On Monday, dozens of volunteers and members from Denver’s Jewish community helped accept and sort donations at Temple Emanuel for migrants coming through the city. This spring will be the second time the Jewish community has come together to support the migrants. The first drive was back in December.
Ten-year-old Mayzie Leshem was volunteering with her dad, Dan. Mayzie was inspired to help because of how much fun she had previously, and for the sense of accomplishment that she felt knowing that she was genuinely helping someone.
“It makes me think these people were treated wrongly. Everybody deserves stuff like this 24/7, so if I can give it to them just once, I’ll do my absolute best,” said Mayzie. “And even if they don’t know me, they probably definitely won’t, this just makes me happy.”
“I think the important thing is that we have capacity to help and that means we’re responsible to look for opportunities to help. I think that especially in the Jewish tradition, we know what it feels like to be the new people,” said Rabbi Emily Hyatt, Associate Rabbi of Temple Emanuel. “Because we know what it feels like, it requires us to be there when we can for somebody else that’s going through that same experience.”
Since 2022, thousands of migrants have come through Denver seeking shelter and asylum. The city was quick to respond. Denver is considered a sanctuary city for immigrants, but quickly realized that it would need a long-term plan in order to properly sustain the effort. Mayor Michael Hancock declared an emergency in response to the high number of incoming migrants. With new federal guidelines introduced in May 2023, the city is stressed and pushed to the limit. Support provided by various organizations and churches is helping to provide funding, shelter, security, clothing, and food.
“In December, we signed on and a week later they opened this location for donations and drop-offs. Back then the big concern was winter clothes,” said Dan Leshem, director of the Jewish Community Relations Council.
Lori Kalata, the main organizer of the Temple Emanuel donation site, reported that 68 different organizations came to help the cause. About 35 organizations were Jewish organizations and the rest were made up of other groups from the community including churches and schools.
“It was really a remarkable community response who showed up here and helped out the 6000, at the time, migrants who were arriving in Denver. We were able to receive donations of warm winter clothes, coats, boots, and shoes,” Kalata said. “Everybody showed up and helped out,” said Kalata. “Sometimes it feels like we’re so polarized and divided and so othered and this was human beings showing up for other human beings. We had a couple who drove down the day after a brutal snowstorm and they drove down from a mosque in Boulder just to help us out.”
On Monday at Temple Emanuel, about 30 volunteers, from ages five to 80 years old, from different organizations and the temple itself, sorted the incoming donations which will be distributed to those coming through. Many of them at the moment are from Venezuela.
“We have volunteers here, five and six years old, with their parents who are helping, doing meaningful things for migrants. They have been sorting clothes and packing boxes and writing labels for us,” Kalata said. “A five-year-old showed us her writing skills and she knew exactly why she was doing this work. She could tell me this is for the people who just got here who need these clothes.”
Leshem explains that everyone who was helping out felt a great sense of mission.
“This kind of volunteer project is so immediate and the need is so great. For people of faith everywhere, I think feeding the hungry, clothing the under-clothed, and taking care of the stranger, I mean this is the highest thing we’re asked to do by our faith tradition,” Leshem said. “Helping migrants, as I said, it’s like you can’t imagine a more pure, urgent, beautiful thing to do for your fellow human beings.”
Temple Emanuel’s donation site will be accepting goods for six weeks. People who wish to donate can visit Temple Emanuel’s News page for information on what items are needed. For this spring’s donation event, hydration and nutrition are the main focus, but people can also donate hygiene items, diapers, and new underwear. Donations can be brought to Temple Emanuel during their designated drop-off times or donations can be made through their Amazon Wishlist. Those who wish to volunteer can sign up through the donation site’s sign up page. Other opportunities to help are found through the Newcomer’s Fund started by the Rose Community Foundation.
The Denver Dumb Friends League, the largest independent, nonprofit, community-based animal shelter in the Rocky Mountains, is offering 50% off of adoption fees for dogs ages one to five from now until the end of May. As of right now, there are 125 dogs waiting for their forever homes.
Dumb Friends League frequently offers 50% off on adoption fees for senior dogs, which are historically the hardest to find homes for, but the animal rescue community has recently seen a new trend: a glut of younger dogs piling into shelters that are in need of loving families. Why is this?
“That’s the million dollar question,” said Katie Parker, Vice President of Sheltering at Dumb Friends League in Denver. “If I knew all the answers, I would be a very happy lady. Recently, we haven’t had any trouble moving senior pets out, which is fabulous. We don’t have that many in the shelter. We originally had a senior dog promotion planned for May, but once May rolled around, we realized that we didn’t have a lot of senior dogs available for adoption, and pivoted to the animals we really needed our community to focus on. This group of dogs between the ages of one and five are young, they’re energetic, and they have a lot of activity needs,” she said.
