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Inside This Issue

Voices In The Neighborhood...8, 9 Healthy Living In The Community...10, 11, 12 Montbello In The News...13, 14, 15 Happenings Around Montbello...16, 17 Non Profit Making A Difference...18. 19 Youth On The Move‌ 20, 21

A Plethora of Plans How Will


Be Affected?


A Plethora of Plans – How Will Montbello be Affected?

Plethora — a large or excessive amount of (something) such as “a plethora of committees and subcommittees.”

The definition of “plethora” amply defines the situation in Montbello

orities for improving and connecting Denver’s pedestrian and off-street trail network Denver Moves – Transit: Creating a local transit vision by convening community conversations to understand the existing transit system and how we can make it even better for all Denver residents, workers and visitors. Neighborhood Planning Initiative – The Far Northeast Planning is expected to take 18 months and encompasses the Montbello, Gateway/Green Valley Ranch, and Denver International Airport statistical neighborhoods. The Far Northeast planning area was selected for planning during Phase I because the neighborhoods have relatively high planning need indicator scores. These areas also have outdated plans and lack access to goods and services. Small area plans do a lot for communities: They engage neighborhood stakeholders in identifying a future vision for the area and then provide strategies and recommendations for achieving that vision. They provide detailed recommendations for land use and future investments to help ensure neighborhoods grow as envisioned by the plan. They provide a level of analysis, detail, and guidance on issues affecting local areas that citywide plans cannot. The NPI process is integrated with the Denveright planning process with the NPI building on the foundation set by the 4 overarching plans described above. The next NPI community meeting will be held in July, 2018. Come add your voice to the conversation. I-70 Central Project – The Central I-70 Project will reconstruct a 10-mile stretch of I-70 between Brighton Boulevard and Chambers Road, add one new Express Lane in each direction, remove the aging 54-year old viaduct, lower the interstate between Brighton and Colorado boulevards, and place a 4-acre park over a portion of the lowered interstate. CDOT has contracted with Northeast Transportation Connections (NETC) to provide transportation demand management (TDM) services to the traveling public on I-70 and the surrounding communities before and during construction of the Central 70 Project. This will include: • Walking, biking and transit solutions including education and training for residents on best and safest routes and programs; • Commuter program coordination with businesses adjacent to the corridor including transit, rideshare and new inventive programs; and • Education and training will be offered in numerous languages. For questions or more information about how and when Montbello will be impacted, email or call 303-468-3231. Let’s exercise our opportunity to influence these changes by participating in the community processes associated with each one.

over the last several months. For a community long overlooked and ignored by city leaders, foundations, and just about everybody else, 2017-2018 has mitigated that situation in a large way. It seems that just about every government entity is determined to plan Montbello’s future. Committees and subcommittees are planning every detail from new zoning codes to where to construct housing to how to meet food needs of the community to what schools will be serving our children and so on. The overlapping and intertwining endeavors can, at times, seem superfluous and duplicative – one might even feel like a roadmap is needed. Throughout this issue of the MUSE, many of those planning efforts will be discussed, but I wanted to briefly highlight key processes on the first page so that readers might see the ways in which these relate to one another. In all cases, residents are invited to participate and, in fact, encouraged to join one or more planning processes. The more Montbello voices are being heard during these endeavors, the better chance we have of the “plans” reflecting what we want for our community rather than being what is laid on us by outsiders. The big plans include the following. Denveright – The two-year Denveright planning process kicked off in 2016 with an assessment of the current state of the city. This data has helped the community, task forces, and city planners understand both the big picture and the little details so that they can make the best recommendations for the city’s future. At the same time, the community was asked, “what do you want most for Denver’s future?” Those responses have resulted in the Denveright vision and values. Montbello was represented in those discussions through public meetings held in the community. Finally, a Denveright Community Think Tank forum meets quarterly for community leaders to share thoughts and ideas on important topics that relate to all four of the Denveright Plans. Pinkey Sullivan represents Montbello on the Think Tank. The Denveright community-driven planning process addresses four key areas producing a plan for each: Land Use – Blueprint Denver: Focusing on creating a blueprint for an inclusive city made up of “complete” neighborhoods with infrastructure and amenities, diversity of housing choices, further attention to urban design, and more. Recreational Resources – Game Plan: Defining new parks and recreation offerings, relevant programs, and how existing assets are maintained and enhanced in the face of financial constraints, climate change, shifting demographics and increasing use. Pedestrians and Trails – Denver Moves: Making walking a viable and primary way for people to get around town comfortably and safely. With guidance from the community, the plan identifies citywide needs and defines pri

PUBLISHER - Montbello Organizing Committee/Denver Urban Spectrum EDITOR AND LEAD WRITER - Donna Garnett

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS - Councilwoman Stacie Gilmore, Khadija Haynes, LaToya Petty, Sen. Angela Williams, Jennifer Bacon, Rep. James Coleman, Alexandra Foster, Erik Penn, Melanie Asmar, LaTrisha Guss, Adriana Aleman, Alyssandra Greene, Rachel Guitierrez, Ashley Paz-Perlena, Melanie Cruz ART DIRECTOR - Bee Harris ADVERTISING SALES - Melovy Melvin

Donna M. Garnett Editor Montbello Urban Spectrum Edition

The Montbello Urban Spectrum Edition (MUSE) is a bi-monthly publication produced and published by the Denver Urban Spectrum (DUS) and the Montbello Organizing Committee (MOC). Contents of MUSE are copyright 2016 by Denver Urban Spectrum and the Montbello Organizing Committee. No portion may be reproduced without written permission of the publishers. MUSE is circulated throughout Denver’s Far Northeast community. MUSE welcomes all letters, but reserves the right to edit for space, libelous material, grammar, and length. All letters must include name, address, and phone number. We will withhold author’s name on request. Unsolicited articles are accepted without guarantee of publication or payment and may be submitted to the editor at For advertising information, email or call 303292-6446.

MUSE - Montbello Urban Spectrum Edition - May/June 2018


Future of Education in Montbello

Guest Editorial by Jennifer Bacon

Editor’s Note: Jennifer Bacon is the board member representing District 4, which includes Montbello, of Denver Public Schools.

Last year DPS launched the Far Northeast

For far too long the Far Northeast community has not been updated and educated on how the district is operating nor have we been included in potential policy shifts. The FNE deserves to have clear and transparent access to information and decision makers, and we deserve to have input in any policy shift. We know that we need to broadly and deeply engage our stakeholders (who are neighbors, school leaders, teachers, students, and families); and we must be intentional about shifting engagement strategies. Such strategies can include utilizing canvassing techniques, engaging social media, and increasing our connection to the Spanish-speaking community. We know that all our stakeholders are to be valued and are assets to Denver Public Schools. We also know that even though it may seem that we may be on different sides of an issue, we deserve the opportunity to come together to get to the bottom of our policies and tensions, because we may find there is a common problem or a common opportunity to better our schools. We know that information is power, and we should no longer be kept from it. Lack of information keeps us divided and closed to big ideas. It prevents the opportunity to unite and strengthen the FNE political capital in Denver; and it prevents the opportunity to create a strong and resourced vision for our schools. Therefore, our next steps in the FNE Commission are to create collaborative spaces amongst school communities; to create a broader and proper engagement strategy to receive ideas on needs from our community; and to actively educate and inform our stakeholders on our assets and strengths through our schools as well as to identify what we will collectively be advocating for and HOW to advocate for them. Our first conversation is now happening on April 24. Our school leaders will lead conversations to share which resources their schools provide and which of them are have discovered solutions to some of the concerns raised. Once we are informed we will lead conversations on what we will build power around and how.Y

Commission. Led by our Public Affairs team, it has made efforts to convene stakeholders to identify the priorities of the FNE community. The goal was to share these priorities with the DPS leadership and Board so that the District can respond and adjust policies and resources to be more responsive to their needs. We held community and school-based meetings, and we also knocked on doors to hear and prioritize concerns. While over the course of the Commission we adjusted a few times with committees and attendees, and we learned that we had room to grow on our engagement strategies, we nevertheless have been able to identify four issue areas that are on top of minds in the FNE: academics, athletics, wellness, and shared locations/campuses. After reviewing the issue areas and asking people to prioritize within them we found two things. First, we need to be more inclusive and expansive of our outreach to the broader FNE community. Second, we should respond to and answer the questions and concerns raised. The Commission concluded its initial phase in February, and initially set out to host a community meeting to share its findings on March 17th. But after this review and receiving important feedback we have now moved the meeting to a later date where we will enter the second phase of the Commission work. Here’s what we know and what we hope to address during the next phase of FNE commission: We have made no decision or resolution to reinstate Montbello High School. Any such proposal will be made through a community process after deeply engaging in conversation with principals, families, teachers, parents, students, and analytical and strategic leaders. The conversation however has become necessary. It has arisen from community questions and in response to a convergence of policies from school performance framework, enrollment, co-location and facilities, and budget. More importantly we acknowledge that school leaders and teachers are working hard to provide the best education they can to the students in our schools, but in many cases, they are fighting an uphill battle given district policies, resources, and support.

