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Time Again To Trunk Or Treat On The Green, Oct. 27

171028 TrunkOrTreat 10GAMES AND GHOULS APLENTY AWAIT REVELERS at this year’s Trunk or Treat celebration, Saturday, Oct. 27, 4 to 6 p.m., on The Green, 7101 W. 38th Ave. PHOTO BY BECKY OLSTAD

By J. Patrick O’Leary

Trunk or Treat will mark its eighth year on Saturday, Oct. 27, 4 to 6 p.m., on The Green, 7101 W. 38th Ave.

Billed by Localworks as a fun, safe trick or treat for kids and their families with participation from firefighters, the police, businesses and community members, the free event boasts games, a car-trunk-decorating contest  and, of course, candy.

What started as two parents’ attempt to continue an annual children’s Halloween party after Martensen Elementary School’s closure has grown into a community-wide celebration attracting crowds of more than 3,000 people.

This year, Localworks has added a photo station where guests can capture a great picture of their costume-bedecked family, with a choice of two backdrops.

“We are also trying out a new line set up to help make the line for trick-or-treating run more smoothly,” said Localworks’ Ashley Holland.

Destination Dance will kick off the event by teaching revelers to dance, then performing, a zombie-themed “Thriller” dance. The Wheat Ridge Kiwanis Club will once again set up and run games during the event.

Kim Harr and her husband Chad are credited with creating the event. She served on the local PTA when Martensen closed down, which put an end to the school’s annual Halloween party. The couple wanted to continue the celebration, which featured candy distributed from the trunks of automobiles decorated for the holiday. The revitalization of 38th Avenue had just begun, so the parking lot of the Wheat Ridge middle school was an ideal location.

The Harrs paid for printing and posters out of their own pocket. Then-chief Kelly Brooks of the Wheat Ridge Fire Department stepped in to help, as did then-board-member Tom Abbot of Wheat Ridge 2020 and then-city-councilor Joyce Jay.

The inaugural party attracted 200 kids and eight cars, according to Harr.

Last year there were about 4,000 people, 15 volunteers and 35 cars, according to Localworks. This year crowds are expected to be the same.

Costumed revelers need only show up to participate in the free event. People wanting to decorate their vehicle and hand out treats can sign up on the Ridge at 38 web site, at

Trunk or Treat requires a lot of candy, so donations are needed. Drop-off locations include the Wheat Ridge Recreation Center, 4005 Kipling St.; Brewery Rickoli, 4335 Wadsworth Blvd.; Personal Achievement Martial Arts, 3964 Youngfield St.; Wheat Ridge City Hall, 7500 W. 29th Ave.; Clear Creek Office Park, 4251 Kipling St., 2nd Floor lobby.

Businesses wanting to collect candy for the event are asked to contact Carolyn Doran at

As always, the event wraps up by 6 p.m. – to allow people to safely enter and exit the parking lots, while it’s still light. It also saves the cost of setting up lights.

For more information, visit; contact Localworks at 720-259-1030; or email Carol Doran at

Pharmacists In Expanding Role As Caregivers

By Ken Lutes

You may have seen postings in grocery and drug stores announcing the availability of shots for flu or shingles. But did you know pharmacists immunize adults and children for many other diseases, such as polio, measles, tetanus and whooping cough?

In the late 1990s, the state of Colorado began to allow pharmacists to administer immunizations. Since that time, programs like the one at Regis University’s School of Pharmacy have required its students not only to learn about the science of medications but also to apply those skills in a clinical setting.

Doctors Christine Feltman and Robert Haight are assistant professors at Regis who share a passion for teaching students and for sharing information about the expanding role pharmacists play in today’s world of medical science.

Feltman says that people might be surprised to know just how deep the pharmacist’s clinical knowledge is.

“The stereotype is that pharmacists are tucked away in the back, just counting out pills by fives and labeling pill bottles, but that’s not the case. The pharmacist can also fill in gaps in education the patient might have regarding the full extent of a medicine’s attributes.”

Haight brings to Regis his specialty of leadership and assessment, to assure that students are learning what they should be learning.

“I teach pharmacy students about leadership and management. Not only business leadership, but also how they can lead by counseling patients and be a leader among peers. Working in the pharmacy, you’re also working with techs and other pharmacists.”

Because many immunizations impact children, Haight and Feltman also work with an immunologist, who examines cost savings to society – both indirect costs and direct costs, such as emergency-room visits.

