National Research Center, Inc. (NRC) recently visited Pueblo, Colorado for the Downtown Colorado, Inc. (DCI) Vibrant Colorado Downtowns Conference. DCI is a non-profit organization that focuses on the economic revitalization of downtowns through community-wide partnerships and engagement.
“Vibrant downtowns are the place that people gather, the face that you show to your tourists and the home for locals,” said Katherine Correll, DCI Executive Director. “For Colorado, it is such an important piece of the fabric in showing off the character that makes our state so incredible.”
“I was impressed with Pueblo as the host city for the Vibrant Downtown Conference,” said conference speaker and NRC Marketing Manager Angelica Wedell. “The downtown area was a hub of activity and economic development. The Riverwalk was a spectacular integration of natural environment and infrastructure. The art culture was strong and vivid. The history of the City spoke true to the heart of southern Colorado.”
There are plenty of reasons why Pueblo is lovingly described by many as “the heart of southern Colorado.”
A three-district Creative Corridor of art galleries, public art displays and events makes Pueblo a destination for the vibrant art movement in Southeastern Colorado.
See the 2016 Vibrant Colorado Downtowns Conference Photo Album.
According to Livability.com, Pueblo is one of the 10 Best Cities for Historic Preservation. A community-wide initiative called Historic Pueblo is in midst of going through five Pueblo neighborhoods to identify structures as landmarks in protection of the City’s history for future development.
Located on the Arkansas River, Pueblo’s Historic Riverwalk plays host to a seasonal farmer’s market, Steel City Brew Fest, Movies on the River and more throughout the year.
Pueblo publicly recognizes all of its military veterans, and is home to more medal of honor recipients than any other U.S. municipality. “What is it… something in the water out there in Pueblo? All you guys turn out to be heroes!” President Eisenhower famously said. Thus the City has earned the nickname, Home of Heroes.
Pueblo is home to many exciting attractions for all ages. Enjoy a fine arts performance at Sangre de Cristo Arts Center, catch a train ride with The Rides at City Park or even explore the City’s historical past at the Steelworks Museum.
With the pedestrian and bicyclist paths on the Pueblo River Trail System, and the conservation and educational Nature & Raptor Center, Pueblo nurtures the spirit of Colorado outdoor exploration.
The success of Pueblo’s industries such as aerospace, railway and outdoor recreation can be attributed to its commitment to a thriving economy while preserving historical and cultural values within the community.
The Chile and Frijoles Festival celebrates the City’s biggest crops, green chilies and frijoles (pinto beans). The three-day festival is filled with activities like live music, art demonstrations and you guessed it, chili cooking competitions.
The City of Pueblo utilizes multiple channels of communication to engage with residents, including a mobile app: PuebloGo. The app is available to citizens and visitors wishing to connect with local officials, businesses and register to events. The app also provides community notifications and emergency alerts.
The most recent census data places Pueblo as the seventh most populous city in Colorado. It is also the 259th largest city by population in the United States.
WalkDenver recently shared our analysis of Mayor Hancock's proposed 2017 budget, specifically noting the glaring omission of funding for the infrastructure improvements along Colfax Avenue requested by the Vision Zero Coalition in partnership with the Colfax Collaborative, a joint effort of four Colfax Avenue Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) who work to make their districts clean, safe, and friendly. Colfax is currently one of the deadliest streets in Denver, with six fatalities in 2015.
WalkDenver and the Colfax Collaborative subsequently urged Denver residents to sign a petition requesting the inclusion of $500,000 in the 2017 budget for Colfax. This funding would pay for the design and engineering of enhanced pedestrian crossings at Fairfax, Adams, and Madison Streets along East Colfax, and at intersections between Utica and Osceola Streets on West Colfax. Nearly 1,800 people signed the petition, prompting City Council to include this request along with other budget amendments formally submitted to Mayor Hancock on October 4.
