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weed between the lines:


A rundown on affordable housing in Boulder County by Angela K. Evans

As the pandemic shroud lifts gently from live music, Desert Dwellers are ready to plug back in by Dave Kirby

Dance at Avalon Ballroom, contribute to an art project at east window, celebrate Earth Day, and more to do when there’s ‘nothing’ to do... by Boulder Weekly Staff

Now playing Women+Film — ‘Amy Tan: Unintended Memoir’ by Michael J. Casey

New program makes it easy to taste Colorado’s beer, wine, spirits and ciders by Matt Cortina

Why Front Range Biosciences teamed up with CU Boulder to be the first to grow cannabis in space by Will Brendza

departments 5

The Anderson Files: Lesson after Amazon union defeat: Keep fighting 6 Guest Column: We need to talk about the new normal 7 Letters: Sign, sealed, delivered, your views 23 Astrology: by Rob Brezsny 24 Savage Love: Letter rip 27 Food/Drink: Eggplant parmesan pizza @ Fringe Pizza



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Publisher, Fran Zankowski Editor, Matt Cortina Circulation Manager, Cal Winn EDITORIAL Senior Editor, Angela K. Evans Arts and Culture Editor, Caitlin Rockett Contributing Writers, Peter Alexander, Dave Anderson, Emma Athena, Will Brendza, Rob Brezsny, Michael J. Casey, Sarah Haas, Jim Hightower, Dave Kirby, John Lehndorff, Rico Moore, Amanda Moutinho, Katie Rhodes, Leland Rucker, Dan Savage, Alan Sculley, Ryan Syrek, Christi Turner, Betsy Welch, Tom Winter, Gary Zeidner SALES AND MARKETING Market Development Manager, Kellie Robinson Account Executives, Matthew Fischer, Sami Wainscott Advertising Coordinator, Corey Basciano Mrs. Boulder Weekly, Mari Nevar PRODUCTION Art Director, Susan France Senior Graphic Designer, Mark Goodman CIRCULATION TEAM Dave Hastie, Dan Hill, George LaRoe, Jeffrey Lohrius, Elizabeth Ouslie, Rick Slama BUSINESS OFFICE Bookkeeper, Regina Campanella Founder/CEO, Stewart Sallo Editor-at-Large, Joel Dyer Cover, John R. Ford

April 15, 2021 Volume XXVIII, Number 35 As Boulder County's only independently owned newspaper, Boulder Weekly is dedicated to illuminating truth, advancing justice and protecting the First Amendment through ethical, no-holds-barred journalism and thought-provoking opinion writing. Free every Thursday since 1993, the Weekly also offers the county's most comprehensive arts and entertainment coverage. Read the print version, or visit boulderweekly.com. Boulder Weekly does not accept unsolicited editorial submissions. If you're interested in writing for the paper, please send queries to: editorial@ boulderweekly.com. Any materials sent to Boulder Weekly become the property of the newspaper.

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Boulder Weekly welcomes your correspondence via email (letters@ boulderweekly.com) or the comments section of our website at www.boulderweekly.com. Preference will be given to short letters (under 300 words) that deal with recent stories or local issues, and letters may be edited for style, length and libel. Letters should include your name, address and telephone number for verification. We do not publish anonymous letters or those signed with pseudonyms. Letters become the property of Boulder Weekly and will be published on our website.


Lesson after Amazon union defeat: Keep fighting by Dave Anderson


he union defeat at a giant Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, was a big blow to the labor movement. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a surprise given the company’s relentless and hyperbolic multi-million-dollar campaign against the union. It wasn’t a fair fight. From its earliest days, Amazon has been determined to crush any union drives. Five years ago, the firm was compelled by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to post a “notice to employees” at a Chester, Virginia, warehouse declaring that they wouldn’t engage in 22 forms of threatening and intimidating behavior. “We will not threaten you with the loss of your job” if you are a union supporter, Amazon wrote. “We will not interrogate you” about the union or “engage in surveillance of you” while you participate in union activities. I

“We will not threaten you with unspecified reprisals” because you are a union supporter. We will not threaten to “get” union supporters. The list was posted after the Machinists union accused the company of doing these things during a two-year campaign to unionize 30 facilities technicians at the warehouse. The powers of the NLRB are quite weak. They could not impose monetary penalties. In addition, this was a secret settlement, which was only recently uncovered by the New York Times. In addition, Amazon is hard to organize due to the massive turnover of employees. A study by the National Employment Law Project concluded that Amazon’s business model is “one in which the company views its workers as disposable and designs its operations to foster high turnover. Workers who can’t keep up with extreme productivity goals are fired or encouraged to quit. Many workers have to see THE ANDERSON FILES Page 6

APRIL 15, 2021



We need to talk about the new normal by Carolyn Kerchof


here is a thirst in the community to talk about the pandemic and discuss how it has changed our lives. A few of us got a taste of what this kind of public conversation might reveal at an April 3 event of Boulder Arts Week: an in-person panel discussion at Refuge Art Gallery on Pearl Street about the “New Normal” of pandemic life. The panelists were visual artist Rebecca Sharp, pedagogist and literature scholar Dr. Valentina IturbeLaGrave, and learning designer Ashley Thomas. Seven audience members sat in folding chairs scattered throughout the gallery, and fresh air from the effervescent spring day poured in from the open front- and backdoors. The wideranging discussion began at the beginning of the pandemic, with cancelled travel plans and the lack of delineated space due to working (or no longer working), parenting, learning and doing nearly everything solely from home. For many of us, without our regular commutes, “we’ve had to find ways to drive back home without driving home,” as Sharp put it. The audience nodded in recognition and agreement. “After the pandemic started, I realized that so much of my self-confidence came from travel,” Thomas said, reflecting on how the pandemic had forced her to be alone with herself for the first time in a long time. The three panelists touched on the pain of social distancing: “There’s a kind of psychological electric fence around all of us,” Sharp said. Iturbe-LaGrave talked about the impossibility of burying her father, who died of COVID last year, on Zoom. The panelists discussed how, in some ways, the pandemic has

been a collective growing up, and there is safety in knowing that we are going through it together. The past year has presented us with opportunities to grow, to turn inward, and to selfsource our inspiration. The fact that it is happening to all of us, together, can be difficult to bear in mind at times, but can also give us strength. Spring is here, the vaccine is here, let’s gather soon to tell our stories. It’s important that we reflect together locally, as a community, about our diverse experiences. Over the coming year, we need more opportunities, like the one April 3, to physically come together and reconnect, talk about what happened to us, ask each other questions and listen to the answers. We should seize the moment and talk about it while it’s still fresh. Community centers, classrooms, bars, theaters, art galleries, museums, parks and beyond are all spaces these conversations can take place in. Back in the gallery, to wrap up the event, the moderator asked the panelists a final question: What does moving forward look like for them? “Being inspired by what inspires me,” Sharp said. “The physicality of life. We need to reconvene,” Iturbe-LaGrave said. “Recognizing the small victories,” Thomas concluded. The audience nodded and murmured with each answer. All of us have gone through so much in the past year. By sharing our stories, we’re sharing knowledge that can help us build a new normal that’s better than the old one. Carolyn Kerchof is a writer and designer based in Boulder, and the creator of the project Boulder Covid Stories. This opinion column does not necessarily reflect the views of Boulder Weekly.

The fact that the

pandemic is happening to all of us, together, can be difficult to bear in mind at times, but can also give us strength.



APRIL 15, 2021


leave their jobs because of injuries. Amazon’s inhumane work pace and repetitive work tasks require a level of physical exertion and strain that takes a high toll on workers’ physical health over time, which is why the company needs to constantly replenish its workforce with fresh bodies.” Amazon’s employees suffer injuries at rates much higher than the national average for the warehouse industry. “According to Amazon’s own records, the risk of work injuries at fulfillment centers is alarmingly, unacceptably high,” David Michaels, former head of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, now a professor at George Washington University’s public health school, told the Center for Investigative Reporting. The anti-union tactics Amazon used in Chester surfaced in Bessemer against the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). Amazon brought in highly paid “consultants.” Union busting is a huge and lucrative industry. In 1988, Martin Jay Levitt described his former career in “preventive labor relations” as a form of psychological warfare in his book Confessions of a Union Buster. In it, he wrote, “Union busting is a field populated by bullies and built on deceit. A campaign against a union is an assault on individuals and a war against the truth. As such, it is a war without honor. The only way to bust a union is to lie, distort, manipulate, threaten, and always, always attack. Each ‘union prevention’ campaign, as the wars are called, turns on a combined strategy of disinformaI

tion and personal assault.” At the Bessemer warehouse, Amazon held mandatory “captive audience” meetings where managers lied and told scary stories about the union. The company sent text messages several times a day urging workers to vote no. Anti-union flyers were everywhere, even on bathroom stalls. Vulnerable temp workers were told to wear “vote no” swag. During the voting, President Joe Biden released a video posted to Twitter and YouTube, which was the most pro-union message made by a president in our time. He didn’t mention Amazon but did refer to “workers in Alabama.” He said: “Unions put power in the hands of workers. They level the playing field. They give you a stronger voice for your health, your safety, higher wages, protections from racial discrimination and sexual harassment.” He also said: “There should be no intimidation, no coercion, no threats, no anti-union propaganda.” The House passed the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, which would outlaw many of the antiunion tactics Amazon used and institute serious penalties against companies and corporate executives who violate workers’ rights. Biden supports it. But it won’t pass the Senate unless the filibuster is abolished and a few “moderate” Senate Democrats are convinced to vote for it. It’s tough but we can win, even against Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world. This opinion column does not necessarily reflect the views of Boulder Weekly. BOULDER COUNTY’S INDEPENDENT VOICE