Editor’s note: For more information or to get involved, email Jennifer Bacon at

MUSE - Montbello Urban Spectrum Edition - May/June 2018


El Futuro de la Educación en Montbello

Editorial Invitado por Jennifer Bacon

Traducido por Marta Welch Nota del Editor: La Sra. Bacon es el miembro del Consejo de Administración represen tando el Distrito 4, el cual incluye Montbello, de Denver Public Schools

El año pasado, DPS (Escuelas Públicas de Denver) lanzó

la Comisión del Nordeste Lejana (FNE). Dirigido por nuestro equipo de Asuntos Públicos, ha hecho esfuerzos de convocar a accionistas para identificar las prioridades de la comunidad de FNE. El objetivo era compartir estas prioridades con el liderazgo de DPS y el Consejo de modo que el Distrito pueda responder y ajustar los procedimientos y recursos de ser más sensible a sus necesidades. Tuvimos reuniones comunitarias y basadas en la escuela, y también tocamos puertas para escuchar y priorizar las preocupaciones. Mientras sobre el curso de la Comisión nos adaptamos unas cuantas veces con comités y asistentes, y aprendimos que teníamos el espacio para crecer en nuestras estrategias de compromiso, hemos sido capaces sin embargo de identificar cuatro áreas de la cuestión que están encima de las mentes en el FNE: académicos, atletismo, bienestar y ubicaciones/recintos compartidos. Después de revisar las áreas temáticas y pedirle a la gente que priorizaran dentro de ellos, encontramos dos cosas. Primero, necesitamos ser más inclusivos y expansivos de nuestro alcance a la comunidad más amplia de FNC. En segundo lugar, deberíamos responder y contestar las preguntas y las preocupaciones planteadas. La Comisión concluyó su fase inicial en febrero e inicialmente se propuso organizar una reunión comunitaria para compartir sus hallazgos el 17 de marzo. Pero después de esta revisión y de recibir comentarios importantes, hemos trasladado la reunión a una fecha posterior en la que entraremos en la segunda fase del trabajo de la Comisión. Esto es lo que sabemos y lo que esperamos abordar durante la próxima fase de la comisión de FNE: No hemos tomado ninguna decisión o resolución para reinstalar la escuela secundaria de Montbello. Cualquier propuesta de este tipo se realizará a través de un proceso comunitario después de entablarse en una conversación profunda con directores, familias, maestros, padres, estudiantes y líderes analíticos y estratégicos. La conversación, sin embargo, se ha vuelto necesaria. Ha surgido a partir de preguntas de la comunidad y en respuesta a una convergencia de procedimientos del marco de rendimiento escolar, la inscripción, co-ubicación e instalaciones, y el presupuesto. Más importantemente, reconocemos que los líderes escolares y los maestros trabajan arduamente para proveer la mejor educación posible a los estudiantes en nuestras escuelas, pero en muchos casos, están luchando una batalla ascendente, dado los procedimientos, recursos y apoyo del distrito.

Durante demasiado tiempo, la comunidad del Nordeste Lejana no ha sido actualizada y educada sobre la forma en que el distrito está operando, ni hemos sido incluidos en posibles cambios de procedimientos. El FNC merece tener un acceso claro y transparente a la información y a los encargados de tomar decisiones, y merecemos tener aportes en cualquier cambio de procedimientos. Sabemos que debemos involucrar de manera amplia y profunda a nuestros accionistas (que son vecinos, líderes escolares, maestros, estudiantes y familias); y debemos ser intencionales sobre cambiar las estrategias de participación. Dichas estrategias pueden incluir el uso de técnicas de escrutinio, la participación de las redes sociales y el aumento de nuestra conexión con la comunidad de habla hispana. Sabemos que todos nuestros accionistas deben ser valorados y son activos a las Escuelas Públicas de Denver. También sabemos que aunque pueda parecer que podemos estar en lados diferentes de una cuestión, merecemos la oportunidad de unirnos para llegar al final de nuestros procedimientos y relaciones tensas, porque podriamos encontrar que hay un problema común o una oportunidad común para mejorar a nuestras escuelas. Sabemos que la información es el poder, y ya no deberíamos mantenernos alejado de ello. La carencia de la información nos mantiene dividido y cerrado de las ideas grandes. Previene la oportunidad de unir y reforzar la capital política de FNE en Denver; y previene la oportunidad de crear una visión fuerte y con recursos para nuestras escuelas. Por lo tanto, nuestros próximos pasos en la Comisión de FNE son crear espacios de colaboración entre las comunidades escolares; crear una estrategia de participación más amplia y adecuada para recibir ideas sobre las necesidades de nuestra comunidad; y para educar activamente e informar a nuestros accionistas sobre nuestros activos y puntos fuertes a través de nuestras escuelas, así como para identificar lo que colectivamente defendemos y CÓMO promoverlos. Nuestra primera conversación ahora está sucediendo el 24 de abril. Nuestros líderes escolares guiarán conversaciones para compartir los recursos que sus escuelas proporcionan y cuáles de ellos han descubierto soluciones a algunas de las preocupaciones planteadas. Una vez que nos informamos, guiaremos conversaciones sobre lo que vamos a construir y cómo.Y

Si desea participar o tiene más preguntas, por favor siéntase libre de comunicarse conmigo. Puede alcanzarme en

MUSE - Montbello Urban Spectrum Edition - May/June 2018



Housing – One Piece of the Puzzle Access to affordable housing is vital for an

By Councilwoman Stacie Gilmore

inclusive and thriving community. It presents a critical social component of health, opportunity, and community engagement, while also serving as an essential economic function by supporting workforce development with livable wage jobs, transportation, and food access. As the need for housing continues to grow not only for renters but also first-time homeowners, it is critical that we push to have more affordable housing options. Aligned with more housing units we need to ensure that financial empowerment is a key component of the housing ecosystem. In District 11, we recently celebrated the groundbreaking for East Range Crossings by Dominium Apartments - a much-needed affordable family development located in Green Valley Ranch at the intersection of N. Dunkirk Street and E. 59th Avenue. Currently, we have 525 affordable housing units and 168 affordable rental units in our district. With this addition of 252 rental homes ranging between 40 - 60% of the average median income (AMI), we will have increased this housing stock by 36%. Other new housing developments in our community include Sable Ridge Apartments and Avion at Denver Connections by William Lyon Homes.

that was held on Saturday, April 7 to discuss critical issues and concerns facing the community including housing and financial empowerment. Community members had the opportunity to connect with financial literacy coaches, receive information, and apply for resources. It will take us all working together to make sure that we continue to be a diverse and inclusive community. My office has created a District 11 Stakeholders guide so that if you or a loved one needs access to resources the information is available at under the “Resources” tab on the right side of the page. You can always reach out to my council office at 720-337-7711 or email me at and I’ll be happy to get you connected or hear your ideas about how we can ensure all District 11 residents have the opportunity to thrive in our growing economy and city.Y

Editor’s note: Councilwoman Stacie Gilmore represents District 11 (which includes much of Montbello) on Denver City Council. She is a longtime resident of Montbello and a passionate advocate for youth.

Working for Colorado Youth

It has been a great honor to serve House District 7 and the whole state of

By Representative James Coleman, House District 7

Colorado. What brings me even more honor and joy is my family. My wife and I, like many Coloradans, want to give our children every possible opportunity to succeed. This means doing our best to keep them safe and opening as many doors for them as we can. These ideas and motivations are not only important in my role as a parent but also in my role as legislator in the Colorado General Assembly. The decisions my fellow legislators and I make throughout our time in office directly influence and shape the values of Colorado’s youth. Our children will become our future leaders. Because of that, I do not take lightly my duty to help Colorado youth at all stages of their life.

Phase II of the Sable Ridge Apartments will provide 60-units of affordable rental units in Montbello, located at 4203 Chambers Road. They will provide units for seniors 55+ earning 60% AMI and below. Avion at Denver Connection located at Green Valley Ranch Blvd and Chambers Road and is an affordable option for new home buyers starting in the mid-$200 and low$300s. They will offer 284 single-family detached homes and 410 single-family attached townhomes on the 115-acre site. Though this is exciting news, we know it is not enough. With the high demand for new affordable housing developments, another critical piece of the conversation is how are we ensuring existing homeowners can continue to keep their homes with rising property values? With that question in mind, two years ago my Council Office brought together a group of community leaders and registered neighborhood organization representatives called the Montbello Leadership Cabinet. We have been discussing and exploring tactics to address impending gentrification and involuntary displacement. Two main areas the group identified as immediate concerns are seniors and those on fixed incomes staying in their homes and financial empowerment. Through facilitation by Dr. Nita Tyler and The Equity Project, we are ready to delve deeper into the work of advocacy, education, and policy to address housing from all perspectives. In partnership with the Mayor’s Office and various city agencies, we organized the Denver’s Changing Neighborhood town hall and resource fair

Early Stages More than 100 newborn children are abandoned and left to die in the United States every year. Experts believe that for all the abandoned babies that are found, at least twice as many are not found. Colorado criminal law states that abandoning a baby is punishable by up to 26 years in prison. Yet, many parents commit these crimes because they believe they have no alternative. However, the Safe Haven law provides an affirmative defense against prosecution, if a parent relinquishes the baby, unharmed, at a hospital or fire station within 72 hours after birth. This year with SB18-050, I was able to expand this law to include staff members of community clinic emergency centers as persons allowed to take temporary physical custody of infants 72 hours old or younger when the infant is voluntarily surrendered by its parent or parents. I’m grateful for many people who have made an impact in my life, but today I remember my mother. My mother was a hard worker; she worked multiple jobs and needed for me to be in a safe and educational environment. She benefited from having me attend child care facilities. Like her, many of

MUSE - Montbello Urban Spectrum Edition - May/June 2018



Colorado Department Of Corrections

you have to leave your children in someone else’s care while heading to work. This can be difficult and nerve wracking as a parent; however, if we know that the child care and youth programs we leave our children in are well equipped to help create and facilitate enriching experiences, we can breathe a little easier. HB18-1004 helps child care and youth programs create those types of environments, which, in turn, will also set up children and parents for success. Letting the credit expire will diminish philanthropic support of vital programs for children and take away the great progress we’ve made in child care and youth-serving programs.


