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It’s hard to miss the giant hammer and bright green signage seemingly sprouting out of the ground at the intersection of Washington and 50th, beckoning you towards Globeville Riverfront Arts Center. You might not expect to find this kind of place in Globeville – a neighborhood where nearly a quarter of families were living in poverty as of 2017, and the ongoing gentrification of neighboring RiNo and Five Points is starting to spill over and raise home prices – but, in spite of economic hardship, GRACe is a thriving community of resident artists dedicated to their craft.

Established in 2016, GRACe’s campus consists of two studio complexes that play host to over 80 visual artists of all kinds. Its main building is a cheery maze – plants and art line the walls and windowsills and hardware remnants from the building’s days as a meat processing plant hanging from its lofty ceilings.

Francine Campone has been creating her fiber textile and mixed media pieces at GRACe for “five or six years – I’ve kind of lost track.” Originally from Brooklyn, New York, Campone lived with her grandmother and grandfather who worked as a seamstress and a tailor, respectively.

“I say that I’ve got thread in my DNA,” she said.

Although Campone isn’t a full-time artist, the time she spends at GRACe is productive, as evidenced by the finished and in-progress works in every corner of her studio space. The community is the icing on the cake.

“Even though we work in different media, we can talk about each other’s work. We talk about color and texture and how it shows up in different ways, so I think that’s been very stimulating,” Campone said.

Down the hall, Liz Covert, who has rented at GRACe for two and a half years, creates metal pieces ranging from bowls to bracelets. Covert discovered her love of metalwork when she was pursuing her bachelor’s degree in studio arts. She was working three jobs to pay her way through school. Metalworking was the only class that fit her work schedule and turned out to be “the first art class that I had ever taken where the thing that was in my head actually came out of my hands,” Covert said.

While this is the first studio space Covert has ever rented, she too feels like GRACe is fostering true connection between its artists, as evidenced by her fast friendship with fellow resident Piper Short, who just moved in this past June.

Short – along with their dog, Piglet – runs a gender neutral used and vintage clothing boutique out of their basement studio. The curated collection of clothes, shoes, and accessories is organized by colors and themes – like a Trans Pride rack and a “funny t-shirt pile” – rather than gender.

“Jumpsuits go for everybody,” Short said.

It’s no secret that Denver is an expensive place to live, and studios at GRACe can range from $175 to $1,325 per month – a fee that may be untenable for many artists still trying to recover from the pandemic. According to Eric Davidson – GRACe’s second-ever resident artist – this hardship has strengthened the feeling of camaraderie.

Davidson is renting a sunny, brick-walled studio featuring vintage furniture and the kind of model skeleton you might have had in your high school science classroom. He uses it as reference for some of his paintings – most recently a series of Renaissance-inspired, candy-filled paintings of a child’s vision of the afterlife.

“I think you have to be a little more serious about art right now to be willing to spend the money that it requires in Denver,” he said. “You have to really show up and do the work to feel that you’re not just wasting money.”

You can find more information on the many resident creatives at GRACe, by visiting their website. While GRACe isn’t open to the public most days, visitors are welcome to attend events like Autumn Artsfest, which will be held on November 5th as part of Denver Arts Week.

It’s hard to miss the giant hammer

The news that the Book Bar will close after this holiday season is just the latest quake on Tennyson Street in Denver’s Berkeley neighborhood.  Owner Nicole Hann Sullivan announced that the 10-year old book and wine shop would shutter at the end of January due to rising costs, and her desire to prioritize family.  It’s a one two punch for the popular street with the Book Bar news coming just as neighborhood bar Local 46 prepares to close for good on September 30 to make way for 90 apartment units.    

Drew Strever, a bartender at Local 46 ever since it first opened on 46th and Tennyson Street, stated that the community is devastated by the closing of the bar. The owner did not renew the bar’s lease, and sold the property and two adjoining ones for 7 million dollars.  Local 46 wants to make sure the community knows it did not “sell out.” 

