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What’s special about where you live and work in North Denver? 

So many things, but one that I love to share is that RedLine’s neighborhood of Five Points is so unique and special to Denver because the history it holds. Known as the Harlem of the West, Five Points is celebrated for its rich African-American history, which among other creative offerings is a hub for performances by internationally acclaimed jazz musicians during the Five Points Jazz Festival. 

What would you like to see improve in 2021? 

I am not alone in wanting the pandemic to end and for the health and economic crisis that is killing and crushing our global community to stop. 

What have you done to get through the pandemic? 

RedLine has been focused on collaborating on various relief efforts that support artists, musicians, organizations and venues. Thanks to our partners at the City, State and in private philanthropy we have had the deep honor of helping to facilitate over $9 million in relief dollars to creative communities statewide. We have also focused on developing and raising funds for mutual aid projects that seek to address the health crisis and economic crisis under one umbrella or program.  

What are some of your favorite places to hang out in North Denver? 

Welton Street Cafe, Coffee at the Point and the Curtis Park Creamery

Who in the community do you admire? 

This is an impossible question because there is an endless list of good people in the neighborhood that make it enormously unique and special. That said, as a director of a contemporary art center I am compelled to shout out one artist, whose family has a deep history in the neighborhood and whose studio is just down the street from RedLine between 25th & 26th on Arapahoe. His name is Sam McNeil, a master welder, who owns Superior Iron Works. You’ll know his studio because KUVO can be heard playing from a welded, vintage gramophone horn outside his front door. He and Minerva (his righthand welder)  have a generosity and love that they bring to their welding work everyday, which can be seen on the facade of RedLine as well as businesses and private residents throughout Denver. If you want to see some of his recent work, swing by RedLine (visit is available via appointment) and we have a bench he created honoring the great Charles Burrell, known as the Jackie Robinson of Classical Music, who just celebrated his 100th birthday. 

What’s special about where you live and

Hi everyone! My name is Quinn Finer, and I’m a Journalism student at The University of Colorado. My focus is on sports media. I’m a Colorado native hailing from Fort Collins and I currently live in Boulder with my partner and Golden Retriever. I’m very excited to learn more about the rich culture of North Denver. 

After I complete my undergrad I hope to work in sports media or athletic media relations. Whether it’s in print or on the multimedia side of the business, I’ll be content as long as I’m around athletics. 

My love for sports started at a very young age.  The first time I stepped into a Hockey rink I was eight years old.  It wasn’t until my Freshman year of High School where I found my passion for Ultimate Frisbee. 



I’m now in my fifth and final year playing for the University of Colorado’s team, Mamabird. I’ve been a captain of the team for the past three years. My teammates and I joke that we’re getting our degrees in Ultimate and this holds quite a bit of truth for me. While I’m very dedicated to my education and journalism, Ultimate is my number one passion. During the college offseason, I play for a men’s club team called Johnny Bravo. Bravo has players from all across Colorado, including Boulder, Denver, and as far as Fort Collins. 

In the summer of 2019, I was selected to compete for the under-24 USA men’s team in Heidelberg Germany. This was one of the best experiences of my life. Experiencing a whole new culture and meeting tons of new people was an absolute treat. I got to build bonds and compete with 23 of the best players in College Ultimate who were formerly my rivals.  We went on to go undefeated and win gold against Canada in the final. 

Although sports are my main area of focus, I hope to write about a number of different topics within North Denver. I can’t wait to experience the culture of North Denver and share my experiences with all of you. 

Hi everyone! My name is Quinn Finer,

Jason Hornyak is the head of the Chaffee Park Neighborhood Association

What’s special about where you live in North Denver?

   What I like most about Chaffee Park is the neighborhood’s positive relationship with and attitude toward change. A few months ago, Chaffee Park became the first neighborhood in Denver to voluntarily change its zoning in order to be more inclusive of different housing types. The idea to re-write the code to allow our residents to build Accessory Dwelling Units came from my neighbors, as did the volunteer research and outreach efforts that made the change possible. What struck me most were the many people who donated their time and energy, not because they want an ADU themselves, but because they understand that the benefits to the community go beyond their stake as an individual. 

