Wednesday, March 30, 2011

One Chicken Owner's Story

Many, many thanks to all of you who have taken the time to email the City Council Land Use committee to share your support of the proposed Food Producing Animals ordinance. There have been lots of great thoughts expressed to the Councilmembers. I wanted to highlight one of the emails that I feel really expressed things well.

Thank you to Ben T. for writing this email, and giving me permission to post it.
Dear Committee,

I am a resident of Denver, living in the Speer neighborhood. I wanted to let you know that I support the proposed Food Producing Animals (FPA) ordinance as it is currently written.

I could send you a longer email with a more complete and detailed explanation of why each component in the proposed ordinance is what should be passed. Instead, I would like to offer my experience as an urban chicken owner, when I lived in Portland, OR.

Urban chickens are not a new concept. Even a few decades ago, it was common for everyone to have chickens in their yard. When my wife first brought up the idea, I was completely against it. "No way" was my response. After taking two introductory courses, and speaking to several owners of Urban Chickens, I was convinced of the merits - and possible enjoyment - of owning the birds. It's hard to explain the enjoyment, entertainment, educational value and sustainability that come from having them.

- Chickens eat almost any scraps that come from the kitchen - reducing our waste stream.
- Well kept chickens don't have an odor.
- They provide eggs that are far more rich than those you can buy in the supermarket - produced right in your own back yard!
- They educate children about the sources of our food.
- Chickens are interesting enough that our neighbors across the fence started asking questions, and we became friends with them. Chickens actually helped to strengthen our community!

How many people on the committee own chickens?

Of the 7 people on the committee, the number who own chickens is likely in the minority. That isn't wrong - not everyone should or needs to own chickens - but to make a ruling on an issue, with no firsthand experience, it becomes increasingly important that the team spend a significant amount of time speaking with and sharing the experiences of those that have owned them. Most of the detractors on this issue have no first hand experience with them.

I was disappointed when I moved from Portland, OR to Denver, CO last year. Denver is not nearly as "green" or sustainable of a city as I would have expected - not for a place that draws so much from the outdoors and it's surrounding environment. Denver needs to take some significant steps forward. This committee is positioned to help Denver do that.

I live in an apartment building in Washington Park area. I don't stand to gain if the ordinance passes - but I stopped to take the 30 minutes out of my day because this issue is important. Easy access to responsible ownership of Urban chickens is a building block for creating a more sustainable city.
Call the city of Portland. Talk to chicken owners. Get balanced information. Don't let fear of the unknown slow Denver down in it's transition to a more sustainable future.

Thanks for all that you do to lead this community forward. Your leadership is important.

All the best,
Ben T_____

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