“It’s like my church,” said Don Carleno, a patron of Local 46. “Watching them tear down those buildings one at a time, building ugly apartment buildings hasn’t been great.”

During the last month, Local 46 has been packed with members of the community, counting down the days before it closes. Posted on the front window is a sign that reads: “Community is something that has to come organically, it can’t be forced or manipulated but it is unmistakable when you sense it. Local 46 ended up being more than we ever could have imagined, a home to many, on both sides of the bar.”

Tennyson Street in Northwest Denver has undergone many changes in its long history, but a recent explosion of property development in the area is changing the character of one of Denver’s top destinations. The street, that once was full of bungalows and small businesses and saw streetcars travel between old Elitch Gardens and the Oriental Theater is experiencing growing pains. 

Almost all of the new projects will include ground floor commercial and two floors dedicated to housing, increasing Tennyson’s population density and continuing the trend of removing smaller homes, stores, and restaurants to make room for larger buildings.  Within the last year, several older homes have been razed to make way for multi-unit developments. 

 

“I’ve seen the neighborhood really transition,” said one local in César Chávez Park who didn’t want to give his name. “It is what it is: gentrification. There’s only one Hispanic family left on the street. Denver keeps building these places, and we’re trying to preserve something that’s unstoppable.”

Five of these developments are on properties in the heart of Tennyson’s most trafficked area, between 38th and 44th Avenue, and for some months have remained fenced off with piles of rubble from building demolitions.  Construction began on several projects just at the start of September.

Jimmy Funkhauser, owner of the outdoor store Feral, located on Tennyson Street, and a leader of the Tennyson Berkeley Business Association, says the demolition and construction has affected foot traffic to his store and made parking for destination shoppers difficult. According to Funkhauser, even employees struggle to find a parking spot due to the volume of contractors and workers now in the area.

“When a street has eight to ten developments happening all at once, and each one has sidewalk closures, and construction everywhere, and contractors parking everywhere, you feel it,” said Funkhauser.

Despite the community reservations, developers say they are trying to stay true to the spirit of Tennyson. Jeremy Zidell, Founder and Managing Partner of Rue Realty, says that his company is trying to fit in with Tennyson’s legacy. Rue Realty is redeveloping the old Green Door Furniture Store, located across the street from César Chávez Park, into The Lantern, apartments with first floor business space, a ground floor patio and a rooftop deck.

“When your intent is to do the best long term thing for the neighborhood, even when you don’t live there, it’s a very careful, delicate, and detailed process,” Zidell said. “Our company wants to leave the best quality fingerprints and legacies in the neighborhoods that we’re doing business in. The building is in good hands.”

Currently, scaffolding has gone up around the The Lantern and Rue Realty developers are shooting for a Spring 2023 opening. Other properties requiring 18 months of full construction will be finished by early 2024, according to Nick Wright, a project manager with Schneider Building Company that is working on 4353 Tennyson.  The coming years will be full of familiar parking and construction issues, and business owners like Funkhauser are skeptical as to the true intentions of the developers.

“I’m skeptical because historically every time the city has taken one step forward, the developers are ready to pounce and exploit the issue,” Funkhauser said.

The developers of the Local 46 property say they will keep the distinctive facade on their new building.  However, it was never the sign that made the place unique, and even when they do manage to find a new location, Local 46 bartender Drew Strever says it could never replace the special community that makes up the Tennyson neighborhood.

“We couldn’t have done this without them. We’ve always been very local and community driven. We’re going to miss this area, because it’s special, and we made it that way. This neighborhood is partially what it is because of who we’ve been,” Strever said. “On behalf of all the management here: we’ll miss this neighborhood, we love it, and the people are what made it.”

The news that the Book Bar will

The saying goes “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes,” and then you will be able to understand their story. But would you walk a mile barefoot? How about for the rest of your life?

In recent years, Denver witnessed an increase in the number of people experiencing homelessness with the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative reporting first time homelessness doubled from 2020 to 2021. 

