The Denver North Star February 15 2024 Online Edition

Page 1

Your Guide to Community, Politics, Arts and Culture in North Denver


Volume 5, Issue 5

| February 15, 2024-March 14, 2024

Alamo Workers Demand More Than Popcorn in Unionization Talks



Three Candidates Hope to Win HD4 Seat By Cassis Tingley


ENVIRONMENT Does Nestlé Purina Pass the Smell Test? PAGE 2

ARTS & CULTURE BRDG Project Celebrates the ‘Original Rebels’ of the North Denver Art Scene PAGE 5


Current and former employees of Alamo Drafthouse Cinema picketed Jan. 2 in pursuit of a more worker-friendly environment. By Ernest Gurulé


SPORTS Denver North Moves Girls Wrestling Forward PAGE 6

TRANSPORTATION 20 mph Speed Limit Signs Show Up on Residential Streets PAGE 9

HEALTH & WELLNESS How Dry/Damp January Gets it Right PAGE 10

MENTAL HEALTH Tips to Lighten the Blue Days of Winter PAGE 10 Postal Customer

s dusk settled in, commuters headed down Colfax Avenue on the first workday of the new year caught a glimpse of a picket line at perhaps one of the last places they might have expected to see one. Westbound traffic saw a sidewalk demonstration made up of about a dozen current and former workers picketing in front of Alamo Drafthouse Cinema’s Sloan’s Lake location. Marching in a loose but resolute circle, they inspired a few honks and a few yells of support shouted from passenger windows. “What do we want?” chanted workers led by a bull-horned cantor. “Justice,” a synonym for better working conditions, came the answer. One way to get it, along with a litany of other changes, they believe, is with a union. For nearly a year, Maggie Werhane worked at the Sloan’s Lake Alamo. She left in July 2023, terminated she said, over what she called “bill mismanagement,” charging incorrectly but later correcting charges. Werhane called it a no-harm, no-foul issue for either the customer or company. While at Alamo, Werhane was a guest attendant. She might show up for work and be asked to perform any number of jobs. It might be taking food and drink orders inside the theater or helping behind the bar. “I floated around a little bit,” Werhane said with a chuckle, adding quickly, “I didn’t mind.” Werhane’s work issues began, she said, when a co-worker began audibly directing inappropriate comments at her. Werhane, who has identified as “a female-presenting person” for the last three years, at first tried ignoring the co-worker. “It happened, but it didn’t seem that serious,” Werhane PRESORTED said. She asked the co-workSTANDARD er to stop, but it escalated to U.S. POSTAGE the point where the co-worker began touching her hair Denver, CO and asking, “Is it real?” Permit No. 2565 Taking the problem to EDDM Alamo human relations,


Werhane said, went nowhere. Werhane’s and other workers’ issues are part of a long list of things they want corrected, including scheduling, workplace safety, better pay, and a better and more worker-friendly corporate relationship. Pay, for most on the early January picket line, is maybe the biggest issue. Werhane said while she made $25 an hour, which sounds fine, there would be weeks when she would only get two hours of work. It was a “week to week” concern and often, she said, seemed punitive. Bradley Ian Miller, another former worker, said he was fired over attendance issues, but believes the real reason was because he was spreading the word on unionizing. Miller’s job was delivering orders to customers. He said he often stumbled on improperly installed carpeting and complained. Nothing happened. He also complained about inconsistent scheduling, one week getting 10 to 15 hours, one time getting 50. There was also no paid overtime. Workers have been huddling with Communications Workers of America 7777 and CWA’s Executive Vice President Brian Winkler on organizing, the benefits of unions and how to construct a contract. “Once they win their union,” Winkler said, “the company will be required to bargain with them.” To date, there is no set time for a vote. A planned vote to unionize that was set for Jan. 16 did not take place. Winkler said Alamo’s corporate team did not want any vote taken until workers, as many as 300, at all three metro area theaters could vote. Getting workers at each of the Alamo locations might be tricky, he said, since Alamo’s Littleton theater workers have not been involved in any unionizing talks. He also said that determining if all three locations need to vote on organizing will ultimately be determined by the National Labor Relations Board. “We just have to wait, but we’re confident their decision will be single cinema votes,” Winkler said. Alamo’s corporate headquarters did not respond to requests for comment about the workers’ unionization efforts.

ouse District Four (HD4) is facing its first formal election since Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez resigned to serve on Denver City Council last summer. Rep. Tim Hernández, the former North High School teacher who won the vacancy contest in August, will face former immigration judge Cecelia Espenoza and small-business advocate Antonio Soto in this spring’s Democratic primary. Given HD4’s overwhelming Democratic performance – 82.7% of the district voted blue in the 2022 Colorado House of Representatives general election – the winner is expected to coast to the representative seat in November. This will be Hernández’s and Espenoza’s second time competing, as Hernández upset the former immigration lawyer and HD4 Democratic party captain in August. Candidates have two options to earn a spot on the primary ballot: collect 1,000 signatures from registered voters of their party, or have support from 30% of delegates at a partisan assembly. With some stipulations, candidates can pursue both options as well. All three candidates are gathering signatures to make the ballot. Hernández and Espenoza both plan to also attend the Democratic Caucus and Assembly this March. The caucus tends to favor candidates with stronger party connections, while going door-to-door offers grassroots candidates the chance to connect with more voters early. CECELIA ESPENOZA

Espenoza, who moved to Sloan’s Lake in 1991, said she will draw on her experience as an immigration judge, attorney and law professor to craft policy in the statehouse. Running on a platform of Cecelia Espenoza “uniting” HD4, she promised to advocate for equity in reproductive health. “Even though we have good healthcare in Colorado, too many of our communities of color are still suffering mortality through the reproductive parts of their lives at too high of a rate,” Espenoza said. “What are we going to do as a state to ensure that we're putting guardrails and protections?” Espenoza also plans to push for legislation ensuring the privacy rights of women seeking abortions in Colorado.

See HD4, Page 11


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Does Nestlé Purina Pass the Smell Test?