What would you like to see improve in 2021?

   I would like to see more of the barriers that stand in our way of creating affordable housing removed from my neighborhood, my district and the city as a whole. Our zoning code is filled with outdated regulations that restrict our ability to provide housing for people.  Denver’s housing shortage is a problem of our own making: A preoccupation with parking, setbacks, occupancy limits and how many units are allowed per parcel has greatly limited the supply of housing despite skyrocketing demand. I would like more people to understand the connection between land use and our housing crisis, because it is a direct cause and effect. It breaks my heart to hear people in this city prioritize their ability to store their private vehicle on the public street over allowing their neighbor to provide a bedroom for a roommate. I’m sure this sounds silly to most of you, but this is the debate surrounding the proposed Group Living code change: People are more concerned about their free parking than the housing security of others. If we want this city to be a more equitable place to live, then we’re all going to need to learn how to better share our space. 

What have you done to get through the pandemic?

The darkness of the pandemic came with a bright silver lining for my family when we welcomed the birth of our son Arlo on December 29th  (so, any of my answers to these questions seem clumsily written, please cut me some slack because I am still very much in the throes of newborn sleep deprivation!) If you do the math, you’ll realize that we became pregnant right at the beginning of the lockdown period in late March.  Yes, he is a quarantine baby, and one of the first of the impending COVID baby boom… but before you write us off as a cliché, you should know that we were trying BEFORE the pandemic happened! – So besides doing what many others did like honing hobbies, rediscovering a love of home cooking, and gathering around a computer for virtual happy hours with friends, we also devoted a great deal of time and energy toward prepping for parenthood. We read parenting books, took online classes, and remodeled the spare bedroom as a nursery. It was actually a pretty convenient time to be pregnant, since my wife and I didn’t feel as if we were missing out on much by staying home. The same can be said for having a newborn! We would be holed up in our nest regardless of the pandemic, so at least we don’t have to turn down any social obligations! Tragically, since she does not feel comfortable flying across the country right now, my mother won’t be able to meet her grandson until she is able to get the vaccine. Though really, all she is missing out on is 20 dirty diapers a day, so perhaps it’s not a bad thing to delay her trip until Arlo is old enough to do something besides digest milk!  

 What are some favorite places to hang out in your neighborhood?

Chaffee Park is almost entirely residential, and our only public space besides a few gas stations and fast food restaurants is the park on 51st and Zuni street (despite being an absolute jewel of the city, the park doesn’t technically have a name! Hopefully we’ll be able to remedy this in the near future). The lack of public space, and the fact that we are cut off from the rest of the city by the highway, means that we have to make the best out of our private areas- like our backyard oases. We may not have any restaurants, but we can cook dinner for our neighbors on our grills; we may not have breweries, but we can sample a home brew from the garage next door; we may not have a place to purchase fresh vegetables, but we can trade our garden surplus with our friends down the street. Backyard hangs are a perfect way to bond with your neighbors, and are crucibles for community building.

Who in the community do you admire?

I admire the people that think it’s ok to not clean up after their dogs in the park, because it takes a special kind of brazen confidence to think that this is acceptable behavior. I’m kidding, of course… Who I really admire are people to volunteer to solve problems that they didn’t create, like the folks in Chaffee Park who gave up a Saturday morning in September to thoroughly clean 51st and Zuni Park. This was a part of a District One effort spearheaded by Council Woman Amanda Sandoval (whose proactive approach to her position is also something that I admire) to encourage a sense of productivity and community service in a time of pandemic induced isolation. My friend and neighbor Kate Hilsenbeck swept between the cracks of literally every piece of sidewalk under the pavilion, and did so with her perpetually great attitude. She always shows up to our neighborhood meetings and events and lights them up with her presence, as does my other friend and neighbor Anne Long- whose dedication to her community is without rival.  I look up to both of these women and try to emulate their attitude with my civic engagement. I have a tendency to bite off more than I can chew when it comes to volunteering, so keeping my attitude aligned in the right direction is crucial for me to avoid burnout. Having the examples of great attitudes around me goes a long way toward keeping me on task for my community. 

