March is Women’s History Month, and I’d like to give a shout-out to all the women in Evergreen, past and present, who have made this community what it is today. I was inspired by the Canyon Courier’s recent feature on Louise Mounsey, a remarkable woman, but one of many who have given time, talent and money to foster the exceptional quality of life we enjoy.
The thing that brought most of us here, and makes the mountain area so special, is its natural beauty. Preserving it has been the focus of numerous organizations over the years, all of them with strong women leaders. The oldest still in existence is Evergreen Audubon, founded in 1968. A few years later, Jefferson County Open Space was established through the efforts of the League of Women Voters. About the same time, groups of women organized to save the Hiwan Homestead and the adjacent Heritage Grove from destruction.
PLEASE (Planned Living Environment of South Evergreen) and ENABLE (Evergreen North Area Balanced Land-use Effort) emerged in the early 80’s as growth gained momentum. Guided by the Evergreen Area Community Plan, which was written by a diverse group of locals and adopted by the County Commissioners in 1986, these women-led groups advocated for development that would preserve the area’s unique character.
The non-profit Mountain Area Land Trust celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, having protected nearly 25,000 acres, primarily through private conservation easements. Its staff is predominantly women, and its path has been guided over the years by many women of vision.
Yes, we care about the natural environment, but we care about people every bit as much. No matter the need, some woman and her friends worked to fill it. Mount Evans Hospice was founded by and is staffed primarily by women. The same is true of the Evergreen Animal Protective League. All our faith communities and non-profits such as Evergreen Christian Outreach, Drive Smart, Seniors Resource Center, Bootstraps and the Mountain Resource Center are dependent on women for the work they do.
Another of our defining features is the multitude of arts organizations. The Evergreen Artists Association, the Evergreen Players, the Evergreen Chamber Orchestra, Center for the Arts Evergreen and Ovation West, which grew from the Evergreen Chorale, have enriched our lives for decades. Frank Plaut, longtime arts activist, tells me that none of these organizations would survive without women and their contributions of talent, energy and ideas.
Many women business owners and realtors have given generously to all facets of community life, at the same time they helped build a vibrant business sector.
Evergreen also has a long history of women in the public sector, starting with the establishment of its first public library in 1917. Over the years, many women have served with distinction on the School Board and the Evergreen Park and Recreation District board. More recently, we have seen women elected to represent us in the Legislature and on the Board of County Commissioners.
By calling attention to the contributions of women to our community, I do not mean to downplay the role of men. Many have also given selflessly, often while working long hours down the hill.
When I began writing, I intended to name names, but decided there are just too many for a column of this nature. If you’re curious about the particular people involved, I encourage you to check out the excellent website justaroundhere.com, which has profiles of many of the women—and men—who have made our community such a great place to call home.
Linda Rockwell moved to Evergreen with her family in 1982. She got involved in local land-use issues in 1984 and in the Democratic Party a few years later. She served as chair of the Jeffco Democrats from 1993 to 1997. Good government and principled politics remain her passion.