The people spoke and Mayor Hancock listened! In an October 10 letter to City Council, the Mayor announced his support for adding $500,000 for Colfax to the 2017 budget:
"Connectivity throughout our city is paramount. Colfax is such a unique corridor in Denver and in order to better function as a major artery in our city, it will require significant resources. I am happy to support this budget request and appreciate Council’s attention to this corridor and to our community’s voice. This investment will continue the design work that will help us identify the corridor’s gaps like needed sidewalk improvements, added street parking, streetscape improvements and new crosswalks and stoplights. Completing this design work is an important step to help us understand what this corridor needs to maximize its potential. Planning and prioritizing pedestrian mobility and safety improvements are key priorities of Denveright’s project goals. I look forward to planning a stronger, safer, and multi-modal Colfax corridor for all. These additional funds will be added to the transfer to the capital improvement program and will come from the General Fund fund balance."
Mayor Hancock further supported City Council's request for an additional $500,000 for Vision Zero projects outside of the City center. He explains in the letter:
"I am grateful for Council’s support and dedication to our shared priority around Vision Zero’s mission of zero traffic fatalities. Earlier this year, I committed us to the Vision Zero effort and believe that through smart policies and strategies, including increased coordination of city department work and community engagement, we will be able to reduce fatal crashes. I support this budget request, which will allow the Department of Public Works to improve at least a half dozen more intersections than originally planned. Aside from immediate safety needs, Public Works will select intersections outside of the center core of the city and based on criteria such as proximity to schools, transit, and parks and trails. These additional funds will be added to the transfer to the capital improvement program and will come from the General Fund fund balance."
City Council’s public hearing on the budget is set for October 24, and it has until November 24 to adopt or reject the mayor’s spending plan.
We are grateful to Mayor Hancock for adding these items to the 2017 budget, and to everyone who spoke up in support of making Colfax a safer and more vibrant street for people walking, biking, and taking transit.
The funding marks an important step forward for Vision Zero, and continues the momentum of WalkDenver's "People on Colfax" initiative. We believe that Colfax can and should be Denver's premier Main Street, and over the past few years have worked with community members to document the factors that make Colfax unsafe and unpleasant for pedestrians (see our reports for both West and East Colfax), demonstrate design solutions that would make Colfax more people friendly, and celebrate Colfax's unique character with art. You can help us continue this important work by contributing to WalkDenver today!
by Jamie Shapiro, Downtown Colorado, Inc., Rural Outreach Specialist
One of the most difficult challenges for rural Colorado communities, one that Downtown Colorado, Inc. (DCI) sees again and again, is the small size of municipal staff. In rural communities throughout the state, professional staff work tirelessly to help their communities. With limited time and a multitude of projects, it can be impossible for staff to tackle new projects or expand their efforts.
With this challenge in mind, and with the experience of having hosted a VISTA for the last three years, DCI set out to establish its own VISTA team for rural Colorado. This year, DCI is launching Downtown Capacity Builders, a team of VISTAs placed in rural communities, dedicated to downtown revitalization efforts. Host communities throughout Central and Southern Colorado are, as we speak, working hard to prepare for the VISTAs, who will begin their work in April, 2016.
AmeriCorps VISTA, envisioned as the domestic Peace Corps, began in 1965. VISTAs, or Volunteers in Service to America, dedicate one year to working full time for a non-profit or small public agency to build capacity of that organization, so that it can better meet community needs. VISTAs are typically young and college educated, and through their service gain valuable career skills in the nonprofit and public sector. They are paid a living stipend throughout their time.
As a former VISTA, I can attest to the powerful community of VISTAs and VISTA Supervisors, and the incredible opportunity afforded by such an experience. DCI could not be more proud to be launching this time. Hopefully the enthusiasm and time of a full time VISTA our partner communities will see their time management worries decrease and their projects grow and expand.
For more information on the Community Capacity Building program and how it can help your community, please contact Jamie Shapiro by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call DCI at 303-282-0625 with any questions.
Jamie Shapiro previously served as DCI’s AmeriCorps VISTA. He is currently pursuing a masters in Historic Preservation from the University of Colorado Denver.
by Michael Booth, editor and chief, Health Elevations
When it comes to the monumental task of changing Americans’ unhealthy diets, researcher Lori Dorfman likes to say, “Information is necessary but not sufficient.”
Few things make the point better than Dorfman’s favorite New Yorker cartoon. A doctor stands before a grieving, newly widowed woman in the intensive care unit’s waiting room. “I was able,” the doctor says unhelpfully, “to get in one last lecture about diet and exercise.”
Speaking to a full house at the 2014 Colorado Health Symposium at Keystone, Dorfman described the relentless fast-food messages consumers are bombarded with in her own Berkeley, Calif., and every other city in the country.