Jason Hornyak is the head of the

The pandemic has forced many people into a corner. With their money stretched thin, people are struggling to decide whether their paychecks should go to rent, groceries, prescriptions or gas. 

Jeff Fard — more commonly known as Brother Jeff — is hyper-aware of this reality, and his nonprofit in Five Points has answered the cries for help in more ways than one.

Brother Jeff’s Cultural Center and Cafe began its ‘No One Should Be Hungry, Period’ campaign on Christmas day. The campaign launched in partnership with Sony/ATV Music Publishing, which works with the likes of Beyonce, Drake, Lady Gaga and many others. Their goal for the holiday event was to hand out 500 free meals. They ended up giving away 763 freshly cooked dinners made by hired chefs who had been displaced from employment in the restaurant industry during COVID-19. 

Fard’s goal for the campaign is to help anyone and everyone in need, and, in doing so, force the community to reckon with the complex and diverse image of what need really looks like today.

“You can see it in the long lines of folks that are going to pantries or driving up to get food boxes. Those people look like everyone,” Fard said. “So we don’t say if it’s someone who needs food, we say if it’s someone who wants food, needs food or otherwise. We don’t ask questions, we don’t put any caveat attached to it.”

And, thankfully, the campaign is far from over. When asked about its timeline Fard’s answer is simple: “It will continue on into the future. ‘Til we eradicate hunger, how ‘bout that?”

The second event will take place on Martin Luther King Jr. Day with ‘1000 Free MLK Holiday Dinners.’ Over 150 people have signed up to volunteer for the COVID-guideline friendly event, and Fard is planning to top their goal of giving away 1000 meals. 

Fard credits the overwhelming support for this campaign to its inclusive mission.

“This is an effort for us to come together as a community and work toward unity and healing as opposed to things that divide us,” Fard said. “I can’t find one person who will disagree with the premise that ‘No One Should Be Hungry, Period.’ I didn’t say folks that are housed or unhoused, or white or black, or brown or red, or straight or gay, or democrat or republican.

“When we say period, that’s exclamation point, period, full-stop.”

Tony Exum Jr., a volunteer for the Christmas Day kick-off, can attest to the success of the first event on Christmas. 

“There were a lot of people that didn’t have anything else, but they had a good meal that day,” Exum Jr. said. “And that can be just invigorating.”

But this campaign is not the first time Brother Jeff’s Cultural Center and Cafe has addressed problems within the community. Prior to this most recent campaign, the nonprofit had a food pantry and gave out several hundred free meals a week, and these offerings have continued to date. Even its inception in 1994 was a direct response to a desperate need for a community-building space.

“There were lots of gangs, drugs and violence permeating our community,” Fard, a Northeast Denver native, said. “So what we did was we created a safe place for the community to come gather, express their creativity or aspirations in a positive environment without any censorship or overseeing their thoughts.”

A part of that community-building comes with the organization’s commitment to fostering important conversations. Fard does a podcast almost every day at 2 p.m. via the Brother Jeff Facebook page. He’s had conversations with presidential candidates, senators and community members alike and touched upon many different topics. 

“Everyone has come to that platform and it’s become a trusted voice for information,” Fard said. 

Exum Jr. is one of Brother Jeff’s loyal listeners. He says most of the conversations are “centered around black and brown communities,” but the wide variety of topics affect everyone.

“He makes sure that all sides are being viewed,” Exum Jr. said. “And that’s very important in this day and age.”

But Brother Jeff’s Cultural Center and Cafe goes beyond meaningful conversations and food distribution. They also have a wide array of programming events throughout the year that give members of the community a chance to share their talents through poetry, music and dance.

