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Ever hear “overqualified” or similar words when being declined for a job? It sounds complimentary at first, but soon becomes apparent it must be code for something else that lost you the opportunity.

In the growing trend toward ageism, overqualified is the lingo used by recruiters to soften the blow to people over 40, 50 and beyond who are being declined for work for no other reason than their age. When your feedback is only rave reviews and everybody loved you but “we feel you won’t be satisfied with this position” is how you’re let down, you can almost always assume your maturity and salary requirements did you in.

HR/People teams and recruiters have more recently caught on to the legal implications of using the word “overqualified” and are now trying to avoid discrimination accusations by finding synonyms that seem less offensive. They’ll use phrases like “it’s a leveling thing,” “you’re too creative,” and “the role would not be engaging for you.” I’ve personally heard all of these.

I moved to Denver, Colorado from Silicon Valley looking for a lifestyle change. My miscalculation was in assuming that the years of growth mindset, flexibility in the face of ambiguity, management of insane workloads and hours in high stress industries, multiple promotions, and a wide range of skills and experience both professional and with people would back me up in my search for a new job opportunity. I had no idea that all of that would at some point become second in importance only to my age.

I’ve gone through lengthy, intensive interview processes for several jobs now. All of the hiring managers were younger than me, and I had no issue with this. I was a top candidate, with great ideas and confidence, only to be told something equivalent to being “overqualified” or even something more ambiguous like, “we have no negative feedback for you, it was all good.” These experiences have left me wondering whether I made the right choice in leaving my last position in hopes of finding something new, challenging and in-line with my current goals. 

It appears making a career change for people of “advancing years” is riskier because there may be few to no moves left to make. The only option seems to be pivoting to something entirely different, and possibly less lucrative. Sometimes this can be a good thing if you’re ready for it, but many of us are still ambitious, lifetime learners who want to grow and make an impact at a company and now have to rethink our trajectory. Age shouldn’t matter any more than someone’s ethnicity, sexual orientation or religion, but increasingly it does.

AARP noted in an article from 2019 that 35% of the U.S. population is 50 years or older. 1 in 4 workers age 45 and older have been subjected to negative comments about their age. 3 in 5 older workers have experienced age discrimination in the workplace, and 76% of these workers see age discrimination as a hurdle to find a new job. Additionally, AARP found in another report that more than half of these older workers are prematurely pushed out of longtime jobs and 90% of them never earn as much again.

Age discrimination is real, equally unfair and crosses all boundaries and effects people who are vital and valuable. It seems to be the last “ism” to be addressed by employers. The networking groups I belong to are made up mostly of people in this situation and believe me, they are talking about it.  A report from CBS Denver says that in Colorado, with the third fastest-growing population of older people in the country, ageism is one of the most common forms of discrimination in the workplace.

It’s possible its being ignored because it’s so difficult to prove. Even with some of the legislation that’s been passed like the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act (POWADA) in 2020, it’s still pervasive and going unchecked. There have been some lawsuits over the years but that’s not what people ultimately want. They want a meaningful job, where their skills are respected, and they can make a living commensurate with their experience. 

Respondents in a survey done by Senior Living in 2020 showed there are two discriminatory actions that occur at about the same rate – being passed up for job opportunities (45%) and being overlooked for raises and promotions (43%). This article states that in just two years, one in four U.S. workers will be 55 or older. That’s 25% of the workforce (for those who are able to find work). Isn’t that a percentage of the population worth listening to? Where do the industry leaders who are touting equality and fair employment for all stand on this issue? How can these biases be overcome?

An article on Indeed, a well-known job board, says there are many great reasons for retaining and hiring older workers, not the least of which is their strong set of skills, experience and loyalty. Indeed, also mentions that ageism is driven by inaccurate stereotypes, but that age is an important factor in building a diverse team of people with differing perspectives.

There are great resources for information about dispelling age bias in the workplace. One article on The Riveter, a site built to increase awareness and “equity of opportunity” for all, gives a list of suggestions for helping companies, employees, and recruiters including evaluating the language being used in job descriptions, having open conversations about ageism, and crafting an age-inclusive brand.

Having more knowledge and experience shouldn’t be considered a threat to younger managers or a detriment to any company. All differences should be celebrated and invited to the table. This is the only way we can truly say all voices are being heard and respected. 