By Trish Zornio


orth Denver residents have long complained about industrial odor pollution, particularly strong and foul odors emanating from the Purina pet food facility. Yet after a recent uptick in odor complaints in the latter half of 2023, the company has initiated new community discussions. According to Denver Air Program Supervisor Bill Obermann, Purina representatives recently met with a handful of community residents at a December gathering facilitatPHOTO BY KATHRYN WHITE ed by Denver’s Love My Air After an uptick in odor complaints, the company program staff. The results, he initiated new community discussions (Nestlé Purina said, were encouraging. plant, 4555 York St.). “The reason for that [DeThe cumulative impacts of odor pollution cember] meeting was a long time in the making,” said Obermann, crediting Purina with have yet to be rigorously studied, however, reaching out to his staff for help in better col- odor pollution has been directly associated laborating with the community on odor con- in many cases with negative public health imcerns. At least one meeting participant agreed pacts, according to multiple scientific studies and the Centers for Disease Control and Preshe was hopeful. “I was very impressed with Love My Air vention’s Agency for Toxic Substances and and the industry for being willing to come Disease Registry. Among the possible acute health effects to the room,” said Harmony Cummings of the Green House Connection Center, adding, of odor pollution listed on publicly available “I wish they would pay the local residents to agency documents are headache, nausea, recome and share their lived experience, be- spiratory irritation, sore throat, coughing and cause others in the room are paid, and finan- depression. The agency also states that sympcial compensation would allow more broad toms can vary by population, such as those diagnosed with asthma or chronic obstruccommunity participation.” Still, Cummings and others expressed con- tive pulmonary disease (COPD), children and cerns about whether change from the facility pregnant people being more likely to experiwas possible, and if state regulations on odors ence worse symptoms from odor pollution. Scientific studies have also established cormight be too lax given so many residents struggle with the pollution yet little has been relations between odor pollution and subjective well-being, with odor annoyance specifidone to stop it to date. “We host a lot of events that bring folks to cally cited by one 2021 review as being “linked the facility, and many people are very shocked to stress, poor mental health, and decreased by the aroma in the community,” Cummings well-being.” High levels of odor annoyance said. “Folks who live here, this is just how it is. were found to be most associated with negaThis is just what it is. Locals don’t like it, but tive quality of life. University of Colorado professor Shelly are so accustomed and helpless to it, so why Miller has published multiple studies on odor keep trying?” According to Obermann, to reach an odor issues in Colorado and North Denver specifviolation requires a certified inspector to trav- ically. Her team also found a strong associael onsite and employ equipment that can dilute tion between perceived odors and well-being the air seven-fold. If the odor is still detectable in 2018, with a follow-up study in 2019 identifying the Purina facility as the most reported after dilution, there may be a violation. However, due to the inability to test im- odor in North Denver. Invitations to speak with facility repremediately upon receiving an odor complaint, coupled with the difficulty of standardizing sentatives regarding odor concerns were met odor measurements, it’s rare for violations without a response. “One of the things that came out of the to be found. Obermann could cite only one odor violation by the Purina facility in recent chats with Love My Air and Purina was that memory. The incident was in 2021, and a fine the facility has been here for something like of $12,000 was issued by the Colorado Depart- 90 years,” said Cummings. “We’ve grown with them and around them… we’re here now.” ment of Public Health and Environment. Obermann confirmed he hoped this would A spokesperson for CDPHE confirmed the Colorado Air Pollution Control Division be the first of many conversations, and he contracts the Denver Department of Public welcomed more community groups with conHealth and Environment to conduct inspec- cerns to join the table. He also noted residents tions and investigate air complaints in Denver, can continue to file odor complaints through including odor complaints related to the Puri- the city’s 311 program. As for industrial odor solutions, the CDC na facility, according to the state’s seven-fold offers a variety of recommendations such as dilution standards. Cummings also expressed concerns about the facility employing better tools to eliminate the pet food manufacturer’s ability to truly odors, community members creating odor diaries to track issues, odor release time restricunderstand the health impacts on locals. “What we were told is that odors don’t have tions, planting more greenery to help neutrala health impact, only annoyance. But is that ize odors and better engaging with community even true?” she asked. “What are the cumula- members on when odors will be most severe so residents can leave or take precautions. tive impacts [of odor]?”

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Near Northwest Area Plan Adopted by City Council By Kathryn White


enver City Council voted unanimously Jan. 22 to adopt the Near Northwest Area Plan, a community-driven city planning tool over two years in the making. The plan calls for the city to focus its long-term efforts in the neighborhoods of Chaffee Park, Sunnyside, Highland and Jefferson Park on: 1) wealth building and access to affordable housing, 2) health and well-being, 3) multimodal options and safety, 4) businesses and jobs, and 5) preserving and celebrating great places. The plan’s recommendations to create and preserve affordable housing range from encouraging retention of existing older homes and preventing housing displacement to prioritizing new affordable housing and expanding “missing middle” housing, sometimes also called “gentle density.” These are generally seen as housing options like townhomes, duplexes and triplexes, or housing options that fall somewhere pollutionbetween single family homes and mid- to , however,high-rise apartment buildings. associated Nola Miguel, a member of the volunteer health im-steering committee from Chaffee Park, fic studiesspoke in favor of the plan’s adoption. Miol and Pre-guel pointed to data in the plan about the ances andarea’s decreasing Latino population — from 71% to 35% over the last 20 years — as a prilth effectsmary motivation for her involvement. y available “That is something that we should nausea, re-be talking about,” Miguel said. “That is ghing andsomething that we should be taking achat symp-tion on. Not to mention how much the h as thoseprices of homes have gone up during that c obstruc-time period. This is what happens when ildren andwe don't have strategic plans for how to to experi-shift these things, how to keep people in ollution. the neighborhood.” lished cor- Mike Blake, a member of the steering nd subjecce specifing “linked decreased annoyance with nega-

sor Shelly es on odor ver specifng associawell-being 019 identit reported

ity reprewere met

committee who has lived in Jefferson Park since 2010, also spoke in favor of the plan. “Denver's Northside has a rich history reflecting the diversity of the city,” he said, “and you probably couldn't find four more distinct neighborhoods in Denver to work together on one plan.” City Council President Pro-Tem Amanda Sandoval, who represents the four neighborhoods and spoke about being born and raised in North Denver, appreciated the specificity of the plan. She called attention to tools the plan identifies to counter the residual impacts of historic redlining in North Denver, as well as to preservation incentives for adaptive reuse. “I hope that we, as a council, can put our money where our mouth is,” Sandoval said. “When we’re talking about the 2025 budget, you’re going to continue to hear me talk about the need to identify funds to implement neighborhood plans.” “This is the second neighborhood plan I've worked on since being elected,” she continued. “I have had the honor of working on the West Area neighborhood plan. You need money to implement these plans. All they are is a vision document if you don't have the money to implement them.” Area plans are developed by the Community Planning and Development department’s Neighborhood Planning Initiative, an effort that leans on significant neighborhood-level input to create 19 area plans covering Denver’s 78 statistical neighborhoods. Resulting plans act as COURTESY OF DENVERGOV.ORG supplements to citywide plans Blueprint Map depicting some of the priorities reflected in the Near Northwest Area Plan that Denver and Comprehensive Plan 2040. was adopted by City Council on Jan. 22. They are intended to guide the city in its The 238-page Near Northwest Area Plan approach to adding or improving city ser- recreation centers, transportation, business vices and resources (e.g., zoning, parks, and economic development). can be found at

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Finding North Denver Art Exhibitions in Unlikely Places By Jacqui Somen


irst Friday on Tennyson used to be a bustling night when local artists and galleries could showcase their work. In the last few years, all but one of these galleries have shuttered, leaving many residents wondering if it’s still possible to get up close and personal with art and local artists in North Denver. The short answer: Yes! There are several options for those who still want a gallery experience. For instance, the nonprofit BRDG Project, a contemporary art space on Tejon Street, hosts various exhibitions and performances throughout the year. Their upcoming True West exhibi-

tion, curated by Michael Dowling, features work by 40 regional artists and explores the “notion of leaving the comfort and safety of the familiar," according to a release. True West will be on display through March 2. Ryan Joseph Gallery on 38th Avenue is hosting the exhibition Endings and Continuations, featuring national and international artists, until March 6. Artist Jonathan Applegate continues to showcase pieces created with his unique oneLINE method at Tennyson's last remaining gallery, Future Drawn oneLINE Gallery. Applegate creates intricate hand-drawn or


Jonathan Applegate’s oneLINE mural of Union Station that wraps around the elevator to Hey Kiddo on Tennyson.

painted pieces using a single line that never crosses or intersects, a method he calls oneLINE. North Denverites can also find art in less obvious places like the walls of coffee shops, restaurants and yoga studios. Wendy Golden is exhibiting her nature photography at Tenn Street Coffee & Books, and Applegate's oneLINE work appears on murals throughout the neighborhood, including in the firstfloor lobby of Hey Kiddo and inside the entrance of Kalaka Mexican Kitchen. Katie Jackson's Uncaged collection, featuring women "breaking free from their framed prison," is currently on display at Ohana Yoga + Barre. PHOTO COURTESY OF MODERN MAGIC "I think that seeing art Katie Jackson's Modern Magic framed art prints in person will always have Pink Flamingo and Joy, from the Uncaged a transformative effect, it's collection. why we buy art to put in our homes,” Jack- seven years, can still find her work online. son said. “Especially when it's the original Courier said that shutting down the gallery and you can see more of the textures created gave her the freedom to paint more, and by the materials used by the artist and the that social media has become a powerful vividness of the colors that replications can't sales tool. "Running a gallery has been a tremendous always nail down." Art in North Denver has also spilled onto learning experience for me, but my own stuthe streets, with murals enriching corners dio time was cut in half," Courier said. Like other industries, artists and galleries and parks. Applegate's work can be viewed on a 1,000-square-foot mural in the alley are constantly navigating a balance between behind Alchemy 365, across from César the ease and reach of the digital space and the depth and costs of in-person expresChávez Park. Many favorite local artists can also be sion. Regardless, art enthusiasts seeking found in digital spaces. Denverites who tangible artistic experiences can still enjoy want to purchase art from Michelle Courier, finding art in new and hidden corners of who ran Westward Gallery on Tennyson for North Denver.