Exum Jr. is a contemporary jazz, R&B and funk saxophonist. He is a nationally-touring musician who, like many other artists, had gigs stripped away due to the pandemic. He performed at the cultural center over the summer for its virtual concert series alongside Denver-based artists. He holds Fard in the highest regard for everything he’s done for himself and the community at large.

“Jeff is a beacon, he’s a vessel,” Exum Jr. said. “He deserves a national spotlight for what he’s doing in Denver because there’s not a whole lot of people who render themselves to humanity like that.”

Fard’s take on his accomplishments is unsurprisingly humble.

“It’s not anything new, different or unique that I’m doing,” Fard said. “It’s just basically what I was raised to believe society looks like, and that is everyone participating to make where they’re at a better place and making sure those who are struggling are also included in community and in society. So that’s kind of Brother Jeff.”

If you’re interested in learning more about Brother Jeff and his nonprofit, please visit Brother Jeff’s Facebook page or his website:

The pandemic has forced many people into

What’s special about where you live in North Denver?

I live in Uptown. I loved the neighborhood 11 years ago when I first moved to Denver, and I love it even more now. One of the first apartments I toured when I moved to town happens to be in the building where I live now, Avenue Lofts. I ended up living in LoDo for several years, but was fortunate to buy a unit in Avenue Lofts six years ago. You may know Avenue Lofts by the neon pink glow emanating from my upstairs neighbor’s apartment. No, it is not a secret speakeasy as some have speculated on Google Maps.

Uptown’s mix of architecture, living spaces, restaurants and mom & pop retail appeals to me. Having two dogs is the perfect way to meet neighbors. Folks here are warm, down to earth and friendly. The sense of community is real. It’s heartwarming and assuring to see Black Lives Matters signs in yards all over the neighborhood. And when we pass the neighbor’s yard with a pet turkey and duck, smiles cross our faces.

What would you like to see improve in 2021?

Uptown, like so much of Denver, is gentrifying rapidly. Dozens of single-family homes have been razed to make way for massive apartment buildings. Several are under construction or have come online in recent years. The influx of people indicates people want to live here, but I wonder where the people who used to live here have gone.

I’d like Denver to develop an even more comprehensive housing plan that addresses gentrification, homelessness and affordability. It’s heartening that Denver voters have approved tax increases to address some of these issues, but we all need to do more.

What have you done to get through the pandemic?

Cooking and eating, baking and eating. I am an avid cook and baker, and a silver lining of stay-at-home orders is having more time to cook. Food has always been a big deal in my family. We’re Mexican and food means warmth and love to us. I’m known as a food pusher. Come to my house, and I’ll “force” you to eat fresh pasta, tacos wrapped in homemade corn tortillas, smoked brisket, scratch-made tamales assembled with my sister Michele, and fresh-baked potica, which reminds me of my hometown Pueblo. Yes, I am a Colorado native. I garden a lot, too. Years ago, I planted a small vegetable garden to grow everything needed to make fresh salsas and pasta sauces. 

What are some favorite places to hang out in your neighborhood?

Uptown is incredibly walkable, and that is a big part of its charm. We love White Pie, a Connecticut-style pizzeria, and Dos Santos, a taqueria. Both restaurants are owned by brothers Chris and Jason, who have a knack for making guests feel like family. Pro tip: if there is a wait at White Pie, walk around the corner to Dos Santos for a margarita.

Looking for cool stuff or greeting cards that will make a sailor blush? Check out Squadron and Soul Haus on 17th Avenue. Owners Chris and Stephanie curate hip clothes, barware, and raunchy cards. Wes, who helps manage both stores, is the friendliest guy you’ll ever meet. Just don’t comment on his music playlist.

Who in the community do you admire?