Older workers are not overqualified, they are usually just fully qualified. The young bring fresh eyes and exuberance and workers over 40 bring stability and wisdom. Both are necessary and improve the overall success of a business. 

Indeed, is hosting a webinar called “Age Discrimination in Hiring: Job Search Advice for Mature Workers” on April 6. They’ll be covering steps you can take to overcome ageism in the workforce.

Ever hear “overqualified” or similar words when

“We’re so excited you guys are open,” exclaimed some of Earnest Hall’s guests as they returned for the first time since the restaurant was forced to shut down due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Ernie’s Pizza & Bar, now Earnest Hall, is back in business near 44th and Federal in Sunnyside.  It opened to the public on Wednesday 3/24.  A special thank you night for the neighborhood kicked off opening week on Tuesday 3/23.    

Ernie’s closed down for renovations after a hailstorm in April 2018 damaged the restaurant.  It was supposed to be for a few months but the million-dollar renovation took two years.  Earnest Hall opened back up for business in February 2020. It was hopping, then three weeks later COVID caused it to shut right back down. Kirsten Becker, the Marketing and Branding Director for City Street Investors which also owns nearby Billy’s Inn, said “we didn’t have a moment to get our feet on the ground before closing again.”

The restaurant tried delivery and takeout and had a big tent in the parking lot but nothing worked.  When Earnest Hall closed a sign went up on the door.  “We would like to thank you for giving us the opportunity to be part of your neighborhood. While we had our hearts filled with optimism, uncertain times have guided us to making the difficult decision to close indefinitely.”  But indefinitely was not forever, and Kirsten feels great about the reopening. The community is also glad to have it back. “We’ve gotten a great social media response and people are excited.  We’re now back to full service with reservations to help with capacity,” she continued. 

The restaurant, which was founded by Ernest Capillupo in the 1940s, has been a staple of the Sunnyside neighborhood.  When it closed, the neighborhood lost a favorite watering hole for food, drinks, family, and friends. “It was heartbreaking,” said Kirsten.  Today Earnest Hall still boasts its family friendly appeal. The Tuesday night before it’s official opening, the tables were filled with families and groups of friends. Chatter and the sound of children’s voice filled the hall. Strider bikes and scooters waited outside the door.

The restaurant is set up like an upscale food hall. It’s wide-open, filled with long tables and booths adorning the edges. Windows let in lots of light and there are large planters filled with greenery.  The building truly feels like a public space. The huge bar survived the renovation. The thick wood reaches almost from one side of the restaurant to the other. The cocktail menu has been revamped to accompany the 30-plus taps that line the wall. 

Earnest Hall is venturing into unknown territory with a new coffee bar that will open at 6 a.m. The tables and booths are accompanied by USB ports and power so people can hang out with their phones and laptops.  Fans of Ernie’s food won’t be disappointed either. “We’ve brought back some crowd favorites from Ernie’s,” said Kirsten. Whether you’re stopping in to enjoy a classic pizza slice, or experience the Italian specialties and desserts, you’ll be satisfied. 

Kirsten recognizes that they’re not all the way back. “We’re looking forward to hosting large events when Covid goes away.” With Covid numbers decreasing Kirsten says she’s hopeful this can happen soon.  Earnest Hall is open Wednesdays through Sundays.  Reservations are recommended.  A popup on the website says “we’re excited to see everyone again.” 

“We’re so excited you guys are open,”

For many, driving through the intersection of 22nd and Stout in North Denver is part of their daily commute. For others it’s where they spend most of their nights. The intersection is cluttered with tents, tarps and trash that are scattered along numerous blocks.  There are small homeless communities along a bridge on North Broadway and back down past Saint Joseph Hospital all the way to City Park. Other makeshift shelters are strung to trees in Lawson or Benedict Fountain Park. Some simply lay barely off the street on an all too skinny sidewalks. These are the campsites where some of Denver’s homeless population live. 

Homelessness in Denver is more visible than ever but for the actual homeless population, it feels just the opposite.  Cathy Alderman, The Chief Communications and Public Policy Officer for the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, says that people in the homeless community often feel invisible. “We often treat people experiencing homelessness as invisible because we don’t want to see that experience… Imagine living in a world where you felt invisible,” said Cathy. 

Antonio, a homeless man in North Denver experiences this daily. “Some people when they see me, when I am working on the side of the street they go to the other side. I don’t know what I can do, live the life, the life I have now and pray to God too.”  Antonio is among those that are newly homeless because of COVID. After losing his job due to the pandemic he was no longer able to afford his apartment.   

