Compiled by Eric Lubbers,
CTO/Newsletter Wrangler, @brofax

Good morning and happy Friday, folks! I’m in a race between feeling the full effect of cold medicine and getting the frankly incredible amount of news we have for you today wrangled into newsletter form, so I’m going to cut right to it.

We’ve had a great start to 2019 so far thanks to readers like you. But we’re still hustling to make sure that we can create a sustainable future for journalism here in Colorado. If you’re a member, thank you for your support, but if you’ve been holding out, there’s no time like the present to join our community.

OK, let’s steam this Pepper, shall we?


From the sidelines to the march, and now to the Capitol: One woman’s journey in the Trump era

“The factors that ultimately motivated her to make a bid for office fit in eight words: ‘Me Too, the Women’s March and Donald Trump.’”

Right about two years ago this month, Jefferson County business owner Lisa Cutter offered her services to help organize the first Women’s March in downtown Denver (which saw an estimated 100,000 attendees). But, as John Frank writes, that first dip into political action turned into a deep dive when she decided to run for the Colorado House of Representatives in a district with more Republicans and unaffiliated voters than Democrats … and won. No matter what your personal politics are, this is a story you want to read.

>> Read how Cutter fits into the blue – and pink — wave that has taken over the Colorado statehouse here.

“I’m really looking forward to holding the administration and others accountable for their actions. This committee has such broad jurisdiction that we come up with an idea every day.”

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A Colorado law pays people for time they wrongly spent in prison. It’s helped only one person.

John Ingold investigated Colorado’s landmark 2013 law designed to help compensate people who were wrongly imprisoned and found that the law’s inspiration, Robert Dewey, remains the only person to actually benefit from the law. Why? The Attorney General’s Office has argued that every new case didn’t meet the law’s high standard for “actual innocence.”

>> Read more from John’s investigation, including how Clarence Moses-EL and a new Attorney General could change how the law is used in Colorado.


Cripple Creek is poised for a casino building boom, but some worry that the town’s history will be sacrificed

Left, a rendering of a proposed expansion of Bronco Billy’s in Cripple Creek. Right, Bronco Billy’s stretching along Bennett Avenue in Cripple Creek on Dec. 18, 2018. (Sue McMillin, Special to The Colorado Sun)

Cripple Creek is going through a second boom. The town’s casino companies are suddenly planning to add 500 hotel rooms, spas and upscale restaurants to help the town of 1,200 become a must-visit stop on Colorado’s tourism map. But as Sun contributor Sue McMillin writes, all the talk of the town’s potential has others worried the town as they know it won’t survive the boom.

>> Read more (and see renderings of the proposed developments) here.

No bones about it: Affordable housing crisis threatens vitality of Colorado’s high-country economies

“There are a lot of people in our community who say no more growth. They say they got here in the ’60s or ’70s and it’s time to just stop. We need to stand up and meet with YIMBYs in the room to offset the NIMBYs who are often loud and incredibly vocal.”

Jason Blevins listened in on the U.S. Mountain Communities Summit in Vail, where planners, developers and civic leaders laser focused on the housing crisis that is threatening not just the character of mountain communities, but their economic sustainability. Among the topics? Lack of housing for the architects, shopkeepers and teachers who keep communities running. It’s known as the “missing middle” and it falls between the apartments for seasonal resort workers and $1 million-plus chalets for folks who “live” in town one weekend a year.

>> Read more of Jason’s breakdown of the issues facing the high country, including some examples of who is doing it right.



There’s a lot of buzz around “immersive” experiences in art, theater and entertainment. But is it art?


Carly Howard, center, and Autumn Eggleton, right, both of Lafayette, experience a thundercloud-like portion of the Natura Obscura immersive art exhibit at the Museum of Outdoor Art in Englewood on Wednesday, Dec. 9 2019. (Andy Colwell, Special to The Colorado Sun)

If there’s a single, unifying force in the world of arts and culture right now, it’s the rush to create “immersive” experiences. From the basics (escape rooms) to the elaborate (the 90,000-square-foot Meow Wolf installation coming to Denver in 2020), the desire to make experiences that transport patrons and make for some killer Instagram posts is infiltrating every part of culture. But as the inimitable Joanne Ostrow asks, are these experiences, as fun as they are, art?

