A marquee on the Esquire Theatre in Denver just after it reopened following water damage and extensive renovation work on June 23, 2019. (Eric Lubbers, The Colorado Sun)

Compiled by Eric Lubbers, eric@coloradosun.com
CTO/Newsletter Wrangler, @brofax

The Esquire Theatre in Denver on June 23, 2019. (Eric Lubbers, The Colorado Sun)

Good morning! Over the weekend I had to stop and get a photo of that sign on the now-reopened Esquire Theatre because its macabre optimism — a reference to this film playing at the theater — feels very appropriate for our particular moment in history.

And wouldn’t you know it, the stories in this Sunriser have a similar theme of resistance and fortitude, from fish surviving in a blighted urban creek to the rehabilitation of barren soil to two nearly identical presidential candidates fighting for a sliver of a sliver of the spotlight.

So let’s tie this fly already, shall we?



Do you have a business, event or cause that you’d like to get in front of one of the smartest, most-engaged and fastest-growing audiences in Colorado? Become an underwriter of The Colorado Sun. Email underwriting@coloradosun.com for rates and details.




The Latest from The Sun


Colorado Springs’ downtown creek has long been viewed as a blight. Then one man started catching trout in it.

Alan Peak catches a fish in Fountain Creek near the Cimarron Street bridge in downtown Colorado Springs earlier this month. (Sergey Zvezda, Special to The Colorado Sun)

I can’t recommend this story by Jesse Paul highly enough. I’m just going to let the lede speak for itself:

Past the homeless camps, plastic bottles filled with urine, funky smells and a coal-fired power plant, Alan Peak stepped into Fountain Creek and cast his fishing line into water so murky it gives transients on the nearby bank cause for concern.

After a few wiggles in and out of the fast-moving stream earlier this month, his rod bent sharply. From the sewage-hue fluid he hauled a foot-long, brown trout the likes of which you might find in any pristine Colorado mountain waterway. The fish shimmered in the sun.

“What you need to understand is that is a beautiful, wild, clean fish,” said Peak, a thickly bearded, 36-year-old Army veteran.

>> RECLAIMING FOUNTAIN CREEK, ONE FISH AT A TIME There’s much more to this story, including how Peak’s guerrilla efforts are getting the attention of residents and officials alike, and sparking discussions in Colorado Springs about the potential of its urban creek. Make some time for this one today.


Colorado said a quirky artesian mountain spring has to be capped. Residents are trying one last Hail Mary to save it.

Wesley Wigfall, of Colorado Springs, fills up a water jug at the Gillette Flats spring in Teller County. (John Ingold, The Colorado Sun)

When we first reported on the Gillette Flats artesian spring last December, reporter John Ingold explained how the fight over access to the water was a glimpse at the coming water wars. It’s been a long — and illuminating — seven months since then.

>> FLOATING IN THE WINDS OF BUREAUCRACY John lays out how the residents of Teller County have been feverishly working on a way to keep the spring flowing while walking the twisting tightrope of Colorado water law. (And make sure to have some water handy while reading it, because John’s photos will make you thirsty.)


Acres of barren Boulder soil are headed to rehab (and that might just help fight climate change)

Dorper sheep, a South African crossbreed, is well-suited for arid climates like Colorado, but also plays a big role in Marcus McCauley’s agro-ecology. “We started with mixed vegetables, and I learned a lot,” he said. “But I needed to see what the land needed. We knew we needed to focus on pasture regeneration and animals.” (Nina Riggio, Special to The Colorado Sun)

Prepare to be fascinated by soil rehabilitation. Yes, really. Joe Purtell brings us a story that ties together open space management, farming and even a potential blueprint for pulling tons of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere every year.

>> SHEEP AND BINDWEED VS. DUST AND PRAIRIE DOGS Joe explains — with some awesome photos from Nina Riggio — how large tracts of Boulder open space turned barren and how one farmer (and hot-sauce maker) is fighting back with plants, animals and irrigation techniques that could help make the land a CO2-absorbing machine.


5 things to watch in the first Democratic presidential debates, Colorado edition

“It’s kind of a blur.”

— Maggie Banks, a 32-year-old mom in the Denver suburbs who, when asked, didn’t even realize a former governor and a sitting Colorado senator were running for president.

Outside of the most hardcore political devotees, it seems that Democratic voters aren’t fully tuned into the 2020 presidential race. But as Colorado’s dueling 1%-ers, John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet, prepare to take the stage in the primary’s first debate Thursday, time is running out for either to make an impression.

>> GO VIRAL OR PLAY IT SAFE? John Frank and Jesse Paul lay out five things to watch from the perspective of Colorado’s candidates, including how to tell the difference between the two.


