim Scott (SC), Representative Allen West (FL), and potential presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson. Nine of the twenty primary speakers at WCS were members of minority groups and almost half of the featured speakers were strong conservative women, such as Tammy Bruce (an openly gay, pro-choice, conservative radio host) and Katie Pavlich (a 26-year-old journalist and 2014 Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute Woman of the Year). Additionally, a vast number of minority and women’s groups were represented in the Summit’s exhibition room. The diverse representation at the WCS further demonstrated the changes occurring within the Republican Party.

This is no longer our parents’ Republican Party. While it is easy, as young Denverites, to accept the stereotypes of the Republican Party at face value, this realignment requires us to reevaluate political affiliations.

This is no longer our parents’ Republican Party.

As the political right continues to focus on the priorities of a younger America, more and more people are finding themselves supporters of the Republican Party. I am excited to see how the changing atmosphere of the Republican Party is reflected at the 2015 Western Conservative Summit and look forward to seeing more than three CU Denver student attendees.

From left: Elly Steinmetz, Katie Pavlich, Ariana Busby

From left: Elly Steinmetz, Katie Pavlich, Ariana Busby