There are lots of sweet dogs in the one to five age range who need homes at Dumb Friends League, and they all have unique personalities. While puppies that come into the shelter get adopted out quickly, some dogs like Axel, a one-year-old pit bull with shiny black fur, floppy ears and puppy dog eyes, have been there for months on end. Axel is the shelter’s longest resident to date; he has been at Dumb Friends League since February, and it’s been 77 days since his last visit with a potential adoptee. He received a certificate of achievement for his good history with cats and small dogs, and he is a volunteer favorite. Axel is energetic and active and lives for playing fetch, so he needs an owner with an ample supply of tennis balls. Donors have provided a basket full of toys, dog food, and treats that will be gifted to whoever adopts Axel, as well as a harness and collar.
Clair is known for her hops. Clair is a three-year-old mixed breed, and is always bouncing up and down at the window to see everyone who comes by. Clair has lived with other dogs in the past and would do great in a home with other dogs and children ages eight and up. She loves to cuddle and eat treats, but she struggles with being fearful at times, so she needs a family that is willing to be patient with her while she comes out of her shell.
There’s Sheba, the one-year-old Siberian Husky, who has one blue eye and one brown eye. And Canelo, a five-year-old labrador retriever who is known as a bit of a “Houdini,” because he was always ready to climb the short fence and escape his previous home. Canelo is described as a “social butterfly” with people, but he doesn’t do great with other dogs. Sochi, the one-year-old Doberman Pinscher, is beloved by staff for his muppet-like appearance and goofy personality. His name translates to “flower.” His animal care team says that once he gets his energy out from playing, he loves to let you scratch his tummy and cuddle.
The end of the pandemic might be partially to blame for these recent trends. “The animals we’re seeing in our shelter were born during the pandemic. I don’t think they’re necessarily returns from a shelter, but maybe their family didn’t have the same amount of social activity when they were born, they were working from home, and now a couple of years in, things are going a little bit back to normal, and their parents might be going back to work. Kids are back in school full-time,” Parker explained.
Housing restrictions are another one of the most significant barriers to adopting out these dogs. Homeownership rates in Denver are on the decline, so many people are opting to live in apartment complexes that often have size and breed restrictions or charge pet rent. This can make owning a younger and bigger dog tricky.
“A big dog is easier to own when you live in a house with a yard, and you don’t have really close-by neighbors with dogs of their own. They can go outside and exercise in the yard and play and fetch. They don’t have to necessarily be leash locked. As housing is getting tighter and tighter in our city, which we know it is, people’s living situations are less natural and easy for big dogs,” Parker explained. Some apartment complexes have community dog runs or dog parks, and as renting becomes more the norm, apartments are becoming more dog-friendly. “Lots of people make it work, and we want to encourage people to do so if they have the means to,” Parker said.
In the meantime, 1600 volunteers are caring for these dogs but what they really need is a home. If you’re looking for a new companion, Denver Dumb Friends League’s promotion is going on until the end of May, and you could find your new best friend.
This month on Bucket List Community Cafe’s podcast, the Lockwood family had travel on their bucket list so they stopped dreaming about it and actually turned it into a lifestyle. A semi-nomadic lifestyle! In 2020, when Covid changed everything, Phil and Erin Lockwood of Northeast Denver found themselves rooted and restless in their home. They wanted to explore and have a more enriching education for their three children. Anticipating impending lockdowns the Lockwood’s and their kids made a bold decision to relocate to their second home in Coronado Island, California.
This process was fairly seamless, with Phil working remotely and Colt and Brooklyn transitioning to online schooling. With the freedom to be anywhere, and the help of a vacation club called Inspirato, the Lockwoods embraced travel as an exciting and immersive option for their entire family. As they say, “instead of one day, day one!”
While their commitment to taking the pandemic seriously remained at the forefront, the Lockwoods capitalized on the opportunity to explore North America, visiting Mexico and Central America.
When pandemic restrictions gradually eased, the Lockwoods enrolled their younger children in asynchronous schooling, creating more flexibility for their travels. Their older daughter, Reagan, now 16, decided to return home to go to high school. They cast a wider net for destinations and their YouTube channel which they started in late 2019, called “Always Be Changing,” began receiving thousands of views on every video.
Today, Phil and Erin have devoted themselves to traveling with their children, and they invest countless hours shooting and editing their YouTube videos. Their semi-nomadic lifestyle, although seemingly idyllic, is not without its challenges. With Colt, age 10, and Brooklyn, age 11, there are concerns about their socialization, compared to others their age, who are in traditional in-person schools. Additionally, the financial burden of travel for a family of four is very expensive.
Nonetheless, the Lockwoods have gone on trips to Central America, Europe, and Asia over the past year and a half, with the goal of reaching all seven continents in the coming years. During their travels, they love to eat their way through new cultures and experience off-the-beaten-path adventures.