COVID has been the tipping point for individuals like Antonio. In a 2020 point in time study conducted by The Metro Denver Homeless Initiative, the number of homeless in the City and County of Denver has grown from 3,445 to 4,171. 

If homeless people aren’t invisible to the general public, they are often perceived as criminals, says Antonio.  “They see me like I’m gonna do something bad… they see people homeless like they were gonna do something or steal something, but I’m not doing this,” said Antonio. “In the world if you are homeless or no you will be around good and bad people anywhere,” he finished.”  Cathy Alderman agrees. “Assuming someone is a criminal because they are experiencing homelessness is a dangerous assumption and it leads to the dehumanization of individuals.”. 

 “There are people who are engaged in criminal activity from all walks of life, some of these people happen to be experiencing homelessness, some are living in apartments or condos, and many of those people are living in homes,” said Cathy.  Cathy dates this perception back hundreds of years when people started referring to the homeless as hobos. “There was an image developed over time of who was likely to experience homelessness and it was someone who had chosen that path,” she said. 

Cathy says that homelessness is a false choice.  “Many people enter that cycle of homelessness because of a traumatic event.” For Antonio, a global pandemic is what set that in motion.  Before the pandemic Antonio was getting by just fine.  “I had an apartment before, I had a wife before. Then COVID started, I lost my job, I couldn’t afford my place, food, everything was gone,” said Antonio. 

The city of Denver and non-profits are constantly struggling to create solutions to help the homeless. Converting shelters to 24/7 facilities so that people can go there and get a shower, a meal, and to secure a bed for the night is one approach. Tiny homes and designated camping areas at churches are another.  But  Antonio says it’s not enough. “It’s hard to find restrooms because the one I know is on the other side and its far, like 20 minutes.  I have to walk and keep running for the restroom.  It’s tough to find shower places, it’s very hard.” 

A Colorado Nonprofit called Showers for All, is doing their best to help provide facilities to the homeless all over Denver. Showers for All is a moving trailer that provides free showers, bathrooms, and laundry services to the homeless. They believe that all people, no matter their circumstances, should have access to basic necessities. Showers and clean clothes not only give people better personal hygiene but a sense of being valued. 

Cathy commends what the city and non-profits are doing but she recognizes there is a long way to go.  “That’s a step in the right direction,” she said. “But ultimately it’s about getting folks into long-term stable options.  At the end of the day everybody needs a safe place to be. Everybody craves stability and the only way you can achieve economic mobility, employment, educational opportunities, and food security is by having a stable home.” 


Antonio agrees.  “Before I didn’t know anything about this life, but it’s different, very different. You have to be in the cold you have to be in hot. But it’s life, it’s experience, experience for a little but I hope to try and maybe do a little better in the future to find a job, go back to life I had before.”

For many, driving through the intersection of

On February 1, 2021 my guy, Jerry, went in for a foot surgery.  A bunion, a hammer toe, arthritis.  Outpatient.  A week recovery and he’d be back to work.  A few days later he developed a blood clot which turned into a pulmonary embolism which made him go into full cardiac arrest.  He coded in Denver’s Presbyterian St. Luke’s Medical Center emergency room and needed so many chest compressions that it broke five ribs.  He then spent two and a half weeks in a touch and go ICU world, much of it on a ventilator.

I realize I was lucky that I could even be by his side.  The Covid protocols relaxed just the day before he was admitted.  Many people who had family and friends suffering from coronavirus were not able to see loved ones once they disappeared through the hospital doors.  That’s agony.  They had to trust the hospital ICU staff without being present to witness the work they do.   Well, I saw the work they do. Every day for about three weeks.    

As I’ve watched Jerry’s trauma unfold from his bedside, I saw first hand the care that happens in a hospital with the most critically ill patients.   Being in this environment for an extended period of time, I had a chance to observe the ICU as I waited to see if someone teetering between life and death would come around.  So here are my takeaways.