That’s my upstairs neighbor Michael Matergia. Michael is a doctor who decided to pursue medicine while living in India after graduating from college. Michael’s work is all about service for others. He’s a family physician providing full-scope primary care, including prenatal, obstetrical, and hospital care, with a particular interest and focus on care to patients with substance use disorders. Michael is on the clinical faculty at the Saint Joseph Hospital Family Medicine Residency Program (right here in Uptown!) where he teaches and supervises family practice residents.

Michael’s commitment to service extends far beyond Denver. In India, the country that inspired him to become a doctor, Michael and his wife Denna, a teacher in Denver Public Schools, co-founded the Broadleaf Health and Education Alliance in 2011. The international non-profit partners with rural communities in the Darjeeling Himalayas to provide innovative solutions to health and education. Through their school-based health programs, teacher training, and child mental health intervention, Broadleaf has touched the lives of over 10,000 Indian children and youth during the last decade.

I admire Michael and Denna for harnessing their passions and skills in medicine and education to improve lives in Denver and beyond. I hope you can support their mission. You can learn more about Broadleaf and donate here.

About me

I am a journalist and television producer by trade, and a cook, baker, cyclist and beer lover by passion. I grew up in Pueblo, and my career has taken me across Colorado, the country and the world. No matter where I am, Colorado will always be home and Denver will always be the cycling and beer capital of the world. 

What’s special about where you live in

Yay! It’s a new year, finally! Hey 2020, don’t let the door hit you in the a**!  If you’re anything like me, you’re itchin’ to get back to “normal” — and although I don’t think we’ll ever return to things quite like they were before, I’m ready to see the restrictions get lifted and for people to be well once again. The good news is that with the vaccination rolling out, we now see light at the end of this dark, dark tunnel. The bad news is that we still have some time before we can remove the masks, dine at 100% capacity, and travel to our heart’s content once again. So, how can you survive these next six months or so? I asked a few of my friends on Facebook, and got some really heartfelt responses.

Here are five things you can do to stay sane, healthy and happy during these times.

  1. Choose your words with intention. Remove “I can’t wait for this to be over” from your speaking. Instead, focus on gratitude. Sure, a lot of things are frustrating right now, but you get to choose where you put your focus. Change your thinking from “I can’t” or “I have to” to — “I GET to.” What is the gift here? Shift into the positive.
  2. Find the fun online. Yep, I get it. You’re sick of Zoom meetings. But here we are, still restricted, so make the best of what you’ve got. There’s so much to be experienced online to help us keep our sanity, and you can find yourself in “community” once again, albeit a virtual one. Choose one new thing you’d like to explore… Options include comedy events, yoga and fitness classes, music / instruction, art classes for beginners, and even recovery communities if you find that these days, your drinking habits more closely resemble your 20s.
  3. Exercise. I know, you might be rolling your eyes at this one, as you’ve heard it a million times, including above in #2. But just like meditation, which pops up over and over as a “cure” for so many pains, so does exercise…because it works. It was Barack Obama who said: “You have to exercise, or at some point you’ll just break down.” Why not start today? My favorite gym right now is Fitwall. A small, locally owned gym on Speer Boulevard. Fitwall has all the safety protocols in place so you can attend in person if you prefer, though they also have virtual and outdoor park options.
  4. Have dance parties in the kitchen, living room or elsewhere, it doesn’t matter. Put on a favorite song from your favorite decade and dance like no one’s watching. (They probably aren’t.) Dancing increases your “feel good” hormone, serotonin. It reduces stress, it’s sure to make you smile, and is actually a form of exercise! (Shh, don’t tell anyone!) I’ve found TikTok to be a fun place for inspiration for family dance parties. Hey, you’re probably not as “cooky” as them, but who’s having more fun right now?! 
  5. Plan your next trip! Trust that we are coming to the end of this, eventually. Why not start planning for the next time you can take a trip? Where would you love to go next? There are great deals to be found, and many are offering fully refundable vacations. Consider chatting with a travel agent (you don’t know what you don’t know) and trust that this next trip will be worth the wait. 

