Noticing the people living at Sloan’s Lake

SLOAN LAKE — For many years, I have walked around Sloan’s Lake three or four times a week, in all kinds of weather, and at all hours of the day and night.  I’m usually lost in my own world, listening to Shakira on my iPod, or walking with to my best friend at 5am, engrossed in our conversations about life and love and our children. This summer, we started to notice that tents were set up along the perimeter of the lake… but it didn’t merit much more than a passing comment: we are both very busy and we have so much to talk about when we see each other that we don’t usually notice what is going on around us. Then this fall my friend got too busy to walk much, and I lost my iPod, so I began to notice more.

First I noticed that the brush had been cut around the lake and that all of the tents had disappeared. Except one. There was one tent, near the bridge off Sheridan, that was there day after day. The man and woman who lived there were often sitting outside, and I felt like I was walking through their yard, so we started to say hello.  Then November came, and as I talked to my students and my own children about all of the blessings in our lives, I realized that I knew nothing about these people who I greeted every day, and what led them to be living in a park. So I began to bring them food, (Tamale Kitchen is their favorite!), and the conversation began.

At first, we talked about how the lights from the businesses on Sheridan look like Christmas lights.  Todd and Kim, it turns out, are very positive.  Then one day, I asked how it was that their tent was still up when everyone else had left.  Todd shared that he was a Lieutenant, and had done two tours of duty in Afghanistan, so the police officers respect him and usually leave him alone.  And their story began to unfold.

Todd is a caretaker of all of the people that live in his corner of the park, some of whom have lived at Sloan’s Lake for years.  He and Kim, who are not a couple, came to live together in the most tragic of ways. Todd was good friends with Kim’s husband Joe, who was also a veteran.  Joe had a spinal injury he sustained in the Vietnam War and confined to a wheelchair.  Todd tells me that when Joe would fall asleep at night, all of his worldly possessions would fall out of his chair, and so Todd would pick them up for him and make sure that he kept everything together. As he tells it, Joe and Kim were always together, until a month ago when Kim had to spend some time in jail for vagrancy. When she was gone, Joe was fatally shot in a fight and pushed into the lake.  When Kim got out, she was inconsolable. “She was lost and needed somebody and had nowhere else to go, so I take care of her,” said Todd.

Todd and others who I have met at their tent, have such tenderness for Kim that it gives me faith in the human spirit.  “She’s grieving hard and I don’t know what to do for her,” he says.  He knows something about grief.  Todd had a full life as a fly-fishing and elk hunting guide outside of Glenwood Springs.  He had a wife and two children.  But memories of losing troops in Afghanistan haunted him constantly, and then a year ago, his mother and two sisters were killed in a car accident.  “I got really depressed and started drinking,” he said.  “I could get help, but I’m too proud.  I’m trying to handle this on my own.”

Todd and Kim say that many people come by and offer food or blankets.  “We call them angels,” she says.  Others ignore them or treat them “like lowlifes.”  Life in the park is very dangerous, “sometimes more dangerous than Afghanistan.” People get in fights; they get shot, and they are continually worried about their possessions being stolen.  Todd tells me about a friend of his named Dreamer, who is Lakota.  He was a staff sergeant serving in Iraq, and they bonded over this.  Todd worries because Dreamer disappears for days.  He also says that he knows he can “get it together.”  He longs for a normal life again.

I walked by yesterday, and the tent was gone.  I hope that Todd and Kim are safe and warm.  They knew where the shelters are located, but preferred to be in the park.  I’ll look for them again in the morning, and from now on I will keep my eyes open.  How did I not notice that there was someone living in a wheelchair at Sloan’s Lake? How many times did I walk past him over the years?  So often we don’t see, or we avoid looking.  It’s raw. It’s uncomfortable.  But when we do take the time, it can be inspiring.

By: Morgain Sanchez

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North Denver Tribune

Giving thanks for community living

West Highlands and Chaffee Park —“We’re really good at Thanksgiving,” says Suzanne Leff, a resident of Hearthstone Cohousing Community in Highland Gardens Village. “We have some really good cooks, and it’s great to celebrate with our Hearthstone family.”

Future residents of the Aria Cohousing project, under construction in the former Marycrest Convent at 52nd and Federal, are thankful to be able to develop their new community from the ground up. “We are developing how we’ll support each other and live together,” said Deborah Clendenning, a 31-year resident of Northwest Denver and a founding member of the Aria group.

The two communities are among 20 such cohousing communities in Colorado, according to the Cohousing Association of the United States. Cohousing is growing and attracting people of all ages. “The generations that grew up in the ‘burbs, or raised their kids there, have seen what isolation does. They don’t want to live on a cul-de-sac anymore,” said Susan Powers, president of Urban Ventures, developer of the Aria project.