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ye ol ast month The Denver North Star re- solid deicers, focus on main streets. Smaller co capped Denver’s requirement that plows clear snow only on residential streetschapter th property owners clear snow and ice that are near and around schools. Accordi The remainder of residential streets are“We antic from their sidewalks, including adjacent ADA ramps and bus stops, by the day after a snow- plowed by the city only when it has deter-in Februar mined that large enoughbegin in M fall. Businesses need to amounts of snow have Dilapid clear their sidewalks imA reader asked, in accumulated. To ad-down in mediately once snow has stopped falling. response, “why residents dress deep rutting ondents orga side streets and maketheir attem A reader asked, in reare expected to clear travel passable to mainresentativ sponse, “why residents are expected to clear sidesidewalks within 24 hours, roads, 4x4 truck plows make a single pass down walks within 24 hours, while the city is not held while the city is not held to the center of the street. Residents can call to the same expectation.” the same expectation.” 311 with reports of exAccording to denvercessive ice on roads, the city watches weather forecasts and deploys either a and in bike lanes, and can read the city’s full or partial deployment of its fleet of 70 daily snow plan and track snow plows and snowplows depending on conditions. Larger during a snow event on a live map at pari trucks, which come equipped with liquid and Desi ing units landmark It will Tuesday, F

By The Denver North Star Staff



St. Patrick’s Grade School All Class Reunion March 16


By The Denver North Star Staff

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class reunion will be held from 2-4 p.m. on Saturday, March 16, at the Potenza Lodge Hall (1900 W. 38th Ave.) for any and all graduates of the former St. Patrick’s Grade School on Pecos Street. The reunion is potluck — bring food and drink — and the bar will be closed. The school graduated its first class in 1916 and did so annually until it closed in the 1970s. Many graduates still live in or pass through North Denver. Help spread the word.

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BRDG Project Celebrates the ‘Original Rebels’ of the North Denver Art Scene By Celeste Benzschawel


ast month, BRDG Project, a gallery and event space in the Highland neighborhood, hosted an exhibit titled Roots of an Era: Mixtape to the Old North Denver Art Scene. The show was dedicated to the “original rebels” who pioneered the contemporary co-op and Chicano art scene, and the spaces they inhabited, starting in the early 1980s. Work both past and present was featured by artists Zoa Ace, Phil Bender, Kyle Carstens, Jill Hadley Hooper, Randy Hughes (in memoriam), Jerry Jaramillo, Arlette Lucero, Stevon Lucero (in memoriam), Mark Lunning, Scott Macfarlane, Louis Recchia, Chandler Romeo, Mark Sink, Tracy Weil, Reed Weimer and David Zimmer. Jill Carstens, co-curator of the exhibit, read a passage harkening back to the era from her recently published memoir, “Getting Over Vivian.” Opening night of the show on Jan. 12 was busy – sometimes overwhelmingly so – and there was a general sense of reconnection, celebration and, according to BRDG’s Instagram, “like a family had come home.” The times were represented in a wide scope of artwork depicting Colorado landscapes and industrial scenes. There were assemblage pieces, collages, avant-garde paintings and a “living wall of memories” featuring old concert posters, signage, flyers and clothing. Even without knowing the many layers of history, it was easy to pick up on the DIY, gritty, resourceful nature of the art scene. Brett Matarazzo, Denver native, artist and co-director of BRDG, said that’s what the show was all about: teaching people the history that shaped what the city’s art scene is today.

“Especially in a place like Denver that is so ripe with new people, people that maybe don’t have the history but want to help create the new one too, what’s important is to see any and show any of that past history so we don’t lose it and can understand where it came from,” Matarazzo said. To dive into the backstory, a good place to start is the January 2024 article in The Denver North Star by Rebecca A. Hunt, “When the Center of Denver’s Art Scene Was the Navajo Art District.” Her piece described the home of the coop galleries where the area’s original rebels established themselves. But who were these artists? Matarazzo summed them up as “a group of young people at a very specific time in life that was transitionary, in the kind of late ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s, where different eras were converging,” he said. At the time, specifically after World War II, people had taken to the suburbs, and these young people wanted to come back into the city and take over the empty spaces, Matarazzo said. They were a rebellious group that wanted to have fun, make art and push the boundaries, setting the stage for Denver’s art scene today. This artistic shift was preceded by the Chicano art movement. The show included artwork representing both the struggles of what this movement meant to the neighborhood and the city, as well as the depth of the Mexican and Latino culture within that, Matarazzo said. Roots of an Era was meant to talk about both art movements, Matarazzo said, and how they co-existed. Artists were eventually priced out of the neighborhood and had to move their gal-


BRDG Project, a gallery and event space in the Highland neighborhood. leries out to the suburbs – like Pirate: Contemporary Art, Next Gallery, Core Art Space – to 40 West (on West Colfax) in Lakewood, where they thrive today. Matarazzo, who joined Pirate: Contemporary Art himself, said so many from that original crew are still creating art and are part of those collectives now. “Denver, for a long time, maybe to their own chagrin, I think prioritized the growth and development end trying to house people as we knew we were going to grow,” Matarazzo said, “but that development seemed to be more important for about 20 years and most of the arts, I think, were less.” Now, artists, and BRDG, are trying to restore

balance. That’s why BRDG is located where it is, in hopes to bring art back to the forefront of the neighborhood where it originated. For Matarazzo, this is just the start of a series of shows dedicated to the original rebels, so stay tuned for future Roots of an Era exhibits. In the meantime, visit BRDG’s website and Instagram to view upcoming events. BRDG Project is a 501c3 nonprofit whose mission is to bring local, artist-driven and thought-provoking arts to the heart of Denver’s shifting neighborhoods by bridging artists, gallery, youth and underserved communities together in an accessible and engaging space for contemporary expression and learning.


Calm Before the Sound Wall By The Denver North Star Staff


years-long drama to replace 50-yearold timber fencing along I-70 with a concrete sound wall reaches a new chapter this month. According to CDOT’s Presley Fowler, “We anticipate minor construction to start in February with noticeable construction to begin in March, weather pending.” Dilapidated wooden fencing has fallen down in so many areas that nearby residents organized a Facebook group to track their attempts to hold city and CDOT representatives accountable.

The Denver North Star first reported on the sound wall project in May 2021. Funding had been secured, and CDOT completed a 5,500foot segment of the project between Tennyson Street and Lowell Boulevard in 2022. CDOT has contracted Hamon Infrastructure to complete the remaining 3 miles of guardrail and sound walls. CDOT will begin posting project updates online in the coming weeks. In the meantime, Tamara Rollison, CDOT communications manager for the Denver region, can be reached at

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andmark Preservation Denver is preparing to update the city’s Landmark Design Guidelines for accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in historic districts and landmark properties. It will host a meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 27, at the Blair Caldwell Af-

rican American Research Library (2401 Welton St.) to begin hearing from the community about what these new guidelines should include. Visit to RSVP (not required) and for more information in advance of the meeting.

West 38th Avenue Corridor Study Underway


By The Denver North Star Staff

enver’s Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DOTI) began its public outreach Feb. 15 for a project that intends to “improve mobility and safety, plan for Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), and identify opportunities to ‘green’ the corridor” along West 38th Avenue between Fox Street and Sheridan Boulevard. According to DOTI, the project is ex-

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pected to take about a year and will include community outreach activities such as workshops, surveys, pop-up events and focus group meetings with residents, neighborhood leaders and community organizations. Visit or contact project manager Phoebe Fooks at phoebe. to get involved.