Most Colorado counties belownational average for immunizations

Both Haight and Feltman stress the importance of vaccinations, but they also recognize that some people don’t want their children immunized for personal or religious reasons.

“In those instances,” Feltman said, “it’s important to be respectful of that position, to ask what are their fears and concerns that are holding them back and see if we can provide them with the information needed to help them better understand why these vaccine-preventable diseases need to be controlled.”

Haight added that student coursework includes teaching students how to talk to patients who are vaccine-hesitant.

“We have to build a relationship based on respect for that person’s position,” Feltman said. “If it’s for a medical or religious reason that’s not going to be changed, we can’t judge a person for that.”

“We are seeing an increase in mumps,” Haight said. “Where we had seen six to seven cases, now there about 70 per year. Immunization rates in Colorado could be higher.” “Pertussis (whooping cough) is another vaccine-preventative disease that has spiked,” Feltman said.

According to a report by the Colorado Children’s Immunization Coalition, medical costs for preventable diseases cost the state of Colorado $35 million in 2015; and nearly 25 percent of Colorado kids have not had recommended vaccines.

Sometimes misinformation can persuade people not to have their children vaccinated. Haight said there was a study released a while back that said vaccinations were the cause of autism.

“That study has since been retracted, but the media latched onto that at the time, and people still think it’s true.”

Feltman knew in high school that she wanted a career in pharmacy.

“My father is also a pharmacist. I was passionate about patient care from the beginning, and I thought, ‘How will I impact patients and take care of people?’”

She received her Pharm.D. from the University of Colorado School of Pharmacy in 2005 and began her career with Target (Target pharmacies were recently bought out by CVS). Although she had been trained to provide immunizations, Target pharmacists were not then administering them; rather, they had nurses coming in to provide shots to patients.

The role of pharmacists as clinicians

A couple years into her role at Target, Feltman and four colleagues set up the pharmacist-led program for providing immunizations for the entire Target company.

“We piloted it in Colorado in our pharmacies, then went into Minnesota and expanded it across the nation,” she said.

Feltman said that Colorado began allowing pharmacists to issue immunizations in the late 1990s; at that time they could only administer to adults.

“We have evolved to a point under Colorado state law that says pharmacists can provide immunizations for any age, including babies. But corporations – Walgreens, CVS and others – can set their own minimum age limits. “CVS is currently three years old and up. Safeway is four and up.”

“Our pharmacy curriculum is designed to teach our students to become clinicians. We don’t diagnose – that’s what physicians are for – so how do we help to complement a given medical situation? Our students are required to not only understand what happens to the body but also to understand the classifications of medicines and how those medicines work in the body to correct the issue.”

Recently, Colorado passed a law that permits pharmacists to prescribe smoking-cessation products and oral contraceptives, Haight said. At this point, pharmacists can otherwise only manage self-care medications by providing information about what over-the-counter remedies might be best to treat a given problem.

Feltman and Haight are passionate about educating the public about pharmacists and how they can be utilized as part of the health care team and provide what patients sometimes need to more successfully manage their chronic diseases. The next time you pass the pharmacy inside your local grocery store, they advise, stop a moment to consider what medical information you might need.

While it may be true, as Feltman says, that we don’t walk around in the grocery store and think, “Gosh, I wonder how I’m doing on my immunizations,” she and Haight would like to alter that mind-set and encourage folks to ask about the other immunizations that are available to them.

What 5A And 5B Will Pay For, What They Will Cost

By Mike McKibbin

For the seventh time in the last 20 years, voters in Jefferson County School District R-1 (also know as Jefferson County Public Schools or Jeffco Public Schools) will be asked to increase their property taxes to improve the condition of all buildings and help increase salaries and benefits for teachers and staff, among many other uses.

Two questions will be on the Nov. 6 general election ballot in the district, which serves more than 86,000 students in 155 schools, including nine option schools and 18 charter schools. It is the second-largest school district in Colorado and operates 205 facilities within 777 square miles while employing 14,000 people.

Ballot question 5A asks voters to increase their property taxes by $33 million, known as a mill levy override. The money would be used to expand programs in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and career/technical education; attract and retain high quality teachers and staff; increase mental health and counseling professionals to improve student mental health services; update aged and outdated instructional resources such as books, supplies and technology; and increase early education programs.