Most importantly, keep on living, one day at a time. Make plans. Stick to a schedule. Make commitments to yourself so that you are still growing during this time. Commit to feeling good and being grateful. There is light at the end of the tunnel… stay well until we get there, together

Katie resides in Sunnyside with her sidekick, Annie. When she’s not reminding herself how to get through the next six months or so, she’s usually cooking up some yumminess in her beloved crockpot or spending time in her home office, teaching coaches and online experts how to sell their services in the online space. Find out more at

Yay! It’s a new year, finally! Hey

I hate asking for money.  It’s hard and I feel like I’m being obnoxious.  Especially this year when everyone needs help.  I had no issues asking my parents for money when I was a teen, but in decades of producing television, it’s probably why all my projects have been funded by others, and why that documentary I swore I would someday self-fund is still undone.  It takes a tremendous amount of courage to have your hand out no matter how worthy the cause.  

Years ago, Ginny Jordan recommended I read a book called The Soul of Money by Lynne Twist.  Ginny is one of the founders of BeadforLife.  She is a philanthropist and has helped raise funds for significant causes and documentaries.  Sensing how uncomfortable I was doing development for my projects she suggested I read it.  The enduring lesson in the book is that people want to give to causes they believe in.  Money flows to projects people want to get behind.  It makes them feel good.

Although the book had impact on me, I haven’t gotten up the nerve to ask until now.  The time has come.  For 18 months, I’ve been working on a hyperlocal journalism project called Bucket List Community Café that I believe is doing good for the community.  It started as a Facebook site to offer up my impressions of my new neighborhood in North Denver.  Over time it has evolved into a community resource.  Grassroots journalism by walking around.   

Bucket List Community Café is on social media and the web.  It covers the news, issues, happenings, culture, people, places and small businesses in our diverse North Denver neighborhoods.  We are reaching thousands of people a month and our discoveries are often picked up by larger news media that have the resources to go more in depth.  We are growing and we are motivated knowing that community journalism is important to our community.  

But community journalism also requires participation from the community.  All of us who are working in this space need your support.  Even well-established publications and digital media need those who use it to infuse it.  With your contributions or investment, we will be able to pay Abby who is writing for you and Alex who is doing all of our social media.  We will be able to bring you more original content and stories about those who are making a difference in the community.  We will be able to dig deeper to tell your stories and hear your voices.        

In my career I have been influenced by amazing journalists.  One of my heros, and one I’ve had the opportunity to work with, is Tom Brokaw.  He has a memorable quote that sums up my passion.  “It’s all storytelling, you know. That’s what journalism is all about.”  I am a storyteller and Bucket List Community Café is your platform for telling stories and getting conversations going in North Denver.  YOUR VOICE.  YOUR COMMUNITY.  And now we need YOUR HELP.  Will you please contribute to our modest goal of raising $2021 for our big plans in 2021.  Thank you and please donate HERE.  

I hate asking for money.  It’s hard and

I’ll bet you can’t wait for 2020 to be over and the sun to rise in 2021.  We’ve had so much uncertainty and loss.  Through it all Bucket List Community Café has been YOUR VOICE. YOUR COMMUNITY in North Denver.  We have brought you the news, issues, events, culture and stories of people in our neighborhoods, and we have even bigger plans for the coming year.  We would like to showcase 20 things we did to improve your North Denver experience in 2020.  

  1. Helped build community among North Denver’s diverse neighborhoods 
  2. Expanded coverage area to all of North Denver 
  3. Promoted community journalism and others who work in the space 
  4. Promoted non-profits especially those fighting hunger 
  5. Helped North Denver navigate the Covid pandemic and testing 
  6. Encouraged readers to consider what’s on their bucket list
  7. Encouraged those who were newly working from home
  8. Showcased Voices of North Denver in our GRATITUDE project
  9. Did a fundraiser for Bienvenidos Food Bank that raised $1300
  10. Supported Denver small businesses and restaurants with free content 
  11. Expanded the website to complement the Facebook news feed
  12. Brought young college graduates on board to expand our team  
  13. Created original content that filtered ideas up to Denver’s news media
  14. Connected with RNO’s and city council representatives
  15. Introduced bloggers and a neighborhood correspondent
  16. Created a week-long series of North Denver non-profits for CO Gives Day
  17. Spotlighted issues such as homelessness, gentrification, race and hunger.
  18. Spotlighted neighborhood initiatives, celebrations and people  
  19. Urged people to vote in the 2020 election 
  20. Followed openings and closings in the various neighborhoods 

