Learn these Front Range streets from people who have lived there

(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photo

The Denver VOICE caught my eye this summer with an unusual feature that made perfect sense.

David Gordon. (Jesse Borrell/Denver VOICE/Reprinted with permission)

David Gordon. (Jesse Borrell/Denver VOICE/Reprinted with permission)

The paper itself is written cooperatively by both housed and homeless people, and the July issue included a great example of that: Editor Sarah Harvey worked with two of the paper’s vendors to produce short guides to Denver and Boulder.

Up first: David Gordon on South Broadway.

“A lot of those businesses know that they’re not going to get rich off of the few dollars that I can spend, but my business is valued,” he tells Harvey.

He spotlights Sweet Action Ice Cream for its unique flavors and the Walnut Room (soon to close) for its cheese pizza. Right in between: the narrow spot where he used to sleep.

Raelene Johnson, meanwhile, speaks on life in Boulder.

She likes the Chief Niwot memorial and the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse, and she stops by the bridge that once sheltered her.

“When you come to Boulder, it’s a spiritual, healing place,” she tells the VOICE.

Raelene Johnson (David Gordon. (Jesse Borrell/Denver VOICE/Reprinted with permission)

Raelene Johnson. (Jesse Borrell/Denver VOICE/Reprinted with permission)

This approach has turned into something bigger in England.

In London, Unseen Tours has homeless and formerly homeless people lead walking tours of the city, turning their knowledge into a source of income.

“Unseen Tours is at pains to make clear that this is not poverty tourism: the idea is not to peer at the homeless, but to infuse a conventional tour with deeper authority,” The Guardian reported.

(Disclosure: I volunteered as an office assistant with the VOICE for a while.)