Question 5B seeks to increase the debt of the district by $567 million through a bond issue, with a repayment cost of up to $997.64 million, and to increase property taxes up to $67.4 million annually to repay that debt. This money would add and expand career/technical education facilities; upgrade safety and security in school buildings; repair, renovate, equip or re-construct school buildings to ensure they are more safe, efficient, and accessible; and construct, furnish, equip and support buildings and classrooms at all types of schools, including charter schools.

If 5A is approved, residential taxes will go up $2.10 a month per $100,000 in value and non-residential (commercial) taxes will increase $8.47 per month for every $100,000 in value.

If 5B is approved, a taxpayer would experience a $1.81 per month increase for every $100,000 in residential value. Non-residential (commercial) taxes would increase $7.28 per month for every $100,000 of property value.

We Are Jeffco is an issue committee registered with the Colorado Secretary of State to support the two questions. No opposition group is registered.

The committee’s latest financial report to the secretary of state’s office on Oct. 1 listed expenditures of $32,207.59, contributions of $71,915 and a remaining balance of $39,707.41. The majority of donations were small, but among the largest contributors were Westerra Credit Union, $2,500; Centura Health, $10,000; Peter Powers of St. Anthony Hospital-Centura Health, $2,500; the Jefferson Foundation (Jeffco Schools Foundation), $10,000; Colorado Education Association, $5,000; and FirstBank Holding Company, $10,000.

Old buildings need work, bond market positive

According to information on the district website, the district has proposed six bond issue and/or mill levy hikes and seen three bond issues approved and two defeated since 1998. The mill levy overrides were split, with three approved and three defeated.

The district has $1.3 billion in capital needs and the proposed work was scaled back $80 million from original proposals in June.

With the average age of district buildings at nearly 50 years, the school board directed the money from the bond issue benefit all schools, with major renovations to high schools built before 1980, expansion of career and technical education sites and to accommodate growth with additions and new schools, among other items.

At an Oct. 8 public meeting at the Manning School, 13200 W. 32nd Ave., Superintendent Jason Glass said the latest proposals do not include any school closings or consolidations, something that was considered after the defeat of the 2016 measures.

“We want to improve all our schools,” he told a small crowd. “If the bond market is favorable, we may do even more. I believe we can exceed our planned improvements under current market conditions.”

If 5A is approved by voters, the $567 million would be split among several uses: $354 million for projects at 99 elementary schools, 17 middle schools, 18 high schools, three pre-K sites and 20 option schools; school safety and security, interior and exterior renovations, technology, furnishings, playgrounds, mechanical upgrades, and bringing schools into educational specification compliance; a new career and technical education site in south Jefferson County and to reduce the Jeffco Facility Condition Index by 50 percent.

Another $110 million would be used to replace three schools, seven elementary school additions and seven middle school additions, while $56 million would go towards two new schools in high-growth areas of central Lakewood and northwest Arvada, and $56 million would help charter schools.

Approximately $23 million in current capital transfer money will be used along with the bond money to help pay for a six-year, $705 million capital improvement program.

The district also noted the budgets for central services have been cut several times in the last decade. Central services include support for all schools in areas such as special education, gifted and talented, curriculum, human resources, student services (counseling and diversity), English language learners, food service, security, transportation, legal services, building maintenance, IT and more.

The district said it spends about 4 percent ($61 per student or $2 million) of the $714 million general fund on executive-level administration (chiefs and executive directors) in central administration. Further cuts to central services would not result in enough money to make meaningful compensation and staffing additions in schools and every cut reduces support to schools, the district website noted. Seventy percent of the general fund supports instruction in Jeffco schools.

Meet Lauren Mikulak, Planning Manager

By Guy Nahmiach

City planning is crucial in the growth process for every city. I sat down recently at Bardo with Lauren Mikulak, Planning Manager for the City of Wheat Ridge.

Who is Lauren Mikulak?

I am a mom of two kids, wife to a middle school principal and a public servant for the City of Wheat Ridge. We love the outdoors and brew our own beer. Originally from Michigan but moved through eight cities before landing in beautiful Colorado.

How did you become a planner?

It’s definitely a career path. I studied architecture in college and went to work for Habitat for Humanity. With my time spent helping during Katrina in New Orleans, I got a taste for how many small projects contribute toward an overall environment. I decided to pursue my masters in Urban Planning and applied for a junior position in Wheat Ridge... that was eight years ago. I am now the Planning Department Manager.

What exactly do planners do?