By Senator Angela Williams, Senate District 33

he Colorado General Assembly recently rejected supplemental funding requests from the Department of Corrections (DOC) for multiple prison expansion plans. This would have added more than $30 million to a budget that is rapidly nearing $1 billion for the first time in Colorado’s history. The Department of Corrections requested additional funding because the actual prison population exceeded the predicted amount. Colorado’s prison population is predicted to grow dramatically, mostly due to the war on drugs that disproportionately effects people of color and women. Because of this increase, the DOC has asked the Legislature for $18.8 million to reopen Colorado State Penitentiary II in Cañon City, $12.3 million to reopen the Huerfano County Correctional Facility, and $2.5 million to update the Arkansas Valley Facility. This is in addition to its base request of $922 million for FY 2018-19, all while refusing to give inmates any pay increases for their labor or quality of life improvements. In March, the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition published a report concluding that Colorado’s war on drugs is a major driver of the DOC’s “need” for more prison beds, and it is having a particularly dramatic impact on women and people of color. Their analysis of state court and prison data found that drug felony filings increased sharply in judicial districts around the state, most of which were for simple possession charges. This led to an increase of 600 people into the Colorado prison system. Both the Division of Criminal Justice and Legislative Council staff predict that with current incarceration rates, 2020 prison levels will nearly reach 23,000 inmates. In addition, changes in current legislation will make it harder for inmates to transition out of prison. Recently, the Joint Budget Committee removed an amendment from the Long Appropriations Act which would have supported inmates in their transition from Prison to Community Corrections. Essentially, the inmates must now pay for their own relocation, complicating their transition and increasing chances of recidivism. These recent developments also impeded the progress made by the passage of SB13-250 in 2013. This bill reformed state drug laws to reserve prison beds for high-level dealers while prioritizing treatment and community supervision for individuals charged with possession. The supplemental requests vehemently clash with progressive and forward-thinking changes made by SB13-250. These requests worry me because of the lack of transparency surrounding the actions of Department of Corrections. As the prison population is projected to increase, concerned citizens must vigilantly watch how taxpayer dollars are spent within the criminal justice system. The DOC requested additional funding in order to “preserve public peace, health, and safety.” However, additional funding for prison expansion does not accomplish those goals. To “preserve public peace, health, and safety” we must focus on measures that have been shown to prevent people from entering the punitive system. In this era of mass incarceration, Colorado can be a leader in criminal justice reform by prioritizing preventative measures such as education, behavioral health, and community empowerment programs. In addition, expanding probation eligibility, reclassifying low-level felonies to misdemeanors, streamlining the parole review process, and limiting imprisonment for technical violations are policies several states have adopted to decrease their prison populations. As the prison population increases in Colorado and the Department of Corrections seeks more funding, concerned citizens must engage and advocate for criminal justice reform in order to create a better Colorado.Y

As They Continue To Grow It’s important to give children all the tools to succeed. That is why I championed the Young Americans Center for Financial Education Fund. With the passage of this bill, we supported an organization that works to prepare our youth for their futures by teaching them financial literacy. The need for financial education is great, and starting Colorado youth off from a young age, teaching them how to earn and manage money should be a priority. The Young Americans Center for Financial Education enacts this mission through a host of different programs and strategies. For this reason, I am proud to sponsor a bill that supports the Young Americans Center for Financial Education in their mission.

Education and the Transition to Adulthood With HB18-1309, I am attempting to tackle Colorado’s teacher shortage problem, by creating a grow-your-own teacher program where universities, charter schools, and school districts will partner to expand teacher apprenticeships in Colorado. Education majors will have the opportunity to have the bulk of their education funded by the State of Colorado and the school or school district they begin teaching in while they are in school. We need a workforce that is homegrown and supported academically. Participating students will commit to reaching tenure in this program. As much as I believe it is important to educate our Colorado youth, I am also a strong believer that our youth can educate us. The voting age for all elections in Colorado is 18 years. This means that most people under the age of 18 will not have the opportunity to practice the most basic action of civic life - voting in an election - until leaving home. This also means that our student voices are not being heard when it comes to issues that concern them. Although many of my colleagues have responded positively to the student protest at the Capitol and the “March for Our Lives” movement, we can’t just be supportive and praise student activism. We must do something. Our youth shouldn’t have to sacrifice their childhood and parts of their education for the Legislature, Congress, and the President to consider the safety of children above rhetoric. This year students have shown they have an important voice in our politics, so I say let’s give our students a vote. I am working to propose a bill that will lower the age to vote in school board elections to include 16- and 17-years-olds. I am immensely proud of all the work my office and I have been able to accomplish for the people of HD7, particularly our youth. You have my promise that I will continue to make sure our kids have the best opportunities in the world.Y

Editor’s note: Angela Williams is a Colorado State Senator serving Senate District 33. Senator Williams can be reached at

Editor’s note: Montbello residents can contact Representative Coleman at or by calling 720-297-5301.

MUSE - Montbello Urban Spectrum Edition - May/June 2018



Planning in Montbello and Far Northeast Denver

To learn more about the Neighborhood Planning Initiative and to get involved, visit

Editor’s note: Alexandra Foster is Communications Program Manager for the Community Planning and Development Department for the City and County of Denver.

The Mayor and FNE Residents Don’t See Eye to Eye


By Alexandra Foster n response to what locals have told the city about their needs and desires, planners from Denver’s Community Planning and Development Department have been working to engage Montbello residents, business owners and community leaders in the creation of an actionable vision for their neighborhood and their city. Currently, two major planning efforts are underway directly affecting the Montbello neighborhood: The Blueprint Denver Update and the Far Northeast Area Plan. Both provide residents with a unique opportunity to have their voices heard and influence the future of Montbello and the city of Denver.


By Erik Penn aturday, April 7, the Mayor’s Office hosted a town hall meeting at the Montbello Recreation Center. Attended by many city employees and not nearly enough residents, the event led off with a panel that included Mayor Michael B. Hancock, District 11 Councilwoman Stacie Gilmore, and representatives from OED’s housing program and the Office of Financial Empowerment. They gave short presentations regarding how Denver’s housing needs are being tackled through city efforts and then took questions from the audience. Part of the message seemed to be that neighborhoods must do more and fend for themselves in a way to meet their needs. The meeting took on a tone that, to some, came across as an attempt to pacify a community agitated by gentrification fears and predatory practices towards seniors and those vulnerable to losing their homes. In recent weeks the City has celebrated, and rightly so, the groundbreaking on 200 units of affordable housing in FNE near Peña and 56th Ave. At the same time, the City is struggling with the fact that it has seen the loss of over 300 affordable housing units. There is dissention among members of the Mayor’s Housing Commission on what their goals are and how to spend the money that has been allocated. Compounding these issues is the loss of the director of the Mayor’s newly formed office of Housing and Opportunities for People Everywhere (HOPE) within a year of being appointed. These circumstances suggest that the City is either unable or unwilling to tackle housing issues in a meaningful and thoughtful way. As Denver tops more than 700,000 residents, a growth of more than 16% since the 2010 census, there does not appear to be an end in sight for the housing problems. Over the last eight years, Denver has seen expansive and disruptive growth. Cranes appear to be a new staple feature of the skyline, rooftop patios overlook north Denver, and more than 50 homes have been scraped from Elyria-Swansea and Globeville to make room for an underground highway. The issue of gentrification and dislocation seems to be lost in dialogue about whether to host the Olympics or the World Cup. Where are the proposals for creative solutions to reimagine land use to allow for current residents and newcomers alike to prosper? Expansion does not end with the core of the city. Montbello residents are feeling the pressure of 80239 zip codes being named the hottest suburban real estate market in the country in 2017. In response to a question regarding economic opportunity and commercial growth from the audience at the town hall, Hancock responded that the FNE can expect an explosion in development second only to downtown Denver as his dream for an “airport city” continues to chug forward. For many residents, it feels more like the dream is slogging at best, weighed down in tenuous possibilities and missed opportunities. The housing units expected and the businesses promised have not come to fruition. Homes still do not sit near the Panasonic building and the promise of a “smart city” seems to dwindle with each passing year. Liquor stores and chain restaurants continue to pop up despite residents’ pleas for a fullservice grocery store, small craft experiences, and healthy options like those being afforded to Stapleton and north Denver. The eastern skyline now hosts

CITYWIDE PLANNING: Denveright’s Blueprint Denver update Blueprint Denver is the city’s land use and transportation plan and part of Denveright, a citywide, community-driven planning process that challenges Denverites to shape how our city evolves in four key areas: land use, mobility, parks and recreational resources. First adopted 15 years ago, Blueprint Denver called for multi-modal transportation, mixed-use development and open space throughout the city. It also established “areas of change” and “areas of stability” to guide growth appropriately while protecting stable neighborhoods. That plan has served us well. But it’s time to update it as we look to the future and think about what we want Denver to be in the next 20 years. For almost two years, citywide planners have been working with communities to update Blueprint Denver to help manage future investment while enhancing the character of our great city. To get caught up on the Blueprint Denver update and related plans, visit

NEIGHBORHOOD PLANNING: Far Northeast Area Plan Where Blueprint Denver addresses the city as a whole, the Far Northeast Area Plan is focused on providing neighborhood-specific policy guidance that builds on Blueprint Denver with the understanding that different neighborhoods across the city have different needs. The Far Northeast Plan is the first out of the gate from the Neighborhood Planning Initiative, a new, accelerated approach for creating neighborhood plans in a timely, equitable way that will ensure every corner of the city has an area plan within the next 10 to 14 years. With area plans in place across the city, neighborhoods will be on more equal footing, benefiting from comparable policy guidance on issues related to growth, development, mobility, open space, infrastructure, public health and more. The Far Northeast Area Plan includes Montbello, along with Green Valley Ranch and parts of the Denver International Airport statistical area. The plan launched officially in June of 2017 and is led in part by an 18-member steering committee made up of residents, business owners, community leaders and other stakeholders from the Far Northeast Area neighborhoods. Thus far, the plan has involved three public meetings, the most recent of which was held at the end of January and gave attendees an opportunity to weigh in on the geographic areas and topics of interest the plan should focus on. The event also included Councilwoman Gilmore’s Annual District 11 Town Hall Meeting, a resource fair, and an opportunity for attendees to weigh in on Denver: Moves Transit, the city’s 20-year vision on transit that’s part of the citywide Denveright initiative. SAVE THE DATE: The next meeting for the plan is scheduled for July 12 from 6-8 p.m. The location has not been finalized, but that and other details will be available on the plan website, While there, you can also catch up on the planning process, sign up for updates and read the vision statements that were crafted and considered at earlier plan meetings.