The Lockwoods are now only a couple of weeks away from returning to Asia and continuing to provide a unique world view to their kids that they would only otherwise learn about through textbooks and television.
Every time Raul Chavez danced he never looked tired. That’s what Anna Martinez remembers about the man she called “Capitan.” Chavez was the leader of the Aztec Danza Huitzilopochtli, which shares its dance tradition and culture in Denver. Raul died on May 7, 2022. His death broke the troupe’s heart. But to celebrate his life they dance.
Raul was the only Capitan in Denver, a title given to him by the elders in Mexico. By having this title it means he can choose a group name and invite people to come dance and learn. It also means that as a Capitan, his “palabra” carries responsibility and authority.
Maria Chavez, Raul’s daughter, along with Danny Stange and Larry Medina, sat down with Bucket List Community Cafe to talk about their Capitan and memories of him.
“He chose the name Huitzilopochtli because his grandfather spoke to him about it, meaning the sun and the morning, the sun rising. The sun rising from the horizon is the Huitzilopochtli,” Stange said. “To Raul, to name the group ‘Huitziolpochtli’ is like a sign that it’s time for the sun to return, for the light to illuminate once again, and for our culture to return.”
Capitan Raul immigrated to Colorado in 1969 and formed the Tlaloc group in 1981. The Capitan was given the name Tlaloc by his grandfather, which means “the drink of the Earth.” The Tlaloc group was created as an order from Raul Chavez’s father to him. The group’s purpose was to maintain tradition and spread the culture Raul had grown up with in Mazatlan, Mexico to Chicanos, those who don’t speak Spanish, or have origins in Mexico.
After a decade of introducing the discipline of danza that he grew up with, Raul formed Huitzilopochtli in 1992.
“He wanted to continue following tradition here in Denver because he saw that there were sons and daughters and adoptive sons and daughters like Danny that he wanted to teach,” Maria said. “He saw that they wanted to follow him and to him, it was important that he founded a danza here. My father is the only one who has captaincy here in Colorado so he wanted to leave a tradition here, a well-founded one, before he left.”
Passing down the tradition fell to Maria. She now carries the torch for her father.
“Even after a year since his death, people are still looking for him,” Maria said. “It does make us sad to know that he’s not here, but at the same time, we are very happy to see everything that he left, his roots that he left. I am so proud to be his daughter and to see everything that he left for me because he left me a family and roots for tradition to be carried on.”
The Capitan’s teachings come from the tradition which helps people learn that they are here to serve and help each other. In Huitzilopochtli, you can’t do things alone because you will always have a support system. These teachings encourage the dancers to be vulnerable when it comes to their practice.
“The Capitan taught us that we are all equal and that we are all a family when we dance,” Maria said. “I don’t have dancers, I have siblings. I have a family.”
“We dance in a circle. In the circle, no one is more and no one is less,” Stange explained. “There’s a certain characteristic of the dancer when he puts on his costume and his feathers. He turns into a cosmic member, like a spiritual warrior. In dancing, there’s freedom.”
Not only did Raul help people through dance, but he was also very familiar with traditional healing practices.
“We are all humans that have problems like everyone else, but when we get dressed as dancers, we feel free and we cleanse ourselves spiritually through dance. What we feel is what we transmit to the audience that’s watching us. The empowerment and healing that we feel when we dance, we hope that our audience feels it and takes that energy with them,” said Maria.
“We hope that the energy from the danza enters the audience. The sound of the drums, it’ll draw you,” said Medina. “It’s the heartbeat of our group so that’s what brings all of us together.”
“When the Captian died, everything fell apart because each of us was in a bad state,” Medina said. “I believe that he is still guiding us today.”
“My father used to tell me that physically, you leave, but the person only truly dies when you no longer remember them,” Maria added.
Maria explained that prior to her father’s death, she had an accident that resulted in having to take a break from dancing. Her father would always encourage her to come back to the group and would even announce her return. Chavez returned to the group after her father passed away in order to take charge.
“It was very painful to return to the group,” Maria said. “Personally, I wouldn’t have liked to return as a leader. I would have liked to continue being a soldier in the effort but to still have him here.”
Despite the painful return, the group maintains a strong front. They continue to dance and pass down the culture and traditions that Raul taught them.
For Jose and Anna Martinez, with every beat of the drum and their heart, they miss their Capitan. They reflected on how dancing has impacted their lives and how they are coping since the death of Raul, and all he brought to their tradition.
“Coming from a very Catholic family and into this space, I felt that I was able to truly connect with my ancestors and myself here,” Jose said. “To be a dancer, it has made me a humble person and someone of strength.”
Anna carries the memory of the Capitan in her performances through her stamina. For Anna, her Capitan’s light still shines. “That’s what keeps me going. Whenever I’m tired, I think of him. In his honor, I dance and I give it all my strength,” said Anna. “Raul Chavez’s life was to dance and to help heal people. His legacy will always go on.”