We approve business licenses. Matching locations, zoning and what the license is intended for. In short, we answer three basic questions: What can I do? How can I do? And where can I do?

What are some hard decisions you’ve made lately?

Giving bad news is always tough. I am the bad cop sometimes and have to deliver or enforce existing laws. That’s never fun.

How do communities benefit from your work?

We help communities by coordinating growth. We are involved in every project and assist in converting a vision into a regulation framework. Meaning that an idea is brought from concept into an environment where everyone can benefit from. We also protect neighbors from one another. One person building structures too tall or close to their neighbors. Protecting one’s property rights without infringing on their neighbors’ rights.

What’s the fun side of your job?

Seeing a project break ground. This means that a homeowner/developer/investor has brought forward a concept and we worked with them using existing guidelines right through all the steps and helped them achieve their goals.

What frustrates you as a City of Wheat Ridge planner?

Social media. Misinformation. Stories based on hearsay and not facts.

I just wish we had more questions from the public so that we could inform people of the correct way of approaching projects.

If you could advise homeowners about projects overall, what would that be?

Do your homework. Advice is free. We have a Planner of the Day (POD) program where we answer questions (phone or in person) about the process, the details and best practices. If more people utilized this service ahead of building, the overall experience would be smoother. The planning department can be reached at 303-234-5931.

What’s next for Lauren Mikulak?

I love my job and while I thought about joining private enterprises, I know that I will remain in the public sector. It’s an exciting time to be in Wheat Ridge.

Thanks for your time.

Lauren Mikulak can be reached at the City of Wheat Ridge at 303-235-2845.

40 West Arts District Secures Two Major Grants

By Liz Black

40 West Arts District is thrilled to announce that we have secured two major grant opportunities for the 2019 calendar year.

As a 501(c)3 non-profit organization with almost exclusively free or discounted programming, our grant partners are essential to everything we do, from arts events to logistics and, of course, the 40 West ArtLine, a four-mile walkable, bikeable outdoor art gallery that was installed in its first phase in June of this year.

Our first grant award is from SCFD, the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District. For nearly 25 years SCFD has been supporting a flourishing landscape of over 300 science, historical, arts and cultural organizations. More than one million students, seniors and families take part in free programming supported by SCFD. To be a part of the SCFD family is a huge accomplishment for 40 West Arts and we are honored to have been awarded this grant.

Our second grant award comes from Community First Foundation for use along the 40 West ArtLine in both public art projects and wayfinding improvements. Community First Foundation has been helping innovative non-profit organizations since 1975 to improve the quality of life and create positive change in Jefferson County, Denver and beyond. This grant award will ensure that the 40 West ArtLine continues to grow and expand its public art offerings in 2019, and allows us to continue the momentum and energy of this outstanding amenity in the District. The 40 West ArtLine is part of a major effort to encourage and promote the West Colfax corridor as an economic and cultural destination and is envisioned to be a place for community interaction and inspiration, and eventually to become the longest continuous arts experience in Colorado.

40 West Arts extends a huge thank you to its grant partners, Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD) and Community First Foundation.

Learn more about us at or

Who’s Running For State Legislature – And Why?

By Mike McKibbin

Three Colorado House seats and one state Senate seat will be decided in part by Neighborhood Gazette voters in this month’s general election on Tuesday, Nov. 6. Ballots will be mailed to registered voters between Oct. 15 and 19, drop boxes to return those ballots will be open between Oct. 15 and Election Day, while voter service polling centers will be open from Oct. 22 through Election Day.

House District 4

House District 4 (all or some of the West Colfax corridor between Sheridan and Federal, Denver North and West neighborhoods of the Highlands, Villa Park, Sloan’s Lake, Barnum, Berkeley, Sunnyside and Sun Valley), has Democrat Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez running against Republican Robert “Dave” John. Gonzales-Gutierrez won a three-way primary while John was unopposed.

In a short YouTube video, John called Colorado a “wonderful state” when he arrived but blamed “misguided and incompetent” Democratic leadership for creating gridlock and corruption, “with no common sense in our spending priorities.”

If elected, John said he would focus on quality of life issues, like roads, education, crime, homelessness, taxes and basic human rights such as the freedom of religion and the Second Amendment. He also listed support for individual liberty, limited government, the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, government transparency, legal immigration and school choice.

John retired after 35 years as a City of Denver employee. He earned a bachelor of science degree from Colorado State University and is married with one son.