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A referee adds points in Rhys Bernier’s (Denver North) winning bout against Mya Prasad (Abraham Lincoln).


he crowded gym set off decibel-level for the sport of wrestling and for Denver Pubwarnings as 161 student athletes from lic Schools’ girls’ wrestling in particular. Since the late 1980s, girls’ and women’s 11 schools took turns battling it out on three mats over seven hours. Bleachers full of wrestling have marked one historic first affriends and family cheered athletes on, some ter another, including in 2002 when the Inmoving forward to crouch next to the mats. ternational Olympic Committee announced Little attention was paid to heavy snow falling that women’s wrestling had been added to throughout the day, visible through the gym’s the Olympic program, beginning with the 2004 games. That was 100 years after men small windows. Denver North hosted the district league first took to the mat on the Olympic stage. championship for varsity girls and boys The National Wrestling Hall of Fame calls wrestling on Feb. 3, and while neither home girls’ and women's wrestling one of the fastteam walked away with a coveted league title, est-growing sports in the United States and around the world. Vikings wrestlers won When the Denver top spots in several North girls won the tiweight classes. tle of district champiVista Peak dominatons in 2022, it was the ed the competition on first year DPS offered both sides, bringing girls’ wrestling. Prithe most wrestlers (14 or to that, individual boys, 10 girls) and scorgirls wrestled for boys’ ing 185 and 106 points, teams. Like coach respectively, to win Kiel, who wrestled league titles. in the early 2000s for The Vikings boys Manual High School’s brought 12 wrestlers boys’ team. and took fifth with PHOTO BY KATHRYN WHITE A few miles up Fed141.5 points. eral Boulevard on Feb. The Vikings girls Yma Munoz (Denver North) in a 3, Regis University brought six athletes, winning bout against Laura Garcia hosted the Pan-Amerscoring a team total of (Abraham Lincoln). 30.5 points. The 2022 League Champions took ican Olympic Games Qualifier Wrestle-Off and the inaugural Rocky Mountain Athletic seventh this year. Team captain Rhys Bernier, a 10th-grader, Conference Women’s Championships, the won two of three bouts and scored 11.5 points first NCAA Division II conference championfor her team. Eleventh-grader Jazmine Cano, ships in women’s wrestling history. With regional and state competitions folwho attends Denver West and wrestles for North this season, took first in her weight class lowing on the heels of the Feb. 3 district comand brought the team 9 points. Ninth-grader petition, the girls of Denver North wrestling Yma Munoz won both of her bouts, took first looked forward to scoring even more points for the future of girls’ wrestling. in her weight class and brought in 6 points. Look for Denver North wrestling results Ninth-grader Catalina DeHerrea and 11th-graders Genevieve Garcia and Maria from February’s regional and state compeMedina completed the team effort on the titions at Check out all Denver North sports teams on the Denver North girls’ side. Coaches Nefertiti Kiel and Matt Bernier school athletics calendar at brought enthusiasm to the day: for their team, north-athletics-calendar/




UNDER THE EVENTS + MORE SECTION Page 6 February 15, 2024-March 14, 2024


Coaches Nefertiti Kiel and Matt Bernier look on as the Denver North girls’ wrestling team competes Feb. 3 in the DPS League Championship, hosted by Denver North High School.

The Denver North Star


Staying Power: Formulas for Survival in North Denver By Kathryn White, Editor


hen Eef at Dubbel Dutch pitched the story to me, I was busy putting together one of the fall issues of the newspaper. I tucked the idea away for another time. We hear a lot about businesses that are gone, Eef said. But what about the ones that have survived? She’d just marked her 20th year in business, selling sandwiches, salads and Dutch groceries out of her small shop on Lowell Boulevard near West 50th Street. The question nagged at me. What does it take? Every day I walk by businesses with papered-over windows or handwritten signs in windows sharing stories of unexpected expenses or mechanical issues. In the time since I first spoke with Eef, Enigma Bazaar, Denver Bread Company, Oasis Brewing Company, Pizza Alley, Pizzeria Locale and Roberta’s Chocolates have closed. Perhaps because this mighty little community newspaper is itself a struggling small enver Pub-business, Eef’s innocent and celebratory idea ular. operated in me like a haunting. If I pounded d women’sthe pavement asking longtime business ownic first af-ers about their winning formulas, would I en the In-find a hidden gem for The Denver North Star's nnouncedown survival? added to The day I went back to visit Eef, I waited with thein line behind a retired couple who had drivafter menen across town from Aurora to visit their fampic stage.vorite North Denver spots: coffee at Dubbel Fame callsDutch, Ragin’ Hog BBQ for lunch, then takeof the fast-home treats from a bakery farther north. States and “I’m very stubborn,” Eef said. She molded the business around her personal needs, orld. e Denversetting hours that made room for getting won the ti-her son to school and back. She has a good t champi-relationship with her landlord and a loyit was theal following for her niche product line of PS offeredDutch goods. ing. Pri- “You look the same!” a customer said, ndividualsmiling at Eef, closing the door behind her as d for boys’she stepped inside. The former Regis student e coachhad been a regular and couldn’t wait to come wrestledback for her favorite sandwich as she was 2000s forpassing through town. h School’s This year, Seafood Landing on West 32nd Avenue marks its 50th anniversary. Todd es up Fed-Bunting and Jake Weber worked for the busird on Feb.ness, and nearby businesses, before taking Universityover in 2018. Pan-Amer- “It's probably 50/50 between customer serWrestle-Offvice and the products,” said Weber about the n Athleticfresh seafood business’s formula for longevity. ships, the “For us,” Weber continued, “it’s making champion-sure that everything we put in the case is the best ever. Whether it's for our regular cusitions fol-tomers who are coming in once a week, once trict com-every two weeks for a nice fish meal, or for wrestlingthe people that come in for special occasions, ore pointsbirthdays, anniversaries. The holidays are always a good one for us.” ng results “Patience, persistence,” added Bunting. te compe-“Every day we see somebody who just moved m. Checkfrom one of the coasts. When they go to the ms on thegrocery store, they're unhappy with their for seafood. So they seek us out. It's our job to do our level best to provide that


Sign posted on the door at Pizza Alley, Feb. 5, 3499 W. 32nd Ave.

The Denver North Star

confidence, that what they just spent money on will provide satisfaction.” Carl’s Pizza on West 38th Avenue has been around over 70 years, serving up its classic menu of Italian sandwiches, dinner plates and pizza. “Well, we put out a great product,” said owner John Ludwig, who started at Carl’s as a delivery driver in 1976, at 16 years old. “We try to keep the prices reasonable, for the neighborhood,” said Ludwig. “A good work ethic. We open every day, seven days a week.” Tamales by La Casita at West 36th Avenue and Tejon Street celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. “Making sure you keep the quality of your product consistent,” owner Paula Sandoval said, but not before sharing about the financial pressures on a small business. She ran through a list that included increasing property taxes, the ripple-out impact of higher wages and the cost of implementing a new statewide ban on plastic foam packaging. “This isn't a fancy place, it feels homey to our customers. And familiar, especially to people who have lived in the neighborhood a long time,” Sandoval said. “Even if they move away, they come back.” “I want people to be able to afford to come in here, but still have a really good meal,” she added. Bienvenidos Food Bank opened not long after Tamales by La Casita in 1975. It’s one of the oldest food pantries in the country. “We have incredible support from the North Denver community,” said Executive Director Greg Pratt. “The majority of our funding comes from individual donations from people who live in the North | Denver area.”

Tamales by La Casita, 3561 Tejon St. Pratt also cited the importance of support from churches, neighborhood associations and businesses from Leprino Foods to neighborhood coffee shops. “Of course, our bottom line is serving our community,” Pratt said. “That's a changing demographic, especially as North Denver has been gentrified. Right now, all of a sudden, we’re serving hundreds, thousands, of migrant families. At the same time, we're still available to those who need help who are living in this neighborhood. There are people still living here who are on the margins.” The Historic Elitch Theatre, which opened for its first summer shows in 1891, served as the last stop on my quest for secrets to longevity in North Denver. I sat with volunteer board President Greg Rowley in some of the earliest seats built for the theatre’s audiences. It was cold and drafty, but he agreed to meet at the theatre during its off season. And he was expecting guests from Dazzle, who wanted to take a look at the stage and talk about a partnership for this summer.