Cohousing is an intentional community of private homes clustered around shared space. Each attached or single-family home has traditional amenities, including a private kitchen. Shared spaces typically feature a common house with a large kitchen and dining area. Shared outdoor space may include open space and gardens. Neighbors also share resources like tools and lawnmowers.

Cohousing encourages interaction among neighbors for social and environmental benefits. Households have independent incomes and private lives, but neighbors collaboratively plan and manage community activities and shared spaces. Community activities include regularly scheduled shared meals, meetings, and workdays. Neighbors gather for parties, games, movies, and other events. Cohousing makes it easy to form clubs, organize child and elder care and carpool.

Hearthstone Cohousing, started in 2001, is comprised of 33 townhomes nestled around a shared green space. The community includes about 70 residents of all ages, including families with kids, single parents, singles, and seniors.

“We live closely; we want to interact with each other,” says Leff. “We cook meals together several times a week, and we make business decisions together about the landscaping and the common house. We have active clubs, like our climate-change group. Some of our members formed a band that plays at the open mic at Tennyson Tap.”

Leff, a resident since 2004, is an attorney and the mother of two children, ages 16 and 11. “We moved here because we wanted our kids to play outside after dark like we did,” she said. “Our parents weren’t hovering, but we knew that eyes were on us. It’s collective community care. All of us know all of the kids.”

Hearthstone Townhomes range between 900 and 2,400 square feet. Leff and her children live in a 1,500-square-foot unit. “There’s not a lot of space to be alone, or to have guests, but the common house has a guestroom with a full bath. It’s a good way to extend our living space.”

The 4,800-square-foot common house also has a kitchen, dining room, laundry, playroom, storage, and a cubby for clothing or other items to share with the community. The mantle in the fireplace room displays photos of all the community’s families.

Leff says the community, celebrating its 15th year, is about helping one another. “We rally around people who need food or care. A single bed traveled between homes for people with ankle or knee injuries, so they could sleep on their main level without climbing stairs. We provide meals for neighbors after surgery, or when a child is born. For new babies, a handmade quilt is presented.”

Of the 20 cohousing communities in Colorado, six are in the Denver area, and nine are in the Boulder area, with others in Lyons, Paonia, and Colorado Springs.

The Aria Cohousing project, slated for completion in April of 2017, is part of a 17.5-acre Mixed-use, mixed-income development in the Chaffee Park neighborhood. The $ 7.2 million cohousing project is 28 condos, including eight designated affordable units. Twenty-three units have been sold, and several more are under contract.

Simon Leff (right) and Noah Alleman tosses a ball in the shared green space at Hearthstone Cohousing.
Simon Leff (right) and Noah Alleman tosses a ball in the shared green space at Hearthstone Cohousing.

Aria is developer Powers’ first foray into cohousing. “It’s a fascinating and wonderful process,” she said. “The future residents meet every Monday, some of them by Skype, to discuss everything from forming committees to where they want the kitchen to be.

“As a developer of condos, I see the benefit of having the ultimate occupants involved from the beginning—even though it takes longer because the design process is more inclusive. This cohousing project is different from some because the homes will be in one building. So there will be even more community contact in the hallways. It’s good for social cohesion.”

Powers said the founders of Aria cohousing are four women who found each other through the National Cohousing Association ( “Some are local, and others are from Philadelphia and Boston. They have family here, and they were attracted to the development, which includes a production farm and a greenhouse.”

Future Aria resident Vicki Rottman said it helps to work with a developer. “Usually a group forms first, buys land and hires an architect, etc. We’ve avoided some of the usual challenges with starting up because our project is being built by a developer. We’re forming our community at the same time that planning and construction are taking place.”

Powers likes the sustainability of re-using the historic convent, first opened in 1958. “This building was built to last hundreds of years—I would never have demolished it. The contractors are taking it apart gently and putting it back together for its next life. The outside will look much the same. This property has a blessed, powerful feeling because of its history with the Sisters of St. Francis. It’s special, very different from new construction.”

The cohousing concept, started in Denmark in the 1960s, is inherently sustainable, says Leff. “Our shared values include saving resources. We live smaller, and we have no air conditioning—instead, the buildings are well-insulated to stay cool when it cools off at night. One boiler in each building heats all three to six homes and provides hot water. The floors in our shared spaces are Marmoleum, which is linseed-oil based rather than petroleum. We share resources, like cars and rides, and we make sustainable food choices. We recycle our clothing for other community members. Our landscaping does not use pesticides or herbicides, and it includes more xeriscape plants. We’re not unique, but any decision we make has the sustainable piece as part of the discussion.”

