Your Guide to Community, Politics, Ar ts and Culture in Nor th Denver DenverNor thStar.com
Volume 2, Issue 5
Februar y 15, 2021 - March 14, 2021
Hope Shines on West Colfax in Post Pandemic Era
DPS Hires Firm, Begins Search for New Superintendent
By David Sabados
COMMUNITY Vaccine Distribution PAGE 4
COMMUNITY Nonprofit Solar PAGE 5
PHOTO BY BASHA COHEN
West Colfax motors on in spite of the potholes that the pandemic created. Classic businesses like The Rose Lady are being joined by new restaurants, breweries and hyper-hip housing developments that will forever change the face of the longest road in America.
C HEALTH & WELLNESS Gray Zone PAGE 10
COMMUNITY Dragonboat Goes Virtual PAGE 12
REAL ESTATE OPINION Get the Facts PAGE 14
STUDENT VOICES The Last Hurrah PAGE 15
By Basha Cohen olfax Avenue, also known as U.S. 40, is the longest road in America. Stretching from Aurora to Golden, the 26-mile long highway has shuttled millions to and from work and recreational activities including rest stops at over 43 kitschy motels along the way. West Colfax, once a vibrant Jewish neighborhood with thriving family businesses on every corner, was an urban planner's dream, an homage to walkability. Over the years, car-culture replaced feet, demographics shifted from gefilte fish to menudo, and what was a bustling neighborhood, was left with the remains of once cool, now seedy, motels and auto dealerships on every corner. West Colfax, from Federal to Sheridan Boulevard, has been in the process of revitalization since the West Colfax neighborhood plan was introduced in 1987. In 2006, Blueprint Denver and the West Colfax Area Plan defined the neighborhood as an Area of Change. Three decades later the seeds of change have taken root. After years of zoning, overlay and litigation battles, and all-around neighborhood angst ranging from density to parking to shade, the 100-year-old St. Anthony’s Hospital was demolished giving rise from its ashes to the now proud SLOANS. The lakefront development is close to completion with over 1,000 new residential units comprising rentals, townhomes, and luxury condominiums integrated with mixed use development of retail, restaurants, and office spaces. Spurred on by the success of this 20-acre site, condos like Circa West and 1515 Flats have popped up all over West Colfax. According to the current data from REColorado for the area bounded by Sheridan, 17th Avenue, Irving and Colfax, sales of condominiums have skyrocketed in the area over the last year with a whopping 1,400% increase in listings closed, selling at 100% of their asking price. Prices per square foot have increased from $400 to $707, a 75.4% increase. Betty Luce of Nostalgic Homes Group and Compass noted, “The
condo market is on fire, single family not so much.” Single family homes that were once the backbone of the neighborhood have experienced a modest 4.7% increase in their price per square foot from $298 to $311. That trend differs from much of the city, where condo sales have struggled and single family homes have continued to skyrocket. The jutting angles of glass highrises soaring into the sky and the largely millennial residents provide a sharp contrast to the transient motels and unhoused population that still dot the strip. Throw in a pandemic, and the full-speed ahead transition hit a few potholes along the way. Rather than swerving, however, business owners along the West Colfax corridor have kept their eye on the road to recovery. New restaurants like The Patio, Whole Sol Blend Bar, Mizuumi, and much anticipated Odells Brewing Co. have joined ranks with early anchors of the reimagination roster; Sloan’s Tap & Burger, Seedstock Brewing, The Little Man Ice Cream Factory, Bros BBQ, Brew Culture, Masterpiece Deli and the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. They’re rubbing elbows with neighborhood classics like Sidewok Cafe, Viking, Frank’s Bar-B-Que, Taqueria Mexico, and Los Mesones. Pete Turner is excited to be a part of the growing menu. He hopes to open Illegal Pete’s by late August next door to the Little Man Factory as “an homage to the rich history of West Colfax and the inclusive future the neighborhood is now leading.” Old-school businesses like Lake Steam Bath, Tobin’s Liquors and The Rose Lady that proffers services ranging from Kaya Cannabis to Illustrated Gypsy Body Art to bail bonds, legal and cremation services have deeper roots and keep West Colfax authentically “real.” Dan Shah, Director of the West Colfax Business Improvement District partnered with businesses throughout 2020 to keep them from fail-
See COLFAX, Page 8
enver Public Schools announced this month that they were finalizing a contract with a Chicago-based search firm to head up the search for a new superintendent, meaning the search will now start more earnestly. District officials highlighted Alma Advisory Group’s focus on “diversity, equity and inclusion,” noting the firm was led by a woman of color. “We are committed to finding a diverse pool of highly qualified superintendent candidates,” said Carrie Olson, Board President. “The board reviewed several search firms, looking for one that aligned with our values and priorities as a board and for selecting the next superintendent of DPS.” Responding to questions about the cost of the search, district officials said the board was approving a contract for up to $75,000 for Alma, considerably less than was spent under previous boards. In 2018, the district spent over $161,000 during the superintendent search that yielded one finalist: Susana Cordova, who is now leaving Denver for a job in Texas. Monica Santana Rosen, CEO for Alma, when asked about their experience, said while their firm has successfully conducted searches for other school executives for similarly sized districts, they have not previously conducted a superintendent search.
“I have some very high expectations of someone who understands classrooms... who understands the nuances of working with a multilingual district.” In 2019, three new board members, backed by the teacher’s union and neighborhood school advocates, were elected when running to “flip the board.” The election marked a change in DPS’ leadership; the majority of the board had previously been backed by education reform organizations. Who the new board chooses as superintendent will likely signal the direction the board would like to see DPS take in the future. The press conference announcing Alma’s role was mostly about process. When asked whether the board was seeking a superintendent with a background in education (two previous superintendents before Cordova came from the private sector with little or no education background), Olson said
See DPS, Page 2
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Continued from Page 1 the board would be discussing more details on goals and ideology soon. She did add that the board heard the community’s concerns “loud and clear” recently and she expects more community feedback to reiterate that view. Olson is a former teacher. In a followup conversation, Northwest Denver DPS Board of Education Member Brad Laurvick said he’s meeting with the firm as a group with other board members and one on one in order to address issues specific to his district “I have some very high expectations of someone who understands classrooms... who understands the nuances of working with a multilingual district.” Laurvick added that he and SW Denver board member Angela Cobián are committed to doing community outreach in both English and Spanish. Both represent districts with higher percentages of Latino families. Education organizations are also watching the superintendent search. “We hope that the Board works with community to find a seasoned educator that reflects the diverse student body of Denver,” said Jen Walmer, Democrats for Education Reform Colorado State Director. “We hope that the new superintendent will be focused on addressing the learning loss of Denver’s students, closing the opportunity gap, and work to build consensus among Denverites for policies that meet the urgent need for rapid and meaningful improvements to deliver the education system our students deserve.” Tiffany Choi, President of the Denver Classroom Teachers Association, said they are “looking forward to having an active voice in the superintendent search. We are working on surveying our members about their priorities in a superintendent and will be engaging with current BOE members to share the teacher and Specialized Service Provider perspective during the process. The district plans to hire a new superintendent in time for them to take the helm by the fall semester.
Council Approves Group Living Revisions 11-2 By David Sabados ne of the most heated debates in the city ended in a nearly unanimous vote before city council on Feb 8. Previously, Denver prohibited more than two unrelated people from living together: one of the most restrictive regulations of any major city in the country and a regulation that was often ignored by residents and the city unless someone complained. After months of the city conducting public outreach and gathering community feedback, the proposal was modified from allowing up to 8 unrelated people down to allowing 5. There has been, and continues to be, no limit on the number of related people who can live together. The measure also addressed homeless shelters, group transitional housing, and residential care facilities (sometimes called halfway houses, though that term is not used as frequently now), expanding and clarifying where they can be located and how they can operate. Community input and council discussion went past 1 a.m. Tuesday morning with over 150 people signed up to speak. While the sides weren’t absolute, patterns quickly emerged in public comments, with younger residents usually favoring the change and older residents usually opposing. Several older speakers did support the measure however, noting that the realities of home ownership have shifted since they bought their homes 40 or more years ago. Renters usually supported. Most opposition came from homeowners. Speakers are asked, but not required, to say where they live. Speakers from North and West Denver supported the measure. Opposition who stated their place of residence almost universally came from East and South Denver. All five speakers who identified themselves as residents of District 1 (Councilwoman Sandoval’s district) spoke in support, as did a North High School teacher who talked about be-
ing priced out of the neighborhood. Only one speaker, who does not live in North Denver, specifically brought up concerns about a transitional housing site in North Denver. Sandoval addressed her concerns, explaining that higher first responder activity on the site was not a sign of crime but rather because first responders are involved with transportation. Arguments similarly fell along a few lines: philosophically, proponents argued the city shouldn’t have a role in defining a family, citing how Denver’s zoning codes have previously been used to discriminate against interracial families, LGBTQ+ families, and others. Several people spoke about their “found families” of people who were not related by blood but have come to live together and in some cases raise their families together. Proponents repeatedly called the current regulations “racist,” “classist,” and “discriminatory.” Numerous speakers also cited the need to provide transitional housing to help those in need find more secure, permanent housing. Opponents argued that “single family” homes should be kept that way, raising the concerns of party houses, absentee landlords with a pack of tenants in a small home, and the ever popular “neighborhood character.” As the evening went on, opponents seemed increasingly defensive, recoiling at claims they were racist or otherwise discriminatory. One speaker opposed raised the spectre of “white flight” to the suburbs if the measure passed, which quickly became a buzz on Twitter from proponents, politicos, and journalists alike. On the logistical side of arguments, proponents talked about skyrocketing rent; numerous speakers discussed how they were already living with multiple housemates, some of whom didn’t know until recently that they were in violation of the law, and others who knew but found the law unjust. Opponents raised concerns about avail-
ability of street parking, noise, and a supposed increased impact on infrastructure such as sewage. One proponent, a North Denver RNO leader, responded to claims about home values near transitional housing dropping, noting that he lived near two and his home has continued to rise in value along with the rest of Denver. By the end, only two councilmembers: Amanda Sawyer and Kevin Flynn, who represent East and Southwest Denver respectively, opposed the measure. Both said they wanted to see the housemate limit and transitional/group housing efforts split from each other. Sawyer, despite her vote against raising the cap, said she herself lives in a home that violates the current unrelated persons regulation.
WHAT’S YOUR COUNCILWOMAN SAYING? (ALL 5 MEMBERS WHO REPRESENT NORTH AND WEST DENVER VOTED YES):
Amanda Sandoval (D1): “I did not run to represent cars. I ran to represent people. I ran to represent opportunities.” Jamie Torres (D3): “It is a good start to how we can remove judgement and exclusion from our zoning code.” Candi CdeBaca (D9): Councilwoman CdeBaca didn’t speak at the end of the meeting prior to the vote. She did tweet several times, including “Damn, who would’ve known that de-segregation efforts might fix our housing crisis overnight with all these threats of flight!” Debbie Ortega (At-Large): “I've never been engaged with a more open and transparent process” Robin Kniech (At-Large): “I am proud of this final proposal. I’m proud of both the policy changes it makes...people should have access to housing they can afford. This proposal advances that value. People deserve a second chance. If you’ve served your time, you deserve a second chance.”