The Supremes In its ruling on media ownership, the current makeup of the Supreme Court reveals again its bias, a la Citizen’s United, of promoting the power of wealth over lesser beings. Apparently unconsidered was the narrowing and loss of diverse opinion open to the public, then again, perhaps it was. Authoritarian aristocracies of wealth have long been the enemy of democratic governance. Robert Porath/Boulder

fulfill if we continue to run deficits in these programs. My wife is a doctor and I am a former high tech entrepreneur turned philanthropist. We both want to save the world but it is clear we cannot do so if we destroy our country before we can even hope to address these issues. The path we are going down right now leads to disaster. It is the same path that many failed socialist nations have fol-

lowed including Argentina, Venezuela and Zimbabwe. These nations have seen their currencies devalued by hyperinflation by over 10 million percent, millions of its citizens flee their countries and its remaining citizens reduced to abject poverty. If we are to enact all the proposed policies that the liberals are now pushing through their majority in Congress we will have effectively spent more than the sum total of all the

money held by our citizens. If we continue spending on these monstrously enormous and irresponsibly planned policies, our government printing presses will run until our currency is not worth the paper it is printed on. We will then reduce all of our citizens’ life savings to nothing and none of the great hopes and dreams of the idealists on the left will ever get realized. Brett Kingstone/ via internet

A word or two from the Right My wife and I recently moved to Colorado from two red states, North Dakota and Florida. We often joked with our friends we probably doubled the population of conservative Republicans in Boulder County. We like reading all the local publications including the Weekly, but we have become surprised how limited local publications are in diversity of thought. So in that spirit we are writing this letter to the editor so your readers may consider that there are key factors regarding the economy, climate change (aka the Green New Deal) and governance other than the single-minded mantras that they are reading. First, we cannot serve ourselves, our environment, our poor (citizens or immigrants) or the world if we become bankrupt as a nation. A few simple facts: According to the Brookings Institution, the sum total of all privately held wealth in the United States is $98 trillion. The U.S. currently has (due to outrageously irresponsible policies and spending) a national debt of $28 trillion. The COVID-19 Cares Act Bill, passed during the Trump administration, was $2.2 trillion and the additional most recent COVID-19 Relief Bill passed by the Biden administration is $1.9 trillion. Biden’s new infrastructure bill is estimated at $2 trillion and the amount of the proposed Green New Deal Bill is estimated at between $10 trillion and $20 trillion depending on how restrained Congress is in applying all the wish lists of the lobbyists and activists. The American Action Forum estimated that the Green New Deal could ultimately cost between $51-$93 trillion over the next decade. Unfortunately, we must add to this the projected $210 trillion of liabilities to Social Security and Medicare programs that our government cannot BOULDER COUNTY’S INDEPENDENT VOICE


APRIL 15, 2021



A lot of moving parts

A rundown on affordable housing in Boulder County

Story by Angela K. Evans Photos by John R. Ford


nown as a desirable place to live, with its high quality of life, progressive values and natural landscape, Boulder County has become increasingly unaffordable over the last several decades. For many workers — teachers, firefighters, civil servants and those in the service industry — rent and home prices are often significantly more expensive than incomes, making it hard to live in the communities where they serve and work. The lack of housing options around Boulder County has become increasingly evident as well, inserting itself into the local conversation, no longer relegated to government meetings and negotiations with policy wonks. But discussions about affordable housing can also be confusing, with numerous programs, funding sources and strategies involved. And the amount of bureaucracy on federal and local levels can be intimidating both for those who need affordable housing, and for others in the community concerned about it. While affordable housing has been a policy priority, at least in theory, in jurisdictions across the county for years, the need still far outweighs current supply, leaving room for myriad solutions from legislators, nonprofits, city planners, regulators, housing advocates and others. In the coming year, Boulder Weekly will explore the efficacy of different solution proposals to increase affordable housing in the region, as well as gaps in the system. This series builds off last year’s Unhoused project, which looked at different solutions to homelessness, just one end of the affordable housing continuum. But first, we need to understand the current situation — the programs, policies and strategies local jurisdictions are using now to increase affordable housing across Boulder County.



Setting the scene

Affordable housing is offered in various ways across Boulder County, from federally funded Housing Choice Vouchers (Section 8) for very low-income families, seniors and people with disabilities, to permanently affordable rental units and deed-restricted units for homeownership that limit how much value a home can appreciate to no more than 3% a year. Down payment assistance programs can also help residents purchase market-rate homes, but it doesn’t necessarily solve the entire issue, as many may still lack the monthly income to qualify for or

APRIL 15, 2021


EVEN WITH visible construction across the county, the need for affordable housing far outpaces the supply.


HOME PRICES have ballooned across Boulder County, with a median price of more than $1 million in the City of Boulder.

afford monthly mortgage rates in an area where median home prices are rising. Longmont, for example, has a list of more than a dozen families seeking down payment assistance, but the City has seen an 8.1% increase in home values over the last year. In Boulder, the median home prices is over $1.5 million, according to Information and Real Estate Services, LLC. Despite aggressive goals to increase the percentage of low-, moderate- and middle-income affordable housing stock throughout Boulder County, today, only about 5.8% of all housing in Boulder County is considered affordable, as defined by a household spending no more than 30% of income on rent or mortgage, according to the Boulder County Regional Housing Partnership. Although countywide collaboration for affordable housing began in the early 2000s, it was the 2013 flood that solidified the Regional Housing Partnership, as different jurisdictions came together to strategize how to best use emergency funding. Over the course of two years, the countywide coalition was able to produce about 1,000 units of housing, either rehabilitating damaged properties or securing new opportunities for people, which eventually led to the Partnership’s formal establishment in 2017. Policymakers from across these jurisdictions (the cities of Boulder, Longmont, Lafayette and Louisville, along with the mountain towns of Lyons, Nederland and Jamestown, as well as Erie and Superior, and Boulder County) collaborate, share information and resources, and advocate in an effort to preserve and create diverse housing options across the region. But it is not a formal entity with any sort of regulatory authority. Still, the Partnership established a countywide goal of preserving 12% of the housing inventory as permanently affordable by 2035. Longmont is currently at about 6%, and 8.4% of units in Boulder are permanently affordable. Boulder City Council has been disBOULDER COUNTY’S INDEPENDENT VOICE

cussing increasing housing costs since the 1970s, but many of the programs still in place today didn’t begin evolving until the late 1990s when rental prices and property values began to rise significantly. In 2000, Boulder adopted its comprehensive housing strategy, which is what the City has built its affordable programming on in the decades since. That same year, the City adopted its 10% goal at a time when less than 3.2% of housing was deemed affordable. The vast majority of Boulder’s current affordable housing stock comes in the form of rental units — only 799 of the total 3,767 total affordable units in the city are owned by individuals. In 2019, the City upped its goal to 15%, with the mandate that 1,000 of those homes be preserved for middleincome earners. And the goal is adjusted annually to account for market-rate development, which increases by roughly 1% a year. “It’s an ever-growing target, which makes it challenging to accomplish,” says Jay Sugnet, senior planner with the City of Boulder, who has been working on housing issues since 2013. In 2020, the City added 277 affordable units, the second largest increase since reporting began in 2000. 2015 holds the record at 356, while the average development rate over the last 20 years is 123 units annually. “It’s definitely not a lot,” says Charlotte Pitts, chair of Boulder’s Housing Advisory Board, especially when considering the need. For example, when Boulder Housing Partners (the City’s housing authority) opened an interest list I

for 79 units last fall, 393 people signed up. In Longmont, the waitlist for affordable rentals is currently more than 100 households — the amount the City expects to serve this year — according to Kathy Fedler, Housing and Community Investment division manager for the City, although several hundred households usually apply. When it comes to affordable for-sale properties, Longmont doesn’t currently have a waitlist because there are no homes to offer. Longmont has also been focusing its efforts on affordable housing since before the turn of the century, establishing its housing fund in 1995. Currently, it has close to 2,500 deed-restricted homes in the City, the majority of which are also rentals (2,288 rental; 144 purchased). The City’s goal is to have 5,400 affordable homes by 2035, with plans for almost 500 over the next three years. But the ability to reach affordable housing goals countywide, under the current system, really comes down to one thing: funding.

