'Good citizen' T-shirts

To buy one of the Center of the American West's Gifford Pinchot T-shirts, visit centerwest.org. Proceeds go toward supplementing the activities of the Center of the American West.

The University of Colorado's Center of the American West has sent a message of bipartisan cooperation to top leaders in Washington, D.C.

Five T-shirts bearing a quote from Gifford Pinchot, a personal friend of Teddy Roosevelt and the nation's first chief forester, are on their way to President Barack Obama, House Speaker John Boehner, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

"It is a greater thing to be a good citizen than to be a good Republican or a good Democrat," the T-shirts read.

CU's Center of the American West is asking the politicians to have photographs taken wearing the shirts and then get to work on a budget deal that will avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff," automatic budget cuts and tax increases that will take effect in January if no deal is reached.

The Center of the American West works on a variety of regional issues, including water management, relationships between federal agencies and communities, native identity and art and literature.

Patricia Limerick, the faculty director of the center, said she had the T-shirts made after students responded strongly to the quote during a spring course.

"My own frustration with the political polarization and stalemate is pretty great," she said. "I'm in contact with so many people who feel as I do, and we may have different balances in our heads about how much should be revenue increases and how much should be spending cuts, but we all think they should work together.

"It's not like compromise has to be invented from scratch."

Limerick said she gets a positive response every time she wears the T-shirt, and it has prompted a lot of conversations that wouldn't otherwise happen.

She said she hopes the shirts do the same for Washington's most powerful politicians.

"I'm hoping they'll think things could be different, and we could be different, that they'll hear what I believe is the majority of the American people saying, 'The my way or the highway approach to budget issues is really not working.'"

Contact Camera Staff Writer Erica Meltzer at 303-473-1355 or meltzere@dailycamera.com.