Gonzales-Gutierrez has worked with victim’s advocates supporting domestic violence victims, as a youth counselor, social caseworker and now director for the Denver Collaborative Partnership.

If elected, Gonzales-Gutierrez would work to make education accessible and affordable from early childhood through college and address affordable housing with legislation and funding that includes housing trusts and expanded tax credits. She would sponsor legislation that combats climate change, protects public lands, water resources and clean air.

The seat is currently held by state Rep. Dan Pabon, (D), who cannot run for reelection. State representatives can serve no more than four consecutive two-year terms.

House District 23

House District 23 (all or some of Wheat Ridge, Lakewood, Applewood, East Pleasant View, the West Colfax corridor/40 West Arts District) features incumbent Democrat Chris Kennedy and Republican challenger Joan Poston.

Kennedy is seeking his second term and wrote on his campaign website that his top priority has been to increase transparency in health care spending. Kennedy sponsored a bill the last two years to require hospitals to submit more data to the state to help analyze price and utilization trends and identify changes to reduce costs.

“Partisan politics and special interest opposition groups killed both bills, but I will continue to bring this legislation forward as we will be unable to address the rising costs of health care without the necessary insight into hospitals’ spending,” Kennedy wrote.

Kennedy received a bachelor of architectural engineering degree from the University of Colorado Boulder in 2002.

Poston’s campaign website explained a 2013 visit to a museum dedicated to President John F. Kennedy at Dealey Plaza in Dallas inspired her to seek political office.

“I believe in citizen government and will serve you, the people of Jefferson County, in the most transparent and honest means possible,” she wrote.

Poston was one of three candidates for an at-large seat on the Denver school board in 2013 and ran for Denver city clerk in 2015. She earned a bachelor of science in microbiology and medical technology degree from Colorado State University, then worked as a medical technologist with Denver Health and the Denver Zoo until retirement. Poston was also a reading assistant in Denver Public Schools for five years and served on the district accountability committee. Poston and her husband have one child.

House District 24

House District 24 (all or some of Wheat Ridge, Edgewater, Arvada, Lakewood, Golden, Lakeside, Mountain View, Applewood, Fairmount and West Pleasant View) has Democrat Monica Duran facing Republican Arthur Erwin.

Duran, a current Wheat Ridge City Council member, defeated former Edgewater mayor Kris Teegardin in the Democratic primary. Erwin had no primary opponent, lives in Golden and his website noted he is the human resource director at a major local auto dealership where he has worked for nearly 30 years.

“I am a firm believer in the Constitution and all it stands for,” Erwin wrote. “I am against abortion. I am also against re-criminalizing it. I am not a professional politician, I haven’t been serving in political jobs and committees. As a result, I still view issues as a member of this community. I will remember who elected me, serving them, the citizens. I am the only candidate who has agreed to voluntary spending limits.”

In 2015, Duran helped lead the campaign for Wheat Ridge Issue 300, a city charter amendment requiring voter approval on tax increment financing. Duran’s website noted she would stand up to the Trump and Betsy DeVos agenda of privatizing the education system, for better teacher pay and expanded vocational and technical training programs for high school students.

Duran wants to let any Coloradan purchase health insurance through the state’s Medicaid program if it’s a cheaper public option for them. Duran also supports women’s rights and pro-choice legislation, along with gun control measures that keep weapons out of the hands of violent and unstable people, guns out of classrooms and military-style assault weapons off the streets.

This seat is currently held by state Rep. Jessie Danielson, (D), who is running for the state Senate.

Senate District 20

Senate District 20 (all or some of Lakewood, Wheat Ridge, Arvada, Golden, Morrison, Ken Caryl, Dakota Ridge, Applewood, Fairmount, West Pleasant View, East Pleasant View, Mountain View and Lakeside) features three candidates: Danielson, Republican Christine Jensen and Libertarian Charles Messick. The seat is now held by independent Cheri Jahn, who is not seeking reelection.

Jensen’s website noted she lives in Arvada, is a small business owner and wants to bring “business sense” to state government.

“I worry that with the state budget growing so rapidly, that we, as residents, have become little more than revenue sources for an expanding government, instead of having a state government that is of service to us,” the site read. “I will continue to stand up to those who seek to increase taxes and fees on our hard-working families. I will protect Colorado’s businesses from excessive regulation and government overreach.”