Our friend and neighbor Rod Coffee got on his motorbike recently to take us on a tour of Five Points, one of Denver’s most diverse neighborhoods. He spoke to old residents and new ones alike to catch the vibe of this rapidly changing scene. What makes the area surrounding the intersection so interesting? Take the RTD up Welton Street and find out. It has been called the “Harlem of the West” for its vibrant jazz and R&B music scene. Billie Holliday, Miles Davis, and Louis Armstrong used to play at the clubs. It’s home to small Black-owned businesses, great food and drink, and Jack Kerouac wrote about it in his book “On the Road.”
“At lilac evening I walked with every muscle aching among the lights of 27th and Welton in the Denver colored section, wishing I were a Negro, feeling that the best the white world had offered was not enough ecstasy for me, not enough life, joy, kicks, darkness, music, not enough night.”
Redlining created the primarily Black neighborhood and gentrification is now changing it, attracting a more diverse mix to one of our city’s hippest corridors. It’s not the same as when Armstrong and Kerouac came through and it’s not without its challenges, but folks who live there are working to keep the soul in this soulful part of Denver. Juneteenth Music Festival and the Five Points Jazz Festival are both coming up in June and the streets will be packed, but any day is a good day to visit “The Harlem of the West,” see its murals and eat, drink, and shop.
On a Saturday late this winter, Terrance “Sol” Campbell joined several small business owners of color in one of Denver’s most gentrified neighborhoods, Five Points. They weren’t only trying to sell their goods but were also there to make a stand.
“It’s hard. But at the same time, I feel like it makes me stronger because it makes me want to be a stronghold in Five Points and in Denver,” Campbell said. “I’m still one of the last people surviving that’s been here before the changes and knows what it was like before and wants to represent that old family-style culture that the neighborhood really represents.”
Business owners like Campbell arrive at the Abstract Art Market mid-morning. The event took place on March 11 at the Highland Event Center, an old church converted into a community center by the organization Shared Ground. Some went inside and set their tables against the walls. Others set up outside. R&B and hip-hop played on a loudspeaker as the vendors talked and laughed with customers and each other.
Campbell, the owner of Love Chai, attends vending events to sell his signature chai drinks. At the Abstract Art Market event, Campbell greets customers with a large smile and fills up red sample cups for them to taste his cold brew. After taking a sip, customers tell him that it tastes just like gingerbread.
He has hopes of one day saving up enough money to open his own storefront in Five Points.
“I do have Native American blood and I feel very tied to this land,” Campbell said. “My ancestors fought and died here, and I’m still doing the same thing, even if it’s in a spiritual sense.”
His story aligns with that of other residents and businesses who have been in the community, witnessed the gentrification, and are either fighting to stay in the neighborhood that they call home, or working to create a space for their community members to thrive.
They include Menelik Marutle, a local artist and community organizer who grew up in Five Points but recently had to move out due to the rising cost of living.
“I always thought of my grandmother’s house as a place of comfort and good food and good conversation. So it’s a tribute to her,” Jones said.
And Dora Miera, a local resident that has lived in Five Points for her whole life and has no plans of leaving anytime soon.
Campbell, Marutle, Jones, and Miera all have hopes of continuing to live and work in Five Points, a historically African American neighborhood on the east side of Denver.
Five Points lies on the outskirts of downtown. The name comes from the crossing of five different streets—Welton Street, Washington Street, 27th Street, and East 26th Avenue—which create a star-like intersection. Around most corners and on the sides of many buildings are large, bright murals, many of them displaying the jazz-rich history of the community. Now, modern, sleek apartments have been built next to historical buildings and houses.
Campbell recalled many people around him having to sell their homes or getting pushed out. Over time, his community and family members have been spread out throughout Colorado or even to other states.
“It’s been really unfortunate cause a lot of my family and friends that grew up in my neighborhood of Five Points had to move out for one reason or another,” Campbell said.
Currently, more than half of the population of Five Points are white, non-Hispanic residents, according to a statistical analysis of Five Points compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau. The demographic shift stands in stark contrast to this once vibrant Black community’s glory days when it was known across the country as “The Harlem of the West.”
Now, according to a study done by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, Denver overall is one of the most gentrified cities in the United States. Five Points is changing rapidly. Despite the ongoing changes, people who have called Five Points their home are not ready to give up their fight for this neighborhood
“This is where I’m from and I have so many ties to my community,” Campbell said.
Campbell has thought about moving elsewhere, perhaps to a coastal city, but he wants his business here. Miera has seen many others forced out of the neighborhood by home prices that are three times the original cost, yet she is not ready to leave either.
“I stayed because I was born here and my grandparents were here,” Miera said. “Just the history. Most of my family lived in Five Points. But they’ve since moved just because of all the gentrification. My friend that lives around the corner from me, people are trying to buy her mom’s house and keep giving her more offers, but she’s not going to leave.”