The founder of The Clean Sock Project, James Pierce, and his wife Barbara Pierce, are taking the steps to give people living on the streets of Colorado the chance to walk with a pair of brand new socks.

After walking the streets of Denver and interviewing people experiencing homelessness, James listened to a problem that people living on the streets face, but many may not recognize.

“They told me, ‘Man, we can get anything. We can’t get socks,” reminisced James. 

The Clean Sock Project is a nonprofit organization created in 2015 that delivers clean socks to people experiencing homelessness here in Colorado. The idea came to James in what he called a “vision,” or “epiphany” from God.

 James wanted people experiencing homelessness to know that The Clean Sock Project would be there to provide them with a pair of new socks. He chose to seek crowds of people who needed a new pair of socks after discovering random locations through word of mouth.

“A lot of them just thank you. They’re so appreciative. I saw so many times socks that had just been molded into their feet. They wore them for so long,” said Pierce

The family paused their efforts with the Clean Sock Project for almost four years to devote their love to Andrew Murray who he called his ‘brother,’ or ‘The Dukester. He lived with Pierce and his wife when the couple decided to become full-time caregivers for ‘The Dukester’ who was 72 years-old but mentally stopped growing after the age of six.

“We were able to find a reciprocator for the love that we still had… So, we were able to give it to him and take care of him,” said Pierce. 

After attending many Colorado sports games, building a collection of over 3,000 matchbox cars with him, and final visits to the hospital, the Pierce family said their last goodbyes to ‘The Dukester’ in June 2021. James Pierce decided to re-establish the organization to devote his love to others, once again.

“I think that’s where I’m supposed to be and what I’m supposed to be doing until I get a different word,” said Pierce.

Pierce buys the socks himself. Stored in his home are the summer and winter socks that differ in the thickness of the material for the different seasons. He only delivers white socks with a gray heel and toes, or gray socks with a white heel and toes to prevent the risks of harmful dyes for those who wear socks until they become almost embedded into their feet.

“If your feet aren’t right, your whole body isn’t right… I think [people experiencing homelessness] deserve at least one good thing in their life that’s on the same level. I want them to know that they are good enough, they get brand new socks. I want them to proudly put on a pair of new socks and feel good about themselves,” said Pierce.

With hope in his eyes, he spoke about the future of The Clean Sock Project that will change the way people living in the streets of Denver get their new pair of socks. James says that in the years to come, the organization wants to deliver a pair of socks with the drop of a personalized coin into kiosks. He expects these kiosks will be set up all over Colorado and expand into other states. 

For James Pierce, the path he walks is to find purpose by listening to the people experiencing homelessness in the state he adores. Now, he wants to walk alongside those experiencing homelessness to understand their journeys by “bettering the world one pair of socks at a time.”

The Clean Sock Project accepts monetary donations to ensure acceptable socks are given to people in need. To learn more about how to donate or volunteer, please visit clean-sock.com or call 303-995-8148.

The saying goes “walk a mile in

Law enforcement and first responders often have challenges handling people who are going through a mental health crisis. Those who have disabilities or are on the autism spectrum have specific needs when they are going through trauma or agitation. Many first responders do not have the tools necessary to provide for this.

Bill Cassel is looking to fill that void with Noah’s Autism Rescue Kits. He had an idea to create a quick solution to help calm down people on the autism spectrum who are experiencing a breakdown that has been triggered by a traumatic event such as a car accident or a fire.  What started as a small startup funded by the Optimist Club of Wheat Ridge quickly expanded.

Cassel borrowed the idea from a Facebook video he watched of volunteer firefighters in New England who were using kits to help people on the autism spectrum in that part of the country. Cassel comes from a family of volunteer firefighters who work in the Wheat Ridge and Arvada area and decided since nobody else was doing it around Colorado, he would give it a try.

“We started working small, and to help us out, we enlisted a local boy scout troop to help us put the kits together, and we found out that one of the boy scouts named Noah, that was building the kits, was on the spectrum, so it all just came together,” Cassel said.