Jensen wants to see Obamacare repealed and replaced with a choice-driven free market approach to health care, would work to develop a strategy to improve roads and bridges with existing state funds, favors school choice, supports the Second Amendment, views “sanctuary cities” as a threat to public safety and “an end-around of our laws (that) must be stopped.” She also would “always defend innocent life.”

Danielson, a Wheat Ridge resident, has focused on equal pay for equal work, fighting elder abuse, getting rid of red tape for veterans looking for a job or college degree and cracking down on wage theft.

According to her website, “As a state representative since 2015, I have worked to protect our local public schools, level the playing field for Coloradans working to get ahead, and create better protections for vulnerable seniors.”

Danielson also sponsored a bill that legalized the use of rain barrels by Colorado homeowners.

She currently serves on the House Appropriations, Agriculture & Natural Resources and Public Health committees. In 2015 Gov. John Hickenlooper appointed her to the Colorado Commission on Aging.

Prior to elected office, she was the Colorado State Director for America Votes, and  was instrumental in the passage of the Voter Access and Modernized Elections Act of 2013, which has expanded access to the ballot in Colorado.

Messick’s website noted, “The two main political parties have moved so far to the right and left, that the people who suffer are those who remain in the middle. The only way to fix the communication gap is to elect someone in the middle. I’m in the middle, I’m a Libertarian.”

The site also listed Libertarian priorities of economic and personal liberties and a military sufficient to defend the U.S. against aggression.

Before joining the Libertarian Party in 2016, Messick was an independent.

“I tend to like portions of the beliefs of the two major parties, but not all of either,” he wrote. “My problem with the Democrats and Republicans is that they both spend too much money, wasting our tax dollars. This is because our system is set up to do what is best for politicians’ careers. This must change. I’ve found that the Libertarian belief in limited government suits me well. With that, there can be some fiscal responsibility.”

Senate District 34

Senate District 34 (all or some of Denver, Sloan’s Lake, Berkeley and the West Colfax corridor between Sheridan and Federal boulevards) has Democrat Julie Gonzales, policy director for the Meyer Law Office in Denver, facing Republican Gordon Alley, an associate pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church. Gonzales defeated her two primary opponents while Alley was unopposed.

Among the accomplishments listed on Gonzales’ website is helping draft a bill that allowed Colorado undocumented students to attend college and pay in-state tuition and the creation of immigrant drivers licenses. Gonzales also helped pass legislation to ensure no Denver resources would be spent on immigration enforcement.

Gordon and his wife, Rachel, have 12 children — “nine living and three in heaven through miscarriage” — according to his campaign website. Gordon, his parents, Pastor and Mrs. Rodger Alley, and his sister, Kristina Joy Alley, “have been showing people in Senate District 34 by their example in their life and through Biblical counseling how to have a strong marriage, rear obedient children and prosper financially and in business,” the website reads.

On his campaign Facebook page, Gordon wrote, “I will stand up against evil in the Colorado State Senate by supporting bills that will make our community a safer place for you and your family, not invite criminals to move in!”

The current officeholder is state Sen. Lucia Guzman (D), the assistant minority leader. State senators are limited to two consecutive four-year terms and Guzman cannot seek reelection.

RAW Mural Project Brightens Cheltenham Elementary School

CES Murals 180924 01FLAMINGOS, BY FL MNGO FROM MIAMI, is one of several murals painted by volunteer artists at Cheltenham Elementary School. PHOTO BY MIKE MCKIBBIN

By Mike McKibbin

Many of the walls at Cheltenham Elementary School do not look like the normal, blank, brick walls of a school building.

They are colorfully decorated with imaginative mural paintings, thanks to a Miami, Florida-based nonprofit program called the Re-imagining Arts Worldwide (RAW) Project. With the key help of around 30 volunteer artists, 23 murals — including some on inside corridor walls as well — were painted over about three weeks in September.

Principal Felice Manzanares said the project was done “in the right place, at the right time.”

“This school was built in 1970 and it was really unrecognizable as a school building with nothing but blank walls,” she said. “We want it to look like a place where there are kids and people can say ‘that’s a school’.”

In September 2017, The RAW Project painted murals on three Denver elementary schools in the Villa Park and Sun Valley neighborhoods: Eagleton, Cowell and Fairview, branching out from Miami’s Wynwood urban arts district where the project began in 2014. Another area school included in the local project was Garden Place Elementary.

Since 2014, The RAW Project completed more than 130 school murals, working with artists ranging from recent graduates to established international blue-chip talent, such as Shepard Fairey, D*Face, Axel Void and Mark “MADSTEEZ” Deren.