Owners Todd Bunting and Jake Weber, Seafood Landing, 3457 W. 32nd Ave. “Our foundation got started 20 years ago to restore the building,” said Rowley, who lives three blocks away. “It really was entirely because of neighborhood interest, neighborhood people who wanted their neighborhood to thrive.” Rowley spoke about the Elitch Gardens amusement park’s move downtown in 1994 and concerns about what would appear in its place on the block of West 38th between Tennyson and Wolff streets. The late Dennis Gallagher, a City Council member at the time, helped neighbors


obtain a historic landmark designation for the theatre building. Developers who had shown interest in the property balked at the idea of keeping the theatre and nearby carousel shell standing. Eventually, a developer who had been an usher at the theatre in the 1970s, Chuck Perry, took an interest. “He’s a Denver guy,” Rowley said. “And he loves this theater and loves the history of it. In fact, this big lawn out front, the lawn that connects the theater to the carousel, that was Chuck’s doing. Any other developer would have said, ‘That’s 20 homes I could stick in there.’ But Chuck wanted community space. He wanted space that highlighted the theater and the history of it.” “It’s always been about neighborhood support,” Rowley added. “Even today, we estimate that for a summer movie, 50% of the people who come walk here.” With many renovations accomplished, and the COVID-19 pandemic subsided enough to allow for performances, Rowley looks forward to the theatre’s next season as a cultural hub in the neighborhood for tours, films and performances from May through October. In the end, my quest did yield a few answers. The people I spoke with talked about adapting to change, focusing on customers and a quality product, and leaning on and partnering with other small businesses. They all seemed to remember names and faces, and greet everyone who came through their doors, including the postal carrier, by name. Some had a Plan B. I didn’t ask how close to the edge they were. I was afraid of the answer.

Owner John Ludwig, Carl’s Pizza, 3812 W. 38th Ave.


February 15, 2024-March 14, 2024 | Page 7


Sloan’s Lake ’80s Prom Pumps Up the Volume to #SaveSloansLake By Basha Cohen


he Sloan’s Lake Park Foundation (SLPF) is putting a twist on the bighair decade with its inaugural 1980s Prom to support the lake. Whether you loved or hated your prom, or cringe when you look back in your photo album (yes, it wasn’t on your phone back then), you have a chance for a do-over! The time-traveling, fist-pumping, 18-plus costume prom is at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 23 at Sons of Italy, 5925 W. 32nd Ave. Light bites, desserts and booze will be flowing. Win prizes for best costume, choreographed dance and original prom picture. Grab a pre-prom dinner at SLPF partners Edgewater Pizza Inn or Rooted Craft Kitchen to get in the groove. Denver’s 5280s Band will hurl you into

the whirling, neon-lit dance floors of yesteryear. Think MTV meets Madonna, new wave, glam metal, hip-hop and rap; a wacky musical mashup of greats from Prince to The Police. Toss in a little lovin’ slow dance by Diana Ross and Lionel Ritchie, and you’ll be transported to the era when music was big and hair was even bigger. Getting ready is half the fun. Getting photographed with a real “Back to the Future” DeLorean means you’ll have this fashion memory on your phone, fer shur! Some pro tips from the Ab-Fab ’80s: Play it sweet and puff-sleeved like Princess Diana. Or make it hot and sexy like Madonna, whose layered lace, leather, fingerless gloves and unholy jewelry epitomized the Queen of


Join the totally tubular Sloan’s Lake Park Foundation for its first 1980s Costume Prom. Dress to excess in bold brights, band gear and big hair to pump up the volume for saving Sloan’s Lake.


Get ready to travel back in time with Denver’s 5280s Band. Their retro-charisma and high-octane performance of hits from the ’80s guarantees nonstop fun and nostalgic vibes.

Pop. Or pump, pump the jam in Jane Fonda or Richard Simmons nylon color blocks and spandex. Flaunt a “Flashdance” cutoff sweatshirt with legwarmers. Guys can pop a “Footloose” collar, don “Miami Vice” cool or drum up a band tee. It’s all about excess; neon, sequins, leather, zebra, giant shoulder pads, studs, chains, ripped knees, acid wash, wigs, mullets, side ponytails or hair as crimped, permed, hairsprayed and big as possible. Kurt Weaver, prom king for SLPF,

is stoked. “This is going to be the most gnarly event of the year to support the most radical lake in town,” Weaver said. “Submit your bodacious prom photo from back in the day for a chance to win a FAB Prize Pack. Send it to” Tickets range from $100 per couple (includes two drinks each) to a VIP table for 10 at $1,500. All profits go toward restoring Sloan’s Lake. Tickets at


Check It Out: Nnedi Okorafor’s Re-Released ‘Shadow Speaker’


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Page 8 February 15, 2024-March 14, 2024

NMLS ID #472212

he year is 2074. The place is Niger, West Africa. In a transformed Sahara desert, chaos and magic have reigned since the Great Change, when nuclear WENDY THOMAS attacks were followed by Peace Bombs, making unpredictability the only constant. “Shadow Speaker” by Nnedi Okorafor delves into this post-apocalyptic world by following 15-year-old Ejimafor Ugabe, aka Ejii, as she sets out to stop the further destruction of her world. Ejii is the first child of a cruel and unjust Kwàmfà chief and his first wife. At 9 years old, she witnessed her father’s execution, and the stain of his infamy has followed her since and is amplified by her burgeoning ability to hear shadows. When her father’s executioner, Sarauniya Jaa, asks Ejii to travel with her to prevent a war from happening, Ejii is torn between the whispers of the shadows who tell her she must go and the voice of her mother who tells her that if she goes, she can never come home. Hesitating a fraction too long, Ejii is left behind as Sarauniya Jaa and her two husbands travel to a great meeting where the fates of five worlds will be decided. Taking her mother’s camel, Onion, she pursues the party and finds herself on a journey filled with peril. During a violent sandstorm, she rescues former slave Dikéogu Obinimkpa and his owl Kola and

they join her quest. Danger awaits at every turn, not the least of which is the Desert Magician who delights in impeding their progress whenever possible. Straddling the line between science fiction and fantasy, this novel combines technology and magic with dystopic world-building and social commentary. With elements that appeal to teens and adults alike, this coming-of-age and owning-your-power story offers an alternative to graduates of the Harry Potter series. This is also a great read for fans of Octavia Butler and N.K. Jemisin. February is Black History Month, and what better way to celebrate than to dive into this re-release from best-selling Africanfuturism author Nnedi Okorafor. Originally published in 2007 and nominated for multiple awards, “Shadow Speaker” was previously a standalone novel, but now has a sequel, “Like Thunder,” and together they make up The Desert Magician’s Duology. Both are available now at a Denver Public Library near you. Haven’t claimed your prize for Winter of Reading yet? There’s still time! Visit a Denver Public Library branch near you with your completed brochure to get your library swag by Feb. 29. Wendy Thomas is a librarian at the Smiley Branch Library. When not reading or recommending books, you can find her hiking with her dogs.