  • Nurses deserve every accolade there is.  I don’t have enough superlatives to describe them.  They are highly skilled, very efficient, yet so very caring.  I asked a couple young nurses what was the first thing they learn in nursing school and they said that caring is as important as curing.  Nurses don’t complain even after a year filled with Covid.  They take messy tasks in stride, hold your hand day by day and are vigilant about the recovery of their patients.  They are the liaison between you and the doctors.  They make you feel like family.  Many of the nurses I have met in the hospital are travelling nurses.  They’re from all over the U.S. and work in places they want to visit or where they have family.  Nurses execute the plans and are the superstars. 
  • Doctors round in the mornings so you can see them every day if you’re around.  In the ICU, where hospitals deal with their most acute patients, doctors are direct, transparent, accessible and available to chat.  I found them to be good about keeping me informed and they were straightforward with me about the risks.  They also were realistic about the potential outcomes.  Between intensivists, hospitalists and specialists you start feeling like you have a whole team on your side.
  • That said, medicine is not just science but also an art.  As teams strive to treat the critically ill, they are managing risks, solving puzzles and weighing consequences.  Many medications cause side effects and can impede progress.  That said, the body reveals an incredible amount of information, and it’s interesting to watch doctors and nurses pivot as they make sense of the science.
  • Watching life in an ICU is a study in teamwork.  Over the course of our stay we had over two dozen nurses and therapists and a dozen doctors from different specialties.  Not to mention all the nurses aides.   It’s a well-oiled machine.  Transitions are mostly seamless and everyone is skillful, even on the graveyard shifts.  They take copious notes so new people on the team can pick up where the last one left off.
  • If there is no news, that’s good news.  Doctors and nurses will call you if they are changing course or you need to make a decision.  It got to the point where my breath would catch every time the hospital called.  These days, it’s a nurse calling to tell me Jerry just wants to chat on the phone.   I can breathe again.
  • Days are up and down.  There can be setbacks.  In our case, we had to return to the ICU following days of improvement.  With the most critical patients you have to be in the moment.  Progress or lack of it is day by day.  It can be very slow and stressful.  With that said you need to celebrate every milestone.  Coming off a vent, getting out of the ICU, sitting up, these are all milestones. 
  • Familiar faces are part of healing.  I can’t imagine how hard it was for families of Covid patients who couldn’t help to buoy the spirits of those who were ill.  Critically ill patients need advocates to speak up and notice things. These things are communicated to doctors and nurses and therapists and end up in the record.  Family is part of the team.  
  • Lean on social workers and those who minister.  They are there for the families of the hospital’s sickest patients. They provide psychological and emotional support and spiritual guidance.  They help you evaluate tough choices and give perspective.  They meet you where you are, whether you’re holding it together or you’re a mess.  They give hugs and hold hands and check in to make sure you are surviving the ordeal too.

It is now mid-March and Jerry is out of the ICU and on the mend in the hospital. Recovery from critical illness happens, but it can be very slow.  Eventually he will go into rehab. I hope those who are reading this never have to learn what I did.  But should your journey take you into a hospital ICU with a critically ill loved one, perhaps you will find these takeaways helpful.  Outcomes vary and the uncertainty makes it essential to have support and learn patience.   I get strength from this quote by Cheryl Strayed.  It’s about healing but to me it also describes the enormity of the ICU and the fight to get out of it.  “The place of true healing is a fierce place. It’s a giant place. It’s a place of monstrous beauty and endless dark and glimmering light. And you have to work really, really, really hard to get there, but you can do it.”

On February 1, 2021 my guy, Jerry,

The last few days of frigid temperatures and snow can make us feel like winter’s hold on Denver will never ease. Yet, here we are, less than a month from Daylight Savings Time and just over a month until the Spring Equinox. As spring arrives, we have an opportunity to do something truly transformational. We can plant a tree. You may be wondering why planting a tree is transformational. Let’s consider what trees provide to people, the economy, and the environment.

When you plant a tree, you are doing something that is both altruistic and self-serving. Your tree may give you joy, wellbeing, aesthetic beauty, shade, a higher home value, and/or lower heating/cooling bills. But your tree is likely to have much greater positive effects on your neighborhood and community such as lower crime rates, greater economic development, better air quality, lower temperatures in summer, higher water quality, and more wildlife including critical pollinators.

North Denver has heat islands which are areas where the temperatures are warmer than surrounding areas.  Because of so much construction to meet the needs of our growing population we’ve paved over many areas.  Summer temperatures in these paved sections can be 12 degrees hotter than in neighborhoods with canopies of trees.  Denver’s goal is to increase the overall tree canopy from 13% to 20% to help prevent heat related illnesses and deaths, especially among our poorer neighbors.  Knowing all this, who wouldn’t want to plant a tree this spring?!