MUSE - Montbello Urban Spectrum Edition - May/June 2018



ment to the project and to verify that the plan can be made sustainable. The Colorado Health Foundation (CHF) “aims to improve the health of Coloradans by supporting communities’ efforts to improve their neighborhoods and built environment in order to increase opportunities for safe physical activity. Through a community-led approach, Healthy Places will support communities to improve upon their current assets and identify new possibilities to increase activity through physical improvements, as well as supporting community efforts to address barriers to health that are related to neighborhoods and the built environment. A primary intention of Healthy Places is to enhance health equity so all Coloradans have access to the same opportunities for physical health. In spring of 2017, CHF issued requests for participation from communities across the State. Through a competitive process, the Foundation selected four (4) communities to each receive $20,000 and the opportunity to participate in a Foundation-funded Urban Land Institute (ULI) Technical Advisory Services Panel (TAP). The Montbello neighborhood is one of the four selected communities. This is the second round of Healthy Places. In the first round, which launched in 2013, three communities were selected. Similar to the 2013 Healthy Places, each community received an initial evaluation from an Advisory Services Panel conducted by ULI’s Advisory Service program. Subsequently, each community received $1 million in grant funding from the Foundation to undertake an extensive community involvement process to identify and prioritize built environment improvements and begin implementing some of the ULI recommendations. Our ULI process has been two-fold; the first step occurred in December of 2016 with a Building Healthy Places Workshop. This workshop brought together ULI volunteer experts with 25 community leaders (selected by the Denver Office of Economic Development) and other stakeholders to envision new designs, developments and infrastructure to benefit community health. Among the Recommendations: •Create a Multicultural “Heart of the Community“ •Create a Montbello Boulevard that provides a new spine and source of community pride •Provide Access to Healthy Food •Encourage Active Transportation The second step was a week-long intensive process with eight national ULI experts coming to Montbello. In anticipation of the intensive, MOC gathered more than 120 residents to unveil the Montbello FreshLo plan and to garner feedback. During the week of March 11-16, 2018, the ULI panelists conducted hour long interviews with 80 Montbello residents and stakeholders. They toured the neighborhood and visited the parks, community organizations, and local businesses. They listened to each person’s vision for Montbello, its potential, its challenges and its opportunities. They researched and assembled a market study of our community. And they reviewed the viability of the Montbello FreshLo Initiative. At the end of the week, they presented the CHF and MOC with a 70-page draft report of their findings. [The report can be found at] The final report will be completed in the next 90 days. Our community is very fortunate to have been selected for this opportunity. The report provides a rare and unbiased snapshot of us – warts and all. It describes the challenges our community has been asking our elected officials to address for years. It defines our opportunities. It captures and validates our dreams and hopes for our community. And, it puts in our hands a wonderful tool to use to - literally – build the world we want to live in, to be the change we want to see in our community. Next Steps Montbello Organizing Committee, along with our many community partners, is now using the ULI report to obtain additional funding to execute the Montbello FreshLo plan. We are in the process of site selection to build a healthy grocery-anchored cultural hub, a Walkable Loop, and increased activations of existing community spaces and assets that will better connect our community. CHF has committed up to a million dollars to help us in these endeavors. We invite more voices to participate in this journey. To be a part of Montbello FreshLo, contact

the Gaylord hotel and resort center, a behemoth of construction just outside of DIA, and Amazon to the south. Since both lie within Aurora, FNE is not realizing the economic benefits of those developments. The city’s continued narrative that the far northeast needs more residential density, even as Montbello houses twice the population of Stapleton, is hard to swallow. It is imperative that the community step up and meet the mayor’s invitation to help carve out our needs. We need to hold the city accountable for what feels like missteps not only in their community planning but in their attempts to interface with residents. We must ask: What type of Montbello do we want to see for our neighbors and friends? What kind of Montbello do we want to leave for future generations? How do we tackle the problems of today with solutions for tomorrow? Is it through camping bans and row homes; is it through imminent domain and sporting venues; or is it through neighborly compassion, allocation of funds for community good rather than business, and a long hard look at what we have allowed the city to become without a large vision to guide us? These are the questions that I hope continue to be raised and that the people of the FNE retain the opportunity to shape the city in our image. Y

Long Road to the Grocery Story

Editor’s note: Erik Penn is a resident of Montbello and co-chair of Montbello 2020.

By Khadija Haynes “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” – Albert Einstein


he fall of 2014 in Montbello was difficult. We found ourselves – all thirty-five thousand of us – without a neighborhood grocery store; without access to fresh, healthy food; without adequate public transportation and overlooked in a city growing in all directions but ours. We followed the typical path of reaching out to our elected representatives to bring resources to our community and found a dead end. But, in the middle of these difficult times, we realized an opportunity: where others could not and would not do for us, we could and would do for ourselves. Writing grants to sustain a small nucleus of empowered individuals, the Montbello Organizing Committee gathered community partners and others from surrounding neighborhoods to focus on attracting a grocery store to our community. MUSE readers have been following this journey over the past ten issues and this issue continues the telling of our progress on the path to bring a full service, health-oriented grocery store home. To save you from “binge reading,” the quick summary is as follows: •The Urban Farm at Montbello was planted at the United Church of Montbello •The Kresge Foundation provided a planning grant to develop a plan to bring and maintain fresh, local food in Montbello. •The Kresge Foundation funded an implementation grant to take the Montbello FreshLo Initiative plan off of paper and into reality •The Colorado Health Foundation funded FreshMobs™, which included funding support for: •Fresh food Pop-up markets in summer 2017 • •F.A.V.A’s “Heal the Hood” •4 school-based community gardens •Councilwoman Gilmore’s Day of Beauty •Montbello Alive! •The Regional Transportation District (RTD) leased the former Montbello Park-N-Ride to host the FreshMobs™ •The Denver Foundation reinvested in the FreshLo plan. And finally, where we are today… The Colorado Health Foundation, through their Healthy Places program, invested in the community’s Initiative by bringing the Urban Land Institute’s (ULI) Advisory Services Program to substantiate the community’s commit-

Editor’s note: Khadija Haynes is on the Leadership Team of Montbello Organizing Committee.

MUSE - Montbello Urban Spectrum Edition - May/June 2018



Walking – Good for the Sole and the Soul T

By Donna Garnett, M.S.

here is a movement afoot – in fact, it is movement on foot! Across the country and in our own Montbello, people are catching on to the fact that walking is an all-around good approach to achieving and maintaining good health. While many people walk to get somewhere and others walk to lose weight the benefits of walking go well-beyond those more “pedestrian” benefits. Studies have shown the many benefits of putting one foot in front of the other on a regular basis. For example, walking helps reduce stress, especially when walking outdoors (as opposed to walking in a busy shopping center or on a crowded street). Walking helps to boost creativity. Companies and organizations around the country are embracing walking as a means of generating creative ideas and even encouraging co-workers to co-walk with a goal of sparking conversations that can lead to creative insight. Even walking on a treadmill indoors stimulates more creative thoughts than sitting at a desk does. Walking increases energy. Ever have those afternoon/after lunch slumps? This author gets them every day around 2 pm. Going outside and walking around the premises of the office building for a few minutes modifies the fatigue and infuses me with a fresh outlook. Getting back to the writing tasks seems easier after that jaunt outside and some new ideas frequently come to mind. Research bears out that just 20 minutes of low to moderate walking increases energy by 20 percent and decreases fatigue by 65 percent. Forget the afternoon cup of coffee – take a walk! All this walking leads to stronger heart and bones, reduced anxiety and fatigue, keeps the body in shape, increases energy and endorphins — all of

which leads to feeling pretty good about oneself. And, finally, walking promotes better sleep! In this hyped up, tuned in, and turned off world that we all live in sleep can be an elusive goal. In addition to all the aforementioned positives about walking, 30 minutes of walking a day boosts the release of sleep hormones and helps to prime one’s brain for better sleep. Experts say that walking has more benefits than many more intensive exercise forms such as basketball, tennis, and weight-lifting. Are you thinking about walking, now? For many it’s the getting started that is the challenge. It can be so easy to say, “My body hurts, I am in a hurry, I don’t like walking by myself, tomorrow… The key is to take that first step and then make it a habit that you don’t neglect. Fortunately, there is much happening on the walking scene for Montbello residents. During a community dialogue process that spanned 18 months, Montbello Organizing Committee heard from residents about the lack of safe places to walk and the lack of places to walk to in the community. As a result of those conversations, plans are underway to create a “walkable loop” that will feature destination points imbued with art, gardening options, fitness courses for the whole family, and interesting signage. Points along the loop will include the Montbello Urban Farm, Environmental Learning for Kids’s nature walk, Montbello Central Park, and schools in the Montbello Farm-School Network among others. Funding has secured from Colorado Health Foundation to carry out this community plan. To be a part of this planning and implementation process, contact Simultaneously, a grassroots walking initiative — Montbello Walks – has formed. Initiated by Walk2Connect Co-op, GirlTrek, and Northeast Transportation Connections, residents are invited to join in for walks, lead walks, and invite people to move with our community. Community partners include Volunteers of America at Montbello Manor, Montbello 2020, Environmental Learning for Kids, Montbello Organizing Committee, and Jiridon Apothecary. Everyone is welcome to walk, roll and stroll with Montbello Walks.

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PLU Codes on Fruit and Some Vegetables – What Do They Mean?

Have you ever wondered about the meaning of those numerical codes on stickers that are on fruits and some vegetables? The following information published on the Berkeley Wellness website will help answer those questions. Those 4- or 5-digit numbers are PLU (Price Look Up) codes, which identify attributes of fresh fruits and vegetables, including their variety, size, and how they were grown. They are assigned by the International Federation for Produce Standards (IFPS), a global coalition of fruit and vegetable associations, and are used on a voluntary basis in supermarkets to help with pricing, inventory, and other purposes. For example, the code lets the cashier know what kind of apple you’re buying, so you are charged the right price. PLU codes are intended for the food industry and are of limited value for shoppers. Still, here are a couple of interesting points:

Codes with 4 digits are meant to represent conventionally grown produce. For example, a standard yellow banana is 4011. A 5-digit code beginning with 9 indicates organically grown produce. For an organic banana, that code simply becomes 94011. However, an organic item could just have a 4digit code, since it’s up to retailers if they want to use the labels to differentiate their organic produce. The best way to identify organic produce is still to look for the USDA certified organic seal. Some websites incorrectly report that a 5-digit code beginning with an “8” identifies produce with genetically modified organisms (GMOs)—and that this offers a way to avoid GMOs, if that’s desired. But according to IFPS, though the prefix “8” was originally reserved for GMO produce, that was never actually implemented, and the organization will use this number to code additional produce varieties in future years. In any case, hardly any fresh produce in supermarkets is currently GMO, except some papaya and, less commonly, summer squash and sweet corn. If you want to avoid them, your best bet, again, is to buy organic, since by law organic production cannot include the use of GMOs. If you’re curious to know more about the produce you buy, the PLU database ( gives the variety, botanical classification, and other information for each code.Y

The goal is to have as many people as possible in the Montbello community to be walking and connecting on a daily basis. The initiative will host walking events that are inviting, fun, meaningful, and educational. The initiative will connect Montbello residents, youth, local businesses, elders, and more with one another and their surroundings. Walks will range in length and span a variety of paces, abilities, and conditions. For more information, contact Jonathon Stalls or Pam Jiner at Text ‘Bellowalk’ to 33222 for text alerts. Put on your walking shoes and get connected – a new Montbello experience awaits you! Y

Editor’s note: Donna Garnett is editor of the MUSE and Project Director of Montbello FreshLo. She enjoys taking walks with her grandchildren and seeing the neighborhood through their eyes.