Where does the money come from?

“There’s absolutely nothing that’s inexpensive about affordable housing,” says Norrie Boyd, interim director for Boulder County Housing Authority (BCHA). “And yet the value there is that you have permanent affordable housing for people who literally couldn’t afford to live in the community otherwise. So I never doubt that it’s worth it.” APRIL 15, 2021

Federal funding for affordable housing has been decreasing for years, leaving more and more of the monetary burden of building and preserving affordability to state and local governments. (Although, President Biden’s American Jobs Plan earmarks $213 billion “to produce, preserve, and retrofit more than two million affordable and sustainable places to live.”) Currently, local jurisdictions in the Regional Housing Partnership, along with the housing development community, invest approximately $15 million in affordable housing across the region. But in order to reach the countywide 12% affordability goal by 2035, an additional $40 million is needed annually from local sources, according to Kristin Hyser, deputy director of Boulder’s Housing and Human Services and a member of the Regional Housing Partnership steering committee. These local funds are then leveraged for federal dollars — for example, Sugnet says Boulder can take every $1 it receives in local funds and leverage anywhere from $2-$4 in federal funds to increase affordable options within the City. The largest source of federal funding comes in the form of low-income housing tax credits, an incentive for affordable housing written into the tax code through public-private partnerships with investors. Locally, there’s a concerted effort to increase affordable housing funding through several different policy initiatives. In 2017, Boulder County voters extended the 0.5% Worthy Cause sales tax, which funds local human services nonprofits, including affordable housing developers like BHP and BCHA, through grants. There’s talk of a countywide ballot measure to increase local funding for affordable housing either through property tax increases or an additional sales tax in the next year or two. A similar effort in 2020 was put off by the coronavirus pandemic and the specifics of any future measure are still waiting on discussion and approval from County Commissioners, see HOUSING Page 11






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HOUSING from page 9

according to Hyser. Cities also generate their own affordable housing funds. In Longmont, City Council designates $1 million of general funds, and half of the marijuana tax revenue, each year to affordable housing, Fedler says. Reinstating its inclusionary housing policy in 2018 has also increased the housing stock in Longmont. It requires that developers of new residential projects provide 12% of units at affordable rates, or the equivalent thereof. Units can be built on-site as part of a market rate project, or developers can pay a per-square-foot fee-in-lieu to the City’s affordable housing fund. (They can also donate land, use a combination of options or propose an alternative to meet requirements.) There are currently 26 singlefamily homes that have been built as a result of the policy (11 of which have already been sold), according to Fedler. One apartment complex currently under construction will have 33 affordable units out of approximately 280 total, she adds. Other developments are also including affordable units on site, like Veterans Community Project (VCP) and eight Habitat for Humanity financed houses that are a part of a larger residential subdivision in southern Longmont from HMS Development. And more is expected, since Longmont has about $2 million worth of cash-in-lieu fees expected over the next three years. Boulder also has a robust inclusionary housing policy, first implemented as part of its comprehensive housing strategy at the turn of the century. The program has continued to evolve since and is one of the main funders of affordability in Boulder today, due mainly to collected cash-in-lieu fees, as each new development is required to contribute 25% of total units as permanently affordable housing. “We call it the workhorse of affordable housing in Boulder,” Sugnet says. Although there may be the perception that this is just a way for developers to buy their way out of affordable housing commitments, Sugnet says it’s an effective way to increase affordable housing funds that can then be leveraged for more federal dollars. Between 2001 and 2018, Boulder’s inclusionary housing program brought in $66.7 million, with a high of $13.3 million in 2018, that can be used to fund affordable units throughout the city. By collecting these fees, the City can BOULDER COUNTY’S INDEPENDENT VOICE

spread affordable units throughout the city instead of concentrating them only where new development is, Sugnet says. It also allows the City to preserve existing buildings that are affordable, slowing the speed of gentrification. Some housing advocates are critical of the model, however. As Pitts, from the Housing Advisory Board, says, “Affordable housing is only generated when market rate housing is built. So it’s this kind of odd, vicious cycle of luxury apartments go up and only then can we work on our service-class workforce housing.” Also, inclusionary housing programs have long been contested across the state, with the Colorado Supreme Court

Neighborhood Development Coalition (NDC), a group of affordable housing nonprofits across the Denver-Metro region, including BHP. Along with inclusionary housing, Boulder also levies a housing excise tax on new residential development, as well as non-residential additions, which brings in additional revenue to secure more affordable housing in the city for lowincome households. Recognizing that increased commercial space in the city creates jobs, which in turn increases demand for housing, Boulder charges commercial developers a linkage fee for new projects as well. In 2018, Boulder City Council increased this per-square-foot fee to $30, making it one of the highest linkage fees in the country, just behind Palo Alto, California, which charges $35 per square foot. Going fully into effect this year, the one-time commercial linkage fee will become a significant source of local affordable housing funds in the coming years. While some people have argued this fee would stop new development within the city, that hasn’t been the case, Cappelli says, and Boulder’s commercial linkage fee has been used by advocates trying to get other cities, like Denver, to raise their commercial linkage fees. Despite all of its policies to generate affordable housing funds, “Boulder still lags behind Denver and other cities in overall affordability of market-rate homes, and lags behind Denver in its relative investment in affordable housing,” Cappelli says. For example, dividing the total investment in affordable housing by the population of CHARLOTTE PITTS, the city, Denver currently spends ruling in 2000 that such chair of Boulder’s requirements were a about $52 per person on affordable Housing Advisory form of rent control and housing, with plans to increase that Board thus unconstitutional in to $109 by next year when a new what has become citywide voter-approved tax to comknown as the Telluride bat homelessness kicks in, he says. decision. Many large jurisdictions, like By contrast, Boulder spends $47 per perBoulder and Longmont, however, have son on affordable housing. created workarounds to the legal chal“Proportionately speaking, Denver is lenges presented by Telluride, none of poised to spend 2.3 times more on affordwhich have been challenged in court able housing than Boulder by 2022,” since. Legislation that would separate Cappelli says. inclusionary housing policies from rent But lack of funding isn’t the only thing control, thus giving more cities the ability preventing jurisdictions in Boulder County to implement it without opening themfrom more rapidly increasing affordable selves up to legal risk, is currently under housing. Land use policies, neighborhood consideration at the State Capitol. reluctance and market prices all come “There are things that Boulder has into play too. done that many other cities in Colorado have essentially been afraid to do,” says Other barriers Jonathan Cappelli, executive director of “You don’t have to be a housing I

APRIL 15, 2021

development expert to know that density caps are a huge part of why there is such a supply-demand issue,” Cappelli says. “When a city has a certain priority like affordable housing, then everything in the city should try to help deliver on that goal as opposed to fighting itself.” Introduced in Boulder’s charter in 1971 in an effort to curb high-rise development and preserve mountain views, the height limit in Boulder has been especially contentious for decades. It currently caps all development at 55 feet, but through zoning ordinances, most of the city is restricted to a height limit of 35 feet, increasing to 38 feet for the downtown area and 40 feet for industrial buildings. Along with the height limit, past prioritization of single-family zoning over multi-family developments, setback requirements, and parking, lot-size and open space per unit minimums all make it difficult to increase density in many areas of Boulder. As does the current inability to subdivide large lots. (Some of these exclusionary housing policies are specifically targeted in Biden’s infrastructure proposal, with the possibility of new affordable housing grant opportunities for jurisdictions that eliminate them.) One way to increase affordable housing is to implement by-right zoning for projects that comply with the City’s stated affordability goals. This could streamline the approval of affordable housing projects by removing discretionary review processes that leave approval in the hands of certain staff or public boards and can be so time-consuming that they easily delay or even kill new development. Other communities also offer either partial or full waivers for planning, permitting and even infrastructure fees as a way to reduce cost and incentivize affordable housing development. Boulder does not have such policies, however. “The City has made the policy choice to hold affordable housing to the same high standard as market rate housing,” when it comes to design and public process, Sugnet says. “But the City’s development review team does an excellent job of prioritizing the review of affordable projects when feasible, and the City’s Department of Housing and Human Services provides a subsidy to most affordable housing production to offset some development costs.” And while the City doesn’t charge BHP city sales and use taxes, it also doesn’t have a fee waiver program. Such a policy may sound good in theory, Sugnet says, but it can also increase demand on city infrastructure and staff see HOUSING Page 12