Now that you’re sold on the value of trees, you may be wondering where to start. There are so many species to choose from. How will you know what tree is best for where you want to plant? What will you need to do to care for your new tree? What are proper planting techniques? 

Colorado State University offers a lot of resources as part of their forestry program, including this guide to selecting, planting, and caring for trees along the Front Range: Local nurseries will also have advice regarding the type of tree that may be right for you.

Once you know what tree you would like, there are programs available in Denver for lower cost trees or free trees to replace your aging tree. The Park People’s Denver Diggs Trees offers low-cost yard trees ($35 per tree due to sponsors of their program) in most North-West Denver neighborhoods. If you are experiencing economic hardship or are located in one of their target neighborhoods, you may be able to get a free or $10 tree. North Denver communities like Chaffee Park, Clayton, Cole, East Colfax, Globeville, Elyria-Swansea, Five Points, Green Valley Ranch, Jefferson Park, Montbello, Northeast Park Hill, Skyland, West Colfax and Whittier may qualify for the less expensive rate.

To learn more and apply visit: Do it soon as their tree distribution is scheduled for April. If you have an Ash tree that needs to be replaced, you may be eligible for a free tree replacement at:  

Now it’s time to plant your tree. Most nurseries will give you instructions for how to do this. You can also learn more at:

And lastly, consider how best to care for your tree so that it grows healthy and big for years of enjoyment, ecosystem services, and economic benefits. Again, The Park People provide important guidance at:

While this may seem like a lot to take in, it is actually relatively easy and there are lots of people to help you along the way. The investment you make this Spring by planting a tree will return 10-fold over the next few years and more so as your tree matures. You will have done something transformational for yourself and your community. If you need another reason, you can also dedicate your tree to someone special in your life as a way to honor or memorialize them. 

If you enjoyed this blog, please join the SUNI Sustainability email list at

The last few days of frigid temperatures

Athletics, from professional to high school to intramural sports, have rolled out new procedures to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic. These include shortened seasons, masks during competition and vigorous COVID testing and screening for athletes.

The Colorado High School Activities Association, also known as CHSAA, is the governing body of high school sports in Colorado.  It has implemented a no spectator policy and parents are fighting back with a petition through  

In response to these strict mandates, parents of athletes from all over Colorado have signed the petition to allow them to watch their high school children in-person. The petition was started in late January and already has over 15,000 signatures. 

The petition states that CHSAA is capable of creating a safe plan for there to be limited spectators at events. If the number of attendees was limited, spectators would be able to social distance for the duration of the event. Spectators could also receive testing and screenings before the event and wear face coverings. Signees believe that parents and schools can act responsibly and follow safety protocols. 

It also references rules and accommodations that surrounding states have made on this matter. States like Wyoming, Utah, and Kansas have outlined rules that allow limited spectators at events and parents believe Colorado should follow suit. Utah, for example, is allowing parents of the participating athletes into the venue. Support groups such as cheerleaders will be allowed only for the home team and are required to socially distance and wear masks for the duration. 

Kevin Watters, the father of Riley Watters, a Mullen High School senior hockey player, signed the petition. “I’m totally behind the sentiment of the petition” he said. “It’s an overreaction and it hurts the kids.” When asked about possibly never being able to watch his kid play high school hockey again, he said, “it’s horrible for all the parents, we have about eleven seniors on the team.” Mullen’s core of seniors has led their team to a 2- 0 start.

Watters also feels for his son, who’s missing the opportunity to play in front of his friends and peers during his senior year. “Half the fun is having people there to support you,” said Watters. “In a game against Chatfield there’d be a couple hundred students from each school.” 

Kevin Bendjy, North High School’s Assistant Principal and Athletic Director says CHSAA mandates are taken seriously at North. All athletes are required to wear face coverings during games and practices, and of course, no fans at competitions. Athletes also take daily health screenings, sanitize hands and equipment regularly and remain socially distanced while at practice. “We’ve adjusted to the health and safety protocols.” Said Bendjy.  “We’re adjusting every day. Health and safety are always number one at North High.” 

Mr. Bendjy believes there is light at the end of the tunnel. When asked about a timeline for the return of spectators he said, “hopefully soon, maybe after basketball season.” Although this isn’t a rock-solid timeline, Mr. Bendjy was optimistic.