Doctors in Colorado towns bisected by highways and pockmarked by billboards have said the same thing: Right after leaving a doctor’s office lecture about high-fat, high-sugar foods, the patient will drive a road crammed with signs for Dairy Queen and Burger King and Dunkin’ Donuts and Pizza Hut.
“People in those environments don’t have the power of control … ” Lori Dorfmam
“People in those environments don’t have the power of control … ” Lori Dorfmam
“Education can’t compete,” argued Dorfman, who takes the proximity issue a step further: She shows a picture of a double-decker billboard – on top is an anti-obesity message from the California public health department; directly below it is a smiling woman holding bags from McDonald’s.
“The assumption is that we have an information gap, and if we just fill that gap, people will be healthier,” she added. Maybe the big idea shouldn’t be personal change, Dorfman said, but policy change.
The switch in point of view comes by recognizing that the problem is not an information gap, but a power gap, said Dorfman, a Ph.D. in public health who teaches communication at University of California, Berkeley’s School of Public Health. The burgeoning sugar-control movement at local and state levels across the country is in part a realization that advertising overwhelms consumer willpower. The modern citizen may need a civil intervention on his or her behalf to get breathing room to make better choices.
Thus the attempts at putting a “sugar tax” on sodas, flavored drinks and other snack foods; and New York City’s attempt to limit the size of such sodas in the Big Gulp era.
This new angle recognizes, Dorfman explained, that “people in those environments don’t have the power of control over that environment, and public policy can help them create and find that power.”
Until now, the message dominant for so long has been the one about personal responsibility and individual, inward-focused action, she said. “You are what you eat,” is the oldest example. People have gained too much weight because of bad choices, and if only they exercised more willpower – and exercised, period – then the problem would be solved.
It’s not that the old message is false, Dorfman noted. It’s just inadequate when competing daily against the mass marketing of appealing junk food.
“Both of these can be true at once, and both of them are true at once,” she said. But we as a society are out of balance in how we tell stories about these things, she added. In addition to getting better information about eating and exercise choices, Dorfman said, it’s time for “consumers” to become “citizens” and to hear how public policy on nutrition and the built environment could bring more rapid change.
“It’s not either-or, but only one kind of story is getting told right now,” she said.
Michael Booth is managing editor of Health Elevations, a quarterly journal for The Colorado Health Foundation, devoted to identifying and promoting best practices in health and health care in Colorado. Booth is a former health care writer for The Denver Post and has covered health, medicine, health policy and politics throughout his twenty five-year journalism career.
by Erin Lyng, Progressive Urban Management Associates (P.U.M.A.)
When Ignacio’s only grocery store closed in 2014, two local families, the Lees and McClanahans, sought support from the Colorado Fresh Food Financing Fund (CO4F) to help bring fresh food back to their community. On October 3, 2015, Farmers Fresh Market celebrated its grand opening. The store employs more than 40 people.
“Being longtime area residents and business owners, we knew how important this new store would be to our town. The CO4F financing helped bring Farmers Fresh Market to life, and it’s gratifying to provide our shoppers with a variety of fresh food options” said Amos Lee, the store’s general manager.
Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA) awarded a $408,000 loan on behalf of CO4F to support the store build. The CO4F loan was used to provide part of the construction financing, in partnership with Vectra Bank of Colorado’s Durango office, and to provide permanent financing. CO4F is a public-private partnership loan and grant fund. It was created in 2013 to finance grocery stores and other forms of healthy food retail in underserved communities throughout Colorado.
CO4F Financing Uses Can Include:
“Grocery retail is at the heart of a community. In addition to improving food access and economic conditions, a local grocer provides social advantages such as a sense of belonging among residents”, said Erica Heller with Progressive Urban Management Associates (P.U.M.A.), who provides outreach and technical assistance for CO4F borrowers.
If you are interested in learning more about CO4F, please contact Erin Lyng atCO4F@pumaworldhq.com, 720-519-0535; Tim Dolan at email@example.com, 303.297.7318 or visit www.chfainfo.com/co4f.
Erin Lyng is an associate with P.U.M.A., providing market research, communications, and project assistance to P.U.M.A’s health community, economic development and downtown strategic planning initiatives.