Editor’s note: For more helpful information regarding healthy eating go to

For more information about the benefits of walking check out these resources:

MUSE - Montbello Urban Spectrum Edition - May/June 2018



Students Growing Food for Their Community

grow food for themselves, their families, and their community. CFA manages the Montbello Urban Farm at United Church of Montbello. The Farm grows and distributes approximately 6,000 pounds of fresh produce each year through the Montbello Food Pantry, the no-cost grocery program at Academy 360, and the pop-up farm market hosted at the old RTD Park and Ride space. More than 300 children and youth each year plant, tend, and harvest this 10,000square foot growing space. CFA provides urban farming and fundraising technical assistance to schools in the Farm School Network. Denver Food Rescue (DFR) is a 501c3 organization focused on improving health equity outcomes for low-income families by increasing access to healthy food. DFR features a volunteer run, bicyclebased food rescue and redistribution operation. Currently, two DFR sites operate in Montbello elementary schools. Both programs are led by residents and 85% of what is distributed is fresh produce. The no cost grocery programs provide access to other programming or services such as cooking and nutrition education, SNAP enrollment, and more. These programs each serve approximated 900 unduplicated families and offer each one $570 worth of free, healthy food per year on average.

Montbello Farm School Network

The facts are concerning if not alarming. One in four Montbello children is obese and 43 percent of residents overall are obese. Almost 50 percent of our children have low access to healthy food at one mile. A survey last year of families at McGlone Academy found that 90 percent of responding parents said that they do their weekly grocery shopping at the nearby convenience store – hardly the source of fresh, healthy food. For these reasons and many others, several Montbello schools have incorporated school gardens into their educational programs in an effort to change behaviors, improve health and school performance, and contribute to overall food access in the community. Recently, four of these schools have gone a step further and joined forces with each other, Children’s Farms of America, and Denver Food Rescue to form the Montbello Farm School Network. All four of the schools have on-site gardens that incorporate science, math, literacy, nutrition, and social justice into a hands-on approach to learning. All four of the schools pursue strong health and wellness goals for their students and all four schools engage families in extracurricular activities such as cooking classes.

Network Activities in Summer 2018 In the 2018 growing season, CFA will partner with DFR to implement the Fresh Food Connects program in Montbello through the Farm School Network. Fresh Food Connects engages backyard gardeners in growing food for themselves and for the community. Excess produce grown in backyards is picked up via a Fresh Food Connects staff person or volunteer on bicycle and distributed through the school network, the Montbello Food pantry, at the Montbello Farm Market, and other venues. Through this approach, the production yield of fresh vegetables and fruit being grown right in the neighborhood will be expanded exponentially. A seed distribution event to help backyard gardeners participating in Fresh Food Connects is planned for mid-May.

Members in the Network Participating schools in the newly formed Network include Academy 360, Marie Greenwood Academy, McGlone Academy, and John Amesse Elementary. Collectively these schools serve several thousand students with the vast majority (90% - 95%) qualifying for the free and reduced lunch program. All four schools have small existing learning gardens with physical space to expand and all work with parents and grandparents to address food security issues. Beginning this summer, these schools will become avenues for the expansion of locally grown food to be integrated into a sustainable food distribution system. Through the combined efforts more fresh and locally grown food will be available throughout the community. The farm partner is Children’s Farms of America (CFA), a local nonprofit dedicated to helping neighborhoods establish small space farms where children learn about and then

Invitation To Join The Farm School Network The Farm School Network is open to any Montbello school dedicated to incorporating gardening and nutrition into their educational program and is committed to improving access to fresh healthy food among their student population. Additionally, backyard farmers are encouraged to join the Network and contribute their excess bounty to the overall food system in the community.Y

MUSE - Montbello Urban Spectrum Edition - May/June 2018


Editor’s note: For more information on becoming a part of the Network, contact


New 252-unit Affordable Housing Underway in Far Northeast Denver

“This project is a great opportunity to provide affordable housing in the developing airport corridor of Denver,” said Mark Lambing, Dominium development analyst. “East Range Crossing will provide high quality, affordable apartments for residents who want to stay in this rapidly-changing community.” East Range Crossings will feature a clubhouse that will include a fitness center, yoga area, community commercial-grade kitchen, and business center. Apartment homes will include amenities such as 9’ ceilings, in-unit washers and dryers for rent, modern kitchens, central air conditioning, and walk-in closets. The exterior amenities will include a playground for children, fire pits, grilling stations, a pool and spa. The property will also offer covered parking, including both garages and carports. East Range Crossings is conveniently located by numerous employment opportunities and the existing RTD Peña Station. Construction is expected to be completed in August 2019. Y

One of the first projects to receive funding from Denver’s dedicated affordable housing fund broke ground April 2 in a ceremony attended by city officials, including Mayor Michael B. Hancock, and Dominium, a Minneapolis-based leading apartment owner, developer and manager. Construction on East Range Crossings, a 252-unit affordable housing development, will begin later this month. “We’re proud to support the construction of these new affordable homes for Denver’s hard-working residents and families,” Mayor Hancock said. “We will continue to fight for more affordable housing whenever and wherever we can, and East Range Crossings is a major boost to our efforts to offer more affordable options for families.” All 252 units are reserved for individuals earning up to 60 percent of the area median income (up to $35,280 for a single-person household, or up to $50,340 for a family of four). Twelve of the units are one-bedroom, 120 are two-bedroom, and 120 are three-bedroom. East Range Crossings is the latest city-supported affordable housing development underway in Denver. A total of 1,075 affordable units that have received city financing are currently under construction, and an additional 1,600 units are anticipated to break ground over the next year.

Editor’s Note: In 2016, Denver City Council approved the first dedicated fund for affordable housing in Denver. Through a balance of property tax revenue and a one-time fee on new development, the fund is estimated to raise $150 million over the next 10 years to create or preserve 6,000 affordable homes for low- to moderate-income families.

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MUSE - Montbello Urban Spectrum Edition - May/June 2018



A Heated Debate Over the Desire for A Traditional High School in Far Northeast Denver Boils Over By Melanie Asmar

A community conversation in far northeast Denver started as an effort to

Editor’s note: This article was published in CHALKBEAT online on April 2, 2018 and is reprinted here with permission.

ask residents what they want in their schools. It has boiled over into a heated debate about whether to resurrect the region’s shuttered traditional high school. The aim of a series of community meetings run by Denver Public Schools over the past year was to come to consensus on education priorities, a district spokeswoman said. Those priorities, she said, would “inform future district policy-making.” But when word got out that some residents were asking for the return of a traditional high school, the backlash was fierce. Principals, teachers, parents, and students from some of the small schools that have grown in the absence of a big high school lined up at a recent school board meeting to give passionate testimony about what they consider a flawed process and a dangerous recommendation that could threaten their schools’ existence. Participants in the Far Northeast Commission, as the community meetings were known, were set to discuss a draft of their priorities in March. But that meeting has since been rescheduled and recast as a way to bridge the divide among the people who live and work in the area. “This is the illusion of community engagement,” said Stacy Parrish, the principal of High Tech Early College, one of three small high schools that replaced the shuttered Montbello High School. “How can these be named as priorities? Whose voices were invited to the table? The work of the Far Northeast Education Commission has been disingenuous.” Some of the community members who participated in the commission don’t disagree – but for a different reason. What’s disingenuous, they said, is that although the district solicited their feedback, they have no faith Denver Public Schools officials will take it seriously. “They appease the community by having these forums and public meetings, and yet the policy is already set in place,” said Narcy Jackson, a Montbello resident who runs a mentoring program for student athletes. “I don’t think anything is going to change.” District officials are billing the rescheduled meeting, now set to take place April 14, as a “phase two” of commission work. But they said they’re still figuring out exactly how it will work. “We do have to acknowledge that work was done over the last year: People came and people have a voice,” said school board member Jennifer Bacon, who represents the region. “We can acknowledge we could have done it differently or more robustly for engagement, (but) in no way should we delegitimize the voices of the people who did come.”

Community Concerns There has long been controversy over how best to serve students in the far northeast, a newer but more remote part of the city full of affordable, suburban-style houses. Most students in the region are black or Hispanic and come from low-income families. In 2010, the Denver school board approved a massive turnaround plan involving six schools in the far northeast. The plan called for Montbello High – where fewer than 60 percent of students were graduating, and almost all who went on to college needed to take remedial classes – to be phased out and replaced with three smaller schools. On the night of the vote, students, parents, and teachers pleaded with the school board to give Montbello High another chance. The board also heard from supporters of the plan, who wore graduation caps and T-shirts that said: “We Demand Great Schools in Far Northeast Denver.” In the end, a majority