>> Read Joanne’s thoughtful piece on the value of immersive art, including the Natura Obscura exhibit in Englewood.

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The Fun Stuff


We talk a lot about the Colorado River, but David Owen, a staff writer for The New Yorker, set out on a trek straight out of his childhood desires to actually follow it from Colorado to the Sea of Cortez… or at least that was the plan. Read an excerpt of his Colorado Book Award finalist “Where the Water Goes” (I’m so excited to pick this one up) and read an interview with Owen where he explains why he pursued this topic and how his friends now think western water law seems “like law from another planet.”



// Myra, who has been in a coma since the 80s, needs help talking to her “old” friends now that she’s awake in the latest “What’d I Miss?” (click here to start from the beginning).

// Drew Litton thinks the grown-ups are in charge in the Broncos organization now.


It’s rare to find a new brewery making great beer at the start, but Timnath Beerwerks surprised me at the Big Beers festival last weekend in Breckenridge. It’s located just off Interstate 25 south of Fort Collins and poured a quenching raspberry wheat lager and tasty New England-style IPA. It’s worth a stop on your next beer tour.

The Shortlist

Stuff about Colorado worth checking out


// The report on the first avalanche death of the season in Colorado shows how even the most skilled backcountry explorers can be caught after just a few minor mistakes. // The Colorado Sun

// Attention CSU football fans: You can now buy an authentic Hughes Stadium urinal if, for some reason, that would appeal to you. // The Coloradoan

// I’ve never wanted to put a “NATIVE” bumper sticker on my car for the same reason I wouldn’t put a “WHITE MALE” sticker there: I didn’t have much choice in the matter, so it doesn’t feel like something to brag about. But there were two interesting pieces that popped up re: Colorado natives this week. First, CPR News reported that we natives make up just 47 percent of the state population. Secondly, over at The Seattle Times, travel and outdoors reporter Crystal Paul — a Five Points native — wrote a compelling essay on returning to her childhood neighborhood to witness the seismic change it’s undergone. // CPR News, Seattle Times

// From my buddy Dylan Owens: “Hot take: Denver’s concert scene might just be too weird for a large music festival like Grandoozy// The Know

// I won’t pretend to know why The Onion chose Tipton, western Colorado’s U.S. representative, for this satirical article, but this was a hoot: “Poll Finds 100% Of Americans Blame Shutdown Entirely On Colorado Representative Scott Tipton// The Onion

// Two words: “Dinosaur Wars// High Country News

Your Thing(s) for Today



The Thing: “Sister” by Angel Olsen (listen on YouTube, Spotify, Apple Music) and a hot mug of Dr. Pepper

Why You Might Like It: I’ve been in denial for several days, but this morning it was all too clear. I have a nasty cold. I’ve been listening to a lot of moody, triumphant music as one method to fight it (the Angel Olsen track above is a thunderstorm of a song that rolls toward you across the plains so slowly you barely register that by the end it’s blowing down the trees in your front yard). And I’m unfurling my usual battalion of remedies (neti pot, Zicam, vindaloo), including the one that gets the weirdest looks when I tell people about it: a mug of hot Dr. Pepper. I’m pretty sure my Aunt Jean is the one who got me started on it when I was sick as a kid. I kind of assumed it was some deep family secret until, through the power of the internet, I found out that a whole generation of people were told by none other than Dick Clark to drink Dr. Pepper (heated in a saucepan “until it steams” and poured over a thin slice of lemon.) So bottoms up and stay healthy out there.

Editor’s note: Every Sunriser will include one … thing … to cap off our time together. The Thing will be just about anything, like a TV show or a book or a particularly cool dog toy.

Thanks for making it all the way to the bottom of this jam-packed newsletter (and don’t forget, there’s no shame in coming back over the weekend to finish it).

Have a great weekend!

— Eric

Eric Lubbers is one of the co-founders of The Colorado Sun, focused on making technology work hand-in-hand with journalism. He was born and raised in Yuma, Colorado, and since starting his career with the Rocky Mountain News/YourHub in 2005...