Each Autism Rescue Kit comes equipped with noise blocking headphones, a snuggle blanket, various toys to use for distractions, dark sunglasses, a dry erase board for communication, and Smart 911 registration information. The kits have been designed specifically to help account for different situations that may trigger agitation. 

“We sat down with first responders and tried to make it work because firefighters and EMTs have limited space on their vehicles, as well as police with all the tactical gear they carry,” Cassel said. “From there, the word got out to special needs teachers in elementary and middle schools, and they started requesting the kits.”

The kits are not just given to first responders and to teachers in schools who have students on the spectrum. Parents can also get their hands on the rescue kits. The kits can be particularly helpful for families that are dealing with a first-time diagnosis of autism in their child and need a tool the child can use when things get overwhelming. 

Cassel spoke about how the kit can have beneficial results for just about anyone who is in a traumatic situation or emergency such as a car accident. The kits also have been used to help those who have been victims of violent crime.

“We had a great testimonial from a victim advocate in Douglas County, who had a young lady who was the victim of a violent attack, and she started shutting down,” Cassel said. “They gave her the kit, and she started playing just with the squeeze ball, and she was able to answer the questions.”

The Autism Rescue Kits also can be a great help during times of natural disaster. The Marshall Fire displaced so many families in Boulder County, including those that have children on the autism spectrum. While losing your home is incredibly distressing for anyone, such a sudden disruptive change is challenging for those on the spectrum.

“With the Marshall Fire in Boulder County, there were approximately 75 autistic kids that lost their homes, and they were stuck in hotels and places totally different to them, with new sounds and new smells,” Cassel said. “They didn’t have their own place, so we are working with ARC Services to develop this kit as a to go bag for natural disasters.”

Another essential part of the Autism Rescue Kits is the Smart 911 system. Home phones are registered so if somebody dials 911, it will pop up on the screen that someone at the home is on the spectrum or has some type of neurological problem. Cassel has worked in conjunction with West Metro Fire and Rescue to give out flyers to let families know about this system. A registration card for the Smart 911 comes with every rescue kit. 

“You can also register your cell phone so if you’re away from the house, and 911 is called you get a phone call or a text message saying that 911 has been called from your house phone,” Cassel said.

All of this would not be possible without the Optimist Club of Wheat Ridge. The club’s relationship with the community and youth has made it possible for the kits to be free because they are covered through donations.  A couple of club members are in the Wheat Ridge Police Department, and some have contacts in the Arvada Fire Department, making the distribution of the kits to first responders easier. If you are interested in more information about the kit email autismrescuekit@gmail.com.

“All the feedback to the kits has been positive; I see posts on the Facebook page of Denver Autism Parents talking about getting the kit through the schools and how great they have been,” Cassel said. 

As the kits continue to grow in popularity, Cassel hopes that it will also spread more awareness about kids with autism and how they are just like everyone else; they just see the world differently.

“Most of these kids or young adults have superpowers; there is something they are really, really good at,” Cassel said. “It’s just amazing to try to focus on that and the positive side of things.”

Law enforcement and first responders often have

Polly Baca has been active in Democratic politics since her college days at Colorado State University. Since then she has worked on presidential campaigns, has served in presidential administrations and was Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee . She is a labor and civil rights leader in our state and was elected to the Colorado House and the Colorado Senate. As an advocate she believes when you improve the lives of Latinos in Colorado you improve the lives of all Coloradans.

You’ve been a pioneer many times in your life.  What have you learned from being the first Latina in so many positions? 

I’ve learned that the challenge of being the first is to encourage others to surpass what you have done.  Sharing your experience and opening the door is a responsibility that we have to assure continued progress.

We have an election coming up.  What message do you have about voting and its importance at this time? 

As citizens of the oldest democracy in the world, we have an obligation to assure the continuance of this democracy during this time of great challenges.  At this critical time in history and to protect our democracy, each of us has the responsibility to become informed and vote for the candidates we believe would be the best for our community and nation.

What did you learn from your parents about voting? What have you taught your children?   