One thing we never did was ask you for money.  There are so many others in need this year that we figured it was best to let your donation dollars go to fighting hunger and poverty.  Everyone who has helped with Bucket List Community Café has done so for free until now with the passion for serving our community and bringing hyperlocal journalism to you.  

Now we’re asking you to help support us by donating.  Go to our website and press the donate button.  It’s that simple.  With generous community support we will bring you even more original content, get out more in North Denver’s neighborhoods and showcase the news, events, issues, culture, small businesses and people in our communities.  It seems right for community journalism to be community supported.  We’re asking our readers to help us grow and do even more for our community in 2021.  Happy new year and thank you, North Denver.   


I’ll bet you can’t wait for 2020

Music streaming platforms like Apple Music, Spotify and YouTube have become a part of our everyday lives. We’ve grown accustomed to having music at our fingertips, but hearing our favorite tunes through a speaker cannot replace the experience of live music. Opportunities to listen to music in real-time have been all but crushed under the weight of the pandemic, and local music venues have suffered as a result. “It’s been rough,” Scott Happel, an owner of the Oriental Theater, said. “We’re just cruisin’ along day-by-day trying to stay alive.”

The Oriental Theater first opened its doors on Christmas Eve of 1927 as a silent movie theater. The theater has been through many changes since and even fell dormant for various periods of time. Today, the Oriental operates as an independent, locally owned music and entertainment venue in the Berkeley neighborhood. Although it’s been going steady for the last 15 years, the Oriental has had to struggle for survival during the COVID-19 pandemic. The venue closed on March 13, 2020, but reopened Aug 1. The 800-person-capacity venue was initially allowed to have 50 people when it reopened, but eventually went up to 90 for small shows. The venue was also able to secure some federal money back in May and June. The money and its “safe sound series” has helped the venue survive, according to Happel.  The small shows continued into early November until Denver went to Level-Red restrictions.

“We wouldn’t still be open today if we could’ve never done anything,” Happel said. “But being able to do those shows for three and half months helped extend the life of the money that we had and the grants that we have received.” Happel added, “I think we can make it until February or March as we stand right now,” Happel said. “But we’re not gonna be able to make it any longer than that unless we can start having shows again or more money and help comes from the government or something like that.”

Fans of the theater from near and far have come to the Oriental’s aid, but love for the Oriental remains strongest close to home starting with the owners themselves — all four of whom live in Denver. “We live in the community, we operate a business in the community — we’re proud of that,” Happel said. “We love serving the community, and we have every intention of surviving this.”

Glenn Vigil lives just north of Denver, and is part of the Oriental’s loyal fanbase.  A member of four bands, Vigil knows the theater as both a performer and an audience member. Both his Dokken tribute band, Mr. Scary, and his Bob Seger tribute band, Still the Same, had gigs planned for 2020 that were cancelled because of COVID-19. 

“I love the place,” Glenn Vigil said. “That’s probably one of the best music venues in Denver — you can ask about any musician, and they love it there.” Vigil said the venue was so special because of its historic nature and the way it fit so well into the Berkeley neighborhood.  “It still has that old look,” Vigil said. “And I like old things, I’m kind of an old thing myself.”

Brian Coleman of Lakewood is another musician who can speak to the charm and importance of the Oriental. The Substitutes, his tribute band to The Who, performed back in January just before the pandemic took hold of the United States. He said the Oriental was crucial to the community for providing a place for bands to play in a smaller city like Denver. “Places like the Oriental are crucial for the sense of an artistic and musical community because we’ve already lost some venues,” Coleman said. “It’s hard enough as a tribute band to try to get gigs in a bit of a smaller city like Denver, but if places like the Oriental or the Gothic started closing, literally it would shut down a lot of the sense of a common musical community and artistic community in Denver.”