Although there are some changes that have been beneficial for the community, such as increased funding to local businesses, residents that don’t fit a certain tax bracket feel like they still aren’t being seen, and aren’t receiving the same benefits.
“The landlord’s not going to put more work into where I live,” Miera said. “And he said he can sell it and get more money. But he won’t displace us because he knows, you know, it’s hard.”
Five Points will always be an important area for TeaLee’s owner, Jones. Jones’s parents moved to Five Points when they came to Denver in the 1940s. The neighborhood became their destination largely due to segregation and redlining.
“Living in that concentrated area had the benefit of, for them, they had lifelong friends. You got to know people generationally. The northeast neighborhood was a place where you went to school, you went to church, your friends were there, your family was concentrated in that area of town. So it very much felt like a community. It didn’t feel as segmented as it is now,” Jones said. “Growing up as a kid, I thought of it as a safe place for me.”
The diminished presence of the African-American community inspired her to open her tea house.
“The reason why it was created was so that there would be a place on the historic Five Points where people of color can still have some sense of history, meaning they can come into a place where there’s books and art and other people of color that have a gathering place,” Jones said.
By employing people and providing a space for people to get together and have food, drinks, tea, and events, Jones also wants to give back to the community through her business.
Local artist Marutle usually spends his time either attending or hosting pop-up shows and events. Due to the gentrification, he had to move out of the neighborhood he once called home. “I hosted my first event when I was 16,” Marutle said. “I did a Polaroid art show.”
“Growing up in Five Points was really cool,” Marutle said. “It was like a renaissance.”
Now when he goes into the area, he feels like his presence is being questioned, like he doesn’t belong anymore. Many of the businesses he used to frequent are being closed or forced to move, such as Welton Street Cafe, which is in the process of relocating. Residents and business owners continue to wonder if they will be able to afford to live in the neighborhood.
“Living in Five Points made me feel I was living to work. I was working to survive. I wasn’t working to live,” Marutle said.
Dr. Ana Contreras, coordinator of the Puksta Scholar Program at CU Boulder, has conducted research on racialized division, gentrification, and school closures in urban environments. Most of her work is in Montbello, another low-income, predominantly Hispanic and Black Denver neighborhood. However, Contreras sees parallels between the way gentrification impacts these communities.
“There is a long memory, a long legacy that happens in these communities,” Contreras said. “And when gentrification hits, it really breaks up that.”
Contreras said gentrification causes hubs or communities of color to close. As business owners and residents are forced out, prices and cost of living continue to increase.
Campbell is struggling to continue making a stand in Five Points. Once, he rode his skateboard up and down the streets. Now, he is working multiple jobs in order to stay afloat, all while trying to jumpstart his own business. He said not all of the incoming developments are necessarily bad, as long as the changes are handled with the broader community in mind.
One example of a new business that has hopes beyond just selling products is Little Bodega, recently opened by Natasha Butler. The former New York resident would frequent bodegas, and felt they were missing in Denver, especially in neighborhoods with higher rates of food insecurity like Five Points.
“People need to have access to bodegas because it’s not accessible for everyone to get in a car and go to a grocery store,” Butler said. “Not everybody has a car.”
Butler intentionally chose to live in the Five Points neighborhood when making her move to Denver.
“I wanted to be in the Five Points neighborhood for the bodega because I wanted to be in the historical Black neighborhood,” Butler said. “I’m multi-ethnic. I’m half Black, a quarter Caucasian, and quarter Japanese. And I wanted to bring a business into Five Points that would maintain the diversity aspect of the community. Black-owned businesses are starting to leave. So I wanted to be a footprint back into the community by adding that back in.”
Upbeat music plays from her speaker as she makes sandwiches for customers and stocks shelves. Whenever a new person comes in, she makes an effort to learn their name. Her friends from the tattoo shop a few doors down come in from time to time and chat with her. Before they head back, she offers them a sandwich to eat for lunch.
Butler values how community-focused the neighborhood is. So far, she has had great feedback from the community and has already begun to establish a pattern of regulars.
“I want to offer a space that is accessible to all people, all walks of life. From young, old, and all races, genders, and socioeconomic levels,” Butler said. “I do not want this place to be known as the place for all of the young white bros to come in and infiltrate because this is not the spot to be taken over from that. There’s plenty of places in Denver for that to happen, and this is not it.”
Both old and new residents are doing their best to ensure Five Points continues to thrive, regardless of the changing demographics.
“It’s a lively neighborhood,” Campbell said. “And even though it’s gentrified, the new community members do like to participate in contributing and giving back. So I’m thankful for that as well.”
Jones wants people to know that Five Points is not only a story of gentrification.
“Gentrification is something that’s happened all over the nation,” Jones said. “Without always bringing gentrification into it, [the neighborhood has] been rich historically because of the people who live down there and what the people brought to it. It’s a loved neighborhood with lots of memories.”