Although neither of my parents had a high school degree, they both stressed the importance of getting a college education and exercising our right to vote.  My father read constantly and enjoyed commenting on current political issues.  He stressed that it was our responsibility to vote for those candidates who would help working people.  I have tried to instill in my children that same sense of responsibility to vote and participate in our democracy.

Can you talk about the first time you voted? 

When I was 18 years old, I was frustrated because the law would not allow me to vote until I was 21 years old.  That caused me to get involved in lobbying Congress to lower the voting age to 18.  It was one of the first political issues I got involved with as a college student.  When I graduated from college in 1962, I was 21 years old which was the first time I was eligible to vote.  I attended my precinct caucus and got elected as a delegate to the Democratic County Assembly and met the candidates who were running for office on both the Primary and General election ballots.  It was exciting to finally have the right to vote and I have voted in every election since that first election 60 years ago.

Once people vote, how can they continue to use their voice?  

Voting is the most important step.  In addition, each person should become informed about the issues by reading newspapers and magazines, watching TV news, searching the internet or social media, and attending issue debates or speeches.  Also, find out who the officials are that you can vote for by googling “My Elected Officials,” then contact your elected officials and let them know what you think.  Finally, volunteer to help elected officials you like or run for office against someone you don’t like.

If you have not yet registered to vote there is still time before the mid-term elections. Ballots go out on October 17 and you have until November 8 to make your vote count. Everything you need to know about how and where to vote is here.

Polly Baca has been active in Democratic

September 18th through the 24th is Banned Books Week. It’s an annual celebration of the freedom to read and Bucket List Community Cafe sits down with Dan Danbom of the Printed Page Bookshop on South Broadway for our third podcast.

His store is a treasure trove of banned books, first editions and rare titles. For readers, just walking in it evokes memories. From the website:

“We’re part of a vanishing breed – the independent, used book store that’s committed to contributing to our community. What keeps us going is our love of books and the lasting relationships we form with our customers. We see ourselves as a relationship-based haven for readers and collectors to “talk book.”

The shop is a co-op of ten book sellers and one can browse for hours. We talked to Dan about his love for reading, how he finds his books and what makes them valuable. Also how he meets a dead man every now and then when he opens up the pages of a book. He is a great storyteller too, as you can imagine considering his love for stories.

As far as banned books go, the American Library Association puts out a list of the books that have been challenged the most. You might be surprised to know that the bible and some of the great classics in literature are among the titles. Here are just a few.

  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.
  • Maus by Art Spiegelman.
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
  • 1984 by George Orwell.
  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding.
  • Animal Farm by George Orwell.
  • Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck.
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.
  • The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
  • The Catcher in the Rye, by JD Salinger.
  • The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck.
  • The Color Purple, by Alice Walker.
  • Ulysses, by James Joyce.
  • Beloved, by Toni Morrison.

September 18th through the 24th is Banned

Words are powerful but many young people might not know how to express themselves with words. That’s what inspired Ara Cruz, the founder and lead facilitator of “Words To Power” to offer poetry workshops in the Denver metro area elementary, middle, and high schools.  His goal is to help underserved youth to express themselves by using engaging and culturally relevant poetry. 

“I’m not asking everyone to be a poet, but it is about realizing that no one’s going to speak for you. And it’s important for you to be able to speak for yourself and be your own advocate,” says Ara.  

Ara was born and raised in Denver and most of his poetry is based on his experiences as a Mexican American.  He wrote poetry for 15 years before starting “Words to Power.”

“Poetry and the spoken word were tools for me, as a young person. You know, my senior year in high school, and in college, it was a way for me to realize the power of my words,” says Ara.  “We make sure that kids feel a connection with that form of expression so that they feel like they belong, that they too can write and tell their story.” 

Students get a chance to learn about Indigenous Mexican writing styles in these workshops. 

“We embrace our culture, we use it as a way to uplift ourselves, and push forward.”  

