5 Questions With Abby Stern, Aspen City of Wellbeing Associate Director

1.     TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND AND YOUR ROLE WITH ASPEN CITY OF WELLBEING?

I have lived in the Roaring Fork Valley (Aspen, Snowmass, Basalt and Carbondale; our renting market is TOUGH) for 4 years. During my last summer of college, I spent 3 months in NYC for an engineering internship. With a cubical in Murray Hill and an apartment in Chelsea, I gave big city living a solid try. But I quickly realized the Manhattan grind wasn’t supporting my vision of thriving. So, I decided to take one Winter Season in Aspen to find balance and figure out what was next. Winter turned into Spring and you know this familiar story. I was hooked on the magnificence of Aspen!
My role with the Aspen City of Wellbeing is to get $#*! done. We are a ‘startup’ mission-driven nonprofit that is expanding quickly. As a doer, I rock whatever is needed at the moment, and have enjoyed creating content, working on the ACW Strategic Plan, helping with the Love Ninja ‘Uniforms’ and grant applications. 

2.     YOU HAVE BEEN WORKING IN THE ENVIRONMENTAL SPACE FOR MANY YEARS BEFORE ACW, WHY THE RECENT TRANSITION?

I have a degree in Environmental Engineering and have worked with many organizations around climate change and renewable energy, including organizing in Paris during the COP21 Climate Negotiations. But when the Trump Administration came into office a lot shifted for me. Now more than ever, action needed to be taken at a local level, with programs and solutions that could be replicated nationwide. From a young age, I had been taught about climate change and that our planet was suffering. But not until recently did I realize the connection with our suffering society. We cannot take care of the planet unless we are simultaneity caring for ourselves. Good, Ole Albert Einstein said, “No problem can be solved from the same level of conscious that created it.”
The ACW mantra is: Be Well. Do Good. ACW is shifting culture to incorporate wellbeing into society. This will, in turn, align the shift for harmony with nature. My values will always qualify me as an environmentalist, but today I am focusing my time and energy locally to create programs and initiatives to elevate the consciousness needed to solve some of our world’s toughest problems.

Photo by Adam Wells

Photo by Adam Wells

Teaching Chair Yoga at the Aspen Senior Center

Teaching Chair Yoga at the Aspen Senior Center

3.      WHAT IS IT LIKE WORKING WITH ASPEN CITY OF WELLBEING?

I do not think the term work sufficiently describes my connection with ACW. Collaborating with the powerhouse team at Aspen City of Wellbeing has been a dream. We strive to live out our mantra Be Well. Do Good. So our meetings include hikes, meditations, yoga and the occasional margarita. The joy the current programs have provided thus far is rewarding, and the traction we are obtaining for being such a young organization is motivating. I have also greatly enjoyed working with Stephen McGhee our phenomenal business coach! Becoming very clear on our mission, setting goals and mapping out how we are going to be successful is right up my alley. 

Yoga break out the ACW office

Yoga break out the ACW office

Team Hike at the Top of Smuggler Mountain

Team Hike at the Top of Smuggler Mountain

4. WHAT HAS BEEN IMPACTFUL FOR YOU THIS YEAR?

As most of us do, I love to travel! In this past 6 months, I have ventured to Hawaii, Israel, and Japan. Every time I see a new country, community or culture I see a new part of myself. Travel is an expansive experience, one that fuels my fire for living a life of service. The more of our world I see the more I want to protect her.
Coming home is also a favorite part of traveling. The “Aspen bubble” is real and sometimes I take for granted her beauty. But every time I venture out of Aspen driving back into the valley is exhilarating. Hiking to the top of Smuggler Mountain after just a week in the city gives me goosebumps. Travel expands my mind, provides me time to go inward, and makes me appreciate the place I call home.
And Meditation! The tool that keeps me grounded through it all. 

Negev Desert, Isreal

Negev Desert, Isreal

North Shore, Hawaii

North Shore, Hawaii

photo by Alexis Ahrling

photo by Alexis Ahrling

5.     WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO WITH ACW?

The Second Annual Lead With Love Experience (register HERE)! I’m not sure if many people know that the Aspen City of Wellbeing team pulled off last years gathering with ONLY 6 weeks of prep time. Can you envision what a year’s worth of planning will be like!? 

 
 
Jess Ewart