Tennyson Street in the Denver Berkeley neighborhood has been home to Future Drawn oneLine Gallery for the past five years. Throughout his time in business, owner and artist Jonathan Applegate has learned to appreciate the community and embrace its continuous developments.
“I really admire Tennyson because it has so many mom-and-pop shops, there’s a lot of character at every single establishment,” he said.
While living on the block, Applegate found the perfect space for his gallery near the corner of 44th and Tennyson where he quickly became part of the community by creating a hand-painted line mural that can be found in the alley between 41st and 42nd street. He’s also collaborated with other gallery owners in the neighborhood, like Michelle Courier from Westward.
“I encourage more galleries to come to the street because I feel like we all have something different to bring to the table and I believe it’s our differences that makes us stronger,” Applegate said.
However, much like others in the community, Applegate has watched the developments change the view outside his gallery doors. The main street has gone through many changes in its history, leading to the introduction of new businesses and farewells to some of its longtime residents.
“I have to remember that not too long ago my art gallery was that change,” he said. “I’ve been part of that change, both a victim and a positive contributor. Buildings are being completely destroyed and so now my house is going to become a new high-rise.”
Due to large developments occurring along Tennyson Street between 38th and 46th, including Applegate was forced to move out of his home, and out of the neighborhood, which has been the case for many businesses and residents of the community. The loss of Local 46 was a devastating blow when a whole block between 45th and 46th was acquired for apartments.
“In a small neighborhood like this, if you get displaced, it is very unlikely that you’re going to be able to move next door. Most of the businesses when they do get displaced, have to close and go to a different neighborhood or town,” said Jimmy Funkhouser, owner of Feral and member of the Tennyson Berkeley Business Association.
Funkhouser has operated his outdoor store on Tennyson for seven years. He recalled a hyper-development that occurred after the city of Denver made an announcement changing the zoning rules for slot homes, banning any further development. Before they settled into their present location, Feral could be found further down the block in a bungalow they were forced to leave due to these rapid changes.
“A lot of these projects that weren’t going to be on the books for four or five years got pushed forward and had to happen that year. That rule change by the city of Denver was what lead to the street changing overnight,” Funkhouser said.
Walking down Tennyson, you can still spot some of its old bungalows preparing to become home to new business chains like SkinCeuticals Skin Lab. Residents can also expect other chains like “Jew-ish” deli Call Your Mother and the development of The Lantern and high-rise buildings throughout the block.
“There’s nothing preventing them from knocking down buildings currently,” Funkhouser said. “I always say the sun doesn’t shine on Tennyson Street anymore from 44th to 46th because the buildings are so tall now.”
Although change is inevitable, business owners like Funkhouser say the shifts had to happen for its local businesses to survive. While he thinks development will continue to happen in the community, he hopes that Tennyson keeps changing for the better and at a slower pace.
Applegate is currently working on finding his way back to the neighborhood to be closer to his gallery and the community.
“I think to have a strong community it’s good to work and live in the same neighborhood because you’re saying hi to your neighbors when they walk by and spend your time there,” Applegate said.“ If it wasn’t for this community I wouldn’t have a storefront to help bring a fresh view to people’s lives.”
It’s Mother’s Day weekend, and you’ve already bought the flowers and the card. Now what? There’s a lot more to do on Mother’s Day than go out for brunch, especially if you’re a Denver local. Whether your mom is a foodie, a fitness enthusiast, an animal lover, or an artist, here’s a list of fun things to do in Denver this weekend that will be sure to make it the most memorable Mother’s Day yet.
Crisp & Green, a new healthy fast-food restaurant in Denver, is hosting myriad enjoyable Mother’s Day events this weekend. “We’re hosting free, fun, energetic workout events on our sunny patio as a way to celebrate all mothers and connect with the community. We’ll be partnering with YogaSix, a local yoga studio, to offer a Vinyasa flow and HIIT class. We’re also partnering with other local businesses to offer raffles at the end of the classes,” said Mark Bastiaens, one of Crisp & Green’s employees. Some of the local businesses in the raffle include Heyday Denver on Tennyson Street, offering a free facial, and Blue Sky Nails, offering gift cards for nail and lash appointments. After the workout classes and raffles, they are offering class attendees a buy one get one free deal for their savory salads and bowls. Plus, all weekend long, if you spend $30 at Crisp & Green, you get $5 back. The event starts on May 13 at 9:30 a.m. at 7111 E. Lowry Blvd.