The Denver North Star

/ / / T R A N S P O R TAT I O N / / /

20 mph Speed Limit Signs Show Up on Residential Streets


n December 2021, Denver City Council passed a law to lower Denver’s default speed limit to 20 mph. New speed limit signs have shown up in earALLEN COWGILL nest in Denver neighborhoods over the last few months. On Jan. 9, at the monthly Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DOTI) Advisory Board meeting, Mike King, principal city planner for the department, shared that over 3,000 new signs have been installed, with approximately 1,000 to go. Installation of the signs could be complete by the end of 2024. The signs, intended to make the new residential speed limit clear to residents and anyone entering the city, are being installed on major roads where drivers enter the city and county of Denver and along streets that serve as entrances to neighborhoods. The 20 mph speed limit applies to residential roads, the neighborhood streets without lane markings, and it is the default city speed limit. The new 20 mph speed limit does not apply to large collector and arterial roads, such as Federal Boulevard and West 38th Avenue, which will continue to have their own designated speed limits. arly event DOTI has 20 mph yard signs available adical lakethrough community groups and City Counour boda-cil offices. Residents can install them in their he day forfront yard to remind neighbors of the new Send it tospeed limit. The “20 is Plenty” movement – a push to g.” ouple (in-reduce speed limits to 20 mph – has picked P table forup steam in recent years, with the United Narestoringtions endorsing the limit recommendation in oanslake-areas where people and motor vehicles mix. Internationally, countries including Scotland and Wales adopted 20 mph as a default speed limit on certain residential streets in 2023. In the U.S., cities like Portland, Minneapolis, Seattle and Washington, D.C., have passed similar laws in the last few years. More locally, Boulder and Golden have also adopted 20 mph speed limits on s at everyresidential streets. sert Magi- “A pedestrian has a 13% likelihood of a r progresssevere injury or fatality if struck by a vehicle traveling 20 mph. That chance jumps to 40% nce fictionif the vehicle is going 30 mph,” said Jill Loechnologycantore, executive director of local nonprofit ilding andDenver Streets Partnership, during the 20 is hat appeal ing-of-age s an altertter series.By Allen Cowgill of Octavia SX recently celebrated its one-year anniversary providing commercial passenger Black His- flights out of Rocky Mountain Metropoland whatitan Airport. Formerly known as Jefferson celebrateCounty Airport, Rocky Mountain Metropoliinto thistan Airport is a 20-minute drive north of Denm best-sell-ver off US-36 in Broomfield. nfuturism While Rocky Mountain Metro is used by private aircraft, flight schools and blished infirefighting aircraft in the summer, JSX startinated fored flying public charter jet service from the ds, “Shad-airport in November 2022. The air carrier was previ-uses 30-seat Embraer regional jets flying out alone nov-of private terminals. s a sequel, Passengers need to arrive about 20 min,” and to-utes before departure and enjoy business class ake up Thelegroom, along with Starlink Wi-Fi service. an’s Duol-The company said it provides an “effortless,” availableTSA-approved security process. JSX also alver Public ou. claimed Winter of sit a Denwith your brary swag

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A new sign declaring the citywide default speed limit of 20 mph was recently installed on West Byron Place near Denver’s border with Edgewater.

Plenty campaign that led to Denver’s new baseline speed limit. An international advocacy organization based in the United Kingdom, 20 is Plenty for Us, asserts that the lower speed also widens drivers’ fields of vision and cuts the stopping distance for drivers in half, compared to when a driver is going 30 mph. Recent studies out of Boulder and Portland have shown mixed results on whether 20 mph signage reduces driver speeds. A study by Portland State University showed that the median speed of drivers on residential streets didn’t change by much. But in the months after new signs went up, there was a reduction in speeding by some of the worst offenders, those who were excessively speeding more than 10 mph over the limit. In Boulder, researchers found that street design often had a bigger impact on vehicle speeds than the speed limit. They found that drivers went more slowly on narrow residential streets, and traveled at higher speeds on wider streets. Allen Cowgill is the City Council District 1 appointee to the DOTI Advisory Board, where he serves as the board co-chair.

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lows small dogs and cats to travel on board, in pet carriers, for a fee. Two checked bags are included in their standard “Hop On” fare. Currently, JSX flies directly from Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport (BJC) to private terminals in Scottsdale, Arizona (SCF); Burbank, California (BUR); Las Vegas, Nevada (LAS); and Dallas Love Field (DAL). As of Jan. 31, round-trip prices posted on the JSX website to the above-mentioned destinations fell within a $450-$750 price range. Globally, JSX operates up to 120 flights daily on 48 regional aircraft to destinations across the United States, Mexico and the Bahamas. While currently using conventional jets, JSX recently announced its intention to acquire over 300 hybrid electric aircraft. They expect to take delivery of their first hybrid aircraft in 2028.

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February 15, 2024-March 14, 2024 | Page 9

/ / / H E A LT H A N D W E L L N E S S / / /


How Dry/Damp January Gets it Right


appy Heart Month! Does it seem ironic that many of the ways we celebrate Valentine's Day involve things ERIKA TAYLOR that are potentially damaging to our hearts? I’ve seen ads for wine yoga, cocktails and a movie, bike-and-brew. Alcohol occupies a throne at the head of nearly every social table. Intense and ubiquitous marketing, affordability, acceptability in most social settings and just the fact that it feels good have created an alcohol culture that is very hard to resist. I am not here to tell you not to drink alcohol. I am here to say, we need to think this one through.

REALITY CHECK - MISINFORMATION Several studies suggest that moderate alcohol consumption provides short term stress-reduction and, in red wine, antioxidants, which may have heart-protective benefits. But for many, the potential harm is far greater than the benefit. Recent scrutiny of these studies has raised doubts, including the lack of controls for other health-promoting habits of participants (people who drink red wine tend to be more affluent and have access to healthier food and cleaner air). And many of these studies were conducted by the alcohol industry itself. REALITY CHECK - MODERATION The CDC defines moderation as “two drinks or less in a day for men and one drink or less in a day for women.” One drink equals

12 ounces of 5% beer or 5 ounces of 12% wine. I don't know about you, but my wine glass at home holds way more than 5 ounces. A stout beer might have 10% alcohol and come in a pint glass (16 ounces), more than twice a woman’s daily limit. And timing matters. Consuming seven drinks on the weekend is excessive under this guidance. Our health is affected by both the cumulative effects and the amount of alcohol in our system at any one time. Canada is considering further lowering suggested limits for moderation following research finding that even low levels of drinking may be quite risky.

REALITY CHECK - ACCEPTABLE RISK People are killed in automobile accidents, yet we drive. We deem a risk acceptable when the benefits of taking that risk are so great as to outweigh the real or perceived danger. We make a risk/reward calculation. Excessive alcohol consumption can damage our health, wreck our relationships and drain our wallets. We already knew that. But did you know that a 2019 study by the National Institutes of Health found that a standard drink is equivalent to one cigarette for men and two cigarettes for women in terms of cancer risk? I sure didn’t. I don’t smoke, but even if I did, I would never smoke in front of my kids or a client. Not the example I want to set. But I have hosted happy hours in my gym, and my kids see me drink alcohol regularly. Having seen this research, I am rethinking my risk/ reward calculation. Now for the VERY good news. Reducing the amount we drink can bring dramatic health benefits.


‘Kesher: The West Side Jewish Connection’ Screens to Sold-out Crowd By The Denver North Star Staff


new documentary by the Denver with preserving and sharing the history and Office of Storytelling, “Kesher: The culture of Denver. The department uses film West Side Jewish Connection,” filled to “uplift community voices for conversation the 390-seat Holiday Theater on Jan. 31. and engagement, particularly around issues of The 52-minute film surveying the 150- social justice.” year history of Denver's West Side Jewish Its documentaries include “Reclaiming community was met with audience respons- Denver’s Chinatown,” “¡Qué Viva la Raza! es ranging from “FasciHonoring a Denver Leganating, I had no idea” to cy,” “Five Points: A DenThe department uses “There it is! I got married ver Legacy,” “A Thousand in that building.” film to “uplift community Paper Cranes,” “From A post-screening quesProhibited to Proud: The voices for conversation History of Drag in Dention-and-answer period quickly became a tender ver” and more. and engagement, storytelling of its own with City Council President particularly around one resident after anothPro-Tem Amanda Sandoer standing at the micro- issues of social justice.” val introduced “Kesher,” phone to share a memory which means connection, or an insight. Parallels and shared that the project were drawn between the pressures of assimi- was made possible by funds redirected after a lation, migration and gentrification depicted 2023 effort to create a West Colfax Jewish Hisin the film and similar pressures felt by North toric Cultural District did not move forward. Denver’s Latino community. Visit to view the doc“Kesher” is the ninth project in the Story- umentary and to learn about hosting telling office’s five years as a city entity tasked a screening.