More from The Sun

“It was like a punch to the gut.”

— Girls Who Code CEO Ayah Bdeir, who was cut out of a “60 Minutes” episode about the gender gap in technology



// Óscar Alberto Martinez Ramirez and his 23-month-old daughter Valeria drowned in the Rio Grande after being denied the opportunity to present themselves for asylum — a process drastically restricted by the Trump administration — after a long trip from El Salvador. Photographer Julia Le Duc took a photo of their bodies that has since been distributed by the Associated Press and been compared to the stirring “Napalm Girl” photo that helped bring the horrors of the Vietnam War into homes around America. The image is brutal, heart-wrenching and — as many are arguing — absolutely vital to bringing the reality of what’s happening at the border into focus beyond political rhetoric.

Meanwhile, Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Boulder, wants Congress to investigate the massive immigration detention facility run by GEO Group in Aurora and the U.S. House passed a $4.5 billion emergency border aid bill that contains stipulations on how migrant children must be treated in custody, in the midst of a debate over whether the House should be providing funding at all. // New York Times, AP, Twitter, Westword, Washington Post

// “What used to take three weeks now takes three hours.” A walk-in clinic in downtown Denver is finding success in directly providing addiction treatment for people experiencing homelessness. // Denverite

// When the city of Denver wrote a wish list for new electric street sweepers, it included some very specific details. The details were so specific that the only company in the world that had a qualifying sweeper was the same company that flew a now-ex Denver city street manager to Germany and Italy and featured him in a commercial. There’s a lot more to the story in this nice piece of investigative work. // The Denver Post ?

// A little good news: Castle Rock has rallied behind a senior with disabilities as dozens of volunteers work to restore her property. // Castle Rock News Press

// Throwback: What a pleasant little story about the Colorado river rafting company that still uses homing pigeons, long after their original use (flying film canisters to be developed before the trip was complete) became obsolete. // KUNC  

// Ever wondered what a journalist has to go through to find out what’s happening with major government construction projects? The Post’s Jon Murray explains how he found details of the major delays in the DIA Great Hall project. // @JonMurray

// In a first-of-its-kind action, the state of Colorado moved to revoke the psychiatric hospital license for a Johnstown facility after reports of “questionable deaths” and concerns about the quality of care. // Denver7




Today’s Thing


PH-77, 1936, by Clyfford Still, hanging in the Clyfford Still Museum in Denver. (Eric Lubbers, The Colorado Sun)

The Thing: The Clyfford Still Museum (more info)

Why You Might Like It: My high school English teacher (hey Mrs. Harper!) got me hooked on Kurt Vonnegut from an unusual starting point: “Hocus Pocus” (while researching this bit, I found a ranking that literally said the 1990 book “should not be anyone’s first Vonnegut novel.”) But because of this start, I have a special place in my heart for Vonnegut’s most grounded, non-sci-fi works, including my favorite Vonnegut novel (by a hair), “Bluebeard,” which also was my first, and most formative, experience with abstract expressionist painters. I knew I would never see a painting by Rabo Karabekian, the book’s protagonist, but I’ll be damned if stepping into Denver’s Clyfford Still Museum for the first time over the weekend didn’t hit me in the gut with nostalgia for the time I spent imagining what it must have looked like.

The collection is awe-inspiring and educational, and the building is one of the coolest pieces of architecture in town (this little terrace is a breathtakingly chill place to hang out). And it’s a great deal! The full-freight cost to experience it all is just $10 (with plenty of discounts and free days, including $5 Friday evenings). I kicked myself for waiting so long to experience it (it’s literally six blocks from my apartment) so do yourself a favor and make some time for it next time you’re near downtown.

PH-893, 1973 by Clyfford Still, on display at the Clyfford Still Museum in Denver. (Eric Lubbers, The Colorado Sun)

REMINDER: If you have something that you just can’t stop raving about that you’d like to share, send us an email at things@coloradosun.com and you could be published in a future Sunriser! 



That’s it for today, folks. I hope our collection of water stories will help keep you cool during what’s expected to be Colorado’s first real scorcher of the summer.

Don’t forget about our underwriting opportunities (email underwriting@coloradosun.com to seize them) mentioned above. And keep sending your friends and family to coloradosun.com/join to ensure the journalism we produce is around for the long haul. 

Keep on plugging and I’ll see you Friday. 

— Eric

Eric Lubbers is the Chief Technology Officer and one of the co-founders of The Colorado Sun. A native of Yuma, Colorado, he writes The Sunriser newsletter in addition to handling most of the behind-the-scenes tech stuff. Email: eric@coloradosun.com...