Painting with a Twist is offering Mom & Me classes this weekend, and prices range from $27-$39 per person depending on which class you take. They’re also offering a special $15 bottomless mimosa deal. Office Manager Jordan Fickling said there’s something there for everyone, no matter what your artistic skill level is. “You can choose all kinds of different surfaces to paint on, like canvas, wood board, or anything else. We also have DIY candle-making, where you get to make your own candles before the class starts. And if you like sparkles, gems, or things that glitter, this is the spot to be, she said. Painting with a Twist has seven different classes to choose from on its website and has two locations in Denver, as well as locations in Westminster, Lakewood, and Aurora.
On Mother’s Day, you and Mom can get into Warrior II pose while watching the elephants meander about at the Denver Zoo. The zoo is offering barre, Zumba, and yoga with the elephants, and prices vary from $15-$30 depending on which class pass you buy. The zoo will be providing a free pop-up juice and coffee bar as well as special animal demonstrations, and with the purchase of a ticket, you get free admission to the zoo for the rest of the day. “The yoga with the elephants will be really cool because it’s right in front of the elephant exhibit,” said Christine, a zoo employee. “But no matter which class you do, you’re within eye-line of an exhibit, so there’s potential to see animals while you’re getting your Zumba on too.” The classes will take place from 7:30-10:30 a.m.
The Highlands Ranch Mansion, a beautiful historic Colorado property built in 1891, is offering free open hours on Mother’s Day from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets and reservations are not required. “It would be a lovely outing for Mother’s Day. Visitors can come for free and take their own self-guided tour through the mansion and learn about the history. We”ll have docents there to answer any questions guests might have. We are offering catered box lunches for $15 a piece, but people can also pack picnic lunches if they want and enjoy those on our lawn. Hopefully, the weather will cooperate, but we have an indoor space planned as well in case it rains,” said Christina, who works in the marketing department at Highlands Ranch Mansion.
The South Broadway Press is putting on a free morning poetry open mic event on Mother’s Day at Mutiny Information Cafe. “Ever eat a bowl of cereal in your pajamas while listening to amazing poetry? This is your chance!” reads an event promo by Brice Maiurro. Mutiny Information Cafe is a secondhand bookstore that sells coffee, cereal, and lots of other snacks. The event starts at 10 a.m.
If you’re the active type, look no further than the Denver Mother’s Day 5K. The event is open to runners and walkers of all levels. The event draws in a crowd of hundreds of volunteers and spectators each year to cheer you on from the sidelines. And, all mothers receive a rose at the finish line to celebrate the holiday. After the race, local business Flippin’ Flapjacks is providing a pancake and sausage breakfast. You can register for the race day-beginning at 7:30 a.m., and the race kicks off at 9 a.m.
Denver Yoga Social is hosting a free Mother’s Day market featuring 25+ local artisans, a free goat yoga class (with baby goats!) food trucks, massages, local craft wine, and more. All of the food trucks and businesses are local. The market is on May 13 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Infinite Monkey Theorem Winery.
If you have a green thumb, Barquentine Brewing Company is hosting a kid and dog-friendly succulent and crystal terrarium-making workshop on May 14 from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. You can choose from a variety of succulents and crystals, and then create your own 7-inch bubble glass terrarium. Lauren, an expert from ELEPH Succulent Boutique will give everyone guidance on caring for their succulents once you take them home. Tickets are $65 for adults and $35 for kids. Adults get a complimentary craft beer with their tickets.
Heirloom Tomato Farms has gone mobile. You can catch Co-founder Tracy Weil in his tomato truck on Mother’s Day at 2532 Larimer St. from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. and buy some delicious heirloom tomatoes, or some of his tomato plants if you’re feeling brave.
Dog moms are included this Mother’s Day! On May 13 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., you can get a free photoshoot of you and your pet at the Pier on Sloan’s Lake. After the photoshoot, there are complimentary treats for you and your furry friend, giveaways, and a single-prize raffle drawing.
Celebrate mom on Mother’s Day (and every day) because you love your mama!
Sue Seserman is out to prove that anyone can be a superhero. Her graphic novel, Epilectra, stars superheroes with different disabilities that turn out to be their superpowers.
The story reflects many of the writer’s own battles with autoimmune disorders, as Sue was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1993 and epilepsy in 2013.
“Epilectra leads a team of superheroes, all of whom have different disabilities that they can transform into super abilities, which is another term for superpowers,” Sue said. “The idea behind it all is that people with disabilities are all in a sense, superheroes because it takes a superhero to manage both a disability and handle life. People with disabilities are really capable of virtually anything.
The graphic novel’s primary audience is children ages 10-13 who have disabilities and their loved ones. Sue said this age range tends to enjoy adventure stories with unusual and exciting characters, two things Epilectra is chock full of.
But people of all ages can enjoy the message: They can live out their dreams just like the character Epilectra. They just have to get themselves out in world and be positive and determined.
“My characters are not your typical graphic novel characters,” Sue said. “We really go about things in very different kinds of ways. So, you know, the goals are twofold: It’s to help people with disabilities understand the vastness of their capability. But it’s also to help people without disabilities understand that people with disabilities are not that different from them.”