N.W. Denver Legislators Seek Increases to Housing Security Amid COVID-19
Pandemic Shed Light on Problems of City’s Most Pressing Issues, Reps Say By Eric Heinz n Northwest Denver’s three state legislators, recently elected to new leadership positions, said they will seek to help Colorado residents secure housing and COVID-19 assistance during this year’s General Assembly session. Creating policies to add more affordable housing and trying to get more vaccinations for underserved regions by lobbying state health officials will headline their agendas when the full Legislature is expected to continue its 120-day session on Feb. 16. State Sen. Julie Gonzales, district 34, was elected by fellow Senate Democrats to serve as senate majority caucus chair; she told The Denver North Star she will introduce bills to address issues between landlords and tenants who cannot pay rent, particularly due to economic hardships brought on by COVID-19. “At the end of the day, the question is going to be, ‘What should our eviction policies look like? Are they fair to both parties, to both the landlord and the tenant? And how can we ensure that everyone has the ability to have their day in court?’” Gonzales said. “Right now, it feels like the tenant is often navigating a lot of hurdles, and so that’s something that I’m really excited to work on this upcoming legislative session.” Some of the difficulties in getting her policies passed could include lobbying efforts from debating organizations representing landlords, which Gonzales
Page 2 | February 15, 2021-March 14, 2021
described as “very strong.” “I think that the pandemic and all of the other ensuing crises that we’ve all had to navigate have really laid bare a lot of the inequities that exist across our state,” she said. “I think 2020 has really taught us we just can’t go back to normal because normal wasn’t working for far too many people in our society.” Gonzales said the Democratic Caucus is “very diverse” and so are the issues each of its members want to address. She said as the caucus chair, her intent is to find ways to work cohesively with her own party as well as her Republican colleagues. “The people of Colorado have elected Democrats to govern and to lead and to advance policies to improve the lives of everyday people across the state, and that’s what we’ve got to do,” she said. Gonzales is also the vice chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee; the chair of the Senate State, Veterans & Military Affairs Committee; a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee; and a member of the Senate Legislative Audit Committee. Due to the pandemic, the legislature briefly met in January for emergency legislation but then recessed until mid February for the full session to continue. In January, Gonzales succeeded in having an urgent bill passed that extended the limitations on debt collections until June 1. It also provides protection for up to $4,000 owed from additional penalties. Gonzales said she plans to co-sponsor a
bill that would allow local governments to require developers to designate a certain percentage of new residential units for affordable housing. As it stands, a 1981 state law, upheld by the Colorado Supreme Court in 2000, known as the “Telluride decision,” prohibits local municipalities from enacting such a requirement, as the court found it to be a form of rent control, which is prohibited in Colorado. Gonzales also said she intends to bring forth legislation that would make it harder for federal government agencies, such as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, to access private information of Colorado residents, which she said could be unfairly used against them. Regarding ICE, Gonzales said trust in government agencies was “broken” after federal agents detained undocumented people for possible deportation, which was heavily and widely conducted early on during then-President Donald Trump’s administration. House Rep. Alex Valdez, district 5, who was recently elected co-chair of the Legislature’s Latino Caucus, said he will advocate for more COVID-19 vaccinations for his district and other underserved communities. As of Feb. 1, more than 71% of people vaccinated in Colorado were listed as white or non-Hispanic, while Hispanic and “oth-
See HOUSING, Page 15 The Denver North Star
P OL I T I C S
Sandoval Proposes More ADUs by Sloan’s Lake
nd a sup-By David Sabados astructure ollowing the rezoning of the Chaffee , a North Park neighborhood to allow accessory to claimsdwelling units (ADUs), Councilwoman nal hous-Sandoval is proposing to allow more ADUs d near twoin the Sloan’s Lake area. ADUs, sometimes se in valuecalled carriage houses, are a secondary dwelling unit on the same property as the members:main house. Usually smaller, they can be ynn, whoattached but are often separate structures Denver re-that can be alleyway or street facing. Both said Without the larger zoning change, mate limitproperty owners have gone before council fforts splitone at a time to request individual rezone her voteings. These hearings have become comerself livesmonplace with multiple coming before nt unrelat-council each month. The proposal would affect over 1300 parcels, giving them the ability to build an ADU without further OMAN city approval. WHO “Legislative ADU rezonings not only WEST save property owners time and money, but also benefit the City by being a more effid not runcient use of taxpayer dollars than one-off nt people.rezonings,” said Councilwoman Sandoval. “After months of neighborhood outreach, od start toI am thrilled to sponsor this legislative rend exclu-zoning on behalf of the Sloan’s Lake neighborhood and to continue to further ADUs ncilwom-throughout Denver.” end of the That outreach included mailing flyers did tweetto all property owners’ listed addressmn, whoes (in the event they live elsewhere and gation ef-rent out their property by Sloan’s or use overnightit as a second home) and two rounds of hand-delivered flyers to all doors in the I've neverneighborhood in an effort to reach owners and trans-and renters or other residents. Of the 335 responses (a similar response rate to their am proudoutreach in Chaffee Park), 73% said they d of bothwere in favor, 7% were undecided, and 20% ple shouldwere opposed. an afford. ue. People ve served chance.”
Respondents in favor shared a variety of reasons: limited housing stock, skyrocketing rental prices (many ADUs are used as rentals), climate change (gentle density increases like ADUs arguably reduce commute travel and, therefore, pollution), and the desire to provide housing for an aging family member to live close but in their own home. Opponents cited parking and congestion concerns that could come with a density increase. Several noted they selected the neighborhood because of its current zoning and character, and several commented about not wanting more renters in the neighborhood. There were several common points of concern raised by both proponents and opponents though. Increasing home prices were noted by both. Proponents stated the rezoning will help owners stay in their
UNDECIDED homes by creating rental income and create affordably-priced housing for renters. Opponents noted that homes with ADUs are dramatically more expensive, which
PHOTO FROM ISTOCKPHOTO.COM
could push home ownership further out of reach if there is less stock of entrylevel homes. Another point of concern was whether the ADUs can be used as short term rentals (STR) such as AirBnBs. Numerous opponents and some proponents all expressed concerns about more STRs. Denver regulates such rentals, restricting the circumstances when an ADU can be used as an STR. A homeowner who lives in their primary residence can rent out their ADU as a short term rental, but they cannot live in their ADU and use their primary residence for short term rentals. That second situation is in contrast to long term rentals, where an owner can live in their ADU and rent out their primary residence. Renting the primary residence as a long term rental also prohibits the ADU from being used as a short term rental. The proposal includes homes in the
official boundaries of the Sloan’s Lake neighborhood, as well as a handful that are technically over the line in the West Colfax neighborhood in Council District 3, a technical and political boundary that residents are often unaware of. Councilwoman Torres said she appreciates Sandoval including the homes in her district in the proposal. Larry Ambrose, who heads up one of the Sloan’s Lake neighborhood organizations in the area, is one of the homeowners who can see the lake from his home but lives in Councilwoman Torres’ district. After some initial discussions with both councilwomen regarding what is and is not considered part of Sloan’s Lake, he said he’s glad the zoning will be consistent throughout the area, saying he “appreciates everything Councilwomen Sandoval and Torrres are doing for the entire Sloan’s Lake community.”
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February 15, 2021-March 14, 2021 | Page 3
C OM M UN I T Y
North Denverites Invited: Give Some, Get Some – Food, That Is
enver’s Northside welcomed new neighbors recently: two vibrantly painted public refrigerators. You can meet them filled most KATHRYN WHITE days with an assortment of fruits, vegetables, maybe a gallon of milk. The fridges, organized by Denver Community Fridge, provide a connecting-point between people running short on food and those who can offer a little extra. How does it work? Give what you can, take what you need. For organizers, it’s simple: when you take a step back and look across the entire community, there is actually enough (even plenty) for everyone. “We’re making each other’s lives a little easier on many levels” says Eli Zain, Denver Community Fridge founder. The fridges are outdoors and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. North Denver’s fridges can be found in Lakeside at West 44th Ave and Yates Street (in front of Amethyst Coffee) and in Sunnyside at West 43rd Ave and Pecos Street (next to Huckleberry Roasters). Each comes with a small pantry for dry goods. Organizers lean on Instagram (@denvercommunityfridge), volunteers, and con-
scientious passers-by to get word out when shelves are running low. Responses are generally immediate, “Heading over there to drop off some stuff right now!” Neighbors can join the effort by, as they say, giving what you can and taking what you need. If you have an extra minute, help organize or wipe down a shelf. If you have a little extra cash, put “fridge item” on your grocery list and get one extra of something you like. Zain encourages people to think about the person who will be making a meal out of items you leave. Donate a spice you like or items that go well together. A post one recent Saturday morning in the Facebook Group “Help Needed in Denver Metro COVID-19” pictured a changing table weighed down with baby supplies. It read, “Anyone need a changing table and any items on it. Need picked up by tomorrow before 6pm. Blankets included.” Within an hour, 19 raised-hands filled the comments. The items were spoken for in the first 5 minutes. The group launched last March as Coloradans were ordered to stay home and restaurants and most retail outlets closed. The state unemployment rate climbed from 2.5% to over 12% by April. The group now has over 13,000 members. Jennifer and Kane Lisiecki had no idea what the group was about to become when they launched it, initially as an outlet for friends to share about their needs. Overnight there were 500 members, the next day 600. Page administrators jumped into action attempting to take care of requests. At about the time it became overwhelming, they began noticing members of the group--strangers to one another--pitching in to help each other out. Now, people who join are
What to bring, what to avoid bringing encouraged to review its guidelines and, when posting, include their general location and specific details around what they need or what they can offer (if diapers, for example, note what size). The Lisieckis live in Athmar Park, where Jennifer grew up and where her grandparents lived. Denver has changed a lot since then, but the group reminds Jennifer that people really do still care. COVID-19 has certainly revealed broken systems, she says, but watching people so readily lend a hand makes Denver feel like a small town again. Projects like these meet important needs yet fall short at times. A gap appears in the space between posts with free food caveats like “porch pick-up” or “must pick-up tonight” and replies like “can’t get there ‘til
IMAGES COURTESY DENVER COMMUNITY FRIDGE
Friday” or “not mobile.” Enter people like Cat Coyne. Coyne joined the group a few months ago and not long after noticed this gap. She was also seeing community fridges pop up around town. “I’m one person,” she says, “I can’t do a whole lot. But I do have a car.” Coyne now posts an offer like this every week or two: “Any non-mobile people needing food? I can deliver to 5 people later this evening. Please PM me!” And shortly after, “I’m at capacity for tonight but will be open another day!” Coyne has learned to leverage what she does have, which on some days is a few gallons of gas and 4-5 hours to visit community fridges and deliver food to people who couldn’t get to one. Kane Lisiecki echoes this idea, “It’s not how much you have to offer.”
Free Shots on the House By Basha Cohen he house that Rudy Gonzales built, Servicio de la Raza, hosted a three-day drive through COVID vaccination site January 29-31. It almost felt like a party, with elbow bumping Governor Polis, speeches from city and state organizers, “The Five Latinas,” cheers of congratulations after every shot in the arm, camera crews, TV stations, dancing nurses, and an army of volunteers on hand to make the day a rousing success. 600 Moderna shots made their way into the arms of grateful recipients. The event was conceived and coordinated by powerhouse city and state officials. Representative Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez welcomed the crowd and spoke passionately of their mission. “I want to recognize Senator Julie Gonzales; Councilwomen
Amanda Sandoval, District 1; and Jamie Torres, District 3; Angela Cobian, School Board Director; and Berenice Rendón Talavera, Consul General of Mexicó. I couldn’t do this without this group of women because we saw our community hurting. Our community needs to be healed from this virus. We have suffered too many losses. We are losing an entire generation.” They partnered with Servicio de la Raza and The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to increase the vaccination rates for the Hispanic and Latino communities in Northwest Denver. Torres noted, “Once we saw data roll out where the vaccines were being delivered and knowing that we have a lot of elder Latinos and immigrants who don’t always have access, we jumped in
Governor Polis speaks with five Latina elected officials who have worked to organize vaccine events in Denver's Latino community.