CHSAA did not return repeated calls and emails regarding the “Let Parents Watch” petition, but Mr. Bendjy wants to see spectators return, but not just yet. “We would love to have parents and fans,” says Bendjy.  “Our goal is to make sure students are safe and the best way to do that is to limit the people in the stadium.” 

Athletics, from professional to high school to

Linda Block has lived in her home in Whitter for over 25 years. She’ll admit she’s not very creative, but Block knew the blank canvas on the side of her garage was crying out for some artistic attention. Now if you take a stroll down 24th Ave between Gilpin and Williams, you’ll notice the city’s newest edition to its collection of diverse murals. 

“I had been thinking about it for several months especially since the racial upheavals of last summer and just the division in this country,” Block said. 

The wavy rainbow paneling unfurling outward from a black inner circle reading ‘EQUALLITY’ – with an emphasis on ‘ALL’ – was designed and painted by graphic designer and muralist Adam Raiola. Block reached out to Raiola after seeing his work on another mural across the street. She told Raiola that she wanted the mural to reflect what the neighborhood and larger community had gone through recently while still remaining positive. As luck would have it, Raiola already had a perfect design for Block from a previous project that fell through. 

“I took one look at it, and it didn’t take a nanosecond,” Block said. ‘That’s it. That’s exactly the message I want to convey.’”

“It touched on her message and my message as well,” Raiola said. “And I think this landed at such a good time… 2020 I think, if nothing else, it has shown everyone that we need equality now more than ever.”

Block dedicated the mural to Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old Black man who died in August of 2019 after police in Aurora restrained him with a chokehold that has since been banned.

“It made me start to question the fact that somebody, some anonymous person, called him in as suspicious because he was walking down the street with a head scarf slash wrap on,” Block said. “There was nothing suspicious about it… it really made me stop and think about how I look at people and what I would consider suspicious.”  

It is also dedicated to Dorsey Cherry, a 78-year-old Black man and former Whittier resident who lived directly across the street from Block before he died of cancer in 2017. And while Cherry’s story might not be as well known as McClain’s, it is even closer to Block’s heart. 

“I’m an old white woman from Nebraska… our childhoods had nothing in common, but we just became very good friends and looked out for each other,” Block said. “I still miss him terribly.”

She wanted to keep Cherry’s name in the neighborhood because he had lived there for over 30 years. Despite being quiet and unassuming, Cherry was known by most everyone in his community. He drove a garbage truck for Denver Waste Management and managed to keep with his early wake-up calls to shovel the neighbors’ driveways, even after he retired.  Block really stood by his side during his later years. 

“He was a real integral part of this neighborhood,” Block said. “I just really wanted him to be remembered.”

Doctors found a mass in Cherry’s chest in September of 2017. It wasn’t until that December that he was contacted about further appointments. Block drove him to his appointment in December, but they did not further investigate the mass in his chest because they said he needed to see a dietician first regarding his diabetes. Block was irate. She didn’t think he was getting the right care. Cherry graciously accepted her offer to advocate for him. Block marched back to the hospital saying to “tell his doctor I want to get a call.” 

“It just is almost stunningly neglectful,” Block said. “I think the quality of care for Black people, or people of color… they don’t get the same level of concern.”

Cherry died of cancer in March of 2017. Up until that point, Block and other neighbors were taking care of him in between hospice visits.  “This corner just came together and, really out of love and respect for Dorsey, took care of him,” Block said.

To this day, Block still holds his memory close to her heart. Every year on his birthday, Block brought fried green tomatoes over to his house to celebrate. She has continued the tradition by visiting his burial site at Fort Logan every August 18th and bringing some unfried green tomatoes to leave by his name.

Block hopes the mural will be an uplifting sight during the daily passerby’s commute. She wants the story behind the mural to remind people of the lingering legacy of Elijah McClain and especially Dorsey Cherry in hopes they’ll embrace justice and get to know their neighbors.   

Linda Block has lived in her home

This morning I stood outside of a quaint Tudor single-family home in Berkeley – period details, close to the park, and move-in ready condition.  The client was already in love with it before walking in, and we knew they would need to be competitive with their offer if they wanted the home. 

The last agent was just leaving with their clients, and it was time for our 15 minute private showing.  To adhere to Covid restrictions, only one group is allowed to tour a home at a time for typically a max of 15 minutes, and real estate agents are scrambling to get the best time slot for their clients.   The seller’s agent already shared there were eight offers over asking. This has become a typical scenario in North Denver for any desirable home. 