Ara has been organizing open mic events for a long time now, as well as conducting spoken word workshops in schools and conferences.  He wants people to see themselves in poetry. 

“I know for myself, a lot of the poetry that I read as a young person I cannot really relate to.  I’ve noticed that that’s the case with a lot of kids these days. And so, it’s really about offering them some poetry, spoken word that they can relate too.”

Words to Power publishes a yearly youth poetry book and hosts a book publishing party during the summer where students can sign up to recite their poetry in front of their peers. At La Raza Park Days in Sunnyside this summer his students got up and performed.  

“I think it was good for the parents and families to be able to see the kids’ reading their poetry and be celebrated in that way. It’s another opportunity to be encouraged.  Kids are given the chance to connect with each other and with community.” 

Students get paid 50 dollars when they read poems during these events. Their families are invited, giving them a special moment to see their children read in front of hundreds of people. 

Ara has seen the powerful impact writing poetry has had on his community by watching students break out of their shy shells and have a voice.  

“It’s really about planting those seeds and lighting those fires.” 

Words to Power offers a variety of workshops. There is a basic one-time workshop to an all-inclusive course that includes four workshops and an open mic assembly. For 75% of the students this is their first-time writing poetry. To sign up for a workshop for your class or school or to reach Are by email, visit Words to Power’s website (https://wordstopower.org/ ) . 

Words are powerful but many young people

There are many different programs and companies actively looking to prevent school shootings and other mass violence.  According to Everytown for Gun Safety, “the worst period for this violence has been in the 2021–2022 school year, which saw nearly quadruple the average number of gunfire incidents since 2013. This past school year saw 193 incidents of gunfire on the grounds of preschools and K–12 schools.” Parents are understandably uneasy as they send children back to school. News polls around education have revealed that parents’ top concern is school safety.

“The need to protect children in schools is very real, so if there is another added layer we can bring in, schools are very open to it,” Brian Sathianathan, the co-founder of Iterate.ai says.” His company is just one of many working on solutions.

In the Denver area, the Frank DeAngelis Center for Community Safety is training law enforcement and other safety officials to use tactics in a mass casualty event by placing them in an ultra realistic training environment. 

The DeAngelis Center in Wheat Ridge was known as Martensen Elementary School for over 50 years. The school was changed to the Frank DeAngelis Center in 2017, named after the former principal of Columbine High School in Littleton, who was present during that tragic day in 1999 when 12 students and one teacher were gunned down. Since then, DeAngelis has become an advocate for school safety awareness and school shooting prevention. 

“When first responders are actually responding to an event in a school, it’s helpful to be in an environment that is realistic in your training,” Shawna Fritzler, Business Manager of the Jeffco DeAngelis Foundation said. “There’s all kinds of simulations, and we have subject matter experts who have actually responded to lots of other tragic events.”

The DeAngelis Center uses a wide variety of interactive videos, sounds, and even scents to put those who come for the training into the most realistic experience possible. “I contacted all the parents I knew on Facebook and told everyone to give me their old backpacks at the end of the year so that it looks like a real school.” Fritzler said. 

Different types of law enforcement and school safety officials come from all over the country to participate in the training exercises, varying from police, SWAT team members, and school resource officers. They go over lessons learned and mistakes made in the training as well.

“Our trainers will even push people to make mistakes so that they experience them in a safe space, so that they don’t repeat those mistakes when they are responding to an actual event,” Fritzler said, “I’m just a mom. I’m not a first responder, but our priorities in our training here is to stop the killing and to start the healing.”

Fritzler spoke about how important it is that doors are able to be immediately locked automatically. The time it takes to get up and manually lock or unlock a door in an active shooter situation can be the difference between life or death. 

“Frank said when they were running from the shooter in Columbine, they were backed in a corner and he had a pocket of keys,” Fritzler said, “So in his key ring there were like 50 keys and miraculously somehow or another he pulled the right key out and the door opened.”

The shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, TX caused parents to become more concerned about school protocols. Learning how to prepare for a school shooting the right way is something that Fritzler finds to be vital.