Page 4 | February 15, 2021-March 14, 2021
to make sure that we were taking care of our communities.” According to the CDC there are staggering facts that support this mission. While Denver’s Latino demographic represents 25% of the city’s population, in the first 7 months of the pandemic 50% of adult COVID-19 cases were amongst Latinos. 20% have died due to the disease. In spite of these chilling numbers, only 4% of its Latino population have received the vaccine. Gonzales-Guitierrez punctuated the dismal statistics and commitment toward healing, “We will continue working together to bring more sites like this to our community and hopefully in the whole state of Colorado. We know equity has been an issue since the beginning, and we know it will continue to be an issue as we go through all of these phases. I am asking for the governor’s commitment to make sure we continue these efforts the entire time through.” Polis is all in, “I am very excited to be here in the community today to help make sure we can make the vaccine accessible across the entire state in an equitable way, meeting people where they are. We are welcoming those 70 and over today, and while it doesn’t end the pandemic, once we protect our most vulnerable we can reduce the number of deaths by ¾ and make sure our loved loves, our aunts and uncles, parents, and grandparents are with us for many more years to come.”
PHOTOS BY BASHSA COHEN
Getting a coveted shot in the arm brings all of us one step closer to safe. There were so many touching moments throughout the day that spoke to the power of community. Elders asked the nurses to hold their hands as the needle went in. A gentleman whose wife died from cancer five years ago had his shot delivered through the tattoo that commemorates his love for her on his arm. Another elder sat in her car all day in hopes that someone might not show. Her patience was rewarded. Former Senator, Lucia Guzman, gave a beaming thumbs up as she got punctured. Another left saying, “I feel giddy.” It was indeed a giddy day, filled with love of community and hope for the future. Rudy Gonzales summed it up when he told Denver7 reporter, Pattrik Perez, “It is personal, you know, and we need to do this for ourselves and our families, our communities and our world.”
The Denver North Star
C O M M UN I T Y
Nonprofit Organization Seeks to Expand Community Solar
By Abigail Seaberg nvironmental impact and long-term savings are two common reasons people hear for switching to renewable energy. Stacy Decker and her husband would cite these as major factors, but it was ultimately a small – yet mighty – voice that pushed them to make the change. “My husband and I are both environmental scientists, and so it’s something that was always on our radar to do,” Decker said. “But then it was actually our daughter who came home from school one day and was like, ‘We need to reduce our carbon footprint,’ and ‘What’re we gonna do?’ So we said, ‘Okay, it’s time. Let’s do it.’” The family began their journey to reducing their carbon footprint by researching whether an electric car or solar energy would be the better option for them. After receiving pricier solar bids than anticipated, they decided to purchase an electric car in the summer of 2019. But they did not stop there. Decker stumbled upon an article about Solar United Neighbors, SUN, and the national non-profit’s first solar co-op program in Denver. She joined the co-op and had her panels installed by December of 2019 with a “significant” difference in price compared to her earlier bids because of the co-op group purchase and a federal tax rebate. e. Coyne So although not everyone has a persuasive o and not9-year-old pushing them towards renewable was alsoenergy, Denver residents can look to SUN up aroundfor guidance in their solar journey by joining “I can’t doSUN’s second Denver Solar Co-op. Coyne now Joining a co-op is free, and members are ek or two:not obligated to make any purchases. Once ood? I canthey reach a threshold of solar-interested ng. Pleasecandidates, SUN reaches out to local solar at capacityinstallers to compare pricing. Meanwhile, coer day!” op members are surveyed on their ranking what sheof selection priorities like pricing, number of a few gal-people employed by an installer, locality of t commu-the business, etc. Then a selection committee eople whochooses a group installer, and SUN gives the choes thiscompany the list of co-op members for them to offer.” to contact with individual proposals. This process is cost-free until they sign a contract with the installer. Co-op members can also use SUN as a resource throughout the solar installation process for questions or issues. “We basically serve as essentially a personal consultant for those members,” Program Director for Colorado SUN Bryce Carter said. “If folks want us to be an extra set of eyes on their proposal, we’re happy to do that.” Denver city and county residents and small businesses can join SUN’s second Denver Solar Co-op until March 1, 2021. They are up to 100 co-op members with a goal of reaching 150. Jonathan Rogers, a renewable energy specialist for the city of Denver, is a big propo-
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Stacey Decker says she's saved $1300 on electrical bills and another $2,500 on gas after installing solar on her home last year nent of SUN and its solar co-op. He even joined the co-op himself at the start of 2021 and expects to go solar sometime next month. “It’s effectively my job to transition all of Denver... to 100 percent renewable electricity as quickly and equitably as possible,” Rogers said. “The mayor has set out an objective to do that transition by 2030.” But this goal has its obstacles. Not everyone owns a home, has enough money to put down or even qualifies for a loan to do so. Solar co-ops can help by offering competitive pricing and connecting people to informational
resources, but the city of Denver as well as Colorado SUN is looking to community solar projects to expand accessibility. The city of Denver is looking into nine different projects around Denver, four of which would be at local recreation centers as covered parking. These parking-lot projects will send 80 percent of the power back to city facilities, but 20 percent will be sent to low-income housing and low-income residents, according to Rogers. “Working with groups like Energy Outreach Colorado to connect those folks who are struggling the most… we can help them save on their bills where they don't need to put solar on their roof, they don’t need to put any money down,” Rogers said. “We can just assign them bill credits from the community solar projects.” Decker has continued her commitment to solar by becoming a member of Colorado SUN’s state advisory board. In her role, she works to create more solar co-ops and expand community solar. “The whole idea is just to make it more af-
Isaiah Bercot, MD
fordable and more accessible for anyone who wants it,” Decker said. “With community solar, you purchase or you can lease a share – kind of like a subscription – within a community solar project that will offset your electricity costs.” The energy produced by your share of the community solar panels gives you a credit on your electricity bill. This makes it a great option for renters and others who cannot put panels on their own homes. Another way Colorado SUN is working to expand access to solar energy is through the Colorado Pay As You Save, PAYS, program in partnership with SUN and other Colorado organizations. The program allows electric-utility customers, both homeowners and renters, to make home energy improvements, like adding solar panels, at no upfront cost. The initial cost is paid for by the utility, but they recover this cost by charging customers on a monthly basis in an amount that does not exceed their estimated savings. This allows customers to save money throughout the process and own the equipment once the utility regains the cost of its investment. Carter said this program allows SUN to address a critical gap in accessing energy improvement resources. “You have those that have the ability to have credit or even cash to be able to pay for those improvements… and then you have people that are below federal poverty level and they can receive support and funding through a variety of programs,” Carter said. “In between, you have people that may not be qualified under the poverty level, but also may not have the credit or even available credit that they want to use for these types of improvements which could help improve their cash flow as well as just their living comfort. So Pay As You Save helps solve this by basically eliminating the need to take on debt or any credit for the consumer.” On top of offering a wide variety of services and resources, Colorado SUN is focused on the bigger picture. “It’s about building a movement,” Carter said. “And everyone’s welcome to join.” To learn more about Colorado SUN, go to https://www.solarunitedneighbors.org/ colorado/
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By David Sabados hey don’t actually stuff a donut into a pizza (though if someone starts that business we’ll cover it), but Berkeley Donuts is a business inside of another: in this case Hops and Pie, one of North Denver’s popular pizza and beer joints. Berkeley Donuts opened about a year ago, also known as “just before the world went crazy.” While many small businesses haven’t been as fortunate, Berkeley Donuts is...well...cooking. We talked with Audie Mauk, Berkeley Donuts’ head baker, or simply “the guy who makes the donuts” as he introduced himself. Mauk chocks up their success to a few things. First, the sense of family that the business instills. His two roommates work for the donut and pizza businesses and he has nothing but praise for the owners Drew and Leah Watson. Once, when he was out with a head cold, they called daily to check and kept trying to bring him soup and other food. “What other business does that?” he asked, explaining why he left a more traditional corporate food background for the life of a donut maker in Denver. Mauk believes Hops and Pie’s popularity and the owners’ established goodwill in the neighborhood helped bring customers to the donut shop even as COVID hit and restaurant business slowed. The second thing, of course, is the donuts themselves -- culture and location only go so far. With both traditional cake and potato sourdough donut options, along with multiple gluten free and vegan options, they offer a variety you don’t see anywhere else, but they also don’t stray too far from the traditional definition of a donut. The sourdough donuts rise overnight, creating
a soft inside but more textured outside than their traditional cake options. “Nothing too crazy,” Mauk says of their ideas. “We’re not trying to reinvent the donut here.” Like a traditional round glazed donut? They have that... except they use Hops and Pie’s sourdough starter and a sweet bourbon icing glaze instead of your run-of-the-mill sugar glaze, creating a more complex flavor. That particular donut draws inspiration from Hops and Pie’s bread pudding. Like a long john cream filled style donut? Check out their raspberry cheesecake filled graham cracker crumble. Like the others, it’s not just sweet PHOTO BY DAVID SABADOS for sweetness sake, but offers Donuts in the morning, pizza and beer in the richness you don’t find in afternoon. 3920 Tennyson has you covered all day your standard donut. Showing off a sampler box that was you’re looking for a donut (or 6), check later mostly devoured while writing them out. Berkeley Donuts located at 3920 this piece, Mauk ticked through flavor combinations like “sea salt caramel with Tennyson St. They’re open Wednesday black Hawaiian Salt on chocolate cake” through Sunday Mornings from 7:30am and one of their most popular: Dry Dock until they sell out. Based on the speed of vanilla porter coffee cake (yes, that means business we saw on a Thursday morning at Dry Dock beer). You won’t find donuts 8am, we’d recommend getting there early. topped with sugary cereals or some of Curbside pickup is also available. Note: Do you have a small business that the other next wave super sweet donut options other businesses have started opened during the last year, is giving back making (though those clearly have a to the community in the pandemic, has market too -- no judgement here). Instead, stood the test of time, or otherwise stands you’ll find donuts that look and taste like out? Let us know! Email us at News@ familiar donuts -- but made with high- DenverNorthStar.com and tell us about end ingredients resulting in some of the your business so we can help highlight you best donuts you’ve ever tasted. Next time in a future issue.
N EWS SHO RTS
Local 46 Owners Purchasing Empty El Chapultapec II Property, Plan to Open New Bar
Open for Dine-In (at reduced capacity) curbside & takeout | online ordering | outdoor dining tent STILL AVAILABLE Parisi Private Label olive oil BACK IN STOCK
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4401 Tennyson, Berkeley | (303) 561-0234 Page 6 | February 15, 2021-March 14, 2021
PHOTO FROM FACEBOOK.COM/LOCAL46BAR
By The Denver North Star Staff he El Chapultapec II building on 38th Ave has been a bar since at least the 1950s and likely will be again, as the owners of Local 46 are looking at a move. The Local 46 location at 46th and Tennyson is up for sale, prompting the L46 tenants to move. The possibility of a new biergarten, bar, and music venue moved closer to reality when the
city approved the plans for pollution and sound mitigating walls and other improvements. L46 owner Niya Gingerich and her team collected petitions and letters of support from neighbors of the new property, elected officials, and of course patrons of the old location. They will likely have indoor music as well, continuing the tradition of their Tennyson St location.
