Donna Guthrie is an idea person. A Colorado Springs-based writer of children’s books and producer of online educational videos, Guthrie’s ideas usually benefit the community, bring people together and advance a cause.
Take, for example, the 23rd Annual Rocky Mountain Women’s Film Festival, coming Nov. 5, which Guthrie co-founded with Jere Martin, or the “6 Women Playwriting Festival,” which in April will hit its fifth year, and her recent creation of a network of some 50 Colorado Springs book clubs.
“I get a lot from working with other women, men too, on big projects,” Guthrie said. “It adds joy to my life to be involved. It’s a sense of accomplishment and something that will last. Like working for Habitat for Humanity, you see the houses you helped build and that’s an accomplishment. It’s something you can put your hands around.”
Since 2006, Guthrie’s main project has been “Meet Me at the Corner,” a website where children, ages 7-13, can take “virtual field trips” and look at other educational video podcasts. Guthrie is the producer and director.
“It occurred to me that non-fiction could be presented to kids in many ways,” she said. “There are questions and activity books and just fun on the website.”
Guthrie has written more than 20 books for children, including “Collect This! A Kid’s Guide to Collecting.” She’s also penned dozens of magazine articles and written several plays. A couple of years ago, the Smokebrush Theater performed Guthrie’s play “The Wedding Trunk.”
It’s no surprise then that Guthrie’s community activism, in addition to volunteering for Habitat for Humanity, includes helping libraries whenever possible. She’s a former member of the Pikes Peak Library District board.
Guthrie believes strongly in giving back to Colorado Springs, but her volunteer work also enriches her life.
“Some of the best friendships I have were developed through organizations I worked with,” Guthrie said.
Like her relationship with Martin. The pair cooked up the idea for the film festival while driving back from the Telluride Film Festival and lamenting that Colorado Springs seemed an unlikely place for one. But they gave it a whirl anyway. Now the festival is the longest running women’s film festival in America and attracts thousands.
“That makes me proud,” Guthrie said. “But I also like to pass the torch on. So many times organizations need new blood and new people and volunteers. I’m well known for starting something and not staying with it. And that’s not such a bad thing. New people bring new ideas and creative good for an organization.”
Guthrie said the support of her husband of 37 years, Mike Guthrie, helps when she’s engaged in one of her many projects.
Before Guthrie turns 70 in 2016, she wants to hike in each of America’s 58 national parks. Before she turned 50, she and Mike walked five miles in each of the 50 states. But they’re not doing it alone. Guthrie created a website, www.hikeallthenationalparks.com, so friends and family can log their own hikes, learn about all the national parks, get links to helpful hiking-related websites and leave tips and tricks.
“I love this town and want to create events for it,” Guthrie said. “There’s a lot of community interest in that direction, grass roots events. The women’s film festival is a perfect example of how one idea became an institution.”
By Dennis Huspeni