December 15, 2021

Tommy Caldwell and Kyle Judson on Calling Colorado Home

As second generation Coloradans, Tommy Caldwell and Elevated co-founder, Kyle Judson, are investing in their community to ensure the Colorado they leave to their children is one worth calling home.

In this final chapter of our Journey to Solar blog trilogy, we connect with Tommy and Kyle on meaningful community partnerships, the impacts of fatherhood on their values, and how to preserve the Colorado of their childhood for generations to come:

There are a lot of outdoor athletes, and a lot of solar companies, how did this partnership come to be?

KYLE:  At Elevated, our mission is to protect outdoor spaces, and one of the ways we do this is through our membership to The Conservation Alliance. We were actually the first energy, and more specifically first renewable energy, company to join. One benefit of the organization is that you are connected to like-minded individuals committed to making a difference, like Tommy. He's somebody I've idolized and looked up to for a long time. We both grew up looking at Longs Peak from different angles, and I value the community connection we share. I deeply respect his environmental advocacy efforts and knew that supporting him in adding solar to his home in Estes Park would be mission-aligned for Elevated.

TOMMY: When I met Kyle through The Conservation Alliance, I really loved how he and Elevated were going after the outdoor community. Our values lined up really well. I'm trying to figure out how to create a culture of environmentalism among outdoor people, and so are Kyle and Elevated. It seemed like a great match. We both care about how we can best support our local community. And then, we got together and started going on adventures together, and it was just really fun.

You’re both second generation Coloradans, but why did you decide to stay and raise your family in this community?

TOMMY: Colorado is unique in the United States in that you can have a life where you spend a tremendous amount of time out in wonderful mountains adventuring, but you are still in very close proximity to urban amenities. You can get from the city to the mountains really quickly and that leads to a lot of outdoor enthusiasts living here, which in turn creates a real energy full of excitement and creativity.

I always think that Colorado is to climbing like New York is to theater. For a long time, if you wanted to be a good climber, you almost had to live in Colorado for a period of time to be around that energy and learn all the training techniques. That's not so much the case now with great climbing gyms all over the world, but there's still so much excitement going on in the Front Range.

KYLE: Colorado is amazing. We have incredible access to recreation. You can pretty much do everything here except go to the beach. We've got mountains, we've got parks, really great skiing, great climbing, great sports teams. There's also a really cool culture; we're kind of a unique balance of progressive and conservative, city and country, which I think is somewhat rare nowadays. Plus, Coloradans support each other and the quality of life we all want.

As a local, family-owned and operated business, Elevated is part of the bigger Colorado community, one working hard to keep our state a place where people want to stay put. We all want to lift each other up and contribute to a better life.

Within our company, that’s not just for myself or my brother, but for our parents too and the people around us. Not just my family, but your family and the family down the block.

You both seem like pretty rad dads. How has raising your children impacted your values and what you’re teaching to them?

TOMMY: When you have kids, suddenly you think of the future differently. You think of it, not in terms of just your lifespan, but in terms of the future after you die. Although I think we will experience a lot of effects from climate change in our lifetime, I think my kids are going to experience way more.

I was climbing Blitzen Ridge a little bit ago and from the top of that mountain, you can see the two biggest forest fires in Colorado history that happened last year. And then in between them, there's still some forests, but about 60% of those trees are dead from beetle kill. And you're like, it's changing quickly. So, figuring out ways to overcome that becomes more urgent.

Like most parents, I want to provide the best life for my kids. The thing I don't want is for all the forests to be torched and there to be no trees left for Fitz and Ingrid.

Introducing them to alternative energy sources like solar is preparing them for the next wave of the future.

Just like any new idea, things take time to catch on. But, I do think that for my children, their generation will adapt and those who do not will fall behind. Plus it’s also just fun for my wife and me. We love doing little things with our kids, like picking up trash on the trails, to get them passionate about the idea of taking care of our world at a young age.

KYLE: When I was younger, I didn't really have an eye on the future. I was just all about skiing and finding the best turns, or climbing hard and pushing my grade. And then when my son Quinn came around, it was kind of an eye opener. It was like, okay, how do I make this life sustainable? How do I make this environment sustainable? I want him to experience all the same things that I did growing up, but I already see the effects of climate change.

Like my family goes to Winter Park every year for Thanksgiving to ski and have a big dinner with family and friends. When I was a kid, we would go outside and go sledding right outside the condo. We could build snow forts and snowmen. Now, it's maybe one in five years where there's actually enough snow for my son and little cousins to do that same thing. It's just not the same, and Quinn and I discuss the differences regularly.

It’s always an ongoing conversation, but when you see these very real effects on your front door changing the way you interact with the environment, it's kind of hard not to take notice and try to make changes and prepare your kid for the future.

Like Tommy, I feel as though we have already seen a lot in our short lifetimes, and our kids are going to see a lot more.

How do we protect the vision of Colorado you both grew up with and want to preserve for your children and this community’s next generation?

TOMMY: Colorado is one of the top five oil producing states in the country, but we also have this abundant resource in the sky.

Solar is a less carbon intensive energy source. So, that's a great way to combat climate change, which is really the biggest threat in my mind.

I think the places that work the best for solar, which Colorado is one of, those places need to lead the way for the rest of the world because they're going to be the ones that figure out how to make it work first.

Colorado is also a pretty highly populated mountain area these days. I feel like our community has to figure out how to balance a lot of people and this incredible nature, how to have both be as positive and robust and unaffected as possible. And really, that comes down to building resources and infrastructure, and creating a culture of care. If we can do those things, it could create a really utopian future.

I think that consciously choosing where we spend our dollars is part of investing in Colorado’s precious landscape and this community. The services that we offer at Elevated have a direct impact on reducing fossil fuel extraction. We've also partnered with The Conservation Alliance, who works on protecting open spaces.

We want to make your dollar, not just work for you and reduce your environmental impact, but to have a direct impact on the communities and the environments that surround our customers.

In Colorado, we have a lot of natural resources and a history of extracting them, but I think our greatest natural resource is the Sun. We have 300+ sunny days each year. It’s such an integral reason so many of us love calling this place home. As Tommy mentioned, there is this massive generator in the sky putting out huge amounts of energy daily, so why wouldn't we utilize that?