Compiled by Eric Lubbers, email@example.com
CTO/Newsletter Wrangler, @brofax
Good morning and happy Monday, folks. I’d ask how your weekend went, but I think I know. If you’re a Patriots fan, you’re happy, but also a little empty at having won the lowest-scoring Super Bowl in NFL history. And if you’re the other 90 percent of the country, you wonder what you just spent your whole Sunday watching (because the ads and halftime show weren’t any better than the game).
But if there’s any silver lining, it’s that the football season is finally, officially over and you can get back to the important stuff. Like basketball, where the Nuggets are currently sitting at the top of the most competitive conference in the NBA.
For now, though, we’ve got some serious news for you to digest as you enter your first football-free week of the year.
So let’s hoist this trophy, shall we?
>> ABOVE THE FOLD
Longread: Redevelopment is coming for Westwood. Can it stay true to its roots as gentrification looms?
“It’s not really anti-gentrification so much as anti-displacement. Really, we want the city to get nicer and better. We just don’t want that to mean if you don’t have money you can’t be here.”
— Former state Sen. Irene Aguilar, the director of the Neighborhood Equity and Stabilization Team
Morrison Road, one of the oldest thoroughfares in Denver, cuts across the Westwood neighborhood like a sash. That neighborhood, blue-collar from birth and now predominantly Latino, has largely avoided gentrification. But the same forces that transformed the North Side and Five Points are coming.
In conjunction with students from the University of Colorado’s News Corps, Kevin Simpson kicks off our look at gentrification in Denver with a thorough and compelling tale about all the ways the neighborhood has already changed and how residents — old and new — are working with the government, local business owners and nonprofits to help update and upgrade Westwood without hurting the people who call it home (and without muting the area’s distinct culture in the process).
// MAPS: As part of our look at gentrification, graphic artist and data analyst Carrie Osgood looked at four indicators of how Denver has changed: race/ethnicity, poverty, education and income levels. >> Click here to see her maps and the patterns of a changing city.
>> DON’T MISS
- Today’s the day: The public can tell the Joint Budget Committee how the state should spend $30 billion. Here’s our guide on how the process works.
- Colorado is at the top of many lists, but this isn’t one to celebrate: Colorado has the highest per-capita rate of skin cancer, thanks to sunshine and high elevation.
- Sen. Michael Bennet was at the Outdoor Retail Snow Show touting his public lands bill, which he says could represent a cure for the “partisan disease” ailing politics.
- On a more fun note, check out Dean Krakel’s photos on Nancy Lofholm’s story about the “Alley Loop” in Crested Butte, a 21K classic-style Nordic ski race that happens to include some of the nuttiest costumes on two planks.
>> THE OPINION PAGE
- It’s not often that Colorado is at the bottom of any list of states. But when Colorado showed up with the lowest rate of kindergarteners vaccinated for measles, mumps and rubella, it inspired Diane Carman to write her latest column: “Time to kick the deliberately reckless disease vectors out of the herd.”
- Denver District Attorney Beth McCann wrote a column supporting the Turn Over a New Leaf program to help clear criminal records of people convicted of marijuana offenses before legalization.
- Ari Armstrong is wondering why the federal government is involved with the business of brewing.
- Mario Nicolais argues that providing more legal protection for animals could help reduce crime against people.
- Ean Thomas Tafoya, treasurer of the Colorado Latino Forum and the chair of the Environmental Justice Committee, says that Andrew Wheeler is the wrong choice for the EPA and Colorado.
>> THE SHORTLIST
// You’re not crazy. It’s been 25 months since Denver had a month that saw above-average snowfall, and in that span, the area is now 6 feet behind the average. // KDVR
// Decriminalizing psilocybin mushrooms will be on Denver’s ballot in May. This could be big in the world of clinical research, where doctors are investigating mushrooms and other psychedelic drugs to treat a variety of psychiatric disorders. // Westword, NOVA
// Refugees are essential to the economy of some rural Colorado communities, especially in northeastern Colorado. // KUNC
// A text message campaign targeting Denver residents — asking them to write Gov. Polis and oppose the Denver teachers’ strike — was funded by Democrats for Education Reform. If that name sounds familiar, it’s the pro-charter reform group that was booed at the Democratic state assembly last spring as part of a shakeup of the state party’s platform and emerged as a wedge issue inside the party. It should also be noted that Mike Johnston, the author of some of Colorado’s most sweeping education reform bills and new challenger to Sen. Cory Gardner in 2020,
is an advisor to the group. // Chalkbeat Colorado
Author’s note: In the original version of this paragraph, I said that Mike Johnston was a part of the Colorado state advisory committee for Democrats for Education Reform. While the Colorado advisory committee for DFER does still exist, Jennifer Walmer, the Colorado State Director for the organization, told us that Mike Johnston is no longer a member of it.
// If you’ve seen the metal stars inside My Brother’s Bar, or seen the wrought-iron “S” accents on the Cass Mansion in Capitol Hill or similar designs on other brick buildings, you may wonder what purpose they actually serve. Thankfully, the folks at 99 Percent Invisible have explained how they keep old buildings together. // 99 Percent Invisible
// The Pikes Peak Cog Railway is at the “ordering parts” stage of its $100 million rebuilding project. // OutThere Colorado
// My buddy John Wenzel has a great piece about the serious business of being funny — especially here in Denver, where the audience hasn’t quite gotten in the habit of seeing comedy as an option for their weekend entertainment. // The Know
// Look at this plains hog-nosed snake feigning death (in an award-winning photo by Denver’s Andrew DuBois). // @MrAndrewDuBois
>> TODAY’S THING
Why You Might Like It: It took me a while, but I became a Kindle convert a few years ago. I don’t exactly like supporting the Amazon behemoth, but the actual hardware of their Kindles still makes for one of the best technology experiences in my day-to-day life. But in this line of business, books only make up about 20 percent of what I read in any given week and I really want that same tactile experience for the longform journalism and essays I come across around the internet. Thankfully, with a little Chrome/Firefox extension, that experience is just a click away. Use the links above to get the extension installed, then navigate on over to Kevin Simpson’s longread on Westwood and send it straight to your Kindle to get you started. (If you want a non-Sun piece to add to your reading list, I highly recommend this Chicago magazine piece by Steven Leckart, “The Bicycle Thief,” about a one-time Olympic cycling hopeful who made a career of robbing banks and getting away via, you guessed it, bicycle).
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.
OK, folks, that’s it for today. I usually take this space to remind you to share what you’ve read with your network, but I trust you’ll be doing that anyway. So I’ll just give another plug for taking some time to read our piece on Westwood. It’s worth spending part of your lunch break to learn how complex the issues around gentrification can be.
Thanks and have a great afternoon! We’ll see you on Wednesday.
CORRECTION: This file was updated to accurately describe U.S. Senate candidate Mike Johnston’s relationship with Democrats for Education Reform’s Colorado advisory committee.