HOUSING from Page 11

time to review plans, making it “more efficient to pay a subsidy directly and avoid the administrative costs of implementing a fee-waiver program.” Longmont doesn’t give carte-blanche approval to affordable housing projects through by-right zoning either. But it does have some key incentives that help: Its fee waiver program allows developers constructing at least 12% of on-site affordable housing to apply for discounts for key infrastructure fees. Height and density bonuses, along with lot line adjustments, landscaping and parking reductions also hope to spark more affordable housing construction in Longmont. “The incentives that we do provide — I don’t think other communities in Boulder County provide as many or as varied,” Fedler says. “We have really tried to use some of our regulatory opportunities to encourage and incentivize affordable housing.” But it’s not just land-use codes that can stymie affordable housing development. The lack and cost of available land is a barrier as well, given that affordable housing projects often come with smaller margins and less capital than their market-rate counterparts. “You can never resolve our housing problem if you allow the market to ration land to the highest bidder,” says David Adamson, an affordable housing advocate and executive director of Goose Creek Community Land Trust. A Boulder native, he’s been championing different affordability models within the city for years, and was an avid proponent of increasing density in areas like AlpineBalsam, as the City looks to redevelop the old Boulder Community Hospital site it purchased in 2015 for $40 million. “All the housing people — all the County’s housing people and the City’s housing people — they’re all trying to get a little more rental affordable housing, but our point is, it’s only going to make a 12


APRIL 15, 2021


small dent in the problem,” he says. “You can do this heroic effort and tax people, but you’re really not getting at the key need of so many people for housing and you can’t fix it unless you do what we do with the open space, and you say, we are going to shape the market.” It’s a novel idea — allocating finances through a bond or some other funding mechanism to purchase land for affordable housing much like the City and Boulder County did for open space more than 50 years ago — but it has yet to find a footing among policymakers. And most efforts to increase density across the city, especially through zoning variances, have long been met with community pushback. “One of the ongoing issues that affordable housing developers and service providers have is NIMBYism and a general reticence for people to allow density in their communities, especially when it comes to affordable housing,” Cappelli says. Often in the name of preserving “neighborhood character,” public review processes for these projects generally result in much less affordable housing units than initially proposed. Other proposals to increase density — like the use of tiny homes, ADUs and increasing occupancy limits — have sparked lively community discussions, often resulting in little or only incremental change. “Neighborhood character has been used as a weapon against any sort of modest change that would mildly increase density in a very logical way,” Pitts says. Although, she admits, the conversation is beginning to evolve as different voices are often dominating City Council and Planning Board discussions. And in that way, the conversation around NIMBYism may be changing as well. “NIMBYism is an interesting term because it often indicates an opposition to affordable housing,” Pitts says, “But I don’t want any more luxury development in my neighborhood.” BOULDER COUNTY’S INDEPENDENT VOICE

The ultimate goal

Policymakers, housing advocates and affordable housing developers all agree on one thing: housing more community members is the point. Affordable housing contributes to a more diverse and inclusive community, which jurisdictions across Boulder County have publicly committed to facilitating. Whether that’s those on fixedincomes, with disabilities, seniors, those in need of permanent supportive housing or transitional housing coming out of homelessness or working-class families and individuals trying to make ends meet, more is needed. There’s also been a major push in the last few years to increase housing for middle-income earners, as affordability for this demographic is rapidly shrinking countywide as well. (Boulder’s 2019 voter-approved middle income down payment assistance program has been postponed indefinitely due to the pandemic.) To that end, upward mobility isn’t always the goal. While some homeowners in the affordable housing program may be able to build equity and eventually move into a market rate home, the gap between affordable rentals and homeownership around the County is so large, that making that leap may remain unattainable for many people. “In any given community, including Boulder, it just is the case that a big percentage of the workforce, based on the wages that they earn, are not going to be able to afford the housing that the local market provides,” says Jeremy Durham, executive director of BHP. When it comes to rentals, about 45% of those leaving a BHP property move into a market rate rental, while the others move to another affordable unit, he says. Other exit data tracking what happens to folks after they sell or move out of affordable units is lacking countywide, as it would require additional staff resources. For the most part, success is measured by increasing affordable housing stock, not overall outcomes of those living in it. While local jurisdictions, affordable housing developers, advocates and policymakers continue their attempt to match supply with demand, many people may have to trade living in Boulder County for affordability elsewhere in the meantime. Pitts, for one, is leaving Boulder in a few months to go to grad school. She currently rents in BHP’s Tantra Lake complex but is unsure if she’ll ever be able to come back to Boulder. “I keep joking with people, like: I’ll come back when I can afford to buy BOULDER COUNTY’S INDEPENDENT VOICE

here,” Pitts says. “I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to, though.”

What’s next

Now that the scene is set, BW will explore several specific solutions to increasing affordability in the coming months. Next, we’ll take a look at how affordable housing is designed, both aesthetically and locationally, focusing on how this can change outcomes for residents. We’ll also revisit the role of homeowners’ associations (HOAs) in affordability, as lack of regulatory oversight at the local and state level can increase cost of living for affordable homeowners in apartments, townhouses and condos. Transportation is a key component of affordability across the region, with a focus on mixed-use developments to allow people to live and work in the same neighborhood. But how well is this model working? We’ll also explore Colorado’s overhaul of regulations for mobile homes — the state’s largest source of unsubsidized affordable housing. Despite a lack of affordable housing options, Boulder actually has a glut of rental units, an estimated 700 vacant homes within the city in February 2020. We will look at how voucher programs could place those seeking affordable housing into vacant market-rate residences, like is being done in other cities. We’ll also explore how growing technology companies can contribute to increasing affordable housing, like what’s being proposed (or has already been done) in other tech centers like Seattle and San Francisco. And lastly, we will explore the issue of commercial space affordability in Boulder County, with pilot programs in Boulder and elsewhere around the country already underway. As we continue to report on these issues, undoubtedly other ideas and topics will arise, with the possibility of producing additional stories beyond what’s laid out here. While this series will in no way present an exhaustive list of solutions, our hope is to present new ideas and continue the conversation around affordability in Boulder County through the coming year. This series is funded, in part, by a grant from the Solutions Journalism Network. If you currently live or have experience with Boulder County’s affordable housing programs or any of the topics listed above, we want to hear from you. Please email editorial@boulderweekly. com, with “affordable housing” as the subject line. I

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probably landed as a sustaining event for their live-gig-deprived fans. COVID was the only thing on tour in 2020. A break can be a good thing if well timed, but kind of a drag if uncooperatively long. “To be truthful,” Moontribe says, “both of us were pretty burnt out on traveling so much when COVID hit — we were already talking amongst ourselves about taking some breaks, ways to be a little more picky about the shows we take. ... So, in a way, it helped us achieve that without having to say no to a lot of promoters.” Turning down work, even if you feel like you need to, isn’t necessarily the easiest thing to do. “Yeah, it’s hard to do,” Moontribe says. “You don’t want to pass up opportunities. But when you’re traveling as much as we were — and we don’t travel as much as some artists do, I don’t know how they do it — it was really tiring, and our approach to touring in the future is definitely going to be different. Do things in little sections, then maybe take a couple of months off... we’re not going to go as hard as we did.” And that, by itself, is a signal of having crossed a threshold. Desert Dwellers, birthed from the southwest desert raves of more than 20 years ago, have established themselves as essential producers, easing effortlessly through trance, tribal, bass and psychedelic colorations without sounding forced or stiffly performative. Vibe and color, nuance and tenderness. In some ways, they have defied the skepticism that once shaded the burgeoning EDM scene. And with more than two decades of original music and countless remix projects,

As the pandemic shroud lifts gently from live music, Desert Dwellers are ready to plug back in and coax the vibe and transport the faithful. If, maybe, a little less obsessively

by Dave Kirby


ast December, Desert Dwellers (Amani Friend and Treavor Moontribe) released a three-hour video stream set, captured last summer in a verdant clearing in the trees somewhere west of here, garnished with visual effects and tree-bedecked dronescapes framing the two producers under a small shelter. A little Buddha statue grinned knowingly in front of their rig. A gifting gesture, quite obviously, for their homebound fans, and hey, even last summer we were all ready to get out of the house and play. Composed largely from the duo’s recently completed three-volume set of remixes of their landmark Breath release, Friend and Moontribe drifted effortlessly through a lengthy and exquisitely tempered set, characteristically lithe and deeply invested in their earthy, gently seductive vibe. And they didn’t know at the time — no one did — that they were only halfway through this pandemic thing, so a successful sabbatical-breaking moment for the duo




APRIL 15, 2021




they quietly display their own longevity as evidence of the wider scene’s durability, and can maybe afford the indulgence of sitting a few gigs out. “I think the real blessing is, it’s not a trend,” Moontribe says of the EDM scene. “Like hip-hop and rock ‘n’ roll – neither of those are going away any time soon, and neither is electronic music culture. It’s multi-generational: here’s people like me who are approaching 50, people who are 60 and older, and all these young people in their 20s and teens who are finding it, and that’s really awesome.” We wondered if the duo, with such a lengthy tenure and abundant catalog, ever felt some sensitivity or caution about repeating themselves — that kind of ghostly specter that haunts developing artists who travel long roads in their respective genres and release a lot of material. There’s a balancing act involved in managing this, of course; a fanbase grows up around an artist’s aesthetic framework, and you’re never sure if chasing your musical instincts can disrupt that paradigm. Then again, there’s a trust involved in pursuing your instincts and embracing restlessness, and an honestly pursued exploration across genres means following your inspiration and letting the fanbase take care of itself. “With our last album, Breath, we intentionally went into the kind of slow-tempo house music realm, completely dif-


Essential listening, and some nonessential

Treavor Moontribe’s take on some of electronica’s pioneers




omeone once observed that electronica was music without a memory. We’re not sure if that’s true, but in any case, we thought we’d get Treavor Moontribe to riff on a few of electronica’s best known (and maybe overlooked) pioneers. (And no, we did not ask about Bassnectar.)

