We had the good fortune of connecting with Gretchen Roberts and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Gretchen, do you have a favorite quote or affirmation?
The work is always there tomorrow. I say this a lot to my very dedicated staff when they are staying late or when I am suggesting they go home to take care of themselves. In the human services field, and in all fields really, there is always more work to do, but it won’t get done more quickly or more effectively if you or your staff are tired and in need of self-care time.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’ve had a lot of different paths in my career – science teacher, gardener, non-profit fundraising and regional planning. I was also once a full-time yoga teacher and waitress!

Having my oldest daughter alone was the single biggest shift in my adult life. I went from a day consultant and night musician, to a solo mom struggling to find child care and pay the bills. I switched professions and went to school at night to become a science teacher.

Pulling through that period, though, really gave me so much more faith in myself. It took awhile to realize this, because I was always so tired and trying to survive that I didn’t know how strong I had become, but now that I have perspective on that time I realize that pushing through the self-doubt of it all and nurturing my baby girl was really my biggest accomplishment.

I also gained so much perspective on what it means to be poor in the US – when you are poor and taking care of others it feels so much harder. It can also be lonely. At EarthLinks we say that “community ends isolation.” It’s true. We have a micro-economic space and garden, and we make great body care products together with folks who have experienced homelessness, but the real work we are doing is caring for each other and our planet as a community – combatting the isolation of poverty each and every day.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I would start with Red Rocks Park – close to my house and always a show stopper. I worked in the Central Library in Denver for several years, so I would pop in to see the art floors and then go to the Denver Art Museum with lunch at City O’City.

For night activities a show at DCPA would be great, and all the walks around my house in Morrison are wonderful too. Bear Creek Lake Park, Matthews Winters and the walk along Clear Creek in Golden.

I might also take a day trip or do an overnight to Winter Park for a nordic experience at Snow Mountain Ranch or another area up there. I really love Palisade for a few days as well. Great desert hikes and wine tasting!

For food – Federal for Vietnamese, S. Broadway for Mezcal and Empanadas. I would love to send them to Meow Wolf and take them to my organization to show off the gardens. There’s also the Denver Botanic Gardens.

My favorite Mexican restaurant is on Federal – called Chile Verde. We could go there after visiting my job site.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
The Participants at EarthLinks are a daily inspiration. Their ability to show up for themselves and each other in large and small ways is mountain-sized. Working for and with folks who are transforming their own narratives, and who have experienced such hardship in their lives, gives all of us on staff a higher purpose.

In my own life I would say that the support and love of my parents, grandparents and partner are paramount. My mother pushed thru loads of obstacles to become a professional in technology in the 80’s and always encouraged me to believe in myself. My grandmothers on both sides were also pivotal. One, a charismatic Holocaust survivor, and the other a dedicated activist, mother and gardener. My father is a writer and a person who can fix or build most things, including art out of old tools and found objects. My husband helps me think through the hard parts of my day, and to celebrate the amazing parts. My foundation is what it is because of these people.

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Image Credits
Image credits: Kaitlin Aaby and EarthLinks Staff

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutColorado is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.