of the seven board members sided with Superintendent Tom Boasberg and a community committee that recommended the sweeping changes. Today, there are 11 high schools in far northeast Denver. They include the three schools that replaced Montbello, five other district-run schools, and three charter schools, which are publicly funded but independently run. Most have fewer than 500 students. Several share campuses in an arrangement known as co-location, and four schools serve grades six through twelve, mixing middle and high school students in the same building. The Far Northeast Commission started as a series of meetings held at coffee shops and schools in the region. Erin Brown, who leads the city’s Office of Children’s Affairs and lives in the far northeast neighborhood of Green Valley Ranch, said she and other city leaders were pushing the district to “engage in an authentic community process” to figure out what parents wanted for their kids. Denver schools are governed by an elected school board, not the mayor, but Mayor Michael Hancock made education a big part of his first election campaign. When the district decided to form the commission, Brown signed on as one of three co-chairs. The first several meetings in the summer and fall of 2017 drew about 30 people each, according to meeting sign-in sheets. But Brown said it was difficult for the commission to gain momentum because the people who showed up from one meeting to the next were rarely the same. So, she said the co-chairs decided they’d get further if they held meetings on specific topics that had emerged as areas of community concern: academics, student wellness, co-location, and athletics. The topic of athletics hit a nerve in Montbello, a neighborhood with a proud history of excelling at high school sports, especially football. More than 60 people showed up to a November meeting on the subject. They included Brandon Pryor, a football coach for the Far Northeast Warriors, a team created after the closure of Montbello High that draws players from several high schools in the region. His wife Samantha, an attorney who graduated from Montbello, also attended. The Pryors have young children and said they recently began paying closer attention to Denver Public Schools policy after hearing that the ratings they relied on to choose schools for their kids overstated students’ reading abilities, an issue the district has taken steps to remedy. They were also bothered by the crowded classrooms at their children’s schools, the stories they’d heard about teachers starting GoFundMe campaigns to buy books, and the number of student athletes they’d seen leaving the far northeast to attend traditional high schools that offered more electives and a better shot at earning a college athletic scholarship. They also don’t like the idea of sending middle school students as young as 11 to school in the same building as 18-year-old high school seniors. They said that from what they’ve seen, efforts to keep the age groups separated result in strict rules about who can use certain parts of the building and when – an arrangement they likened to “a prison pod structure.” “Black and brown communities have been ignored as a whole and targeted for these Frankenstein experiments, like co-location,” Brandon Pryor said. Samantha Pryor came up with a way to visualize that feeling: Before giving public comment at a recent school board meeting, she printed up T-shirts that said, “20%,” a reference to the district’s goal that 80 percent of all students will attend high-quality schools by 2020. “We really believe we are the 20 percent,” she said in an interview. Notes from commission meetings in November, December, and January obtained in an open records request show many participants shared the Pryor’s concerns. In January, the commission generated lists of draft priorities to be discussed at the now-canceled March meeting. The priorities included recruiting more teachers of color, increasing funding for school counselors and social workers, and installing lights on the Montbello playing fields. Also, on the list: Have a comprehensive high school option in the far northeast.

MUSE - Montbello Urban Spectrum Edition - May/June 2018



athletics, whether that’s in the arts, or other opportunities.” Several high school athletes gave public comment as well, including one who said he lost scholarships to play football at several Division I colleges because he didn’t meet the academic credit requirements. His small high school, he said, didn’t offer enough courses. Others spoke about how their schools don’t have access to a library or computer lab, and how different bell schedules make it hard for players to get to practice at the same time. Opening a traditional high school would remedy those issues, said Khaaliq Stevenson, a student athlete at Collegiate Prep Academy, one of the three schools that replaced Montbello High. But, he added, “We are not trying to bash the other options that are already here.” School board member Bacon, who campaigned on a promise to improve the district’s community engagement, told meeting attendees that nothing is set in stone. “We have not made a decision or a resolution to reinstate Montbello High School,” she said. “Any such proposal will be made through a community process after deeply engaging in conversation with principals, families, teachers, parents, students, and analytical and strategic leaders. The conversation, however, has become one that people have demanded we have.” The question now is whether community members who feel burned by the district all over again will want to continue having the conversation. Bacon hopes they will. In fact, she said she sees a silver lining in the turmoil. While the flawed process did nothing to repair the community’s trust in the district, Bacon said she hopes the “bubbling up of frustration” will push community members to come together to hash out their differences, find their commonalities, and repair the rifts between them. “The one thing I’ve taken away from this is we can’t avoid these hard questions of, ‘Where are we in the far northeast with our education?’” she said. “This is not the best we can be.”Y

‘Everything We Do Is Threatened’ In asking for a traditional high school, community members said they never called for specific smaller schools to be closed. Brown also denies that was part of the conversation. But that idea began circulating sometime before the school board’s monthly meeting on March 15. The public comment portion of the meeting was stacked with principals, teachers, students, and parents from three of the small district-run high schools in the far northeast touting their accomplishments and criticizing the commission. It was clear they were on the defensive. “Everything we do is threatened by the idea of opening a new high school in the far northeast,” said Kimberly Grayson, principal of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Early College, which serves about 1,000 students in grades six through twelve, also offers free college courses. “We are a family,” said senior Jamar Holmes Moore, “and breaking up a family never ends well.” Parrish, the principal of High Tech Early College, spoke about the “atrocities” of the Far Northeast Commission and asked that board members view its identified priorities as “a case study of the lived experience of a small group of stakeholders.” Rhonda Juett, principal at Noel Community Arts Middle School in Montbello, said the divisiveness got so bad that without the support of her fellow principals, “this last week and a half would have been my last because I would have tendered my resignation.” Grayson, Parrish, and Juett declined to be interviewed for this story. Boasberg tried to reassure them. He cited statistics to show the turnarounds in the far northeast are working: Graduation rates are up, he said, and college remediation rates are down. However, he also said the commission’s discussions highlighted “a real desire to build stronger bridges across the community, to build stronger opportunities for students to come together across schools, whether that’s in

MUSE - Montbello Urban Spectrum Edition - May/June 2018


Outdoor Safety Tips for Kids


Spring has sprung and the fun

By LaTrisha Guss

times have begun! Outdoor play is fun for all especially for children because they can stay healthy, utilize lots of energy and socialize with their friends. It is important that we guide our children on best safety practices in all areas of their lives. Whether it is how to cross the street or about the importance of being vigilant and protecting yourself when walking alone. Here are some safety tips to remember. Stay Alert: Being outdoors opens everyone up to so many fascinating events and social moments. There are, unfortunately, events that happen unexpectedly. For example, if someone starts shooting at an event you’re at; remember to take cover, call 9-11, be a great witness to give information and leave the area when reason-

ably safe. Staying alert and being safe is very important. If you hear or see anything that appears suspicious, call 9-1-1 or Text-A Tip” to 720-7238911. Swimming Safety: Swimming pools are fun but can be dangerous. Unintentional drownings can happen to anyone. Approximately one in five people who die from drownings are children 14 and younger. It is extremely important that we pay attention to our loved ones in and around swimming pools.

Bike, Skates, Scooters: Remember to wear a helmet and pads when riding a bike, scooter or skates. This will prevent head and bodily injuries and you can make a new fashion statement! It is important to be safe in and around traffic while riding your bikes & scooters. Don’t run/ride directly into traffic. It may sound fun but many children are hurt every year because they believe they won’t be run over by cars. It’s very dangerous and can be fatal. Water, Water, Water: Staying hydrated is very important because you could suffer dire consequences for not drinking enough water. Hot weather and lack of water don’t mix. Drink plenty of water to enjoy the festivities spring and summer bring! Storm Safety: Rain showers bring May flowers! It is important to seek shelter during severe storms such as tornadoes. It is never a good idea to allow children to play outdoors during lightning storms. Contacting Strangers: We’ve all heard the term “stranger danger” however it a very real topic. Please instill in your children that they

MUSE - Montbello Urban Spectrum Edition - May/June 2018


should never get into cars with people that they don’t know. If they are approached by a person that appears suspicious or if they try to take them, it’s very important for them to remember as much detail about the person, vehicle or area they are in to help officers better investigate the situation and provide them help. Many parents place their children in daycare or camp for spring and summer break and entrust others to care for their little ones. Many children aren’t comfortable expressing discomfort or unsafe environments/situations. Anonymously they can report any type of crisis or concern by using the Safe2Tell mobile app. Get the Safe2tell mobile app at There are many recreation centers in District 5 that have fun events that families can partake in. Check out their schedules and get involved. Have fun, enjoy each other and stay safe.Y

Editor’s note: LaTrisha Guss is a Police Officer with Denver Police Department, City and County of Denver.


R.I.S.E Network Reveal Event By La Toya Petty

Founder of Struggle of Love Foundation, Joel Hodge with various guest speakers. The Gang Violence breakout reviewed current Gang Statistics for FNE Denver and the mentalities of gang members and the impact on the community. Prevention Breakout: Hosted by Steps to Success, Roosevelt J Price II & Angelia Baker; Denver Public Health, Maritza Valenzuela and Bithiah Coleman; and youth representation from the Youth Advisory Board. The Prevention Breakout collected valuable information from community members that will help drive prevention efforts city wide.


I.S.E Network is able to galvanize the community even on a Friday night. Held at the Montbello Recreation Center the evening of April 6, about 150 people, a mixture of general community members, children and community leaders, gathered to hear the message that R.I.S.E Network is here as a powerful community resource.

Wrap Up The R.I.S.E Reveal event was very successful and impacted many people, youth and adults alike. The main take-away was to encourage people to utilize the network, and work together for a safer community. To view Together We R.I.S.E on YouTube Link, visit For more information on the R.I.S.E Network call La Toya Petty at 303-642-8759 or email

Together We Rise It’s time to stop working in our silos and come together as a community to support each other. R.I.S.E is a network of organizations and government entities that has created a collaborative intervention model to address gang and other senseless acts of violence. It’s about families helping families, community members supporting each other, and dedicated individuals taking action to stop the violence. The evening started with the first installment of a docuseries called “Together We RISE” developed by network partner, SPIN Enterprises, under the direction of Riley Robert Hawkins. The docuseries highlighted the work R.I.S.E Network has done and what the plan is to address violence in the FNE Denver and surrounding communities. There were short speeches from R.I.S.E Network Co-Chairs La Toya Petty and Joel Hodge; Denver Police Department District 5 Police Commander Ron Thomas; The Director of the Gang Reduction Initiative of Denver, Paul Callanan; City Councilwoman for District 11, Stacie Gilmore; and youth representative Evelyn Morales. After the plenary session, the larger group then dispersed into two subgroups - one for the children and youth and another featuring a set of rotating breakout sessions for the adults. Youth breakout Sessions: Hosted by Denver Parks & Recreation under direction of Felicia Rodriguez, Michael McClure, Chris Young and Kelvin Coggins with supporting help from Steps to Success. The youth were encouraged to talk about their life goals and ambitions. Younger children participated simultaneously in a session hosted by Children’s Farms of America where they learned about companion plants and how friends are like companion plants – they can help you out and support you being strong and healthy. Adult Intervention Breakout: Hosted by Families Against Violent Acts (F.A.V.A) Director Dianne Cooks; Intervention Services Coordinator with GRID, Nicole C. Monroe; and R.I.S.E Network CO-Chair and Director of Development of Families Forward Resource Center, La Toya Petty. The intervention breakout sessions were an emotional roller-coaster that explored why intervention is needed and the effects violence has on families. Gang Violence Breakout: Hosted by Denver Police Department District 5 Police, Commander Ron Thomas and R.I.S.E Network Co-Chair and

R.I.S.E Network Partners: Families Forward Resource Center, Struggle of Love Foundation, Families Against Violent Acts (F.A.V.A), Denver Broncos Boys & Girls Clubs, Gang Reduction Initiative of Denver (GRID), Denver Police Department District 5, Our Inheritance LLC, SPIN Enterprises, Denver Parks & Recreation, Denver City Council District 8, Denver City Council District 11, Denver Juvenile Probation, Project Proud Fatherhood, Steps to Success, Safe Haven, Now Faith’s King Me, My Brother’s Keeper, andChildren’s Farms of America. Y

Editor’s note: La Toya Petty is the co-chair of the R.I.S.E Network and Director of Development for Families Forward Resource Center.