“We are starting this new community education program because after the Uvalde shooting we had parents reaching out and telling their kids not to follow the lockdown protocols and just run,” Fritzler said, “There’s also politics attached to a lot things that shouldn’t have politics attached to it, so we strive really hard to be that nonpartisan organization to just do the education piece, so that we can work towards the prevention and preparedness to prevent tragedies.”

Fritzler also emphasized how important community and the bonds within them are for school shooting prevention and the healing process if a tragic event occurs. This means healthy relationships with different aspects of the community, such as with the local law enforcement and the school districts. 

“That’s one of the things we look to make sure when we train these districts,” Fritzler said, “If the law enforcement agencies don’t have a good relationship with a school district, you fix it right away; it’s really important.”

Iterate.ai is an artificial intelligence developer looking to use 21st-century technological advancements to help prevent school shootings. Iterate.ai has created and developed a weapons detection system that can identify guns or any type of weapon that it catches in its view. 

“We built a system where the AI starts looking for weapons, sharp objects, masks, and if it finds something, it will automatically call the alert system the school district already has,” Brian Sathianathan, Co-Founder of Iterate.ai, said. 

Sathianathan worked on the security for the first iPhone, so he is no stranger to being a part of tech that has transformed our world. The artificial intelligence iterate.ai has created can be installed into the preexisting security cameras that the school already has, where it does detection surveillance at all times.

“The AI can detect a glimpse of a weapon in under 30 milliseconds, and then within a couple of minutes, we can talk to a business management system where we can close the doors and prevent anything,” Sathianathan said.

In a video demo that Iterate.ai showed Bucket List Community Cafe, we could see how the AI worked in real time, in various videos involving surveillance from different gas station and convenience store robberies. Immediately when the robber toting the gun comes into view, you can see the detection system go to work. Different colored blocks represent either the gun or type of weapon being used. For example, an AR-15 style weapon may have a red block around it, and a handgun may have a yellow block around it.

Sathianathan and those at Iterate.ai have tested and put the AI through numerous situations. Throughout this work, they have the AI to a point where it can detect guns or weapons concealed inside backpacks and in clothes. The AI can also be made to recognize law enforcement or security guards, so there are no false alarms in the weapons detection system.

“We should provide this in every school, every grocery store, every church, any public place where people feel they could be threatened,” Jon Nordmark, CEO and Co-Founder of Iterate.ai, said.

At this point, Iterate.ai’s threat detection is only in one school in the Denver area. The company will not disclose the location because of security concerns except to say it is near Columbine High School.

There are many different programs and companies

When locals of Northern Denver stroll around the neighborhoods, many reminisce about what the community once was and represented.  Gentrification has brought many changes to streets once filled with Latino culture. Businesses, residents, and the foundation of the Latino culture are disappearing. Many residents left the community they grew up in, taking with them impressions that the culture that reflected a piece of them, will slowly but surely fade away.

However, Maria Moncada, owner of La Guapa Boutique on 38th Avenue on the border of Highland and Sunnyside, intends to keep the Latino culture alive regardless of the rapid gentrification taking place.

“It keeps the culture alive in Northern Denver for people to still drive by and see this mom and pop shop surviving it all. Through the pandemic and the gentrification. For people to drive by and see us, it helps a lot for people to keep going.”

La Guapa Boutique resides alongside other Latino businesses that continue to symbolize the origins and culture of Northern Denver.   Open for more than 20 years, La Guapa Boutique is a staple to the Latino Community as it continues to provide vibrant and elegant garments and accessories. They are pieces that are monumental to the cultural events and growth of young Latinas and Latinos. Moncada plans to keep this shop running for generations to come to continue the tradition and the importance of these cultural events. 

Raised as the only women in her family alongside four brothers, Moncada shares the history of La Guapa Boutique and how she’s continued the mission and values her parents, Graciela and Salvador, established when beginning the business back when she was a little girl. 