Among the positive results attributed to the RAW Project are an increase in student and community engagement, improved student and staff morale, school pride, enrollment, class attendance, test scores and decreased bullying and violence.

Manzanares said one project benefit she noticed were happier parents who visited the school.

“They come to the school and see the paintings and they’re more open, smiling and proud of the school,” she added. “We’ve heard people say they were really glad to see us do something cool with the school.”

In 2016, the RAW Project expanded as a campaign to support the creation of arts programs at schools nationwide. In the U.S., six million students receive no arts education and 60 percent of schools have seen their arts programs lose all funding.

Manzanares said about 96 percent of Cheltenham’s 390 students come from low-income families, are eligible for the free lunch program and the school does not have much of an arts program.

“This is a chance to bring in folks that have not engaged with us before,” she added. “And these are all well-known artists.”

The school, 1580 Julian St., held a First Friday Art Walk event on Oct. 5 for parents and community members to see and learn more about each mural.

The project did not cost the school any money, Manzanares noted, while Denver Public Schools paid for a protective coating on each wall where the murals were painted.

Each RAW Project has a budget of around $150,000, but organizers only raised less than $30,000 for the Cheltenham project, said Audrey Sykes, co-founder/director of the RAW Project. The Denver Urban Arts Fund contributed $8,000 and Sykes credited in-kind donations worth about $80,000 for things such as lifts, food and paint discounts with helping make the project — the eighth nationally — happen.

“The private donors are not friends and family, they are art collectors and artists who want to see the project happen,” Sykes added. “And Felicia took the initiative and asked her staff and teachers to help feed the artists, so they were spoiled with all the good home-cooked food. They covered all the lunches and saved us about $10,000.”

Manzanares pointed out the artists involve the students in deciding what to paint and some students help the artists paint.

“The kids will remember the process and they can say they helped,” she said.

Other principals have asked Manzanares how they can get the RAW Project to help beautify their buildings, while Sykes said there have been preliminary talks with Netflix about highlighting the RAW Project and the schools involved.

A school assembly featured time-lapse photos to show how each mural was painted, Sykes added.

“It’s fun to watch the different ages react,” she said. “The pre-kindergarten kids were running up and touching each one because they were just so colorful. The older kids asked the artists things like how they make the eyes look so real. And the teachers turn every opportunity into a learning moment. The artists want to give back and when they see how the kids interact with their painting, the satisfaction is so worthwhile.”

Manzanares added the playground seems to be used more often on weekends.

“Art brings people together and one thing we learned from this is to include everyone in our community,” she said. “We’re just thrilled that everyone seems to love this project as much as we do.”

Día de los Muertos Comes to First Friday

By Nancy Hahn

The 40 West Art District will hold a huge event celebrating many elements of Diá de los Muertos or Day of the Dead from 6 to 10 p.m. on First Friday, Nov. 2. Pirate: Contemporary Art, at 7130 W. 16th Ave., brought this celebration to the 40 West Art District last year and there will be fun for everyone.

So, what is Día de los Muertos? Is it like Halloween? Both Halloween and Día de los Muertos began as festivals during the fall, when the harvest provided plentiful food for celebrating.

Diá de los Muertos is celebrated in Mexico and many other Hispanic countries and usually takes place Oct. 31, Nov. 1 and Nov. 2. Halloween, with its pagan roots, began as a night that the spirits of the dead rose up to walk with the living. On the night of Oct. 31, people left food and treats outside their doors for the spirits. With luck the spirits would enjoy the food and the home would be left alone. Carved vegetables lit with embers from the fire were used to frighten the spirits away.

In contrast, Día de los Muertos celebrates memories of loved ones who have died. Scholars believe the holiday began 3,000 years ago with Aztec traditions honoring the dead. When the Spanish arrived in Mexico in the 1500s, they tried to abolish the holiday. Instead the holiday gradually changed to a celebration blended with Christianity.

Families today often spend Día de los Muertos visiting the graves of family members. The family prays to encourage the loved one on their journey. They often build altars, called ‘ofrendas’, decorated with favorite foods of the loved one and with marigolds. Orange and yellow marigolds symbolize a light to guide the loved one back to visit their loved ones. Candles are, also, lit to provide a guide.