Steve Roach: Steve Roach is more on the Amani [Friend] side of things, as far as inspiration goes. Steve Hillage (System 7): Not a big part of my listening. I do have pretty much all the System 7 stuff. For me, I think their earlier acid house stuff was my favorite. Daft Punk: I appreciate what they’ve done. They command nothing but respect — I mean, they practically invented that kind of disco and house music... I get why they were so popular, but it’s a little more on the commercial side, just not something I listened to very much.

Juno Reactor: The first vinyl I ever bought as a DJ was the Juno Reactor album from 1994. Hugely influential. They crossed over (into the mainstream), and for an act that was based in psytrance, especially at that time, was really unheard of. It was a very underground genre, and kind of still is in some ways.

The Orb (Alex Paterson and others through the years): When it comes to psychedelic, [The Orb is] one of the most influential for everyone, right? And even their new music is killer. It’s just so weird and so experimental. And totally unique. ... It’s almost unplayable. It’s meant for people tripping. It just is. And if you’re not, it’s kind of too weird.

Banco de Gaia (Toby Marks): His music was a huge part of the Moontribe scene and the parties that we did in the desert in California in the ’90s. We have a remix of Banco de Gaia out there — “All Sleeping” was the track. “Last Train to Lhasa” is one of the best electronica songs of all time. APRIL 15, 2021

ferent from our Great Mystery ON THE BILL: DESERT album before that,” Moontribe DWELLERS. says. “And a lot of that was due 6:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. to not wanting to repeat ourApril 17 and 18, selves. We could have made Boulder Theater, 2032 14th St., Boulder, another bass music album and bouldertheater.com. maybe appealed to more fans, Tickets start at $55. but I feel like with the Breath (The April 17 shows album, we gained new fans.” were sold out at press time.) And then, especially in the EDM world, add the dimension of remixes. Handing off pieces of a song, just pieces, to another producer results in some hybrid creation — part original artist, part interpreter — that gets absorbed as a collaboration. In the end, whose is it? In a sense, it almost doesn’t matter. Where the original artist’s work ends and the remix artist’s work begins is the alchemy, and alchemy is one of the scene’s essential bodily fluids. Is there a set of unwritten rules or a kind of etiquette involved in handling remixes? Moontribe has to think about that a bit. “I think everyone kind of has their own rules and etiquette around that. “For us, when someone asks us about doing a remix, before anything we have to listen to the original track, and feel like there’s something we can do with it that’s going to be really, really great, but different from the original, and just as good or just as powerful. “For us, every remix album has benefitted us just as much as it’s benefitted the original artist,” Moontribe adds. “Some of those tracks have gotten us some of our largest amounts of streams, and those artists have been able to grow because of their affiliation with us, and vice versa.”



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Friday, April 16-18 and April 23-25, The Spark, 4847 Pearl St., Suite B4, Boulder. Tickets are $16-$22, thesparkcreates.org Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach is now a musical for the whole family to enjoy, featuring a wickedly tuneful score by the Tony Award-nominated team of Pasek and Paul and a curiously quirky book by Timothy Allen McDonald. When James is sent by his conniving aunts to chop down their old fruit tree, he discovers a magic potion that results in a tremendous peach... and launches a journey of enormous proportions.



11 a.m. Friday, April 16. Register: bit.ly/2QmezBG Join Mental Health Partners for a networking conversation about housing searches and resources. This virtual meeting is particularly focused on rent relief organizations and resources in Boulder and Broomfield counties. Register for the event in advance to receive a Zoom link and passcode.


1-3 p.m. Friday, April 16, Avalon Ballroom, 6185 Arapahoe Road, Boulder, boulderdance.org Join Kinesis Dance and Kidz Bop touring choreographer, Kelsie Jeffords, to learn family-friendly combos in the outdoors while mingling with community partners — a free community event for the whole family.


1-5 p.m. Saturday, April 17, The Spark, 4847 Pearl St., Suite B4, Boulder. Tickets are $45, thesparkcreates.org Draw four different models, collectively offering 50 different poses over four hours. Artists must pre-register to maintain safe gathering numbers. With physical distancing, only 20 artists are allowed in the theater. All of the Spark’s theater garage doors will be wide open, essentially making this a covered plein air venue. Bring your own easel and wear a mask.



Noon. Monday, April 19. Tickets are $40, growinggardens.org/event/gardening-201-onlinecourse This online workshop will start up where Gardening 101 left off, by exploring best practices for maintaining a healthy garden once it is growing. It will cover a variety of topics including transplanting, crop rotations and succession planting, plus weeding and cover cropping. Lastly, it will take a look at some of the tools you can use to make these tasks more efficient.


11 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, April 17, east window, 4949 Broadway, Unit 102B, Boulder, eastwindow.org. You must register for this event by emailing stitchingthesituation@gmail.com Stitching the Situation is an ongoing and collaborative project, recording diverse individual and community experiences in real time during the COVID-19 pandemic through community crossstitching gatherings. This project is an extension of artist Heather Schulte’s textile work, Situation Report, a daily cross-stitch documentation of the coronavirus case and death counts in the U.S. All materials provided and no experience in cross-stitching is required.


5 p.m. Thursday, April 22. Tickets are $5, boulderbookstore.net In The Government’s Speech and the Constitution, CU Boulder professor Helen Norton investigates the variety and abundance of the government’s speech, from early proclamations and simple pamphlets, to the electronic media of radio and television, and ultimately to today’s digital age.


10 a.m.-noon. Saturday, April 17, via Zoom, greaterboulderyo.org Rounding up all fifth and sixth grade instrumentalists in Boulder and beyond! Get giddy about music, meet other musicians, enjoy rodeo games, build skills on your instrument — and learn a new tune at the Music Rodeo, hosted by Greater Boulder Youth Orchestras. There will also be a performance workshop with tips on how to share your music. All young musicians welcome to this free event. Geared toward ages 10 and up.


1 p.m. Sunday, April 18, Boulder Bandshell, Broadway and Canyon Avenue, Boulder. Day after day, week after week, communities are torn apart by acts of gun violence. This can’t be the new normal, where we become numb to the carnage and accept this as an inevitable reality. Join Blue Rising with former Colorado Senate President John Morse in calling state legislators to take bold action of gun violence now. see EVENTS Page 20

APRIL 15, 2021



EVENTS from Page 19





Louisville. Help celebrate Earth Day by assisting with a clean-up on Open Space!


2 0 2 1


April 19-24. All programs are free-of-charge and can be viewed live at facebook.com, LongmontMuseum, LongmontPublicMedia.org, and Local Comcast Channel 8/880. Learn more at bit.ly/Climate-Change-Series. The Longmont Museum is presenting a series of virtual programs examining climate change, its impact and potential solutions. The series will feature panels, lectures and conversations with local scientists and other experts, culminating with Sustainable Resilient Longmont’s annual Earth Day Celebration.

Sustainable Resilient Longmont’s virtual The celebration will conclude with a special bilingual conversation on the subject of equity and climate change from 6:30-8:30 p.m.




Join fellow Earth lovers on April 22 to clean Boulder Creek. You’ll then be provided trash bags and gloves and then assigned an area of the creek to focus on. This is a kid-friendly event that is meant for the whole family. Please bring a reusable water bottle for this event. Please RSVP.

This class will discuss sustainable farming, environmental art, solar ovens and more. Participants will give back to the land as we celebrate all that it’s given us. Every day includes fun farm games and art projects.