“They began the business more than 20 years ago. They were selling clothes from our home and from there on they saved money to open this business. I was 8 when this business started, and there’s still customers who come by and say they know my mother from years ago when she was still selling from home. It’s such a beautiful feeling to know that they still remember her and the work she’s put into the business.” 

Moncada continues to keep her parents’ values and their legacy alive. Passion and sincerity radiate as clients enter the boutique. Moncada makes sure that every client leaves with their dream dress and a once in a lifetime experience.

“It’s a deeper connection opposed to just selling them something. It’s not just a dress. It’s making sure everything matches, and giving them suggestions.”

Quinceaneras are when a young girl turns 15, it indicates the transition from a little girl to a young woman, the start of maturity, independence, and affirmity to their own faith. Moncada makes it her purpose to connect with her client to create this experience, and to ensure they leave the boutique feeling beautiful. They are not just dresses but a piece of these young girls’ cultural experiences, Moncada expresses the gratification of being a part of this process and forming a connection with the young girls through it. 

“It’s making someone’s special day that they’ll remember forever and hopefully they keep remembering us and come back for their wedding, their kids’ occasions. It’s a long term commitment we have with these girls and these families. It’s nice to see them through it all and have them come back again.”

Because of gentrification in Northern Denver, these connections have been affected. People forced out of the community due to higher living expenses have to travel further to visit her store.

“It’s not how it was before, which was primarily Mexican people. Now there’s a lot less than that, people who have moved away go to the outskirts of cities because that’s where “they fit in” or places like Aurora or Thornton.”

Moncada, continues to advocate for the Latino Community, especially the younger generations of women where she derives her motivation. Posting on social media and funding fashion shows where she advocates for the importance of these cultural events and the message that they are not going anywhere. 

“If we don’t put in the effort to make these girls feel important, and that this is a part of their culture and they need to have a quinceanera or any event of our culture for that matter. If they don’t have the importance, or feel seen, that will be the downfall of our business. It’s our job to keep it going and to keep wanting these events.”

Moncada makes it very clear that this business is a safe space for her clients, a place to reconnect with their culture wholeheartedly. Gentrification may be rising in Northern Denver, but La Guapa Boutique represents the roots of the community and its Latino culture. 

“Sometimes, it’s ‘why would you wear that big dress, you’re not getting married.’ People don’t understand our culture, or what we do as families and for us to still be here and have them come here keeps that culture going in the community. It’s just showing them we’re still here for them, and we could still help them in their native language.”

With two decades and more in the making, Moncada continues to uphold both the values of her family business and the origin and culture of Northern Denver. Moncada vocalizes the empowerment, representation, and culture of these garments to those in the community.  La Guapa Boutique continues to survive and allows clients to leave the store feeling “guapa.” 

When locals of Northern Denver stroll around

Parasols are making a comeback as women become more aware of the need for sun protection. At this year’s Art Students League of Denver Summer Art Market 19 artists donated parasol artwork. Yes, artwork on parasols for people to use under the bright Colorado skies or hang in their homes for decoration.

Michelle Messenger, an artist that has been with the ASLD community for 10 years creates whimsical and encaustic art. Her pieces are light, fun and make people smile. She draws inspiration from sheep. 

“Strangers know that I was the one that developed and painted that particular parasol down here. I don’t know if you can see the sheep that are down here.” 

For Mami Yamamoto, an ASLD member since 2014, the process of creating art on the parasol was a new challenge.

“Yeah, so the parasol was a such a fun project. I love drawing. So, parasol project was like ‘Yes, I can draw!’ So I could have done print something and paste on that umbrella, but instead, when I look at that open parasol in the middle basically reminded me of a nose of something. So that is how I inspire. So, I’m going to do a nose and things and then everything else follows so naturally.”

The fundraiser was inspired by a past visitor of the Summer Art Market, who strolled along the booths with a parasol. Just as an artist would, they saw the blank canvas and decided to show their love for art. The Art Students League of Denver raised $1700 towards their mission. For Bucket List Community Café, Lilybeth Valles.

Parasols are making a comeback as women