North Denver’s real estate market isn’t just hot, it has buyers feeling more like they are walking into an inferno.  With 17% year-over-year appreciation last year for single family homes in the Denver Metro, there is an urgency felt among many buyers to find a home quickly before they are priced out of their desired home and neighborhood.  

Contributing factors for this seismic appreciation include: very low inventory (in part caused by suppressed movement with the pandemic) and record low interest rates.  With interest rates predicted to stay low in 2021 and inventory to also remain low, expect North Denver’s real estate market to stay hyper-competitive and prices to continue to rise.  

Tips to navigate North Denver’s competitive real estate market:

  1. Pre-Approval – Before starting the home buying process, I strongly encourage any potential buyer obtain a pre-approval letter indicating you are a qualified and serious buyer.  Your lender can provide this letter.  If you do not have a lender, ask your real estate agent for a list of recommendations.  
  • Be Prepared to Act Fast – North Denver’s real estate market moves quickly.  The average number of days on the market in December for a home in Berkeley neighborhood was only 9 days.  If a new listing pops up, try to see the home immediately.  Time slots to tour a newly listed home will fill up quickly.  If you can’t go immediately, have your agent show you the home via Facetime or another app.  
  • Good Communication – I encourage buyers to find an agent they feel has clear and consistent communication.  Remember a buyer’s agent is not only talking to their clients but also representing the buyer to the seller’s agent.  A good buyer’s agent will be reaching out to the seller’s agent to find out what the seller’s situation is before putting in an offer.  Does the home have other offers?  What is the seller looking for in the sale?  Perhaps the seller has already relocated out-of-state and wants a quick close or maybe the seller is hoping to “rent-back” the property for a period of time while they find their next home.  You and your agent can present a stronger offer knowing what the seller wants. 

I recommend those on the fence to start looking now to try to take advantage of the low mortgage rates and before homes appreciate even more.  While inventory is low, there are still homes going on the market every day in North Denver. Happy house hunting!

Nicole Danner is a local North Denver Real Estate Agent with Green Door Living.  She lives in the Berkeley neighborhood in a 1910 bungalow and loves sharing all of her favorite places in North Denver with her clients.  Please feel free to reach out to or 303-386-5457 when looking to buy or sell your next home or follow her online at @NicoleDannerRealEstate.

This morning I stood outside of a

My kids have active imaginations.  This year we wrote a book we’re calling, “Diem’s Dream,” at least for now.  My daughter, Diem (4 years old), is always telling me stories about adventures with her imaginary friends.  My son and I love to draw.  In the spring we would draw mythical creatures for hours and then write three sentences about our drawings. It was the only way I could get my son to write during remote learning, the teacher’s prompts just didn’t do it for him.

We read lots of books in our house, Harry Potter is where our love of mythical creatures began.  One day we decided it might be fun to write a kid’s book about some of our family fun and I would illustrate it.  At the time my daughter was obsessed with unicorns and mermaids so we decided those would be her two friends in the book.  Then we could go on flying and swimming adventures in our story. We started by listing all the fun things we had done recently like fly kites, swim, and water fights with the neighbors… but then we added the color of children’s imaginations to these adventures.  Why not water fights with dragons, fly kites with a unicorn, and swim with sharks?   

The book is 18 pages long, but it could have easily of been 100 because we had so much fun thinking up adventures.  Who knows maybe there with be a second book that features my son, Merit (7 years old), going on adventures with his own imaginary friends?  We referred to some of our favorite books to figure out the cadence of our story.  

I did start the illustration process, but it was very time consuming and with constant interruptions from my kids, not as enjoyable as I had hoped. That’s when I turned to FIVERR a website where you can hire all kinds of talent at reasonable rates.    I found an illustrator out of India, I liked his work, I messaged him our story and asked for a bid.  His price was right, so I hired him.   It has been so much fun seeing our story come to life by a professional.  He provides line drawings first that I approve.   I’ve printed these off to serve as coloring pages for the family, which keeps the kids engaged in the book making process.  Then the illustrator adds color to the drawings and I give feedback.  This has been an important step since we want the colors to reflect the imagination of a little girl and I want the little girl to resemble my daughter.  