The Denver North Star
CO M M U N I TY
New African American Owned Newspaper Launches in Denver
By David Sabados community calendar and job postings. Atlas esidents of the Five Points neighborhood sees the paper’s role as “not just telling the stohave a new source of local news, deliv- ry but doing the work.” ered directly to their mailboxes starting this While the paper is delivered to commumonth: Five Points Atlas is Denver’s newest nities geographically around Five Points, he hyperlocal publication. Kwon Atlas, one of hopes it can serve as a focal point for the greatthe three heads of the paper along with Benzel er African American community beyond the 80205 zip code. Jimmerson and Major Morgan, is entering the newspaLike many local newsper publication world for the papers, they plan to be first time. “I really wanted to funded by local advertisers be in the position to highlight and donations from the some really great work that’s community, hoping the happening in Five Points,” paper can stay both “free explained Atlas. “It's a very and frequent.” One thing important neighborhood he doesn’t want is a payOn Point Beauty Bar, Now Open in Five Points wall that restricts content to and a very important part of A only paying subscribers. “I Denver's history.” Atlas hopes his paper can think the paywall is part of tell the story of the “rich the reason why people only history of African Amerread the headlines...they ican music” in the area as don't get any more context he or information.” well as highlight problems ed all day As far as the name of the community has faced 6), checksuch as redlining -- the disthe paper, Atlas said “Atcrimination many people of color faced when las is a way to find things -- map things out.” at 3920banks wouldn’t issue loans in nonwhite com- Asked whether he chose it because of his own Wednesdaymunities. He’s also looking to the future and last name, he laughed. “It happened to be a m 7:30am“helping community bounce back in the face great word.” Five Points Atlas is delivered to the greater e speed ofof gentrification” and says he’s not interested morning atin complaining about changes but working Five Points area, just east of where the Denver North Star delivery ends. It’s also available onhere early.with a changing community go forward. The paper is a labor of love for Atlas, who line at https://www.fivepointsatlas.com/. e. Note: The Denver North Star enthusiasticaliness thatis keeping his day job. Atlas works in political ving backcommunications, including advising Mayor ly supports new local publications, especially in emic, hasMichael Hancock. For Atlas, politics is his day neighborhoods that don’t have a paper being ise standsjob though, and he said his paper is focused on delivered directly to residents. To that end, Daat News@community more than city government. The vid Sabados has advised the Five Points Atlas us aboutfirst issue highlights African American owned team on starting a paper but he has no editohlight youbusinesses, an effort to “buy back the block” rial or long term financial relationship with to create a community center, and includes a the publication.
Heated patios, delicious food and friendly service! OPEN FOR DINNER Tuesday-Sunday 5PM
A publication for Five Points, 80205, Denver and the Black Community of Colorado
Volume 1, Issue 1
February 10 - March 10, 2021
Pastor Del: My Thoughts On The Insurrection
Black in the West: Brien Hollowell, a Photographer
Local Breweries Pivot Business
Groundbreaking Development to Tackle Homelessness
KWON ATLAS | FivePointsAtlas.com
Co-owner of On Point, Vicki Howard
Last Month, Denver City Council approved three contracts totaling $4.1 million that will provide much needed housing and medical services for people experiencing homelessness. The financing helps make possible the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless’ Legacy Lofts project at 2175 California St. Milender White Construction Company began construction of this site in early January. Legacy Lofts will sit at the intersection of California and 21st Streets, two blocks from the RTD L line and the 44 bus stop. The property is adjacent to the Stout Street Health Center. Making it very accessible to Denver's
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west29th.com | (303) 233-3377
KWON ATLAS | FivePointsAtlas.com
black and brown women-owned, her time in the Five Points area with her a Bachelor’s in Sociology. After an unluxury beauty bar has opened mom and grandparents. Howard hopes fulfilling stint in corporate America, she on Welton Street, in the heart of that the salon is a point of convergence realized that her passion was in making Five Points. On Point Beauty Bar (at 2820 where, “people with their unique styles people look and feel their best. She always Welton Street) , is the latest concept can come together to experience enjoyed doing her family and friend’s that is part of The Flyfisher the beauty of our commu- hair and loved learning and practicing Group’s multi-pronged innity.” Howard describes new techniques and styles so it wasn’t vestment in Five Points the feeling of nostal- long before she enrolled in cosmetology that includes, a pergia walking down school. Howard found early success in the sonal training gym Rendering of the Legacy Lofts design Welton Street industry by mastering various hair exten(Photo from www.milenderwhite.com) Bodies By Persevernow as a business sion techniques and protective hairstyles, ance and an ever owner and being carving out her niche as an innovator and growing homeless population in the growing list of food taken aback by early adopter. area. This area has seen an explosion and beverage comcherished memProtective hairstyles are a method to of encampments since the beginning of panies including ories on the very safeguard natural hair from the elements. the pandemic. Coffee at The Point, same block. This is commonly done through the use of “This is a mixed-use, nine story propSpangalang, MimoDuring her for- hair extensions and wigs and prevents the erty that will have 98 apartments above sas and Methodologies mative years, How- natural hair from excessive heat, breakage, the respite and recuperative care faciliand Best Practices (MBP ard spent most after- and dryness. It allows the hair to grow, ty that will meet the immediate health for short). ’On Point’ is an noons training with the reduces the time to get ready, enables a care needs for 400 people experiencing homage to Five Points, Co-owner of On Point Beauty Bar, Colorado Flyers at Hi- woman to feel empowered due to hair loss homelessness annually.” ‘On Point’ is a homage Vicki Howard awatha Davis Recreation or illness. Also, extensions/weaves are just “At the height of the pandemic, with to Five Points, a place of pride and historic Center, East and Manual High schools so fun, they’re versatile, non-permanent and unemployment surging and people exroots for the African-American communi- this is a homecoming of sorts for her. She can make a woman feel beautiful! periencing homelessness, we need safe ty in Denver. Co-owner Vicki Howard is graduated from Montbello High School Howard gained her early professional and secure housing with wrap-around a Denver Native from the Park Hill neigh- where she went on to run track at the borhood who grew up spending much of University of New Orleans and pursued See BEAUTY, Page 3 See DEVELOPMENT, Page 4 Five Points Atlas 530 25th St, Denver, CO 80205
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We want your input on this new publication that is here to serve our community. Email us at:
FivePointsAtlas@gmail.com We really value your opinion.
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February 15, 2021-March 14, 2021 | Page 7
Continued from Page 1 ing. “We awarded close to $500,000 to 38 WCBID businesses to date. Our business grants went to the full diversity of Colfax businesses, from auto repairs to tattoo studios, restaurants and ice cream shops.” He provided technical assistance for applications, provided step-by-step guidance on COVID management, expedited the expansion of outdoor seating, distributed PPE kits and face masks, and participated in COVID response councils to align City policy to small business needs and priorities. Perhaps one of the greatest challenges that he fought for was assisting the historic Lake Steam Baths with financing and a variance request for a return to fuller operations and re-opening in the face of a health department closure. Owner Amy Hyman said, “If you don’t morph with the virus you don’t survive. It has been a series of ups and downs with the city. We were able to provide massage services, but I finally got agreement from the state to rent out the bath privately for same-family households of 1-6 people...[Dan Shah's] given me more support than any government agency. West Colfax actually gave me the grants. He's like this angel of small businesses.” The unifying message amongst proprietors has been the requirement for change to meet the pandemic head-on. Silver linings have occurred in spite of the stormy skies. One of those glorious moments was brought to the neighborhood by West Colfax’s own entertainment troupe, The Handsome Little Dev-
ils. “Project Joy Bomb” was conceived by Cole and Mike Huling as a pop-up parade to buoy spirits during the isolated days of stay-at-home orders. With wild costumes, music and inventive vehicles it is a sight to behold. They worked with the West Colfax BID and handed out free masks throughout the neighborhood. Joy Bombs have been such a huge hit that they have received an Arts in Society grant to continue it. Huling is intent on “marrying service and art as we head into the future.” A new business, Duality Fitness, stretched its imagination during the shutdown bringing technology and innovation together to produce an at-home workout experience. Now that restrictions have moved to level yellow, they will be able to operate at 50% capacity. Owner Jen Sevcik is “more committed now than ever to make it to the f lip side of this pandemic with a physical gym that is thriving for our community.” Nick O’Sullivan, owner of Brother’s BBQ, explained their shift, “Typically the most profitable part of our business has been catering, which went to zero. We moved staffing into our stores and switched up our business model to have individually bagged lunches and a grab & go counter with outside picnic tables. Most importantly,
we spent the year working with the community. We donated meals to the police, fire department, grocery store workers, and schools. It galvanized our team and gave our employees a sense that we are doing something bigger than us and giving back to the community.” Luckily for neighbors and the surrounding businesses that benefit from it, The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is back in the saddle again. Running at 50% capacity, tickets are available online to ensure social distancing. For folks that hate scribbling orders in the dark, an added advantage to the online system is the ability to order food and drinks prior to arrival. The reopening date of BarFly, the theater’s bar, is still in question. Sloan’s Lake Tap & Burger owner Juan Padro has helped give voice to the neighborhood from the beginning. His business acted as the hub for 8 highly successful Farm & Flea events on Raleigh Street this summer. While elbow-to-elbow events have been forced
to curtail, Tap & Burgers socially distanced Superbowl party was a pure touchdown moment. The Little Man Ice Cream Factory was pumping out events from swing dancing to fundraisers prior to shutdown. In their place, philanthropic projects kept the community united. Mask sales for the Colorado Sewing Coalition paid out-of-work women throughout the early days of the pandemic. Food, coat and backpack drives gave back to those in need. In support of Black History Month, 100% of Scoop for Scoop donations will be given to advocacy groups. Their business model, too, has changed with Grab & Go pints taking a lead over counter sales, and a newly planned curbside pickup will launch soon. The highest priority on owner Paul Tamburello’s wish list is to fix the parking situation to enable greater access to businesses. Shah, who has been advocating for pedestrian safety measures, is optimistic about the recent announcement of the Safer Main Streets Program aimed at improvements that will transform urban streets to make them safer and more accessible. $10M has been earmarked for West Colfax (and partially East Colfax). “The beauty of the grant,” says Shah, “is a deadline requirement for completion by 2024. It puts our broader vision of improving the pedestrian environment and our commitment to incorporating parking into the strategy a step closer to reality.” WHAT’S NEXT? WEST COLFAX IS LOVED AND NEEDS LOVE In spite of the pandemic, West Colfax is alive with hope. Ron Abbott, early settler of Seedstock, smiled, “We don’t regret for a single second our decision to locate on West Colfax.” Sevcik imagines the future, “From a business perspective, the walkability of West Colfax is still in need of some serious love. From the homeless population to the lack of parking to the need for more thriving businesses, more investment into West Colfax is critical. Residents want to feel safe and have access to the things they love. Pouring more into this area will absolutely have a positive effect on delivering a walkable and safe neighborhood to the community.”
PHOTOS BY BASHA COHEN
The reimagination of the West Colfax corridor near Sloan's Lake has taken root as the SLOAN's development nears completion. It is a tale of two cities where old meets new. Soaring glass highrises and condos are strikingly contrasted against old-school motels. Hip eateries are flourishing. Icons like the venerated 1927 Lake Steam Baths are poised to meet the new millennials and the old souls who still call West Colfax home.