7 p.m. April 22, available to watch for free on


With Earth Day approaching, listen to a conversation about environmental justice, evolving green technology and innovative solutions with Dr. Jason Neff, author of A Changing Planet and environmental studies professor and director of the Sustainability Innovation Lab at University of Colorado-Boulder. Neff will be interviewed by student host Megan Cistulli, of the University of California-Berkeley.

Mike Love, Satsang, Mystic Grizzly, Block 1750, artist John Speaker and more will perform on ARISE Online: Earth Day 2021, a free virtual benefit concert to celebrate and help continue to strengthen the relationship between music, nature and humankind. This livestream concert will benefit Fort Collins-based nonprofit Trees, Water & People — a tree will be planted for every donation made.

ARTMAN PRODUCTIONS X ODIN PRESENTS EARTH DAY 2021 CELEBRATION AT FARM 49. Head to Farm 49 to celebrate the Earth! Festivities include guided meditation, blessing of the plants ceremony, and a fashion show centered on our interconnectedness with the Earth and the importance of the fight against plastic. There will be sustainable, high-vibrational apparel made out of hemp and bamboo by ODIN, along with thriving second-hand fashion. Please bring your own chairs. Food and non-alcoholic beverages will be provided.

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10 a.m.-7 p.m. April 15-18, Louisville Center for the Arts, 801 Grant Ave., Louisville, louisvilleart.org The Louisville Art Association is excited to host its Spring Members Fine Art Show and Sale, April 15-18. All pieces are available for purchase. The show can be viewed in person or on the Louisville Art Association website. The virtual awards ceremony, judged by painter Martin Lambuth, will be simulcast on Facebook and YouTube on Saturday, April 17 at 7 p.m.


4-8 p.m. Thursday, April 15, Boulder Museum Of Contemporary Art, 1750 13th St., Boulder. Free public reception. Don your mask and head to Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art on April 15 to celebrate the opening of Ana María Hernando and Friends: Handle With Freedom. In this series, Hernando hands over control of the piece and invites spectators to become creators with each new invitation to “handle with freedom.” Hernando, guest curator Ellen Bruss, and executive director/chief curator of BMoCA David Dadone will speak throughout the evening. Social distancing and capacity restrictions will be observed.


Through September. Museum of Boulder, 2205 Broadway, Boulder, museumofboulder.org Los Angeles artist Karla Funderburk arrived in Boulder on April 12 with a trailer filled with more than 10,000 paper cranes, each one representing a soul lost. She began making the cranes in May 2020 to help process the amount of death due to COVID. The numbers ballooned quickly, and Funderburk recruited help in making more cranes. Now she’s taking the exhibit to museums across the country. At the Museum of Boulder, cranes will be strung together and placed throughout the Drawing Parallels exhibit. Patrons can scan QR codes to listen to stories from those who’ve lost someone this year. Anyone who visits the Museum is welcome to add to the collection, and anyone can drop more cranes off at the museum through September 2021. Funderburk will then move all of the cranes forward to feed into another location’s installation and representation. see EVENTS Page 22



APRIL 15, 2021



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EVENTS from page 21








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Boulder Theater, 2032 14th St., Boulder, bouldertheater.com 8 p.m. Friday, April 16 — An Evening with Mountain Rose. Fresh off the release of their debut EP, Mountain Rose creates an original sound, blending rock, soul, funk, Americana and reggae. Tickets are $50. 7 p.m. Sun, April 18 — A Yoga Dub Evening with Desert Dwellers. Desert Dwellers combine the raw sounds of the natural world, wrapped in dance-floor and chill-out productions. Tickets start at $55.



bluegrass.com/spring-grass/concerts 5:30 p.m. April 15 and 16 — Keith Moseley and Friends with Arthur Lee Land Keith Moseley, bassist of The String Cheese Incident, joins Ross James (Terrapin Family Band), Mark Levy (Circles Around The Sun), and very special friend Tyler Grant (Grant Farm). 4 p.m. April 17 and 18 — Adam Aijala & Ben Kaufmann (of Yonder Mountain) with Eric Thorin, Jessie Burns & Friends This YMSB duo will perform an intimate set featuring classics from the YMSB catalogue, as well as rare originals and covers. 5:30 p.m. April 22 and 23 — The Lil Smokies with The Lonesome Days The Lil Smokies blend bluegrass and rock with inspired storytelling.


7 p.m. Saturday, April 17. Tickets range from donations to $78 for VIP bundle packages, stonecottagestudios.ticketspice.com/high-lonesome High Lonesome puts a new spin on traditional, hard-driving bluegrass with a sound built around impeccable picking and tight vocal harmonies.


6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 22, etown.org/events/30 eTown’s 30th b’Earthday Celebration, will include eTown’s induction into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame, and will then feature music and conversation with artists including Lyle Lovett, Bob Weir, Los Lobos, Sam Bush, City and Colour, The War and Treaty, interview guest Former U.S. Senator Tim Wirth and more.



APRIL 15, 2021



April 24, BDT Stage, 5501 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder, bdtstage.com Enjoy an evening of film scores and string quartet works featured in movies such as Shutter Island, The King’s Speech, Avengers, A Late Quartet, Platoon, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and more by the Ajax Ensemble. For this production, the Ajax Ensemble will feature violinists Igor Pikayzen and Tom Yaron, violist Ezgi Pikayzen and cellist Joshua Halpern. BOULDER COUNTY’S INDEPENDENT VOICE


SEPT. 23-OCT. 22: Kublai Khan, ruler of the


MARCH 21-APRIL 19: “Today I feel the whole world is a

door,” wrote poet Dennis Silk. In a similar spirit, 13thcentury Zen master Wumen Huikai observed, “The whole world is a door of liberation, but people are unwilling to enter it.” Now I’m here to tell you, Aries, that there will be times in the coming weeks when the whole world will feel like a door to you. And if you open it, you’ll be led to potential opportunities for interesting changes that offer you liberation. This is a rare blessing. Please be sufficiently loose and alert and brave to take advantage.


APRIL 20-MAY 20: Taurus philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein was called a genius by Nobel Prize-winning author Bertrand Russell. His Philosophical Investigations was once voted the 20th century’s most important philosophy book. Yet one of Wittgenstein’s famous quotes was “How hard it is to see what is right in front of my eyes!” Luckily for all of us, I suspect that won’t be a problem for you in the coming weeks, Taurus. In fact, I’m guessing you will see a whole range of things that were previously hidden, even though some of them had been right in front of your eyes. Congrats! Everyone whose life you touch will benefit because of this breakthrough.


MAY 21-JUNE 20: Why don’t rivers flow straight?

Well, sometimes they do, but only for a relatively short stretch. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, no river moves in a linear trajectory for a distance of more than 10 times its width. There are numerous reasons why this is so, including the friction caused by banks and the fact that river water streams faster at the center. The place where a river changes direction is called a “meander.” I’d like to borrow this phenomenon to serve as a metaphor for your life in the coming weeks. I suspect your regular flow is due for a course change — a meander. Any intuitive ideas about which way to go? In which direction will the scenery be best?


JUNE 21-JULY 22: Cancerian poet Denis Johnson eventu-

ally became a celebrated writer who won numerous prizes, including the prestigious National Book Award. But life was rough when he was in his 20s. Because of his addictions to drugs and alcohol, he neglected his writing. Later, in one of his mature poems, he expressed appreciation to people who supported him earlier on. “You saw me when I was invisible,” he wrote, “you spoke to me when I was deaf, you thanked me when I was a secret.” Are there helpers like that in your own story? Now would be a perfect time to honor them and repay the favors.


JULY 23-AUG. 22: What do you believe in, exactly, Leo?

The coming weeks will be a fine time to take an inventory of your beliefs — and then divest yourself of any that no longer serve you, no longer excite you and no longer fit your changing understanding of how life works. For extra credit, I invite you to dream up some fun new beliefs that lighten your heart and stimulate your playfulness. For example, you could borrow poet Charles Wright’s approach: “I believe what the thunder and lightning have to say.” Or you could try my idea: “I believe in wonders and marvels that inspire me to fulfill my most interesting dreams.”


AUG. 23-SEPT. 22: Virgo poet Charles Wright testifies,

“I write poems to untie myself, to do penance and disappear through the upper right-hand corner of things, to say grace.” What about you, Virgo? What do you do in order to untie yourself and do penance and invoke grace? The coming weeks will be an excellent time for you to use all the tricks at your disposal to accomplish such useful transformations. And if you currently have a low supply of the necessary tricks, make it your healthy obsession to get more.


Mongol Empire and China in the second half of the 13th century, kept a retinue of 5,000 astrologers on retainer. Some were stationed on the roof of his palace, tasked with using sorcery to banish approaching storm clouds. If you asked me to perform a similar assignment, I would not do so. We need storms! They bring refreshing rain and keep the Earth in electrical balance. Lightning from storms creates ozone, a vital part of our atmosphere, and it converts nitrogen in the air into nitrogen in the ground, making the soil more fertile. Metaphorical storms often generate a host of necessary and welcome transformations, as well — as I suspect they will for you during the coming weeks.