MUSE - Montbello Urban Spectrum Edition - May/June 2018



Any Street Grocery – At the Corner of Your Street and My Street It is a brisk Saturday

By Donna Garnett, M.S.

morning, as people arrive at Montbello Recreation Center. Some are here for the Mayor’s Town Hall. Some are here for their morning workout. And, some are here to shop for fresh fruit and vegetables. As a few people line up outside the retro-fitted school bus waiting to enter the mobile market, I have a chance to visit with shoppers and the Any Street Grocery founders, Steve Lockhart and Ashleigh Ruehrdanz. Their vision is to create healthier communities throughout the Denver metro area through improved food access. Steve remarked, “The reason I got into this is that healthy food options must be an option for everyone. This makes healthy food an option for so many more people by bringing the food to the neighborhood.” Since first meeting a few years back at the Colorado School of Public Health, the pair knew that one day they would collaborate to start their own nonprofit in the healthy eating arena. Colorado natives, they both have strong connections to the city and are passionate about food justice. From those early conversations and with a dream in mind they started Any Street Grocery. Any Street Grocery is a mobile market – the first of its kind in the Denver Metro area — that provides access to healthy foods and other essential products in Montbello, Green Valley Ranch and other Denver food desert communities. The mobile grocery store utilizes market-based pricing and built-in discounts to ensure the availability and affordability of fresh, healthy foods and essential products to those who want and need them most. They aim to provide fresh foods at “Whole Foods quality at Sprouts prices.” Asked what it took to get the mobile market started, Steve shared that “it was not an easy, straight-forward path. We surveyed neighborhoods to find out exiting fresh food options and then met with several community groups and Councilwoman Gilmore to understand the issue better in this neighborhood. We researched successful models around the country and found that most had started out working with local schools. So, we reached out to McGlone Academy.” McGlone is one of the sites frequented by the mobile grocery market Exploring the need and interest and creating a model was easy compared to going mobile and securing funds to put Any Street Grocery on wheels. With the help of private funders, they were able to buy a 40-foot school bus and begin the work of retro-fitting a bus into a grocery store. Steve, with lots of volunteers, took on the task of ripping out the seats and stripping down the bus. New flooring was installed, the bus took on a new color and a local

street artist painted fruits and veggies on both sides. Finally, the mobile market was ready to roll. But what about funding to pay for the fresh produce to be sold, for advertising and outreach to neighbors, staff to run the operation, and so on? The hard planning work finally paid off when Denver Department of Public Health and the Environment funded them to pilot the market in Montbello and Green Valley Ranch. With those funds, Any Street Grocery has been able to visit several sites in the community to try out the approach. “We are learning about the best locations, best times, and the products people want to see. Meeting and talking to people is so exhilarating – people want to talk to us about food and other things. It’s very gratifying.” For the moment, Ashleigh and Steve are staffing the mobile market as volunteers, but they have great plans for the future. Ashleigh adds that they want the market to thrive and expand. “We want more than one bus and, eventually, we want to get out into the actual residential areas. Make access to fresh, affordable food even easier.” What will happen after the pilot funding is gone remains a bit of a question. The enthusiastic and passionate team is working with their board of director to identify and tap into private dollars as well as grant funds. Right now, residents can support this unique grocery model by shopping for fresh food whenever the mobile market is in the neighborhood. Watch Montbello Organizing Committee and Councilwoman Gilmore’s Facebook pages for dates and times the market will be in your vicinity. Check out Any Street Grocery at for more information.Y

Editor’s note: Donna Garnett is Project Director of Montbello FreshLo Initiative which is aimed, in part, at increasing access to fresh food in the Montbello community. For more information about FreshLo contact, email

MUSE - Montbello Urban Spectrum Edition - May/June 2018



La Tienda de Any Street Grocery: En la Esquina de Tu Calle y Mi Calle. E

Por Donna Garnett, M.S. - Traducido por Marta Welch

s un vigoroso sábado por la mañana, a medida que la gente llega al Centro de Recreo de Montbello. Algunos están aquí por el Ayuntamiento del Alcalde. Algunos están aquí para sus ejercicios de la mañana. Y, algunos están aquí para comprar fruta y verdura fresca. Como unas personas se alinean fuera del autobús escolar retro-empotrado que espera a entrar al mercado móvil, tengo una posibilidad de visitar con compradores y los fundadores de Any Street Grocery, Steve Lockhart y Ashleigh Ruehrdanz. Su visión es crear comunidades más saludables en todo el área metropolitana de Denver a través de un mejor acceso a los alimentos. Steve comentó: "La razón por la cual me metí en esto es que las opciones de alimentos saludables deben ser una opción para todos. Esto hace que la comida saludable sea una opción para muchas más gentes, llevando la comida al vecindario". Desde la primera reunión hace unos cuantos años en la Escuela de Salud Pública de Colorado, la pareja sabía que algún día colaborarían para comenzar su propia organización sin fines de lucro en el ámbito de la alimentación saludable. Los nativos de Colorado, ambos tienen fuertes conexiones con la ciudad y son apasionados por la justicia alimentaria. A partir de esas conversaciones tempranas y con un sueño en mente, comenzaron Any Street Grocery. Any Street Grocery es un mercado móvil – el primero de su tipo en el área metropolitana de Denver -- que proporciona acceso a alimentos saludables y otros productos esenciales en Montbello, Green Valley Ranch y otras comunidades de Denver en el desierto de alimentos. La tienda de comestibles móvil utiliza precios basados en el mercado y descuentos incorporados para asegurar la disponibilidad y asequibilidad de alimentos frescos y saludables y productos esenciales para aquellos que quieren y los necesitan más. Tienen como objetivo proporcionar alimentos frescos en "la calidad de Whole Foods a los precios de Sprouts." Preguntado lo que tomó para comenzar el mercado móvil, Steve compartió esto “no fue un camino fácil o directo. Encuestamos a los vecindarios para averiguar opciones excitantes de alimentos frescos y luego nos reunimos con varios grupos comunitarios y la Concejala Gilmore para mejor entender la cuestión en este vecindario. Investigamos modelos exitosos en todo el país y encontramos que la mayoría habían comenzado el trabajando con escuelas locales. Asi que, nos comunicamos con McGlone Academy". McGlone es uno de los sitios más frecuentados por el mercado móvil de comestibles. Explorar la necesidad e interés y crear un modelo eran fáciles comparado a yendo móvil y asegurando fondos para poner a Any Street Grocery sobre ruedas. Con la ayuda de fundadores privados, eran capaces de comprar un autobús escolar de 40 pies y comenzar el trabajo de retro-encajar un autobús en una tienda de comestibles. Steve, con muchos voluntarios, tomó la tarea de arrancar los asientos y desforrar el autobús. El nuevo piso fue instalado, el

autobús tomó un nuevo color y un artista callejero local pintó frutas y verduras en ambos lados. Finalmente, el mercado móvil estaba listo para rodar. Pero ¿qué acerca de los fondos para pagar por los productos frescos para ser vendidos, la publicidad y el alcance a los vecinos, el personal para dirigir la operación, y así sucesivamente? El duro trabajo de planificación finalmente dio sus frutos cuando el Departamento de Salud Pública y el Medio Ambiente de Denver los financiaron para experimentar el mercado móvil en Montbello y Green Valley Ranch. Con esos fondos, Any Street Grocery ha podido visitar a varios lugares en la comunidad para probar el enfoque. "Estamos aprendiendo sobre los mejores lugares, mejores tiempos y los productos que la gente desea ver. Conociendo y hablando con la gente es tan excitante - la gente quiere hablar con nosotros acerca de los alimentos y otras cosas. Es muy gratificante". Por el momento, Ashleigh y Steve están dotando al mercado móvil de voluntarios, pero tienen grandes planes para el futuro. Ashleigh añada que quieren que el mercado prospere y se amplíe. "Queremos más de un autobús y, eventualmente, queremos salir a las áreas residenciales reales. Hacer que el acceso a alimentos frescos y asequibles sea aún más fácil". Lo que sucederá después de que se termine la financiación del piloto sigue siendo una cuestión. El equipo entusiasta y apasionado está trabajando con su junta directiva para identificar y acceder a dólares privados, así como para otorgar fondos. En este momento, los residentes pueden apoyar este modelo único de supermercado comprando comida fresca cada vez que el mercado móvil se encuentre en el vecindario. Mire las páginas de Facebook del Comité Organizador de Montbello (Montbello Organizing Committee) y la Concejala Gilmore para conocer las fechas y horarios en los que se encontrará el Mercado en su vecindario. Visite Any Street Grocery en para obtener más información.Y

Donna Garnett es la Directora de Proyecto de la Iniciativa FreshLo de Montbello, que tiene como objetivo, en parte, aumentar el acceso a alimentos frescos en la comunidad de Montbello. Para obtener más información acerca de FreshLo, contáctela a

MUSE - Montbello Urban Spectrum Edition - May/June 2018



Kids Can Make A Difference!