Almost every decoration has a symbolic meaning. Dogs are often part of the decorations to help guide the spirits to their place in the afterlife. Skulls and skeletons symbolize both birth and death. Delicate cuttings of tissue paper may be added to show how fragile life can be. White decorations symbolize hope, while purple ones show sorrow.

Families may picnic at the grave, tell stories, share memories, light a candle, and bring treats to leave at the grave. While they often bring the favorite food of the loved ones, fancy decorated sugar skulls are special treats associated with Día de los Muertos.

40 West Art District’s First Friday Día de los Muertos celebration on Nov. 2 will include many of the elements of a traditional celebration and much more! Traditionally dressed Aztec dancers will remind the audience of the celebration’s ancient Aztec origins. There will also be fire artists creating amazing, large shadow and light displays with spinning fire.

All the creative businesses and art galleries in the 40 West Art District will be open and celebrating from 5 to 9 p.m. Check out all the unique work at each of them. Live music, special vendors and food trucks add to the fun for everyone. Beer and wine will be available.

Local school children have built altars to be on display during the celebration. The children created other work to be on display, also. For children visiting the event there will be special fun. Artists will be offering Día de los Muertos face painting. Piñatas will add to the fun for children, too.

With tasty food, fun, a great variety of fine art, and fire artists, this is a First Friday you won’t want to miss.

See Refugee Stories In Art And Film At Edge

By Nancy Hahn

Edge: a Contemporary Art Gallery at 7001 W. Colfax will highlight the experiences and the concerns of refugees throughout the world in “Voice: A Celebration of Refugee Stories” through Oct. 28.

Imagine leaving your home with only what you can carry. What could make you take that step? Imagine you know you will never see that home again. What would you choose to carry? You don’t know where you will go or how you will live. We have seen news stories of people fleeing floods, fires, even volcanoes and it is horrifying.

A refugee, though, is a person who has had to flee from his or her home or country, because of the actions of other people. War, persecution and violence create refugees. Their homeland may practice genocide against their race or against their nationality. Their religion may not be accepted and its practice may be prohibited. Political dissidents may face imprisonment and torture and protesters fired on.

According to CARE there are 65 million refugees in the world right now. Twenty-four people a minute leave their home behind searching for a safe life.  That is 34,000 people every day. The conflict in Syria, alone, has caused 5 million people to flee and that number increases daily. In 2016, there were 65.6 million refugees worldwide according to the United Nations Refugee Agency. Nearly 85,000 refugees of those refugees came to the United States. Nearly half of those refugees entering the United States came from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Syria and Burma. Many, also, came from Iraq, Somalia and Iran. People who leave home because of natural disasters are not, at this time, considered refugees. The United Nations has begun studying the number of people who have left their homes because of drought, environmental disasters and other effects of climate change and people fleeing natural disasters may be considered as refugees in the future.

“Voice” will show art about the experiences of refugees and artwork by refugee artists. And on Friday, Oct. 19, from 7 to 9 p.m., Edge will hold a film and discussion night. The film “Sauti” – which means “voice” in Swahili – is a powerful film that tells of the experiences of five young women from different countries in a refugee camp in Uganda. Refugee camps are meant to be temporary settlements for displaced people, but often become nearly permanent. The Kyangwali Refugee Settlement has stood for decades. Each of these young women was brought to the camp as children. They grew up in the camp. As they reach adulthood, they each try to discover ways to follow their dreams to a life outside the camp. The film follows each of the girls as they leave the camp and create their own lives. Farming, marriage, travel, education and serving the community are some of their dreams. Peninah, Betty, Napona, Beatrice and Favourite follow very different paths in their searches.

The film won awards last year at the International New York Film Festival, the Oregon Film Awards, the Spotlight Documentary Film Award. This year it received another award at the Amsterdam International Filmmaker Festival.

Don’t miss this powerful experience. Visit Edge for the stories of struggle and triumph viewed through the lens of film and of art. Edge is open  on Friday from 5 to 10 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.

Editor’s Note: 2018 Election

The Neighborhood Gazette will not be endorsing candidates or ballot initiatives, but does wish all candidates good luck with their campaigns and thanks them for their devotion to public service. Individual staff members may be involved in political campaigns, but they do not speak officially for the newspaper. That being said, we encourage all readers who are eligible to vote to register and cast ballots, after researching the background and positions of the candidates, as well as ballot issues. County and municipal governments have issued “Blue Book” summaries of ballot issues, and we encourage readers to study those and seek additional information, if necessary.


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