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OCT. 23-NOV. 21: “Unexpressed emotions will never die,”

declared trailblazing psychologist Sigmund Freud. “They are buried alive and they will come forth, later, in uglier ways.” I agree, which is why I advise you not to bury your emotions — especially now, when they urgently need to be aired. OK? Please don’t allow a scenario in which they will emerge later in ugly ways. Instead, find the courage to express them soon — in the most loving ways possible, hopefully, and with respect for people who may not be entirely receptive to them. Communicate with compassionate clarity.


NOV. 22-DEC. 21: Sagittarian author Cristin O’Keefe

Aptowicz wrote a poem entitled “Not Doing Something Wrong Isn’t the Same as Doing Something Right.” I propose that we make that thought one of your guiding themes during the next two weeks. If you choose to accept the assignment, you will make a list of three possible actions that fit the description “not doing something wrong,” and three actions that consist of “doing something right.” Then you will avoid doing the three wrong things named in the first list and give your generous energy to carrying out the three right things in the second list.


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DEC. 22-JAN. 19: In the past few weeks, I hope you’ve

been treating yourself like a royal child. I hope you’ve been showering yourself with extra special nurturing and therapeutic treatments. I hope you’ve been telling yourself out loud how soulful and intelligent and resilient you are, and I hope you’ve delighted yourself by engaging with a series of educational inspirations. If for some inexplicable reason you have not been attending to these important matters with luxurious intensity, please make up for lost time in the coming days. Your success during the rest of 2021 depends on your devout devotion to self-care right now.


JAN. 20-FEB. 18: Sometimes when a disheartening kind of darkness encroaches, we’re right to be afraid. In fact, it’s often wise to be afraid, because doing so may motivate us to ward off or transmute the darkness. But on other occasions, the disheartening darkness that seems to be encroaching isn’t real, or else is actually less threatening than we imagine. Novelist John Steinbeck described the latter when he wrote, “I know beyond all doubt that the dark things crowding in on me either did not exist or were not dangerous to me, and still I was afraid.” My suspicion is that this is the nature of the darkness you’re currently worried about. Can you therefore find a way to banish or at least diminish your fear?


FEB. 19-MARCH 20: “Some people, if they didn’t make it

hard for themselves, might fall asleep,” wrote novelist Saul Bellow. In other words, some of us act as if it’s entertaining, even exciting, to attract difficulties and cause problems for ourselves. If that describes you even a tiny bit, Pisces, I urge you to tone down that bad habit in the coming weeks — maybe even see if you can at least partially eliminate it. The cosmic rhythms will be on your side whenever you take measures to drown out the little voices in your head that try to undermine and sabotage you. At least for now, say “no!” to making it hard for yourself. Say “yes!” to making it graceful for yourself.


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APRIL 15, 2021

Dear Dan: I’m a female in my late 20s. I broke up with a toxic ex about a year ago and I’ve been walking around (my house!) thinking I was over it. I never missed him and rarely thought about him. A brief backstory: In the final months of us living together, we started having more discussions about children and making a lifelong commitment. He told me he wanted both yet at this exact time his moderate depression became more severe and he refused to get help. I tolerated his cruel behavior because I knew how badly he was hurting. This ranged from icing me out to berating me and demanding I leave the home that we shared — my house — citing his need for “alone” time. One time he demanded I get up and leave in the middle of the night and go to a friend’s house! It’s worth noting the sex was mediocre at best, which I chalked up to him being a decade older. My self-esteem suffered. I finally left. Fast forward to now. I find out he’s been dating a man. I can barely cope with the anger I feel about this. I feel like a casualty of his shame. We have progressive friends! His sister has dated women! His parents are accepting! None of the reasons you list as appropriate ones for staying closeted apply to him, Dan! His inability to accept himself caused me the most severe emotional trauma of my life and I just feel enraged. I logically know this is not about me. It’s about him. So why does this retroactively bother me so much? Part of me wants to say something to him but I’m not sure that would make me feel better. I’d be very appreciative of any guidance you may have. Not sure what to think. —Bitterly Enraged And Really Distressed Dear BEARD: I don’t want to add to your rage, BEARD, but that night he made you go to a friend’s house? It wasn’t “alone time” he was after. Dude was hosting. Before I tell you what to do about your rage, BEARD, there’s something I wanna clear up: I don’t think having the opposite of everything your ex-boyfriend had — I don’t think having conservative friends instead of progressive friends, straight sisters instead of bi or heteroflexible sisters, shitty parents instead of accepting parents — are appropriate reasons for a grownass man in his 30s to stay closeted. When people are young and dependent on their I

parents, sure, having shitty parents and no support from friends or siblings is good reason to stay closeted in high school and maybe until after college. But it’s no excuse for remaining closeted into your 30s — and it’s certainly no excuse for using someone the way your ex appears to have used you, i.e., as a beard, BEARD. (Urban Dictionary: “The girlfriend or boyfriend of a closeted homosexual, used to conceal their homosexuality.”) Another thing I wanna clear up: There are lots of guys out there in their 30s and 40s and 50s and beyond who are good at sex and lots of guys in their 20s who are mediocre at best. Alright, BEARD, you have every right to be angry. You put a lot of time and effort into this relationship and if turns out your ex is gay, well, that means he was lying to you and using you and wasting your time. It’s possible he’s bisexual, however, in which case he wasn’t being fully honest with you but may not have been using you or wasting your time. But gay or bi, your ex treated you very poorly and the news that he’s dating a man now is making you reassess your relationship and his depression, to say nothing of that night he threw you out of your own apartment because he needed “alone time.” To look back on a relationship and think, “I did what I could and it didn’t work out but at least I tried,” is different than looking back and knowing, “Nothing I did would have made any difference and I was cruelly used.” I think there are two things you need to do now: Resolve to never make excuses for someone who treats you with cruelty again. We all have our moments, of course, but someone who can’t treat their partners with some modicum of respect and compassion even when they’re struggling isn’t in good enough working order to be in a relationship in the first place. And I think you should write him a letter and really unload on him. Tell him you’re angry, tell him why. You may or may not get a response — you may or may not want one — but you’ll feel better after writing the letter. And who knows? If he responds with a heartfelt apology, BEARD, you may feel even better. Send questions to mail@savagelove.net, follow Dan on Twitter @fakedansavage, and visit savagelovecast.com. BOULDER COUNTY’S INDEPENDENT VOICE


Call 720.253.4710 All credit cards accepted No text messages

Where the past begins

Now playing Women+Film, ‘Amy Tan: Unintended Memoir’

by Michael J. Casey


hen Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club hit shelves in ON THE BILL: ‘Amy Tan: 1989, more than one reviewer interpreted the Unintentional narrative’s central tension between mothers and Memoir’ is playing daughters as autobiography. And when the Denver Film’s movie adaptation came out in 1993 — cowritten Women+Film Festival, now by Tan — those assumptions multiplied. That happens with through April 18, any good piece of storytelling: If it strikes with enough clarity, tickets at it must have some basis in reality. But as Tan recounts, the denverfilm.org. It will also broadcast best part of giving her mother a copy of the book was that on PBS, they share a secret. They both know where the fiction lies. May 3. Now in her late 60s, Tan has six novels, two children’s books, a couple of short stories and a half-dozen works of nonfiction to her name. She speaks around the country, is no stranger to the talk show couch, and even tours in a supergroup comprised of fellow writers called the Rock Bottom Remainders. Tan sings while Dave Barry and Stephen King play guitar. Barbara Kingsolver and Matt Groening are also members. As a band, they’re not good, but I’d buy a ticket today if they were playing The Fox tomorrow. And it’s all lovingly captured in Amy Tan: Unintentional Memoir from documentarian James Redford, now playing the Women+Film Festival. Narrated by Tan, Unintentional Memoir covers Tan’s life and work with efficiency and energy. It explores relationships with her husband, brother and peers, but the crux of the doc is Tan’s relationship with her mother, Daisy — an immigrant from Shanghai who fled an abusive marriage and wrestled with severe mental illness and suicidal impulses for the rest of her life. Daisy’s struggle was their way of life. First in Oakland, California, where Tan was born, then as a teen in Switzerland, where Daisy relocated them — seemingly on a whim — after the death of Tan’s father. It was here that Tan learned of her mother’s past in China and the three children she left behind. If you’ve read The Joy Luck Club, some of that should feel familiar. Like many great writers, Tan knew how to fictionalize the truth to get to the heart of the matter. For Tan, that wasn’t just the life a parent leads before they bring a child into the world, but in the gulf between a mother who grows up in one culture and a daughter who grows up in another. As Kevin Kwan, author of Crazy Rich Asians, points out: There’s a generation of difference between the Asian and the Asian American experience. Kwan is interviewed in Unintentional Memoir, and he brings the insight of an acolyte. Tan’s brother, husband, editor and mentor are also interviewed, and provide perspectives outside of Tan’s own field of view. But the best part is Tan herself. She traces her past, some of it photographed — Tan’s father, John, fancied himself as an amateur photographer — much of it animated by Xaviera López. Either way, it’s the stories that resonate and the words Tan selects to tell them. They offer understanding and compassion. It’s what every parent and child is looking for, regardless of when and where they came from. BOULDER COUNTY’S INDEPENDENT VOICE


