By P.M. Fadden
Local organization Girdwood 2020, an advocacy body focused on community and valley issues, enters a fresh evolutionary phase in 2018.
Somewhat enigmatic in its community-first approach, the 2020 helm is now in the hands of co-chairs Ethan Tyler and Henry Munter who strive to continue the group’s quiet support of valley growth.
“2020 was founded by a group of citizens that felt specific projects needed a body of advocacy, capable of flexibility, and outside of government,” said Tyler. “Over time that initial focus has transitioned to advocating responsible growth and development throughout Girdwood.”
“2020 is local residents and stakeholders,” Munter added, “a group working for Girdwood’s people, infrastructure and recreation development.”
Debuted with the 2000 millennium, Girdwood 2020 has pursued improved dialog, via lobbying, with elected officials to benefit the valley’s small community. Early emphasis included focus upon information to legislators in the hopes of creating awareness for community issues. Later fundraising also proved effective with an estimated $80,000 dollars raised annually toward community projects.
Previous group leadership includes longtime Girdwood resident Diana Livingston. Lauded for her soft-spoken administration, Livingston chaired 2020 for more a decade and is viewed as instrumental in advising 2020 on its current course.
“Honestly the organization wouldn’t still be here if it weren’t for Diana’s energy and drive as a volunteer,” Tyler said. “She really moved things to the next level, acting as bridge between many existing community networks. The person that’s been involved at every level. She remains involved, and we lean on her as immediate past chair more than I could even explain.
In a transitory shift since summer 2017, Tyler and Munter reiterate the continued learning and respect their recent positions dictate.
“Girdwood 2020 isn’t changing,” Tyler said, “but rather recognizing what it’s been doing up to this point and then plotting a direction forward.”
“The needs of Girdwood may have evolved over the years,” Munter added. “but the group’s advocacy should continue to positively address the needs of its community and still assist with responsible development.”
Now Executive Director, Stu Greene admitted his own initial curiosity at the function of Girdwood 2020 but states to have since been surprised at the level of untouted achievements attributed to group efforts.
“Like many residents, I didn’t exactly know what Girdwood 2020 did,” Greene said. “But my personal involvement with 2020 has opened my eyes to all the group has achieved over its many years.”
“Take a quick look around Girdwood,” Greene said. “Most of what you see has been touched by 2020.”
Currently twenty-four board members strong, Girdwood 2020 reports past involvement with community projects: Girdwood Nordic Ski Club formation, Town Square Park, Crow Creek and Olympic Loop road work, the playground, bike path improvements and implementation of a secondary power line resulting in a reduction in local power outages.
“2020 has boosted many projects,” Tyler said, “yet when those initiatives reached self-sustainment capability, Girdwood 2020 has been able to step away, allowing them to flourish independently. That’s just what the organization did.”
“Girdwood 2020 engages with policy makers,” Tyler affirmed. “From local municipality to state officials it will continue to be a lobby presence for Girdwood.”
Moving forward, 2020 administration assures its lobbying presence at Juneau, citing Seward Highway initiatives as primary action items. Furthering projects related to highway safety, commercial viability and policing, 2020 says directly impacts lives of day to day commuters as well as recreators to Girdwood Valley and beyond.
“We are lobbying in Juneau,” Tyler said. “2020 seeks resolution and support of police presence on the highway, and capital projects that make the highway safer. That’s been a focus this year.”
Girdwood 2020 leadership persists to aspire to aid opportunities from which local businesses flourish, stating such accomplishment to benefit all valley residents.
“Girdwood is an economic driver for the city and state,” Tyler said. “My hope is for 2020 efforts to make the community a better place for our children to live.”
“Girdwood 2020, the organization, is passing the torch,” Munter said. “It’s time to step-up take that torch and get things done.”