The Difference Club: Violet, Ava, Delilah and Camille. Photo by Lisa DiNardo

Last year, on Fridays after school, Delilah, Camille, Violet and Ava would meet at the Carbondale Library. These four friends are each 10 years old and in the fifth grade at Carbondale Community School. They decided that with concerted effort, they could make a difference in the world.
Initially, their ideas started big. Violet thought about endangered species like rhinos, polar bears, elephants and koalas. Camille was more broadly concerned about climate change. Delilah talked about gender disparities, the way “girls and boys are split into two different categories all the time, told they have to like certain things.”
But before they could begin, they needed a catchy moniker. The girls bounced around a few ideas for what their group would be called. “Rebel Queens” was one consideration, but eventually they settled on “the Difference Club.”
Together, they reflected on the changes they are witnessing, even in just a decade of life. For example, Violet used to have a cow pasture behind her house, and now it’s a polo field. She has also noticed changes in the way people act.
“People used to care so much more about the environment and not littering and stuff,” she said. “Now I see strangers dropping trash on the ground.”
Eventually, they caught wind of a Town of Carbondale decision to allow herbicides to be sprayed in the Delaney Nature Park. They were introduced to Lisa DiNardo, a horticulturist/certified arborist and local advocate for the People and Pollinators Action Network.
When the Town was developing a detailed Integrated Weed Management Plan, adopted in 2019, DiNardo contributed professional holistic land management strategies. The Parks and Rec Department plan, with guidance from advisor Gwen Garcelon, places chemicals at the bottom of the list of tools for eradicating unwanted plants.
Together with the People and Pollinators Action Network, DiNardo advocates for organic land management and perennial plantings to assure insects are able to keep the cycle of life turning within their habitats.
Nine other communities in Colorado have passed pollinator protections, and DiNardo would like to see Carbondale pass a resolution with focused language and lasting intent. The Pollinator Protection Resolution would establish June as “Pollinator Month” and provide opportunities for education each May around Dandelion Day. So far, the resolution has received support from the Environmental Board, its associated Bee Friendly group, the Tree Board and Parks and Rec Commission.
Looking to make a difference close to home, the Difference Club attended that Parks and Rec meeting to back the resolution. Next, they will appear before the Board of Town Trustees alongside DiNardo and the other Carbondale Pollinator Advocates on Oct. 10 at 6pm, asking for the resolution’s official approval and adoption.
The Pollinator Protection Resolution came together with help from the People and Pollinators Action Network and Carbondale Pollinator Advocates, which includes Jillene Rector from the Bee Friendly group, Jane Hendricks from the Bee Friendly group and Environmental Board, Susan Rhea with the Parks and Rec Commission, Mark Burrows of Pollinator Chocolate, teacher/environmental educator Lisa McKenzie, Diana Alcantara, who directs the a summer garden boot camp for kids and connected DiNardo with the Difference Club, and DiNardo herself. They’ve been drafting the language since April. One section, penned by the Difference Club, reads: “We, the youth of our community as the future leaders and visionaries of our town, implore town leadership to exercise ecological foresight to preserve inhabitable lands with clean air and water, for people, insects, animals and all plant life in Carbondale for the coming generations.”
“I feel like people always turn to the worst solutions for things,” Delilah commented to The Sopris Sun. “Weeds are literally just these amazing plants that can do so much for everyone. We’re the ones that are just messing everything up.”
“If you destroy the plants, the bugs can’t eat. And if you destroy the bugs, then the other animals can’t eat,” added Violet. “We’re basically destroying our own kind.”
And, “If we actually speak up, we can make a difference,” affirmed Camille.