Page 8 | February 15, 2021-March 14, 2021
The Denver North Star
K I D S & E D UCAT I ON
DPS Schools Reopening, Educators Start Getting Vaccines By David Sabados ore Denver Public Schools students returned to in-person learning this semester. At the same time, teachers and staff in schools are beginning to have access to COVID-19 vaccines. For months, parents, teachers, and community members have debated whether it’s appropriate for DPS to reopen for in-person learning, particularly before in-school staff are fully vaccinated. Governor Polis recently prioritized teachers while calling for more schools to reopen. Through a Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) request, The Denver North Star received data showing that as of February 1, 38.6% of students were still learning virtually while 57.4% of students across the district had returned to school. Data was not available for the remaining less than 4%. North Denver Schools varied. Looking at larger schools in the area, Academia Ana Marie Sandoval reported only 18% virtual and 79.2% in person. Skinner Middle School was 34.9%/65% virtual/in person. Both charter and neighborhood schools appear at both ends of the spectrum; neither appears to dominate either end, but the missing data could skew those numbers. For example, Strive Prep - Lake was 37% virtual vs 48.4% in person but didn’t have data for 14.5%. Lake Middle School, in contrast, was 45% virtual and 54.8% in person, with no data for only 1 student, or 0.2%. North High School tipped slightly more on the virtual side, with 50% virtual and 45% in person. Scott Wolf, Principal at North High School, said the school is diligent about safety and they are welcoming more stu-
dents back, but he respects the decisions members who had previously supportfamilies make. “It's important to know ed pay raises and other benefits but had that while there’s students who selected recently come to resent teachers for not in-person, there’s students and parents returning in person. That’s not to say, however, that all who selected virtually,” adding that students are offered the same classes for ei- teachers feel comfortable returning ther. Additionally, schools have adapted before vaccinations are done. Just beto the split, even having rallies virtually so fore Polis announced teachers would be everyone can participate. Wolf explained moved up in priority, teachers at several they “don't want virtual kids to feel like schools staged a “walk-in” before school started. Standing on the sidewalk as they are missing out.” For in-person learners, Wolf said sur- parents dropped off students and oldfaces are disinfected between classes, er students drove in, teachers held signs either by a teacher, custodial staff, or in raising awareness of the need to reopen some cases stusafely. Some had dents. Classrooms N95 masks pokare capped at 17 “It's important to know that ing out from underneath branded students (35 is while there’s students who cloth ones. Unlike standard), masks are required, and selected in-person, there’s a strike, then they went into work. the school day has students and parents who Tim Hernández shifted slightly: is a 9th grade Enstudents no longer selected virtually” glish teacher at eat on campus but North. While it’s go home earlier, reducing the amount of time they could his first semester teaching there, he said he grew up on the Northside and wants potentially be near each other maskless. According to data from the same to do what’s best for the entire commuCORA request, only 852 of the district’s nity. “A safe reopening is the best re11,059 school-based staff had accom- opening,” he explained, worried about modations to work remotely, meaning community spread. 92.2% of school-based staff were reBrad Laurvick, DPS Board of Edporting in person, a dramatically higher ucation member representing North percentage than the rate students have and West Denver, echoed that sentireturned. That number may come as ment. “Let's be clear: every single eda surprise to some parents and activ- ucator wants to be back in the classists who have recently been critical of room,” adding “I’m grateful for all the teachers not working in the buildings. work to keep everyone as safe as possiAs reported in The Denver North Star ble. Even with [teacher and staff] vacand elsewhere, there has been a back- cinations, we need to keep distance lash against teachers and the teachers’ and keep everyone as healthy and safe union from parents and community as possible.”
DPS Board of Education member AtLarge Tay Anderson showed up to listen to teachers’ concerns on the protest line. “I believe our teams in DPS have worked tirelessly [to reopen safely],” adding that he understands the concerns many teachers have about going back before receiving a vaccination. “I’m grateful Governor Polis bumped them up.” Teachers are now eligible for vaccines, though they are not always available. As reported by The Denver Post on February 7, a recent mass vaccination event at the National Western Complex was “overrun” when organizers offered Jefferson County Schools 200 extra doses for teachers who could show up within an hour. The district emailed or texted 14,000 employees, resulting in chaos. According to a spokesperson for Denver Public Schools, 1,000 vaccine appointments from Children’s Hospital are offered to DPS school-based staff each week, though they’ve been able to exceed that minimum. During the 2nd week of February, they were able to offer a total of 2,900, including 1,500 from Denver Health. “Our goal is to provide as many appointments as possible and as quickly as possible when vaccines become available.” As of February 9, they’ve offered 7,500 vaccine appointments through Children’s, Denver Health, and SCL Health. Laurvick also praised DPS for having a plan in place, explaining they didn’t know when the Governor would prioritize educators but noting that the moment school employees were on the list the district started the process of getting teachers and other staff scheduled for vaccination appointments.
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February 15, 2021-March 14, 2021 | Page 9
COMMU NI TY SHAPING OUR FUTURE BY REMEMBERING OUR PAST
Thank you No needy family should go hungry.
Reflection on Black History Month
For more than 40 years, Bienvenidos Food Bank has provided Northwest Denver individuals and families with emergency food in a safe, welcoming place.
Each year, Bienvenidos:
to our generous Denver supporters Serves Saves 180,000 pounds of 10,000 Denver who have helped Bienvenidos Food wholesome food from grocery residents a year. stores – that would havebeen been Bank during COVID-19. We have thrown away. one of 62 out of 106 food agencies in Gives away more than Denver that has been able to stay open 375,000 pounds Provides enough food of food valued nearly during theatpandemic. We see new to make more than $600,000 300,000 meals. families weekly, who have suffered economically and physically this year.
For every $1 you give, we are able to provide $9 of food. bienvenidosfoodbank.org
Please consider a donation to support this important work in 2021. For every $1 you give, we are able to provide $9 of food.
H E ALTH & W E L L N E S S THE GRAY ZONE: STORIES CONNECTED TO NORTH DENVER’S OLDER ADULTS
Volunteers Adapt, Serve Up 300 To-Go Dinners to Support Church They Love “Take Care of Each Other”
s lawmakers in the state legislature begin their work for 2021, Colorado Senior Lobby President Robert Brocker has a reminder for KATHRYN WHITE them: the contributions and value of older Coloradans is significant. $20.1 billion dollars annually significant. A 2018 report, The Community Assessment Survey for Older Adults (CASOA), tracked everything from the strength of 16 Colorado regions in supporting older adults, to the changing and estimated needs of the population as it grows. Currently Coloradans 60 and older make up 21% of the state population. By 2050 they’ll be 26%. Colorado Senior Lobby turned portions of the report’s 82 pages of data and analysis into an infographic highlighting things like consumer spending and voting trends, alongside taxes and other economic contributions. Brocker hopes lawmakers will keep this data handy as they look at the dollar signs next to programs for seniors in state budget proposals this session. Tucked into the CASOA report was a figure reminding me of a conversation I had recently with Gloria Volpe, longtime North Denver resident and active volunteer at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Historic Catholic Church. Older Coloradans contribute more than $1.5 billion in economic value annually to our state in the form of volunteer work. According to the report, 38% of older adults volunteer an average of 4.2 hours per week in roles that would be worth $18 an hour, if paid. But for Volpe and Co-President Mary Buzzelli-White of Mount Carmel’s Altar and Rosary Society, volunteering isn’t about average weekly hours or economic value to the state. It is about supporting a parish they love, their church at the corner of West 36th Avenue and Navajo Street. Their church has been central to North Denver’s Italian-American community since the late 1800’s. Mount Carmel’s pastor, Rev. Hugh M. Guentner, O.S.M., took a moment to reflect one recent afternoon, “Volunteers? Volunteers are very important. They’re our life stream to maintaining our presence in Denver.” Mount Carmel is a church now for the broader Italian community, across Denver and state-wide. When the pandemic required the church to switch gears abruptly in March 2020, Volpe and Buzzelli-White’s group joined forces with the Men’s Club, led by Paul Garrimone, and set to work making COVID-19 adaptations to fundraising activities that
PHOTO BY JERRY PETROCCO, CHUCK BUR AND DOMINIQUE LILLO
Pasta Dinner To-Go, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Historic Catholic Church. had served and supported Mount Carmel for years. The annual church bazaar had to be set aside, so the volunteers replaced their usual meatball and sausage booths with a drive-thru pasta dinner, complete with meats and handmade sauce, finished off with traditional Italian pizzelles. They masked-up and took over the church’s industrial-sized kitchen to prep and package 300 to-go dinners. Mount Carmel will offer something similar on March 21st in lieu of the parish’s annual St. Joseph’s Table event. Neighbors can tune into Mount Carmel’s social media for details on how to participate and for details on the parish’s February 17th Pasta Figioli meatless Ash Wednesday dinner. For some, cleaning and chopping 77 boxes of peppers might sound intimidating, but Volpe and her group take it in stride. They have wholesale relationships, a wellequipped kitchen, and a devoted group of friends to volunteer with. And they’ve done this before. COVID-19? Of course, it has impacted them and their families. But when it comes to their efforts for the church, well, they just had to tweak a few things. That blend of adaptability and perseverance? Now that, too, is significant. Kathryn has lived in North Denver since around the time the Mount Carmel High School building was razed and its lot at 3600 Zuni became Anna Marie Sandoval Elementary. She’s raised two children in the neighborhood, worked at several nonprofits, and facilitates a Caregiver Support Group for the Alzheimer’s Association Colorado Chapter. Do you have story ideas for The Gray Zone? Email: email@example.com.
Page 10 | February 15, 2021-March 14, 2021
ebruary is Black History Month and it offers an opportunity to think about history from your own ethnic point of view DENNIS GALLAGHER and how it relates to Black History. For example, in Denver in the mid1920's, when the KKK ran Denver and Colorado, my grandmother Nora Flaherty was horrified that someone would sacrilegiously burn a cross in front of St Dominic's Church just down the block on 25th and Grove. The Klan had strength in North Denver. Anglo Saxon Americans were threatened by ethnic Irish, Italians, Germans, and Hispanics who started moving into North Denver. It was the whole “Northside against the world.” The Northside showed solidarity with Black and Jewish neighborhoods of Denver when they tried to recall Mayor Ben Stapleton who was rumored to be the Klan’s candidate in the 1925 municipal election. He began appointing Klan members to city posts, and was quoted by Tom Noel in his excellent book on Denver's history, “Denver: Mining Camp to Metropolis”: (originally in The Denver Post) Stapleton said he would "work hand and glove with the Klan on their agenda for Denver and Colorado." Stapleton's recall was the only mayor's recall in our city's history. And when the Klan actually knew who their candidate was, he won by thousands more votes despite the hard work of those opposed to him and all the Klan’s municipal shenanigans. Legislators from North Denver in mid1920's were in the Klan. They supported a bill to ban wine at religious services in Colorado. But the Klan aiming their "no wine" bill at Catholics and Jews forgot that Episcopalians and Lutherans also used wine at religious services, so that bill died. A Wazee street restaurant served "fish every day but Friday." True Americans in Denver could bring their laundry to the Kozy Klean Kleaners. There were Klan members in the Denver Fire Department when my dad, Bill Gallagher began working for the department in the late 1930's. My dad, a North High grad, was the fourth firefighter hired that year. And on his first day on the job at Barnum Firehouse, a fellow firefighter welcomes him with, "Gallagher, you Irish Catholics stay on the North side of the truck, we Kluxers will stay on the South side of the truck." After the shift, my dad took the firefighter Kluxer out to the parking lot and "cleaned his socks off." He told me there was never again a mention of the Klan in that still single truck fire house in Barnum. To see how the system pitted African Americans and other ethnic workers against each other to “keep America great” and keep wages low back then, read Harvard-educated Noel
Ignatiev's “How the Irish Became White.” It reminds us that when Irish started working on plantations in the south, slaves were told by the slave owners, "if there is anything dangerous to be done, let those paddies do it." The Irish were not worth anything. We can just throw their bodies in the lime pits. Ignatiev researched plantation owners’ diaries and one wrote that he heard his slave on the veranda offer an unusual prayer. "Lord, let my master not be a tyrant today and treat me as though I was a common Irishman." Ignatiev points out how Today, West 50th Avenue, between Lowell and Federal, is a beautiful well, manicured tree-lined parkway called Regis Parkway. It was designated a parkway in the early 1900's but it took until the mid-1950's, when Fr. Richard Ryan S. J., president of Regis got Irish Mayor Currigan to appoint him to the parks board to get the designation funded. For years, the Kluxers on city agencies did all they could to block the Jesuits at North Denver's Catholic college from having a nice parkway. When door belling for John F. Kennedy in North Denver in 1960, people told me they would never vote for an Irish Catholic. They told me they did not want the Pope telling the president how to vote. When my grandfather Bill Gallagher, Sr., an immigrant from Ireland, took the test to work on the old Moffat Railroad in the early 1900's where the Balfour on 15th Street is now, he got 100% on the test. So the overseers at the company ruled that this Irishman must have cheated, as "no one ever gets 100% and he should take the tests again. We'll watch him this time." My granddad got 100% again. "Maybe we need this guy on our railroad," they said. While he told this story of this minor ethnic slight, he shared that it did not compare to the incessant insults to African and Hispanic American workers who worked at the railroad. In his later years, my grandfather warned me that the "Anglo-Saxons are always looking for ways to get your job. Dennis, you have to work twice as hard, and you can never be late." I still have that tape playing in my ear. My grandfather's story was his way of showing ethnic solidarity with workers of other ethnicities, Hispanic, Asian and African Americans. Martin Luther King, Jr., in his famous "Letter from Birmingham Jail" tells us that we are all inextricably tied together in our work for racial justice. These stories from our Northside neighborhoods show how true his comment is as we reflect on Black History Month this February. The Honorable Dennis Gallagher is a former city auditor, city councilman, state senator and state representative. He’ll be sharing thoughts and stories from North Denver’s past and future in his reoccuring column in The Denver North Star.