Leff said cohousing is growing because people are looking for connection. “People want to connect in person. We have more opportunities to connect digitally, but what do those connections do? I need face-to-face interaction. Cohousing is not all rainbows and unicorns; you have to interact, and you can’t run away from issues. It’s an opportunity to engage on a level we don’t always encounter. In a mobile society, it gives us roots.”

To learn more about cohousing, see For more about the Aria cohousing project, see For more about Hearthstone Cohousing, see

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North Denver Tribune

Night of the Living Dead…Live! On Stage!

HIGHLAND — The Bug Theatre and Paper Cat Films are back to bring the biggest and best annual Halloween treat to the Bug stage. Night Of The Living Dead will be October 7 through 29, Friday and Saturday evenings at 8:00 p.m. Tickets are $ 15 in advance/$ 14 for students, seniors and military. Tickets at the door will be $ 18 general admission/$ 15 for students, seniors, military and anyone dressed like a zombie. Tickets are available online at There will also be an industry night, Thursday, October 27, and tickets will be $ 10.

Night Of The Living Dead is the best annual Halloween tradition in Denver. Back for an eighth bloody year, the theme for 2016 is URBAN LEGENDS. Expect the classic story of seven people trapped in a farmhouse, surrounded by flesh-eating ghouls. One has the virus, and one has a gun and one has lost her mind. PLUS A lunatic hook man, spiders in a beehive and calls coming from inside the house! Urban legends live on in this exciting new adaptation of the beloved Romero classic that started it all.

Said Director/Adaptor Kris Hipps, “I’ve been a zombie fan since the first time I saw the original Night of the Living Dead’ as a kid and immediately started thinking about ways to barricade our house in case of a zombie attack.” A unique aspect of the show is that all the action taking place inside the famous farmhouse is on stage, while all the action outside the house is projected onto an overhead screen, utilizing sequences re-created and shot by Paper Cat Films.

Featuring the talents of: Joseph Graves as Ben, Janine Kehlenbach as Barbara, Veronica Straight-Lingo as Judy, Seth Harris as Tom, Colin Roybal as Helen, Patrick Brownson as Harry, Deb Flomberg as Karen and Karin Carr, Kris Hipps, Matt Jaramillo, Matt Schultz, Sara Michael and Aran Peters as the hoard of zombies, reporters and other unsuspecting victims.

“this play’s still got a lot of heart, and you can’t help but empathize with the characters as zombies creep up on them unawares — till they get their hearts ripped out.”
– Chris Meehan, Westword

“It’s more comedy than horror, and infinitely enjoyable for it.”
– Jess D’Arbonne,

“The Halloween equivalent of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’ Except that everybody’s either dead or in danger of becoming so, in a most gruesome fashion.”
– Patrick Dorn, The Playwright Priest

“A well produced, highly amusing and wonderful show.”
– Zombieboy, Anime Geek Gaming Nation

October 7 – 29 at 8:00 PM
$ 15 in advance/$ 14 for students/seniors/military
$ 18 at the door/$ 15 for students/seniors/military and ZOMBIES at the door
Recommended for mature audiences

The Bug Theatre  |  3654 Navajo St  |

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North Denver Tribune

Sustainable Living in Denver, Colorado

Denver, Colorado is one of the most forward-thinking cities in the entire United States. Denver has not faced any environmental disasters and with the close by mountain ranges and natural beauty, Denver has become a favorite city for nature lovers. Both old and new residents have enjoyed taking part in living a more sustainable lifestyle and the city of Denver is quick to encourage a more conscious lifestyle.

Composting – Denver encourages composting and even provides free classes to residents on how to compost. The city offers a program that distributes 65-gallon trash carts to store leaves, food and other compostable items, and collects them for a city composting pile. Denver offers a program where regular residents can become “master composters,” where they receive free training to become skilled in the art of composting.

Travel – Over 90% of the fuel and energy sources are based on oil, which is a finite resource. Transportation is a huge part of living a more sustainable lifestyle. Cutting down on, or eliminating the need for petroleum and gasoline is one of the best ways to make a positive impact. Denver has a bike program that encourages residents to use or rent bikes for their local travel.

Location – Living a more local lifestyle helps promote sustainability. Shipping foods and goods across the country, and sometimes across the world, is a waste of our oil resources. Living locally helps promote local businesses and communities, while also cutting down on your carbon footprint.

Grow Your Own Food – If you don’t live in a forward-thinking city, like Denver, you can still take control of your lifestyle. Growing your own fruits and vegetables is a great way to live a more sustainable lifestyle. Not only are you saving resources on packaging and shipping, you can save money and be eating more healthfully.

Use Less – A big part of living a sustainable lifestyle is to use items in moderation. Instead of running out and buying all “green” household cleaners and products, and throwing away your old, chemical-filled ones, decide to use much less of what you already have, and only buy things that are an absolute must.