Page 10 February 15, 2024-March 14, 2024

GOOD NEWS - BETTER SLEEP Alcohol is a sedative so we may think it helps us sleep. But when the body is processing alcohol our heart rate increases making our sleep restless even if we don’t feel it. Alcohol aborts the deepest cycles of our sleep. For most of us, once our body adjusts to our new alcohol-free bedtime routine our deep sleep will improve. To be clear, for regular and heavy drinkers it may take a while and could be quite uncomfortable to make this transition. This is a great place to ask for professional help. If you are afraid you can’t sleep without alcohol you are not alone. There are health pros standing ready to help you work that one out, and on the other side of the work is waking up more refreshed and with more sustained energy all day. GOOD NEWS - BETTER WORKOUTS When we reduce our alcohol intake, improved sleep alone improves the results of exercise. Fitness gains happen largely when the body repairs itself during sleep. Almost all human growth hormone is produced during deep sleep. Skipping alcohol at night lets our body repair itself so we see the results of our workouts. Reducing our intake of alcohol improves hand-eye coordination, judgment and reaction time. These add to our workout performance. We are more hydrated, our bodies produce more glycogen (the stuff our muscles need for energy), and testosterone (which we need for muscle) starts rising within weeks of limiting alcohol. More testosterone also means more sex drive. And sex, well that’s a great workout all by itself.

GOOD NEWS - HEART HEALTH Once alcohol is fully metabolized by the liver and leaves the bloodstream, blood pressure and heart rate go back to normal immediately in most people. Even chronic high blood pressure will likely improve rapidly when alcohol intake is reduced. According to the British Heart Foundation, “In cardiomyopathy, stopping drinking can lead to improvement or even recovery for many.” Reducing alcohol intake can also contribute to lowering triglycerides (fat in our blood), which in turn can reduce our risk for heart disease, stroke and other harmful cardiovascular conditions. The most important love you can practice this month is for yourself. Dry/Damp January may be enough for some folks, but some of us may need help. Reach out to a trusted medical or spiritual guide, a family member or friend. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism also has several online resources to get you started. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to any aspect of our health. You are worth figuring this one out. Erika Taylor is a community wellness instigator at Taylored Fitness, the original online wellness mentoring system. Taylored Fitness believes that everyone can discover small changes in order to make themselves and their communities more vibrant, and that it is only possible to do our best work in the world if we make a daily commitment to our health. Visit facebook. com/erika.taylor.303 or email

Tips to Lighten the Blue Days of Winter


ello, readers! My name is Erin, and I'm a local mental health therapist. As a new columnist for The Denver North ERIN OLYER ROHLF, Star, I hope to bring you empowering wisdom LCSW and tips to look after your mental health and well-being. Let’s get this party started by talking about seasonal affective disorder, also known as the winter blues. We are blessed in Denver to have the occasional unseasonably sunny winter day, even in the depths of the season. As I write this, Denver is expected to reach a high of 61 degrees. Still, winter’s diminishing sunlight sinks our feel-good brain chemical serotonin levels, and our mood follows. That, combined with shorter daylight hours, the dearth of greenness giving way to brown and other factors leave us “blah” from November through the turning of the calendar into spring and summer. Here are three ways to beat the blues: 1: Try something new and novel. Research shows that new, unique experiences can give you a rush of the reward chemical dopamine. Forcing ourselves out of our rut can build new connections between brain neurons, something us therapy geeks call “brain plasticity.” Winter is the ideal time to try something new just for the sake of trying something new, especially during snow days when we're cooped up. Trying something new doesn't have to mean risking your neck with extreme sports or spending your paycheck on equipment for a new hobby. It’s as easy as taking a more scenic route home after work or opening your mind and spice rack to unique flavor combinations in the kitchen. Your newly created cardamom/garam masala/mystery spice cookie could be the next Instagram food star as well as a tasty metaphor for spicing up your life! Whatever new, novel idea you experiment with, remember that embracing the

newness, rather than the outcome, reaps the best mental health benefits. 2: Seek out sunlight, be it a southern-facing seat at the coffee shop or outside. North Denverites have several lakes and walking paths to choose from for a brisk walk. In fact, studies show brisk exercise to be a potent antidote to some forms of depression, with no side effects. Here’s more good news: You don't need to embark on a fitness kick to feel the uplifting effects of being outdoors. Inking in a mandala in your adult coloring book, gossiping on the phone or scrolling mindlessly through Facebook can be healthy if done outdoors while in sunshine. Don't want to fight the throngs of fitness seekers jogging around Sloan’s Lake on a beautiful Saturday? Stroll slowly through one of our historic neighborhoods and admire the beautiful architecture from back in the day. I highly suggest a walk near West 36th Avenue and Quivas Street to take in the incredible art deco brickwork of Bryant-Webster Elementary School (my third-grade alma mater). North Denver is replete with beautiful houses and quaint coffee shops to discover. 3: Do something nice for someone else. Research shows that volunteering and random acts of kindness soothe our souls by fostering an outlook of generosity. Buying coffee for someone experiencing homelessness, handing off an unused coat to somebody shivering at a bus stop or walking a neighbor’s dog serve as micro kindnesses. Please note: If the blues get the best of you, reach out to a trusted friend or family member, or a professional therapist. Prefer to keep your feelings confidential? I get it. You can always call the free Colorado Crisis Services at 844-493-8255, or text “TALK” to 38255 for 24/7 emotional support. Erin Olyer Rohlf is a licensed clinical social worker, professional therapist and founder of Higher Healing and Wellness, LLC. Call her at 720-644-1400 or email her at eorolf@gmail. com for information or to suggest ideas for future columns.

The Denver North Star

/// HISTORY ///

The Early History of the Berkeley Neighborhood


he Northside is made up of many neig hb orho o d s . In the past year or so you have heard about Highland, Jefferson Park and REBECCA A. HUNT Sunnyside. This month we are moving on to the Berkeley neighborhood. I plan to do a series of pieces on Berkeley and then Regis in the coming few months. Berkeley lies between Federal Boulevard, West 38th, West 52nd and Sheridan Boulevard. According to the Historic Berkeley Regis Facebook page, when U.S. surveyor John Pierce reported on this area, he felt that the river bottoms around Clear Creek and down to the South Platte offered good farmland, but that the uplands were only likely to be useful for grazing. He did note that a good road ran through the area, from Denver up toward the Overland Trail in Wyoming. The early days of the Berkeley neighborhood actually date back to the end of the mountain man era when Jim Baker, the retired Colorado and Wyoming fur trapper and trader, ran his ferry, toll bridge, stage stop and general store on Clear Creek near modern 52nd Avenue. Baker was one of the earliest Anglo-Americans living there. Once the government released the survey, which included a mention of Baker, a variety of developers began to buy up acreage. One of those land speculators was John Brisben Walker who established Berkeley Farm, his alfalfa operation. He came to Colorado in 1885 hoping to test the idea that our state was a good place to grow alfalfa. Another of his early projects included assisting the development of the Highland Park subdivision in Highland. Walker also wanted to create a resort, which he named after Berkeley Springs, West Virginia. Walker spent much of his career develop-


Continued from Page 1 ANTONIO SOTO

Soto, who immigrated to Colorado from Colombia in 2003 and moved to HD4 in 2016, is campaigning primarily on economic mobility. “If you have money, you can buy education, Antonio Soto you can buy housing, health and, most importantly, have a decent retirement plan,” he said. While Soto’s roots are in community organizing, his work promoting small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic prompted a change of heart. “By giving food, I was perpetuating dependency,” he ref lected. “When you give someone the ability to use their hands and their skills to turn it into profit? Those people are now in a $1.3 million house. Their kids are in the best schools.” In other areas, Soto said he preferred to adjust existing policy rather than draft new legislation. TIM HERNÁNDEZ