PHOTO COURTESY OF DENVER FIRE DEPARTMENT MUSEUM
The original Station 20 was located at the old Barnum Town Hall Building at 560 Knox Court
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R E G IS S TU DE N T VOI C E S
New Years Resolutions
By Jesse Stewart with a single peanut, and you’ll be surs a child, you assume that the world is prised how fast that formidable foe can either entirely orderly or pure chaos; move. But drop a tiny mouse behind it, give growing older and understanding that nei- yourself a small ultimatum: if you miss a ther is particularly true can be a paralyzing day of pursuing your resolution, you’re not recognition of the challenging mountains allowed to indulge in your favorite food or e White.”that life presents. The uncertainty may feel drink for a week. h startedlike an elephant on your chest. The next day, increase your measurehe south, But one fateful morning in middle ment by one: two sit-ups. The elephant wners, "ifschool science class, where I first learned might struggle to eat both at once but it be done,of Newton’s First Law of Motion, which sure won’t want that mouse to catch up. rish werestates that an object in motion tends to stay You will climb your mountain, because ust throwin motion (also known as ‘momentum’), I you’re only emphasizing one pebble at a Ignatievsaw the peaks before me shift into ramps time and maintaining a rhythm that will iaries andso that I may fly, if I flapped my wings (or, enforce itself; by focusing on the momenve on thein my case, big ears). Learning that such a tum carried toward a goal rather than the "Lord, letsuccinct force governed the universe was a speed, you will develop a habit, which is and treatnew dawn, informing me of how to carve infinitely less stupid than a ‘resolution’ rishman."away those mountains before me: pebble as it has a rather compelling enforcement West 50thby pebble, feeding that elephant a single mechanism: your happiness and state ederal, ispeanut at a time. of mind. tree-lined One of the most annoying tidbits passed The Grand Canyon didn’t ‘resolve’ to y. It wasaround every Christmastime is that gym carve itself into a schism so spectacular, rly 1900'smemberships increase by about 12% each it did it drop-by-drop, with the threat of when Fr.January, as the population attempts their not reaching the ocean as motivation. It Regis got“New Year’s Resolutions,” with these fig- can be so difficult to grow up, mature, and nt him toures dropping off only a month later. I was improve because we request results all at signationa pedantic child, who grew up to be a very once and activate our attempts so abruptly. s on citypedantic man, so at literally no point have You cannot simply install an improvement block theI felt anything other than dumbfounded into your life, it must be adopted, grown, ic collegeshock that people assign self-improvement and maintained. to something so arbitrary as buying a new Pick any improvement and break it into Kennedycalendar, only to give up after flipping a daily 1% increments: in just over three ople toldsingle page. months you’ll achieve it. It’s exactly that an Irish Losing weight, reading more books, and easy and exactly that difficult. Setting a not wantpursuing any form of self-improvement is slow-yet-steady rhythm of advancement w to vote.an obviously noble goal…but how quickly will slowly transform your resolution into Gallagher,will you revert to confirmation bias when a trait, one which will be hard to peel from , took theyou bite off more than you can chew, doze your identity. It took a long time to build ailroad inoff before you finish the chapter, or grow Rome and a long time for it to fade; anyur on 15thweary of the pursuit by St. Patrick’s Day? thing built brick-by-brick cannot decay he test. SoNo one will punish you for making, break- any other way. One cannot 'have' their uled thating, and then ignoring a promise you made New Year's resolution; one must become it. ed, as "noto yourself, but to then reach another New Never again wait until the Januarys of d take theYears and again lie, “This is my time, this your life to address your elephant in the his time."is the year I do it” is an exercise in insanity, room, for it’s not actually sitting on your . "Maybeis it not? chest, it’s nudging you. Scratch it behind oad," they The root word of ‘resolution’ is ‘resolve,’ the ears, hop on the saddle, scale the y of thiswhich is a misunderstood concept; many mountains before you, and prance over the hat it didNew Year’s resolutions fail because they edge. No matter how heavy it seems, you insults tolack the respect in acknowledging the in- have my (and Newton’s) word: anything n workersherent promise to oneself, a person who is with a running start can fly. his laterjust as important as any other. me that The first rule of self-improvement is to Jesse Stewart is a writer, filmmaker, and oking fornot assign it to something as arbitrary as now student at Regis University. Despite ou have tothe date. Want to get into shape? Start to- working around the world he’ll always be n never beday. Give yourself one task, like doing one happy to call Colorado home (unless it’s ng in mysit-up; tease the elephant on your chest snowing on I-25) his way of h workers N E W S S HO RTS Asian and
L A N D S C A P E A R C H I T E C T U R E
Sloan’s Lake Area Musician Luke the Knife Releases New Single
is famous " tells us d together ese stories ods show By The Denver North Star Staff hile live music experiences are fewer reflect on and far between (literally with soary. cial distancing) these days, it’s not stopping gher is alocal musicians from creating new music. man, stateLuke the Knife (Luke Miller of Lotus) has . He’ll bereleased “Better Mind”, the first single from om Northhis debut solo album DISCO NAP eoccuring- a head-nodding mix of disco, funk, r. house, and downtempo. The bright, Nu-Disco track features gospel-tinged vocals from Denver’s Raven Jane. The new track premieres alongside the album’s Kickstarter prelaunch, which seeks to raise funds supporting the production, distribution, and marketing of the album. Check out his kickstarter page for more information. https://www. kickstarter.com/projects/luketheknife/ luke-the-knife-disco-nap
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H E ALT H & WEL L NESS COMMUNITY WELLNESS INSTIGATOR
What Are You Getting your Self-Care for Valentine's Day?
our heart beats about 115,000 times and pumps about 2,000 gallons of blood every day. It beats 2.5 billion to 3 billion ERIKA TAYLOR times in a lifetime. Seems like if anyone deserves a Valentine this month, it’s our heart. Maybe it’s not a coincidence that February is also National Heart Health Month! Heart disease is a leading cause of death for women and men in the United States and is largely preventable according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. And people with poor cardiovascular health are also at increased risk of severe
prefer your yoga Hatha or Bikram and your cauliflower riced or roasted,) others are almost universally beneficial and accessible: • Sleep. • Drink enough water. • Eat well - it's not complicated! Veggies, fruit, and whole grains. • Move. • Get outside. • Develop a relationship with a trusted health professional. • Learn to breathe well and practice it. • Connect with other humans. • Disconnect - yes, you too. • Laugh - even if you have to fake it at first.
PHOTO FROM ISTOCKPHOTO.COM
illness from COVID-19. Devoting time to care for yourself can go a long way toward protecting the health of your heart. The Oxford Dictionary defines selfcare as “the practice of activities that are necessary to sustain life and health, normally initiated and carried out by the individual for him - or herself.” It’s an essential part of a healthy lifestyle that not only keeps us healthy, happy, and more in-tune with our minds and bodies; it can literally save our lives. Great. So now we know what it is. So why aren't we doing enough of it? Media messages of magic self-care fixes like spa days, complicated supplement cocktails, yoga retreats, and crystal encrusted massage aparati can associate self-care with selfishness and overindulgent behavior. True self-care needs to be PART of our regular lives, not something separate. Today’s pop #selfcare culture is a far cry from the medical and revolutionary roots of the term which was first used to describe actions persons with little other recourse or facing systemic barriers to accessing traditional medical care could take to ensure their own health. While some pieces of self-care are intensely individual (like whether you
Finding your optimal mix will take time and may change depending on your needs and the world around you. Learning to keep looking for that right mix of self-care practices and making the commitment to stick with them is the answer. And it’s not even just because you deserve it. In fact, sometimes the decision to make this sort of care a part of your life can help us build the self esteem that makes it easier to lead a healthy life and one we truly believe we deserve; one that is fulfilling because we habitually practice the basics that let us be the people our village needs us to be for a lifetime. This sort of self-care is truly the best gift we can give our hearts this Valentine’s Day. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help you take steps on this nonnegotiable part of your wellness journey. That’s what I’m here for. Erika Taylor is a community wellness instigator at Taylored Fitness. Taylored Fitness believes that everyone can discover small changes in order to make themselves and their communities more vibrant. Visit facebook.com/erika.taylor.303 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
February 15, 2021-March 14, 2021 | Page 11
CO M M U N I TY
T RA NSPO RTATI O N
Dragon Boat Film Festival Goes Virtual
A Historic New RTD CEO
Boats May Still Grace Sloan’s Lake Later This Year By David Sabados enver Film and Colorado Dragon Boat are teaming up to bring the Dragon Boat Film Festival into viewer’s homes. Colorado Dragon Boat, which hosts the popular annual festival at Sloan’s Lake, has been running a film festival since 2016 -- “the only all Asian and Asian-American festival in Colorado,” according to Sara Moore, Executive Director of the organization. It’s the second year they’ve been working with Denver Film, but this year feels different in a number of ways, Moore explained, noting there’s “a lot of anti-Asian sentiment in the country and the world” right now. “We chose the theme of ‘representASIAN’ for this year's film festival because now more than ever it is important to boldly highlight the amazing accomplishments coming out of our community. The amount of talent coming from the Asian and AAPI community is vast and too often hidden from the mainstream media. We are working to change that.” Moore said with films like “Parasite”’s popularity there’s more awareness than before of Asian films. “Parasite” won best picture in the 2020 Oscars, the first non-English language film to win. Denver Film has been working to adapt their events to create more COVID-friendly options, recently turning Red Rocks Ampitheater’s parking lot into a giant drivein for the Denver Film Festival which was traditionally held downtown. They’re excited to continue their partnership with Colorado Dragon Boat and adapt the Dragon Boast Film Festival to a virtual event. Kevin Smith, Director of Marketing and Part-
PHOTO COURTESY OF COLORADO DRAGON BOAT
Sara Moore speaks at the 2020 Dragon Boat Film Festival; this year she'll be speaking virtually.
nerships for Denver Film, said the two organizations “took time to get to know each other” before diving in, wanting to ensure the best arrangement for both, creating lists of things each did well and expanding from there. One aspect Smith is especially excited about is the community engagement portion that can be done online now, explaining most films will have a community panel related to the film. By hosting these virtually, it allows viewers the ability to watch the film and panel on their own schedules. For the live events, their web interface allows dialogue between panelists and the community. While the festival has an impressive lineup of films and both organizations’ spokespeople said they didn’t have favorites, Moore did highlight “Mu and The Vanishing World” as a film not to miss when asked, including the panel with the film’s directors.