Reuse – One of the key components in a sustainable lifestyle is “reuse,” which helps keep landfills empty and keeps money in your pocket. Almost everything nowadays is disposable, from pens, to lighters to razors. Always buy long-lasting products that can be reused for many years, like fountain pens, refillable lights and razors with only a disposable head.

If you’re living in Cherry Creek and want to learn more about sustainable living, or would lie to browse our Cherry Creek homes for sale, please visit PorchLight Realty.

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Finding Quality Southern Denver Apartment Living

Lots of people today are opting to hire Southeast Denver apartment units as opposed to renting a house or purchasing one. This figure could possibly be related to the economic climate and something taking place within our globe today. If this sounds like a scenario for you personally after that doing some research at that time provides you with a heads up on exactly what you really can afford to locate high quality Southern Denver apartment lifestyle. A very important factor you additionally have to take into account is exactly how many bed rooms and bathrooms you will need to accommodate everyone else in your family members. Today, if you only have one child, a single or two room apartment should suffice.

Another useful device for an finding high quality south Denver apartment lifestyle is the neighborhood renters guide readily available through Chamber of Commerce or real-estate agencies. Some landlords would like to market in focused outlets as opposed to getting dozens of undesired questions from a general aim ad. Some university campuses also offer off university housing facilities with comparable information. Rental property in university cities or well-known towns and cities usually goes rapidly, therefore dont be discouraged should your apartment search periodically turns into a rejection telethon. The answer to finding an excellent apartment is determination, therefore keep making phone calls in the day and very early evening.

For those who have the full time and gas, you might also wish drive through several communities seeking available apartments. Nearly every quality Southern Denver apartment residing search sooner or later requires pounding the pavement and satisfying in person with prospective landlords. Consult with store owners downtown for inside home elevators loft flats above the storefronts. Stop in the offices of expert apartment buildings to talk about the applying procedure. Just because one landlord denies the job, he or she might know of other landlords in the region in search of new tenants.

If you are serious about finding quality south Denver apartment living, make your motives proven to every person near you. Co workers can be landlords or tenants themselves, so they really may learn of vacant apartments before the development strikes the streets. Other church or synagogue members may additionally acquire local rental residential property or be moving from apartments into new domiciles. Many individuals become landlords very nearly accidentally, so they really are not constantly eager to place an ad into the report whenever flats come to be offered. They would a great deal rather lease to somebody they know and trust, so by all means make your interests understood by advertising in an organization publication or church bulletin and you just will dsicover the perfect quality Southeast Denver apartment lifestyle for your needs.

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Living in Denver

The beautiful city of Denver is known for its sunshine, ski resorts and scenic views. Denver has become one of the most popular destinations to move to because of its blend of old and new worlds. The city reverently holds on to its farming and mining past while mixing in exciting performing arts, outdoors festivals and intriguing museums.

It’s no wonder that Denver attracts people of all ages, especially young professionals. In fact, Denver’s median age of residents is 34 years old, just slightly under the national average of 38 years old. Denver’s metropolitan area is growing to almost 3 million people.

Denver is known as the “Mile High City” because it sits 5,280 feet (exactly one mile) above sea level. This wonderful city enjoys four distinct seasons, and despite being 12 miles from the Rocky Mountains, the winters are usually mild. In fact Denver experiences nearly 300 sunny days a year, on average, which is more than the “sunshine state’s” southernmost metropolitan city of Miami sees in a year.

Denver is known for its over 100 state parks, but they aren’t the only attraction. Denver has a dozen museums, the Denver Zoo, a Botanical Garden as well as amusement and water parks. Another interesting attraction is the Denver Mint. Denver is one of two cities in the U.S. to mint currency and visitors can take a free tour to watch the money being made. Denver attractions are easily accessible thanks to the light-rail that runs through downtown.

Denver is one of twelve U.S. cities to have all four major league sports teams. For the NFL they have the Denver Broncos, in the NBA they have the Denver Nuggets, the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche call their home in Denver, and of course the MLB has the Colorado Rockies. The four team names help to paint a picture of not only the mountains, but that cowboy and mining past that Denver still embraces.

Living in Denver is truly an experience, and its one of the most “livable” cities in the U.S. The neighborhoods each have a distinct personality and each offer something unique and special. For four months in a row Denver was praised for having the lowest amount of “days on the market” for home sales. Denver is a great place to live and offers a steadily appreciating housing market, with endless panoramic views and sunny skies.

Contact one of our experienced Denver real estate agents for more information about moving to Denver.

About PorchLight Real Estate: PorchLight Real Estate Group has the most experienced and knowledgeable Denver real estate agents in Colorado. For more information about homes for sale in Denver CO or specific neighborhood homes please visit Welcome to Denver, also known as The Mile-High City due to its position above sea level. Any …
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