He also said the Oriental gave local acts a big stage to shoot for. The reputation of the Oriental precedes itself, according to Coleman, and getting to play there is an accomplishment for acts both local and travelling through.  “If you’re playing smaller venues in town, you need venues like the Oriental as kind of the goal,” Coleman said. “If those places disappeared then you’d be doing kind of a little circuit, but there wouldn’t be a sense of like, ‘Hey, what’s the next step after this?’”

The Oriental’s biggest fundraising endeavor has been their Friend of the Oriental campaign, and Happel urges people to donate whatever they can. “We set an initial goal of $50,000 as being kind of what we thought we needed to make it through the winter,” Happel said. “Anything that can move us closer to that goal would be greatly appreciated.”

When asked if there were other ways to help besides donations, Happel’s answer was plain and simple.  “The only thing that is useful to us at this point is money,” Happel said. “I wish there were nicer, fuzzier things that I could ask for, but anyone that’s hoping to support us or to see us survive, that’s really what it comes down to right now.”

Music streaming platforms like Apple Music, Spotify

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented the world with more than its fair share of challenges. But despite all of the heartbreak and hardship, there has been no shortage of people rising up to provide help where it’s needed most. 

The GrowHaus is a local non-profit dedicated to cultivating community-driven food justice in the Globeville and Elyria-Swansea area through services like food distribution and education programming. With Colorado Gives Day just around the corner, The GrowHaus is hoping for continued financial support to fund their ongoing efforts to curb food insecurity. 

Knowing all too well that food access, and particularly healthy food access, is a challenge in their community, even at the best of times, The GrowHaus understood why the issue hit harder as COVID-19 began its devastating grip on the country. Thankfully, the non-profit got right to work.

“We have a team of community outreach staff that work to engage our neighbors and learn about what their needs are and how we can best respond,” Development and Communications Associate Delaney Tight said. “Especially in times of crisis like this year has been.”

Cosechando Salud (Harvesting Health) was a service initiated prior to the pandemic. The weekly program partnered with Denver Food Rescue, We Don’t Waste and Bondadosa to distribute high-quality rescued food to families living in the 80216 zip code. Many families relied on the no-cost program for fresh food before COVID-19, so The GrowHaus made sure to continue their efforts throughout the pandemic. They even began delivering directly to homes to continue to provide for families in the safest way possible. Cosechando Salud reaches about 100 families a week, according to their website.

But the GrowHaus didn’t stop there. They also launched their Rapid Response Food Delivery Program the week of March 23 as a direct response to the pandemic. This program also partners with Bondadosa and We Don’t Waste to deliver dry bulk food and fresh produce directly to the Globeville and Elyria-Swansea community. Each delivery includes one bag of dry bulk food and one bag of fresh produce. Over 14,000 deliveries accounting for almost 460,000 meals have been delivered to nearly 550 homes since March, according to their website. 

The pandemic has made the mission of The GrowHaus more crucial but also brought more visibility to their cause. 

“A lot of people understand that food access is critical right now,” Tight said. “I think that people are rallying behind the causes that they’re passionate about but also that have come to the forefront because of the pandemic.”

Colorado Gives Day is the non-profit’s largest fundraiser of the year. Tight said donations from the event allow for The GrowHaus to create programs like Rapid Response Food Delivery.

“By having Colorado Gives Day and having the consistent support of individual people, then we can do things like rapidly launch a program or shift what our staff is gonna focus on,” Tight said. 

Tight also wanted to encourage anyone in the Globeville or Elyria-Swansea area struggling to put healthy food on the table to reach out to The GrowHaus.

If you are interested in learning more about The GrowHaus or making a donation, please visit the website:

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented the world