According to the United Nations, one in 10 children are living with a disability worldwide. In the U.S., 3.4 million people have epilepsy in the United States, including 470,000 children. About six out of 1,000 students live with epilepsy, according to the CDC. And epilepsy isn’t the only invisible disability. It’s estimated that 80% or 1 billion people globally live with a non-visible disability.
After Sue was diagnosed with epilepsy, she got into a good medication routine and has been seizure-free since October 27, 2019. She started volunteering in hospital epilepsy monitoring units, first in New York City where she was living at the time, and then in Denver where she lives now. She found two things from volunteering.
“One was they started calling me things like brave and heroic, for coming out on my own with epilepsy. and, to me, that sounded ridiculous, because, you know, I was taking the precautions I needed to take,” Sue said. “I wore a MedicAlert bracelet, I took public transportation, I let people I worked with know I had epilepsy and what my seizures look like and what they need to do if I have one. So, I was doing something that I’d love to do, and I wasn’t going to let epilepsy stop me from doing it.”
The other thing she discovered was a lot of people she met had given up a dream because of their disability.
“Because of their epilepsy, they’ve given up on a relationship, they’ve given up on their education, they’ve given up on a career. And I found that immensely sad and so unnecessary. It broke my heart.”
Once the pandemic hit she wasn’t able to volunteer anymore. The seed for Epilectra was planted.
“My brain started going nutso and Epilectra started tickling my brain,” she said. “When I thought, what if there was a real—even though she was fictional—a real superhero with a disability? Who went out into the world with a positive attitude and started accomplishing amazing things? That’s where the idea for Epilectra came from.”
The graphic novel is set to be released in the fall when books one and two are finished. Sue said she would love to see this grow into a series, and she hopes the book can go beyond just the graphic novel. She also plans on expanding her platform to be a hub of epilepsy awareness around the country.
Bri Berens is the Foster Care Manager for Mount Saint Vincent in Berkeley. The organization is celebrating 140 years of service to children and families on June 10. Bri answer our 5 Questions about how Mount Saint Vincent has changed from its orphanage days and how the community can support foster children.
Mount Saint Vincent used to be an orphanage. How has the mission changed over the years?
As social philosophy moved away from orphanages, foster care services were introduced to provide a family home for each child.Although Mount Saint Vincent has evolved in how we care for children, our mission and vision are the same today as they were 140 years ago—to help children and families heal beyond trauma into a healthy and hopeful future.
What children do you support and are all of them experiencing trauma or disruption?
Mount Saint Vincent provides a continuum of care including pediatric behavioral healthcare, a community preschool, and foster care. As the manager of the Foster Care Program, our team is dedicated to supporting children experiencing abuse and neglect and in need of emergency out-of-home placement. All of the children coming into the care of our foster homes have experienced various traumas and disruption, with the added trauma of separation from their families and communities.
What do foster children need most from the community?
It takes a village to help make healing possible for children and families. Children deserve to participate in a community that embraces them with acceptance, compassion, and patience. There are so many stigmas around the complex issues children and families face, and our community can prioritize understanding the depth of these issues and the child welfare system better, and possibly discover areas for involvement.
How can people in the community support the work you do?
Our foster parents are impactful influences for foster children during their journey back home, and one way to help is to consider becoming a foster parent. There is a critical shortage of foster parents in the state of Colorado to support the over 3,600 children and youth in need of out-of-home placement each year. We need families willing to provide unconditional care and support for children and youth with complex needs and diverse backgrounds. We know there are a lot of questions about what it takes to become a foster parent, so we offer individual information sessions to answer all questions and explain the process in depth. Interested applicants can arrange a session at their convenience by calling 303-318-1704.
For those who are not able to be a foster parent but want to be involved in supporting those that are, we are interested in volunteers to provide tangible services to our families including meal and resource delivery, property maintenance, and short-term childcare to name a few.
We are appreciative of financial contributions and donations that help us to resource foster families and foster children to meet their needs. Each circumstance is different, and these contributions allow us toprovide individualized support to our foster care homes and promote placement stability. We believe there is something that everyone can do to support healthy children and families. Please see our Amazon Wish List or explore ways to give to our program.
How do you help foster children that are aging out of the program so they can be successful?
Our program has high rates of children concluding their child welfare cases with permanency established. We see this primarily occur through reunification, or through adoption if reunification is not possible. This permanency allows children in our program to naturally be supported in nurturing communities as they enter into adulthood.
In circumstances where a child remains without a permanent option as they approach adulthood, we are active partners withcounty Youth in Transition teams, the Chaffee Foster Care Program for Successful Transition to Adulthood and other community agencies providing comprehensive support to young adults. Additionally, many of our foster parents enjoy close connections with children they’ve cared for after reunification and become extended family and support well beyond a child’s time in care.