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5280 [The Denver Magazine]

November, 2014


Big Ideas

The people, places, and organizations changing the way Coloradans live.


—Illustrations by Greg Mably

More than 52,000 patents have been issued to Coloradans in the past 50 years—putting us at number 18 in the country for sheer volume of inventions. Of course, that doesn’t take into account all the trademarks owned by Centennial Staters, among them the word “cheeseburger,” trademarked in 1934 by Louis Ballast of the Humpty Dumpty Drive-In. Nor does it include all of the songs (ahem, “America the Beautiful” and “Rocky Mountain High”) and literature (Plainsong and The Shining, for starters) written for and about our state. Bottom line: Colorado isn’t just a place of invention; it’s also a haven of inspiration, as the individuals, institutions, and businesses profiled on the following pages illustrate. “Innovation,” though, isn’t always about science and tech. That’s why, in our effort to showcase some of the great minds along the Front Range, we also included people who are advancing everything from education to art to what and how we eat and drink. We know there are more big thinkers out there than we had room to include here, so consider this an introduction to all the impressive gray matter powering—and inspiring—our region today.

Innovations for the Environment

Wayne Dorband
Changing the way we feed livestock

Growing up in California, Wayne Dorband was surrounded by genius: His father was an aerospace engineer who flew with legendary test pilot Chuck Yeager; his neighbors were Neil Armstrong and Frank Zappa; his high school marine biology mentor was SeaWorld cofounder Carl Hubbs. Some of those smarts rubbed off. Dorband has become a pioneering mind in the realm of urban farming as a way to address what he considers a regional food shortage. Dorband’s Sustainable Livestock Nutrition, a portable farm, produces enough microgreens (1,500 pounds per day) to feed about 50 cattle per day without requiring irrigation. Seedlings, which are grown hydroponically, mature in eight days and provide a superior (and less expensive) food source than hay. The northern Colorado resident dreamed up the system in 2010, when Colorado’s drought put the squeeze on irrigation and hay prices jumped 200 percent to $400 a ton. “The innovator in me came out,” Dorband says. Today Dorband’s systems provide food for about 10 farms in Colorado; maintaining them requires just one percent of the water that irrigating for the same amount of hay would. What’s more, the concept has a human application: A variation of the system can also be used to grow fruits and veggies for your dinner plate, too. —Amanda M. Faison

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