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Page 12 | February 15, 2021-March 14, 2021
By Allen Cowgill n November Debra Johnson took the helm as the CEO of the Regional Transportation District (RTD), the Denver area’s transit agency. Her tenure at the agency is historic as she is the first female CEO in the agency’s 51 year history, as well as the first Black female CEO. Johnson has spent her nearly quarter century career in leadership and executive positions in transit agencies in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., before coming to Denver. She converses like a Six Sigma blackbelt, well versed in optimizing complex operational issues at large organizations, while at the same time having the tremendous empathy of someone who truly PHOTO COURTESY OF DEBRA JOHNSON knows the essence of public transit. Debra Johnson, RTD's new CEO Johnson arrives at RTD facing unprecedented budget cuts and falling ridership due When asked what changes we might see in to the pandemic. In January, a recent federal the future, the new CEO said that this year transit relief package gave $203 million to RTD will begin a comprehensive operational the agency, allowing them to bring back 137 analysis, or a top bottom look at the entire part-time bus and train operators who were system, known as “Reimagine RTD”. The laid off in 2020 due to the budget crunch. process will involve a thorough analysis of She has spent the first few months of the job ridership, community growth, and ensurmaking it a priority to listen to the operators ing that the system is optimized for riders. of the buses, trains, other employees, and “We have to be able to recognize that we have to be open to new ideas and continucustomers that use RTD. In an interview, we asked Johnson what it ous improvement.” She stressed that part of means to her to be running one of the largest this process will be an extensive community transit agencies in the country, after growing input phase in which she encourages everyup relying on public transportation herself one to get involved in when details emerge later this year. She also mentioned that we and not having a car until her adult years. “The importance to me is having an un- may see Bus Rapid Transit or “BRT” on Fedderstanding of the significance of public eral Boulevard. Using new lanes that would transport in unleashing people from their allow RTD bus riders to bypass traffic jams limitations... And for me specifically, I’d be and move more people quickly up and down remiss in saying being a black woman in this the corridor. She sees transit not only as a tool to bring spot, recognizing that oftentimes it’s women of color that are transit dependent, it’s re- opportunity to communities, but also as a ally recognizing that it’s important that we tool to help fight climate change. High performing transit can adhere to our schedule because that’s entice both wealthy our commitment we and working class make to our customriders “to get out of ers… and if we’re late their cars.” Something that can help that could impact reduce air pollution their livelihood.” • General feedback or and fight climate On her first day on questions: 303.299.6000 change by encourthe job Johnson referenced a Pew Research aging people into • For feedback on near term Center study finding using RTD as a service/schedule changes: more environmenthat 54% of transit https://www.rtd-denver.com/ tally friendly type riders nationally are of transportation single mothers of service-changes and “being a good color. She recognizes • To engage in the Reimagine climate action stewthat “not everyone is RTD process (long term ard by reducing your trying to get to a high planning will start again in carbon footprint and rise in downtown investing in future Denver or to the tech earnest this summer): generations.” center” and that the https://www.rtd-denver.com/ We asked Johnson agency needs to be reimagine what else she wanted “agile and flexible the community to in recognizing that know, and she made there are a multitude it clear that she wants RTD to get more diof different customer segments”. “One thing for certain is that we don’t have rect feedback. “We want to ensure that we traditional commute hours anymore... We can hear from all of our customers about have to recognize that we have to be able to what it is we can do to be better partners. pivot and be transformational. Public trans- The one thing about any transit agency is port is still going to be that vehicle that moves that we are interwoven into the communipeople to and fro. However, it may be done ty fabric into the areas in which we provide differently.” Johnson alluded to potential service. We are open to come out to differpublic-private partnerships that could com- ent community events and have discussions pliment RTD, making it easier for people to about what might be, as opposed to what get the last mile from the bus stop to their was. Just have an open mind, we are willing destination. Alluding to use of mobility tools to roll up our sleeves and engage.” like bike share, scooter share, and rideshare.
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Denver Urban Gardens Split Parcel, Maintain Smaller Community Garden By The Denver North Star Staff ast October, news broke about Denver Urban Gardens selling a parcel of land on 35th Ave to a developer to cover the organization’s debts and keep them afloat. While many of the organization's volunteers (gardeners) and the members of the neighboring community protest-
ed, the organization maintained that the sale was the only way to keep them from bankruptcy. The Denver Board of Adjustments approved splitting the parcel, paving way for the sale and then development of roughly 2/3 of the property; the remaining 1/3 will be maintained as a community garden.
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A RTS & CU LTU R E CHECKING OUT
Even As We Breathe
esiding in North Carolina, The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) are descended from a small group of 800 Cherokee HANNAH EVANS who avoided the forced removal and relocation of the U.S Government-mandated Trail of Tears. With a current population of over 16,000, Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle is the tribe’s first known member to publish a novA JOHNSONel with her recently released debut, “Even As We Breathe” (2020, Fireside Industries). Following 19-yearold Cowney Sequoyah during the summer of 1942, “Even As We Breathe” is an action-driven story that moves back and forth between two unforgettable settings – the small rural town of Cherokee, North Carolina, and Ashville’s historic Grove Park Inn. Cowney is eager to escape his hometown of Cherokee and its mountains that “both hold and suffocate,” where he grew up with his caring grandmother, Lishie, and his difficult Uncle Bud. His ticket out is a summer job at Grove Park Inn, “the pinnacle of luxury and privilege,” which also happens to be temporarily inhabited by detained World War II Axis diplomats and military guards. Back home, Cowney leaves behind unanswered questions about his father’s death
and the family secrets surrounding it. At the inn, Cowney stumbles further into the realm of the unsolved when he discovers a mysterious bone on the grounds and a young girl goes missing. While uncovering the truths surrounding both his life at home andat work, Cowney navigates callousness and discrimination from his coworkers as well as a developing romantic interest. Though the mysteries of “Even As We Breathe” take some time to develop, Saunooke Clapsaddle fills her pages by establishing the beauty and wilderness of Cherokee and its surrounding river, wildlife, and land, as well as the unique situation that the lavish Grove Park Inn resides in during a time of war. As a great example of an “own voices” story (a term that describes works written by an author who shares a marginalized identity with their characters), this novel breathes a welcomed breath of fresh air into a wellworn period for historical fiction, thanks to Cowney’s originality and the distinctive places around him. Check out “Even As We Breathe” at your closest Denver Public Library location or as an ebook or through denverlibrary.com.
fter closing in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a long-awaited renovation, Smiley Branch Library (4501 W. 46th Ave) is now open for curbside hold delivery! Visit us at denverlibrary.org or call 720-865-1111 to place books, movies, and other library items on hold. Once you receive a notification that your requests are ready to pick up, stop by Smiley any time – no need for a reservation. While Denver Public Library’s buildings are not yet open to the public, you can still engage with us in a number of ways. Here are just a few: • Adults: sign up for Winter of Reading in person or at denverlibrary.org/winterofreading and pick up your prize for completing reading-related activities through February 28th.
• Teens: Join the DPL Correspondence Society, a totally free physical mail exchange program that is part chain letter, part creative writing/art club, and part show and tell. It's a fun and easy way to make stuff with people all over the city (or state, or country, or... world?). Find more information and participate at denverlibrary.org/dplcorrespondencesociety. • Kids: drop in on one of our weekly Wednesday Wreck This Book Club virtual meetings! We will follow prompts from Keri Smith’s “Wreck This Journal” to paint, draw, stick things to, and otherwise alter your copy at home. If you don’t own the book, no problem – any journal or piece of paper will work. Visit denverlibrary.org for more services, virtual programs, and ways to access the library collection.
N E W S S HO RTS
Brown International Elementary Students Help Women This Valentine’s Day
cel, rdenBy The Denver North Star Staff
th grade students at Brown International Academy (elementary school at 26th/Lowell) are taking action to help women. Knowing that this year Valentine's Day is looking different and they can’t share candy in classrooms, they wanted to save their money that they might spend on other Valentine's Day
The Denver North Star
Nettie Moore, Beloved Westside Community Member, Passes Away By The Denver North Star Staff e say farewell to Nettie Moore who passed away February 8, 2021. She was 96 years old. She lived her whole life on 12th and Utica Street (before it was even named) watching it transform from fields and prairies to the hip downtown extension it has become. She devoted her life to advocating for improvements in the entire West Colfax neighborhood. Her determination and dedication will be missed by all who were fortunate enough to know her. To read more about her life, please see a beautiful story in Denverite at www.Denverite.com: “Nettie Moore reflects on 96 years in Denver’s west side as her pacemaker slowly fails.”
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trinkets and put it toward a good cause. They are collecting women hygiene products to make care baskets for refugee & asylee women in Denver. Care baskets are collected at Ruby's Market. Ruby’s Market accepts care packages every Saturday in February, 11 am - 5pm. For more details visit rubysmarketdenver. com/refugeepantrydonations.
THANK YOU FOR HELPING US MAKE IT TO 2021. We are now open for curbside service only (Book and bar).
shop online, purchase gift cards, and attend our virtual events! we are continuing our book&bar bundles: a novel, cookbook, and bottle of wine, with 15% off.
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Open every day. 10am-6pm. February 15, 2021-March 14, 2021 | Page 13
E LE C T E D OFFI C I AL UP DAT E
Local Versus State Boards of Education
ne of the most frequent questions I am asked these days is, “Who decides ‘X,Y,Z’, the state or local board?” Depending on ‘X,Y,Z’, DR. LISA ESCÁRCEGA some decisions are easy to place at either the state or local board level, while other decisions result from interplay between the two entities and can include the federal level as well. For example, calling snow days is only under the local school board control while the selection of what is taught, known as ‘Standards’, is decided at both the state and local board level. The policies directed by the state board are generally as follows: academic standards setting; choosing specific state assessments to monitor progress on the standards and when the assessments are given; development of a framework for evaluating districts and schools (both federal and state statute dictate parameters in this area); accreditation of districts (not schools); setting educator licensure requirements; and setting requirements for instructional time (minimum teacher/student contact time).
The policies directed by the local board include: choosing of curriculum that aligns with state standards and how it will be taught; choosing local assessments to monitor progress on the standards and when the assessments are given; hiring of all personnel; setting health and safety protocols; and setting school calendars and student schedules. It is the local board that must make the difficult, on-going decisions around in-person and remote learning offerings. When it is not clear where an education policy originated, getting something changed can be difficult and complex. Take state assessments for example. The federal government passed a law stating all students will take certain state assessments each year grades 3-8 and once during high school. If states do not implement this practice, there is the threat of losing federal funding (it has never happened.) The state of Colorado legislature duplicated much of the federal assessment law, and enacted a statute that goes beyond what the federal legislation requires. The state board of education’s role is to choose the specific tests and vendor(s) for administration along with the timing of the assessments.
The state board cannot provide waivers for these state assessments to any school or district (including charter/innovation schools) without both the federal and state-level government ‘permission’. During our on-going pandemic, must schools give state standardized tests this spring? Unless both the federal and state-level government act to waive testing requirements, the answer is yes. To comply with the statute, all students who are doing fully remote learning (40% of Denver Public Schools students) must be asked to come into schools. It will require a significant number of students to turn in the laptops and Chromebooks they were provided so the devices can be cleaned and locked down for at least six weeks. Can you imagine sending or getting that email? Given that a disproportionate number of our BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) students/families chose to do fully remote learning for the entire year and received the bulk of the devices, what will the impact be to them? Who benefits and who gets hurt by a policy is a strong question to ask in determining if a policy is equitable. Review of all state edu-
cation policy for equity and bias is one of my focus areas. That includes our current accountability system that is overly dependent on state assessment scores and does not encompass all the school qualities that parents want. I see this policy review as a long-term focus that will take multiple approaches and a series of levers being pulled with the local boards of education, the state legislature and the state board of education. Any change will require ongoing input from all stakeholders – particularly those who historically have not had a voice. Our communities are asking how to make their voice heard and at which levels they should advocate. I strongly urge anyone with questions, concerns, and/or input to contact me. It is time to put education back into the hands of the community as the common good it was intended to be. Dr. Lisa A. Escárcega was elected to the Colorado State Board of Education in November 2020 representing the 1st Congressional District. She recently served as the Executive Director of the Colorado Association of School Executives (CASE) that represents more than 2,400 Colorado education leaders.