Education is the No. 1 priority for s el f-pro c l a i me d “kid of the neighborhood” Tim Hernández. If he is elected to a full term, he said he plans to focus on increasing representation among teachers and curTim Hernández ricula, improving teacher wages and working conditions, and

The Denver North Star

ing properties that would attract the elites of Colorado and beyond. These included building a mansion on Mount Falcon near Morrison that he hoped would become the summer White House. He also worked to create an entertainment venue at Red Rocks and an entertainment complex north of downWELLGE, H, AND AMERICAN PUBLISHING CO. PERSPECTIVE MAP OF THE CITY OF DENVER, COLO. [MILWAUKEE, AMERICAN town Denver, along the Birds-eye map cropped to focus on Berkeley Park. PUBLISHING CO, 1889] MAP. HTTPS://WWW.LOC.GOV/ITEM/75693132/ South Platte River. Berkeley leaders decided in 1892 to create Two other men bought up property and became some of the founding fathers of Berke- their own municipal government. The town Recently I have received some corley. They were Carleton Ellis and John Mc- of North Denver became a reality in June of rections to my columns. After I wrote Donough, who bought out Walker when he that year. The new town had artesian wells and my January piece on the Navajo moved to New York City to take over Cosmo- laws regulating saloons. Like their Highland Street arts district, I received a few corrections and clarifications from politan magazine. They began to sell plots of neighbor, they saw themselves as above DenChandler Romeo. Thank you, Chanland, many of which were laid out by Ellis who, ver, both literally and figuratively, and legislatdler. Here is what I learned. with Hiram Wolff, platted parts of Highland ed accordingly. They wanted to attract a good The Pirate Art Gallery moved to the and early sections of Berkeley. The main resi- class of residents. southwest corner of West 37th and dential street became West 46th, and TennyBut by 1898, it was clear that the town had Navajo in January 1982. They rented son grew to be the main commercial district. an identity crisis. People did not know if it from the Levin family, who had run Many of the first homes built in the town were was its own place or a section of Denver. That their dry goods store there for many solidly built brick classic cottages. These were prompted town fathers to rename their comyears. Reed Weimer moved into the punctuated by elegant mansions designed by munity Berkeley. In 1902, a state law created second-floor apartment in that corner the city and county of Denver. Very quickly some of Denver’s most prominent architects. building later that year. One of the early amenities was a park on a that city began to annex small towns around The Next gallery did not open there lake created out of a shallow pond with pockets its borders. Globeville, Highland and Berkeley until around 2005 or 2006. Core of warm springs. Named Berkeley Lake Park, it soon became part of the new city and county. Gallery was never at West 37th and was a popular site for family and community A new era had begun. Navajo. And finally, regarding the events. The park eventually included a swimBug Theatre, “The Telephone” was an ming beach and a bathhouse. The park was on Dr. Rebecca A. Hunt has been a resident of operetta by Gian Carlo Menotti, not a the western end of the community, near Sher- North Denver since 1993. She worked in museplay. Rest assured, if I make an error, I idan Boulevard, bordering West 46th. At the ums and then taught museum studies and Coldepend on my readers to help me get neighborhood’s eastern end was Rocky Moun- orado, Denver, women’s and immigration hisit right. Thank you for reading and for tain Lake, carved out of a buffalo wallow. It tory at the University of Colorado Denver until keeping me honest. bordered Federal Boulevard. she retired in 2020. ensuring that the budget stabilization factor, which the Colorado senate repealed last year, isn’t reintroduced. “We have more ESL students, we have more students qualified for special ed services, we have teacher attrition crises that are running us out of the profession because we can't pay to keep them in the classroom,” Hernández said. “We cannot go back to any form of defunding of education.” Hernández said he also wanted to see more pathways like paraprofessional-to-teacher programs and paid student teaching for people of color and queer people to become teachers. ON HOUSING While each candidate agreed that housing affordability was a marquee issue for HD4 residents, they diverged on approach. Hernández focused on renters, saying the $30 million in rental assistance approved by lawmakers in 2023 “wasn’t enough.” “I’m a state legislator, and I pay over 60% of my income from the state legislature on rent to live in the neighborhood that I grew up in,” he emphasized. Hernández also pointed to for-cause eviction, which would require landlords to give a legal reason for evicting tenants, and warranty of habitability, which would require all leased units to have “habitable living conditions,” as starting points for renter protections. Soto saw access to home ownership and increasing housing and rental supply as key to lowering prices. “It breaks my heart to see people being displaced,” he said. “If you want to create generational wealth, you need to have access to something you can put your money into to one day benefit from that equity.” Espenoza, who spent several years on the Board of Zoning Appeals in Arlington, Virginia, noted that any policy would depend on municipal governments and housing legislation addressed during this year’s legislative session. “It's a determination of providing enough freedom for the different municipalities to

be able to build housing, but also providing guardrails for security of the interests of owners and tenants and unhoused people,” she said. ON THE MIGRANT CRISIS Candidates were quick to point out that meeting the housing needs of HD4 residents went hand-in-hand with addressing the humanitarian needs of the hundreds of migrants who’ve arrived in HD4 from Venezuela over the past several months. Lack of work authorization has been a major hurdle for long-term support efforts. Espenoza said she hoped to see the state allocate greater funding to municipalities hit hardest by the crisis. But work permits? “It’s a federal-level issue,” she said. “Unless we can get the federal government to act and provide employment authorization, I’m not sure we do any service to people by giving them false hope.” Instead, Espenoza suggested pressuring Colorado’s U.S. legislators to take action in Washington. To Hernández, waiting for the Biden Administration to act was not enough. He proposed taking on work authorization at the state level, something which could open Colorado up to federal legal challenges. “If it goes to court, it goes to court,” he said. “If we don’t address this appropriately or expeditiously, migrants will die on our streets, and we let them.” Hernández also noted the importance of collaborating with established community efforts like those of the Highland Moms, which has organized housing, material donations and logistics support for hundreds of migrants, while addressing “root causes” through policy. Soto pointed to a legal loophole of sorts. Anyone can register an LLC in Colorado, he said, even if they don’t have work authorization. Beyond work permits, “we need to see opportunities,” he said. “We also have highly educated people here. How can we incorporate them in the right plac-

es for them to contribute to the state?” ON PALESTINE The months-long Israeli assault on Gaza following the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks on southern Israel has had far-reaching effects on Denver’s Palestinian and Jewish communities, with Coloradans holding protests, conferences and resolutions in support of both Palestine and Israel across the state. Hernández, who was one of the first American politicians to call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, plans to continue advocating for Palestinian human rights during his campaign. “I’m not willing to let my community feel comfortable supporting a genocide,” he said. “That's not just a political issue, that's a humanitarian issue, and I believe that my community is a humanitarian community.” “Nobody deserves what's happening to people in Palestine, and nobody deserves what's happening to people in Israel,” Hernández added. Espenoza sees things differently. “I don’t believe that’s a state-level issue,” she said. “The responsibility of dealing with international affairs rests with the State Department.” Espenoza also recognized the “need to represent all individuals within HD4,” including Palestinian and Jewish residents. Soto said he hadn’t given the topic much thought. “We need to focus on the issues of the voters, and the main one I’ve heard is cost of living,” he said. The Precinct Caucus will take place on March 7, followed by the county party assembly on March 16. The primary ballot will be finalized by April 26. Ballots will be mailed by Denver Elections as early as June 3 and are due back by June 25. Only one Republican candidate filed for the seat, but according to correspondence between them and the Secretary of State, it does not appear that they are eligible to run in HD4. If a Republican candidate emerges, The Denver North Star plans to interview them and the Democratic nominee this fall.

February 15, 2024-March 14, 2024 | Page 11

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