We will print off a few copies of our books for friends, family and our kids’ school.  I may look into publishing so other kids can enjoy our fun story, but the original purpose was a keepsake for my kids from this crazy year.  The book will remind us of fun things we did and the type of things my kids were into this year.  When asked why we chose to write a book… I’m like any parent living in a pandemic with two small children, I throw out random ideas of ways to pass the time and when they show interest in something, we try it.  I highly recommend writing a book with your kids.  It has been a fun way to pass the extra time at home and maybe my kids have learned a thing or two about writing a book. If you want a copy of our book email me at


My kids have active imaginations.  This year we

Six months following a devastating fire that killed five members of a Senegalese family in Denver, and days after the arrest of three juveniles for the horrific crime, a question is lingering in the community.  Why?  

Djibril and Adja Diol and their two year old toddler, Khadija, as well as Mr. Diol’s sister, Hassan and her baby, Hawa Baye, perished in the August 5th 2020 blaze.  Their bodies were found after firefighters arrived at 2:40 a.m. to fight the fire on Truckee Street in east Denver.  Another family that rented to the Diol’s jumped to safety from the second story.  Authorities believe the fire was intentionally set.      

Today the burnt-out house sits in the newish development full of cul de sacs and parks in Green Valley Ranch.  Stuffed animals and dead bouquets of flowers on a chain link fence are all that remain of one immigrant family’s American dream. 

“It was just a happy family that was getting everything together and starting a happy life.”

Amadou Dieng first met Djibril Diol at a Target store in Summit County when he moved to Colorado in 2015.  Many of the state’s 2000 Senegalese immigrants, like Djibril, move to mountain communities to work the plentiful jobs in hospitality and retail. After a time they were lured to Denver’s Green Valley Ranch community near Denver International Airport by the promise of less expensive housing and other opportunities.

“It still doesn’t make sense,” says Dieng, who shudders when he thinks about that night.  “I was just with Djibi the Friday before.  We were celebrating Eid.  We were never able to see him again.”  

Dieng said Djibril had graduated from CSU in December 2018 with a degree in civil engineering.  He had a job and was finally able to bring his wife and small daughter from Senegal to Denver.  She and the baby had arrived, in April, a few months before the fire.

“This was one of the most heinous crimes I’ve ever witnessed in the city,” Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said. “It hit me to the core.”    

On Wednesday, January 27 authorities arrested three juveniles for the crime.  Two 16 year olds and a 15 year old face 28 charges, some with extreme indifference, including first degree murder, assault, burglary and arson.  

Surveillance video from the night of the fire caught three young men wearing hoodies and masks and driving a dark clolored four door sedan.      

While many questions remain, one question was answered during the press conference.  Authorities did not believe the crime was bias motivated.

“We are grateful but we are still in pain,” said Papa Dia, a spokesperson for the family.

Papa Dia, who founded the African Leadership Group, was among those who demanded it be investigated as a bias crime.  The Senegalese government, that followed the case closely, wanted a bias crime to be looked into as well.

“We know it’s not going to bring these beautiful people back,” said Dia.  Let’s not let this horrific crime define who we are as a nation and who we can be as a state.”

Aliou Ba, who immigrated from Senegal to Denver in 2002, lives with three generations of his family on the next street over.   The Diol family were friends who visited regularly.  On the night of the fire he saw the house burning from his backyard.  

“I’m just wondering the reason behind it.”  

Ba says he is relieved there has been an arrest but he wishes this could have been prevented. Ba’s sister, Ami, said the police came after the arrests by to tell them not to worry anymore.

“We weren’t feeling safe after that.  Now we feel safe.”

Inside the house, Ami’s children were among five toddlers sitting on the floor with grandma, who was dressed in traditional clothing, communally eating spaghetti with their hands as they do back home.  

“It doesn’t make any sense,” said Ami.  “Why would  you murder children.  They’re just babies.”

The Denver district attorney expects to receive the case early this week.  All three juveniles could be tried as adults.

If it’s not a bias crime it’s still a crime.”  It’s hard for people in the community to feel safe.”says Amadou Dieng.  He worries the journey to justice will bring even more pain.

“We have a long way to go, Dieng said.  “It’s good to know it wasn’t hate, but it would be better to know why it happened.”  “Why did it happen to Djibi and his family and why was it committed by such young men.  I cannot picture someone that young to be that evil.  It certainly is confusing.”  

Six months following a devastating fire that