RE AL ESTATE O PI NI O N
Real Estate 2020 and 2021 – Get the Facts Here
Continued from Page 12 North Denverites missing the in-person Dragon Boat Festival may not have to wait until 2022 either. Moore said they have a tentative date for the end of September and will still be in the park and on the lake if appropriate. Scott Gilmore, Deputy Manager of Parks for the city, shared a cautious optimism about some larger events this fall, saying the city was "heading in the direction we need to be heading.” He stressed that for major events to come back, Denverites need to continue mask
wearing, social distancing, and other practices now to keep the spread of COVID-19 down while vaccines are distributed. Full festival passes are $55 for Denver Film Members/$65 Non-Member and Individual film tickets are $12 for Denver Film Members/$15 Non-Member. Individual tickets are currently on sale and full festival passes are available at denverfilm.org. The festival runs March 4 - 7. For information on Colorado Dragon Boat Festival, cdbf.org.
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Page 14 | February 15, 2021-March 14, 2021
By Jenny Apel o one really knew what kind of effect COVID-19 would have on housing. Most in the industry prepared for the worst, but what unfolded was something absolutely extraordinary - a new found appreciation for what it means to be "home" and a movement to make that "at home" experience as fulfilling as it could possibly be. The result was a year in real estate like no other. • The Average Closed Price in NW Denver set an all-time area record in 2020 at $651,809 for all types of property, 5.4% above the previous year, and well above Denver County’s record high average of $576,112, also set in 2020, which represented a gain of 7.7%. • There were 2,732 New Listings brought to market in NW Denver in 2020, up 11.6% over 2019. • Closed transactions reached a record high of 2,239, up 25.9% over the previous year, with $1.46B in sales volume representing a gain of 32.8%. In stark contrast, Denver County saw a gain of 2.9% in new listings, 7.1% in closed transactions, and a 15.3% gain in closed volume over 2019. • Listings in NW Denver and Denver County for 2020 contracted in a median of 8 days in market and received at an average of 99.8% and 99.7% of list price respectively. • NW Denver ended 2020 with an all-time area record low of just slightly over a half month of available inventory (6 months is considered a “balanced market") which was down 60% from the previous December. Denver County ended the year with nearly one month of available inventory. The NW Denver average for 2020 was only 1.6 months of inventory, while Denver County averaged an even leaner 1.4 months of inventory.
2021 OUTLOOK Economists at the National Association of Realtors predict that interest rates for 2021 will not go higher than 3.1% keeping strong home buying momentum throughout the country to the tune of an average growth in sales of nearly 10% and a growth in average home prices of 5%. • NAR predicts that Denver Metro will outperform sales nationally with more than 10% growth, and more than 5% in average sales price, citing several factors including: • Faster than average unemployment recovery. • Continued migration gains to the metro area during the pandemic, primarily from millennials, who represent the largest over-
all number of homebuyers. • Denver Metro is a very popular destination for “teleworking”, and many Denver metro companies support “teleworking” as a permanent option. • Realtor.com® projects that Denver Metro will be one of the Top 10 performing housing markets for 2021. Home prices across the top 10 markets are projected to increase by 6.9% and sales will jump by 13.1% yearover-year. This figure is significantly higher than their national projection of 5.7% price appreciation and 7.0% sales growth. • Denver County has experienced an average gain of 6.83% in sales price and 9.6% in sales volume over the last 4 years and, given the potential for more businesses to open up completely later this year further reducing unemployment, it is very possible that Denver County matches the expectation set by Realtor.com® for Denver Metro of a 6.9% gain in average sales price and 13.1% gain in sales growth. • NW Denver has moved towards a more “normalized” gain over the last 4 years with an average of 5.87% per year in sales price. While the additional inventory in 2020 (although still extremely low) kept average prices from skyrocketing, the sales volume increased by an incredible 32.8%, bringing the 4-year average gain in volume to 13.9% per year. Demand will likely further increase as the threat of COVID-19 begins to wane and if new inventory doesn’t accelerate with demand, it is very likely that our region mimics Denver County in achieving the Realtor.com® expectation. *Data provided by InfoSparks What does this all mean for you if you are considering buying or selling in 2021? Curious about the value of your home? We can help! We offer a FREE No Obligation Market Analysis! Thinking the house could use a little bit of fix up prior to going to market? We have the cure for that as well! Our brokers offer Compass Concierge – We can help you maximize your value with zero out of pocket costs! Call us today to discuss details 303.455.5535 Are you considering buying in 2021? Our skilled team can help you find your dream home today! Let us show you how to win in this competitive market! Put our years of experience to work for you! Nostalgic Homes | Compass 303.455.5535 www.nostalgichomes.com Jenny Apel is the Senior Broker Associate & Group Leader at Nostalgic Homes Group
The Denver North Star
N E W S S HO RTS
Habitat for Humanity Site in Highland one of my Neighborhood For Sale For $6.8 Million
urrent acdependentBy The Denver North Star Staff abitat for Humanity has put their es not enhat parents administrative building in the Highlong-termland Neighborhood up for sale. Zoned for oaches andup to three stories, the .95 acre plot is beh the localing marketed as a “Multifamily Redevellature andopment Opportunity.” The surrounding hange will akeholders y have not sking howContinued from Page 2 hich levels ge anyoneer” races made up 4.7% of the state’s people input towho have been vaccinated with at least the ation backfirst shot, according to the Colorado Des the com-partment of Public Health & Environment. “I think everyone’s tired of platitudes about ‘we care, we care, we care,’ and ted to thethen seeing data like that is embarrassing in Novem-and horrific, and probably … shows us ngressionalthat if we have higher [COVID-19 cases Executiveand deaths] with people of color, then we n of Schoolshould probably prioritize those people more thanover people who have better outcomes,” Valdez said. Regarding how the vaccinations are distributed, Valdez said, “That’s above my paygrade, as they say, but I’m, you know, darn sure gonna fight for us to close that gap.” Data provided by Denver Public Health showed some northwest Denver neighborhoods with far fewer vaccinations for people estination 70 and older than in other city neighborver metro hoods, and as of Feb. 1 there were no recordas a per- ings of people in that age group receiving a second dose or completing their full vacciver Metro nation in the Chaffee Park, Sun Valley and ming hous- Jefferson Park neighborhoods. ces across As co-chair of his respective caucus, o increase Valdez said his goal is to ensure more 3.1% year- Latinos are elected and appointed to leadtly higher ership positions. He said although Colo5.7% price rado’s population is about 25 % Latino, they have “very little to no representah. d an aver- tion” in state and federal offices. nd 9.6% in “And that’s got to change,” he said. “We and, given really just need to be building long-term s to open infrastructure to make sure that Latino her reduc- voices come from … this beautiful state, ssible that where there’s a long, storied history of ctation set Latino leadership.” of a 6.9% Valdez said he will introduce a bill this 1% gain in session that would end what he calls “cash discrimination,” where businesses have ds a more refused to accept paper currency to reyears with duce the risk of COVID-19 transmission ales price. or other reasons, but he said this makes it n 2020 (al- harder for people who do not have bank pt average accounts to purchase goods. es volume “There are people who don’t qualify , bringing for bank accounts, don’t want a bank ace to 13.9% count, don’t have a bank account, and … urther in- their money should be accepted, especialbegins to ly when it comes to (purchasing) the baaccelerate sics,” Valdez said, adding he has not seen our region ng the Re-
area has a variety of commercial and residential structures, both new and older. The 32nd and Eliot St location just East of Federal is also close to North High School and Highland Park but not directly on busy Federal Blvd, likely making it appealing for residential development.
any evidence that using a card to pay for items protects people more than cash. Valdez also said he intends to push for support to pass a bill he co-sponsored and introduced last year that would allow local governments to ban the use or sale of certain types of plastics. House Rep. Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez, district 4, was elected as the Assistant House Majority Leader, the third-highest position in the chamber behind the Speaker of the House and the Majority Leader. Gonzales-Gutierrez told The Denver North Star that one of her primary goals is to reduce the state’s prison population by having more cases entered into the Juveniles Convicted as Adults Program (JCAP), which reviews cases of minors tried as adults who have served 20 to 25 years of their hard-time sentences. If they are eligible, people convicted of such crimes before the age of 18 can enroll in basic life-skills courses and seek early parole. Gonzales-Gutierrez, like Senator Gonzales, also said she wants to focus on ensuring more affordable housing is provided through legislative action. She said one of the ways to do that is to create incentives for developers to designate low-income housing within new housing projects. “I think it’s a public health issue; without housing, how are you going to have a safe place to sleep at night? How are you going to be able to take care of your children?” Gonzales-Gutierrez said. She said the main cause of truancy and absences at schools is due to families looking for housing with their children and not having time to prioritize their education. As Assistant House Majority Leader, Gonzales-Gutierrez will also frequently be chairing the committee of the whole (when all legislators are on the floor), and helping new legislators acclimate. Eric Heinz is a freelance journalist based in Denver who most recently covered Los Angeles City Hall for City News Service in California before coming home to Colorado.
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S T U DENT VO I CES
The Last Hurrah Becomes The Little Hurrah
o be honest, this is not what I imagined my senior year would look like. In middle school my friends and I would sit in the stairwell during ISABELLE KANG lunch and craft elaborate daydreams of what we’d do when we were finally ‘older’, that mystical faraway time of indistinguishable happiness that we couldn’t pinpoint but were certain existed. We’d drive to get coffee in the morning and come late to class after lunch, giggling and carefree because we had earned the right to be mischievous. Now so many of those relationships have changed, corroded by time or embittered by growing pains, gaps in personality too wide to cross. Not all those friends are lost, though. This — reminding myself of what I do still have — is something I’ve had to practice a lot this year. A family member of mine nearly drank herself to death a few weeks ago because all she could think of were the things she’s lost. She reminds me that I must count the people, the friends, that are still here, that I must focus on the things I can still hold on to. I remember being in the fifth grade and thinking I was never going to go to prom because “parties aren’t really my thing”. Seven years later, parties still aren’t really my thing, yet I can’t help but yearn and be nostalgic for a time I’ve never experienced, for all the inconsequential and seemingly meaningless high school rite-of-passages. The Senior Trip tradition, the stories of which I’ve only heard and hoped someday to treasure as my
own; ordering pie and coffee at 2 a.m. in the Denver Diner prom after-party; creating my own senior project — an arts-major tradition at my school — in the only place besides my home in which I’ve spent the majority of my life. Another major creative writing tradition, the senior-planned field trip; secret and exclusive senior-only activities at Balarat; and so much more. Trivial and insignificant, taken for granted as facts of what was to come until this year. It reminds me that even the smallest of things have the power to make me feel joy, and even amidst loss, I must search for and cherish even the most minor of daily pleasures. Thinking back on those elaborate fantasies constructed by day-dreamy middle-schoolers, I see a prospective future quite different from the one I’m living in now. If my middle-school self wrote a bucket list of all the things she wanted to do before graduating, I think I’d sorely disappoint her. Yet, despite the awkwardly juvenile and foolish nature of those daydreams, they still have a kernel of truth, a little bit of wisdom for me: each one was simply about being happy, about enjoying the smallest of things I could have, from morning coffee with friends to mischief and tardiness. So, if that’s really all that my senior year was supposed to look like — a catalogue of little delights — then I ought to keep my eye out for them, to catch and hold onto them for as long as I can. Isabelle Kang is a senior creative writer at Denver School of the Arts. Born in Denver, she has lived in the Sunnyside neighborhood for most of her life.
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www.sageandsavory.com Phone: 303-503-6765 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org The Denver North Star
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February 15, 2021-March 14, 2021 | Page 15
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Compass is a licensed real estate broker and abides by Equal Housing Opportunity laws. All material presented herein is intended for informational purposes only. Information is compiled from sources deemed reliable but is subject to errors, omissions, changes in price, condition, sale, or withdrawal without notice. No statement is made as to accuracy of any description. All measurements and square footages are approximate. This is not intended to solicit property already listed. Nothing herein shall be construed as legal, accounting or other professional advice outside the realm of real estate brokerage.
The Denver North Star Feb. 15 Edition