By Adriana Aleman, Alyssandra Greene and assisted by Rachel Gutierrez, Ashley Paz-Perlera and Melanie Cruz


Editor’s Note: Five young girls approached MUSE with a request to submit an article. This is what they wrote.

any adults underestimate kids because of their age or size. People think just because kids are younger or smaller they know less and they’re weaker, but we are stronger and smarter than most people think. When kids get involved in helping their community – the community benefits. And, they have lots more years ahead of them to make a difference. For example, Katie Stagliano was only 9 years old when she grew a 40pound cabbage as a school project. It all started when Katie’s teacher introduced all the students to cabbage seedlings donated by the Bonnie Plants 3rd grade Cabbage Program. Katie planted hers and gave it tender loving care until it grew to an amazing 40 pounds. At dinner one evening, Katie’s dad said, “Did you know some people go to bed hungry?” and Katie was shocked. She got the idea to donate her cabbage to a soup kitchen. Katie and her family volunteered at the local soup kitchen and Katie had her second shock: the cabbage fed 275 people! On the drive home, Katie asked her parents, “Can we grow a garden at our house so we can feed more people?” The next year, Katie’s idea grew bigger: her school gave her a garden the size of a football field and lots of kids helped her grow more food to donate. When she was 10, Katie’s idea grew even bigger. She decided to spread the word by motivating and inspiring kids across the United States to start gardening. She wanted to raise money and donate it to 9 to 14-year-old kids, so they could follow her example and grow food to donate to people in need. Mary Ann Bash, the Director of Each One Teach One (EOTO) at Marie L. Greenwood Academy, heard Katie on the evening news and invited her EOTO students to write an application for a Katie’s Krops garden. They got the grant and the first year the students grew 30 lbs. of healthy greens and donated them to The Gathering Place in Denver that serves lunch to 175 people every day. The students were all surprised to see all the homeless people and how grateful and kind they were even when they have less. Katie’s idea kept getting bigger. Her mom sent Each One Teach One the movie, “Starfish Throwers” based on three amazing people, including Katie, who help to end hunger little by little globally. The title is based on the story about a boy who was walking along the ocean and saw thousands of starfish

that had been washed up on the beach. He felt sad to see all the starfish die and decided to help them. He was throwing them back into the ocean when an elderly man walked up and asked why he was wasting his time when he couldn’t make a difference for the thousands of starfish on the beach. The little boy threw another starfish into the ocean and said, “I made a difference for that one!” The three people in the movie are like the boy. Mr. Law was a middle school teacher who helped the homeless in Minneapolis by giving them sandwiches, blankets, toothbrushes and bus tokens so they could have a place to be warm and safer. He can’t help every homeless person but what he does helps lots of people. Krishnan helps the Untouchables in India and even feeds people by hand if they don’t have enough strength to feed themselves. Katie is like the boy too. She started with just one cabbage and one soup kitchen in South Carolina but now has kids all over the country donating food in their own communities. The movie inspired us when we were 9 and 10 years old and were invited to an event called Feeding the 5000. Volunteers go all over downtown and gather food that was going to be wasted in restaurants and chefs make a soup to feed the homeless and poor. We went on stage and explained how we get food scraps from our school lunchroom that would be thrown out and put them in our compost pile so we have soil that grows healthier food. We encouraged people at the event to sign a pledge to not waste food that could help others. We teach our Greenwood families too. We have a Cooking from the Garden Club after school for 1st through 6th graders and parents too. We teach how to plant, harvest and cook our crops. For example, we sowed arugula, romaine lettuce, spinach, kale, radishes and sugar snap peas in the garden and then created four different healthy dressings for the salad. We also learned to make three different cole slaws to introduce nutritious cabbage and served them at our Greenwood Health Fair; a community event that grows the idea of Katie’s Krops and teaches the importance of healthy living. Our idea keeps getting bigger. After we found out Katie had written a book called Katie’s Cabbage, five 6th graders studied the book and taught it to 8 and 9-year-old third graders who are the same age Katie was when she grew her 40-lb. cabbage. We taught them how to plant a garden and the importance of helping people in need in our community that we see on street corners or who have to get free food. Now all 30 kids in the class will be part of our Katie’s Krops garden too. Katie’s story and the “Starfish Throwers” really inspire us kids to help out more around our community by getting more involved in gardening to help people in need. We are only 11 and 12 years old and we make a difference!Y

MUSE - Montbello Urban Spectrum Edition - May/June 2018



Jamar Thomas Holmes-Moore

Griptape is a nonprofit organization that supports youth by giving them decision-making control over what and how they learn through awarding small grants ($500) to pursue a topic they’re passionate about, and a Champion to encourage them along the way. The recipients of the grants travel to New York City where they meet with other grantees, champions, and others to discuss their ideas and flesh out ways to implement them. How did he use his grant? Of course, he created a technology and marketing service called Students at your Service, LLC. The purpose of the service is to employ students to speak on behalf of companies; in other words, funneling the energy of youth into a positive corporate message. His goal is to get other youth involved in and representing Griptape. Back to the college discussion. Jamar has been accepted to UCD in Engineering where he will major in Computer Science. He is also applying to Metropolitan State University of Denver, Morehouse, and Tuskegee. After college he wants to help youth. Maybe he will work abroad in places where circumstances are direr than they are in our country. Maybe work in a wartorn country where his computer science skills can help people re-build. Between now and then, he has a few things on his plate. He will be travelling to Washington DC where he will be representing Denver at the National Policy Debate. Also, he will be emceeing his graduation ceremony. He will be carrying out caregiving responsibilities with his great grandparents in Montbello with whom he lives. He takes care of his 85-year-old grandfather who is no longer mobile and depends on Jamar. Jamar is grateful for the opportunity to help his grandpa who has been his caregiver, role model and inspiration since he was a small boy. As I watch Jamar walk away, I am struck by the sense that there goes a man with a mission, a passion, and the smarts and the will to get things done. The world needs more of his kind because above it all he is kind and compassionate too. Y

By Donna Garnett


met Jamar, age 18, a few weeks ago when I met with the Steps To Success Youth Advisory Board. I wanted to meet with them to find out their perceptions about what Montbello youth were thinking. They wanted to meet with me to tell me how the MUSE could be improved. Jamar clearly had a well-thought out and well-articulated presentation that he wanted to be sure I heard. As we have continued to discourse through emails and texts, it became clear that this ingenious and thoughtful young man should be the youth featured in this issue of the MUSE. It’s Sunday morning and we meet at the Starbucks on Chambers. He has just come from church at True Light where he and several other youths have led the morning service and where he has given testimony about his own faith and inspired other youth and adults with his message about looking beyond the circumstances of now to the future. “There are many dark influences in our life right now. We seem to be on the brink of war, youth are constantly vulnerable to the cyber-bullying of social media. There is always something or someone in their ear exposing them to negative information. Youth are basically living in a toxic society,” he tells me. “I believe we have to convey to youth that we must stand in our truth. Help them know that it is okay to be ourselves. It’s okay to be an outlier to today’s toxic society.” To the adults, he says, “Have faith in our youth and keep encouraging them. Ultimately, they will be our salvation. We have to create the light in the dark spots of life. We have to bring love into a room full of darkness. Uplift others.” The conversation goes on as we turn to his impending graduation from Dr. Martin Luther King Early College in Green Valley Ranch. When asked about his plans after high school, he replies that he is looking at a fulltime internship with Impact Empowerment Group, Inc. (IEG). IEG is a financial education organization that teaches youth how to create passive income and how to manage their money – something that he has been doing well the past few years. As he passes me his business card, I see that he is already a local coordinator with Griptape. I ask the obvious, “What is Griptape?”

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MUSE - Montbello Urban Spectrum Edition - May/June 2018


May/June 2018 (May 2018)

May 8: 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Community Discussion: How Healthy is Health Care in Colorado? Colorado Consumer Health Initiative, Aurora Public Library, 14949 E Alameda Pkwy (Aurora) For more information, call 303-839-1261 or email May 9: 5 to 6:30 p.m. MOC Community Engagement Task Team, Montbello Organizing Committee, 12000 East 47th Ave. Ste 110 (Denver) For more information, email May 12: 10 a.m. to Noon. Office Hours with Councilwoman Stacie Gilmore, Green Valley Ranch Library, 4856 Andes Court (Denver) For more information, call 720- 337-7711 or email

May 17: 4 to 6 p.m. Bills, Brews, BBQ, & Bingo! Recap of the 2018 Legislative Session and Fun, Colorado Consumer Health Initiative, Alpine Dog Brewing, 1505 Ogden St. (Denver) For more information, call 303-839-1261 or email May 21: 6 to 7:30 p.m. MOC Transportation Task Team, Montbello Organizing Committee, 12000 East 47th Ave. Ste 110. (Denver) For more information, email

May 22: Steps To Success Community Board Meeting, Montbello Recreation Center 15555 E. 53rd Ave., (Denver) For more information, email R.J. at

May 31: 10 a.m. to Noon. Montbello Office Hours with Councilwoman Gilmore, Arie P. Taylor Building Council District 11 Office, 4685 Peoria St. Suite 215 (Denver) For more information, call 720-337-7711 or email

(June 2018)

June 2: Noon to 2:30 p.m. Councilwoman Gilmore’s District 11 Day of Beauty, Montbello Recreation Center-15555 E. 53rd Ave. (Denver) For more information, call 720-337-7711 or email

June 7: 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Montbello 20/20 Community Meeting, Montbello Recreation Center 15555 E 53rd Ave. (Denver) For more information, email June 9: 10 a.m. to Noon. Green Valley Ranch Office Hours with Councilwoman Gilmore, Green Valley Ranch Library, 4856 Andes Court (Denver) For more information, call 720-337-7711 or email June 13: 5 to 6:30 p.m. MOC Community Engagement Task Team, Montbello Organizing Committee, 12000 East 47th Ave. Ste. 110 (Denver) For more information, email

June 18: 6 to 7:30 p.m. MOC Transportation Development Task Team, Montbello Organizing Committee, 12000 East 47th Avenue Ste. 110 (Denver) For more information, email

June 28: 10 a.m. to Noon. Montbello Office Hours with Councilwoman Gilmore, Arie P. Taylor Building Council District 11 Office, 4685 Peoria St. Suite 215 (Denver) For more information, call 720-337-7711 or email June 26: Steps To Success Community Board Meeting, Montbello Recreation Center 15555 E. 53rd Ave. (Denver) For more information, email R.J. at

If your organization has a Save The Date activity to be listed in the 2018 July/August issue of MUSE, send details to MUSE - Montbello Urban Spectrum Edition - May/June 2018


MUSE May/June 2018  

The Montbello Urban Spectrum Edition (MUSE) is a bi-monthly publication produced and published by the Denver Urban Spectrum (DUS) and the Mo...

MUSE May/June 2018  

The Montbello Urban Spectrum Edition (MUSE) is a bi-monthly publication produced and published by the Denver Urban Spectrum (DUS) and the Mo...