APRIL 15, 2021











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1 Left Hand launches whiskey Do you like Left Hand’s Nitro Milk Stout? Would you like to taste it as a whiskey? If yes and yes, then good news: Left Hand’s teamed up with Foundry Distilling Co. to launch Sinister Malt Whiskey, distilled from a mash bill inspired by the aforementioned stout. It’s made by taking an inprogress batch of Milk Stout, “a liquid infusion of roasted malts,” and shipping it (before lactose is added) to Foundry’s headquarters in Iowa, where it’s fermented, distilled and barrel-aged for two years in charred oak barrels. Tasting notes include honey, apricot, caramel, fig, chocolate and crème brûlée. This collab spirit will be available for purchase in Colorado in May.



Enter the Colorado ag conversation Colorado Proud, the state’s arm for promoting local agriculture, will host a series of roundtable discussions for producers and consumers starting in May. The Growing, Evolving and Thriving Colorado Agriculture series will focus on the growth of the local ag industry and innovations for the future. It’ll feature a mix of food experts, growers, retailers, business owners and leaders who are applying lessons from the past (and, particularly, last year) to improve systems. “The roundtable series will address the vulnerability we are still experiencing after 2020 disruptions, while balancing this year’s expectations with practical takeaways for ‘growing, evolving and thriving,’” said Danielle Trotta, Colorado Proud program manager, in a press release. “While the pandemic has affected all areas of our lives, and Colorado’s agriculture is no different, we are experiencing new physical, operational and cultural growth.” Dates and details will be confirmed for each panel in the coming weeks, so keep an eye on coloradoproud.org if you’re interested in joining. APRIL 15, 2021




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APRIL 15, 2021

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Sip the state

New program makes it easy to taste Colorado’s beer, wine, spirits and ciders

by Matt Cortina


here is no shortage of places in the Centennial State to get a locally crafted adult beverage. Decades of growth in the beer, wine, spirits and cider sectors has created a rich tapestry of craft production houses of various sizes, from the plains to the Western Slope, the high country to the Front Range. In the past, it might’ve been easy to keep track of such places; there’s the brewpub you stopped at on your way to the slopes, the distillery with the good cocktails to sip during down time in Telluride, the row of winery taprooms in Boulder at which you can spend afternoons. Now, everywhere, it seems, has multiple options for imbibing, and they all seem worth a try. Recognizing the state of craft beverages in Colorado, a consortium of local trade groups has put together a program to help navigate and taste what’s

around. Colorado Liquid Arts — a partnership between the Colorado Association for Viticulture and Enology, the Colorado Brewers Guild, the Colorado Cider Guild and the Colorado Distillers Guild — announced on April 13 the launch of digital passports that guide people through the state’s craft production houses, while offering discounted tastings, merchandise and other offerings. Folks can choose from passports ranging from five to 90 days in four regions: Denver and Cities of the Rockies, Mountains and Mesas, Pikes Peak Wonders and Rockies Playground. Proceeds from the sale of the passports (which range from $10-$60) will benefit the

groups in Colorado Liquid Arts. The $30, five-day Mountains and Mesas pass includes discounts totaling $150 available at 20 different breweries, cideries, distilleries and wineries west of the Continental Divide. For instance, you can use the passport for buy-one-get-one-free tastings at Avant Vineyards in Palisade; a half-price cider flight at Big B’s Delicious Orchards in Hotchkiss; a free 10-ounce pour at Ramblebine Brewing Company in Grand Junction; and much more (with an emphasis on the wine, given the location). Meanwhile, closer to home, you can get the Denver and Cities of the Rockies 90-day pass ($60) for similar discounts at 60 participating craft beverage establishments. Among a lot else, you can use the passport to get 20% off cider cases at Acreage by Stem Ciders; $10 off a bottle of whiskey at Boulder Spirits; BOGO beer at the excellent Jessup Farm Barrel House in Fort Collins; and a complimentary tasting for two at Vinnie Fera winery in Boulder. Spirit Hound, DV8, Upslope, BOCO Cider, 300 Suns and other Boulder County producers are included in the passport, and total discounts top $300. Peruse options and purchase passports at taste.coliquidarts.org. Passes are delivered via text or email.



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APRIL 15, 2021



Cannabis on the ISS

Why Front Range Biosciences teamed up with CU Boulder to be the first to grow cannabis in space

by Will Brendza


n 2019, Front Range Biosciences (FRB) teamed up with SpaceCells USA Inc. and BioServe Space Technologies at the University of Colorado Boulder (CU) to take cannabis (and coffee) plants to the final frontier. On March 6 of that year, hundreds of plant cell cultures were loaded onboard the SpaceX CRS-20 cargo flight, which was bound for the International Space Station (ISS). U.S. astronauts would tend to the cannabis and coffee plants for the next 30 days, becoming the first of their genera (cannabis sativa and coffea, respectively) to grow 248 miles above the Earth. But the mission wasn’t intended to provide astronauts with fresh bud and beans. The zero-gravity conditions of the ISS offered the researchers at FRB a unique opportunity to observe how space conditions affect cannabis and coffee genetics. “Ultimately, we wanted to better understand how plant cells underwent gene expression changes or genetic mutations while in a microgravity environment,” says Dr. Jonathan Vaught, cofounder and CEO of FRB, the Boulder-based hemp and cannabis genetics platform company that spearheaded this research. “We were very pleased with this first experiment,” he adds. Once the 480 cannabis and coffee plant cell cultures arrived on the ISS, they were kept in specialmade microhabitats inside a temperature-regulated incubator. There, they grew in zero gravity, under constant observation by BioServe Space Technologies.



Then, a month later, the plant cell cultures (now sapling plants) hitched a ride back to Earth on the Space Dragon capsule. According to Vaught, the data this experiment and FRB’s subsequent genetic analysis yielded is valuable on several levels. First, it’s helping provide a better understanding of what kinds of gene expression occurs when crops like cannabis and coffee are grown in space and how they respond to zero-gravity conditions. “On Earth, plants are constantly working to defy gravity in order to rise above the ground, but since they were not utilizing this energy in zero-gravity conditions, we were able to observe where different biological changes started to occur,” Vaught says. “The results of the research could help growers and scientists identify new varieties or chemical expressions in the plant.” Which would be lucrative knowledge for farmers growing these cash crops if it means they can increase the plants’ genetic resiliency. Cannabis is an extremely sensitive crop that responds dramatically to changes in temperature, moisture and exposure to other environmental factors. Changing the threshold of what it could endure could open up vast new tracts of potential farmland that were previously unusable.

APRIL 15, 2021


Also, Vaughn points out, “This is important in the context of climate change.” By exposing these plants to stressors (or in this case, taking away the stressor of gravity), FRB hopes to gain a better understanding of stress responses in these plants. Once this is known, FRB can engineer trait-specific cannabis strains to withstand challenges like temperature changes, drought and disease. “There are many regions here on Earth that no longer have viable growing conditions to support agriculture,” Vaught says. “By learning how plants adapt in a new environment — space, in this example — we will be able to better understand, and subsequently breed, various crops so that they thrive in new environments and conditions.” While FRB was the first to send cannabis plants into space, it wasn’t the last. Several other companies have begun their own cannabis experiments on the ISS since, including Space Tango out of Kentucky. And although FRB isn’t planning any followup space mission studies yet, Vaught is excited to see this area of agricultural science progress. “With the birth of private space travel, more and more researchers are now able to study the effects of microgravity on various organisms,” he says. “This will also allow FRB to better understand how plants manage the stress of space travel, and set the stage for a whole new area of research for our company and the cannabis industry as a whole.”


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Profile for Boulder Weekly

Boulder Weekly 4.15.21  

affordable housing, Boulder County, buzz, pandemic, live music, Desert Dwellers, events, Avalon Ballroom, art, Earth Day, what to do when th...

Boulder Weekly 4.15.21  

affordable housing, Boulder County, buzz, pandemic, live music, Desert Dwellers, events, Avalon Ballroom, art, Earth Day, what to do when th...

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