New Year and New Decade resolutions for Denver, by Denverites you know or should know

11 min. read
Day breaks over Denver, May 21, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

It's 2020.

Even not so long ago, that year seemed so futuristic -- a date you'd slap on something to indicate a gleaming or smoggy world, depending on your outlook, crowded with flying cars, no matter what your outlook. Just think of all the post-2000 pop culture reference dates we've passed. We just closed out the original "Blade Runner" year (and we're closer to the year in which the new movie is set than the one in which the original was made). We're three years past Billy Joel's "Miami 2017" (and NYC is still standing).

This doesn't mean a whole lot, of course, because time is a construct, but it's a construct that's useful in shaping our lives and setting goals and freaking us out a little. And so here we are, looking at the year and the decade ahead and thinking about what we hope to accomplish.

In 2018, the Denverite team made this list of Denver resolutions that are all still relevant and doable in 2020. If you're looking for some inspiration, start there.

This year, as in 2019, we asked influential Denverites what they hope to personally accomplish or what they hope we as a city accomplish in the next one to 10 years. Here, in their own words, is what they told us.

Terrell Curtis, associate investment director for family economic security, Gary Community Investments

Off the top of my head, things I hope for Denver in 2020 and beyond, that I will put my energy towards:

  • For communities (specifically NIMBYS and YMIBYS) to come together on how to solve the conundrum of displacement/gentrification/equitable development/open space. The arguments seem to be around zero-sum solutions ("No development ever!)", and just because we haven't found the solution yet, doesn't mean it's not there. Surely we are better than this.
  • For Denver to realize a full transit build-out that decreases our climate impact, is affordable and meaningfully convenient enough that people will enthusiastically choose transit over driving a single passenger car. This includes protected bike lanes.
  • For stronger voter turn-out in any election, especially among those for whom there are many barriers to voting and those who have given up on politics/feel their vote doesn't count/are too apathetic.
  • For health and climate reasons -- eat more of a plant-based diet.
  • For physical and emotional well-being -- move my body more.

Kali Fajardo-Anstine, author and National Book Award in Fiction finalist, "Sabrina & Corina"

In 2020, I look forward to completing my debut novel, which is set in Denver throughout the 1930s, and I am elated to begin work on a third book (an idea I've been daydreaming on for some years).

I am not one to make resolutions for an entire city, but in the coming decade I hope Denver can more justly seek growth while also honoring the lives of residents who have lived here for generations. I hope the city takes steps to ensure more affordable housing. I hope the histories of our indigenous communities and people of color are centered and widely told. And I hope no one from our city ever feels forgotten, distorted or erased.

Michael Hancock, mayor

My new year's resolution is to stay focused on our residents' priorities of improving transportation, affordability and equity, and leveling the playing field for everyone in Denver -- and of course, spending some quality time with my adorable new grandbaby.

Kalyn Heffernan, Wheelchair Sports Camp MC, activist, 2019 mayoral candidate

I'm one of those radicals who wants change, like, yesterday but I also realize how lethargic progress can be. So what I want for Denver is for it to be recognized as the indigenous land it is. I want housing to be a human right. I want free accessible public transit. I want actual health care for all. I want prison, and ICE to be done with. And I want capitalism to die once and for all!

Is that too much to ask in 10 years?

Chris Hinds, District 10 city councilman

Make Denver and its government more accessible for everyone.

And in 2020 I'm going meatless on Mondays. Considering I'm originally from Texas, it won't be as easy as it sounds, but it's good for the planet and for animals.

Bobby LeFebre, Colorado poet laureate, playwright of "Northside"

I have the same basic goals for every new year:
1. Make good things.
2. Do meaningful stuff.
3. Build with great people.
4. Go dope places.

Frank Locantore, executive director, Colfax Ave Business Improvement District

2020 resolution: respectful discourse.

No one knows everything, yet our community debates and conversations can quickly get nasty and polemic. "If the City is for it, then it must be a lame deal..." or, "those NIMBYs are the epitome of white privilege..." are a couple of examples I've witnessed in various 2019 community meetings. Impugning people's motives and the arrogance embedded in "group-think" are real barriers to achieving great things in Denver.

The resolution that I will apply for myself and that I hope others living and working in Denver also employ is to ask more questions and get agreement on the end-goals. By asking more questions, I can better understand why someone believes what they do, or why things are the way they are. When focusing on the goals and outcomes, we can identify where we have agreement on the issues. From there the strategies and tactics may diverge, but perhaps we can agree to try a variety of strategies and tactics, one at a time, starting with the ideas that have worked well in the past, and learn which work best.

A very happy new year for all Denverites!

Jill Locantore, executive director, WalkDenver

  • Establish a new, sustainable funding source for building and maintaining sidewalks. Blueprint Denver, the city's 20-year vision for land use and transportation that City Council adopted this past April, clearly states that people walking are the top priority on all city streets. Yet 40 percent of Denver's streets are missing sidewalks or have substandard sidewalks that are too narrow for someone in a wheelchair, a parent with a stroller or even two people to walk side-by-side. Additionally, an unknown number of sidewalks are in serious disrepair. At current funding levels, it will take literally hundreds of years to build out a complete sidewalk network, and to repair existing sidewalks. Clearly a new source of revenue is needed to ensure every Denver neighborhood has the basic infrastructure people need to safely walk to schools, parks, and other daily destinations.
  • Dedicate more bus lanes. Buses are a very safe, efficient, environmentally-friendly, and affordable way to move a lot of people around our growing city. But when buses get stuck in traffic with all the other cars, they become slow and unreliable, as the Denver Streets Partnership demonstrated with our "Amazing Mobility Race" earlier this year. When the city dedicated bus lanes on 15th Street downtown, it was a game-changer: overnight the bus became much faster and more reliable for riders traveling between downtown and locations all across the Denver region, and the dedicated lanes are also less stressful for overworked drivers. The Denver Streets Partnership is thrilled that the city is now adding dedicated bus lanes on 17th Street, and urges city leaders to keep going, dedicating additional bus lanes on 18th and 19th downtown, as well as priority transit routes outside of downtown. We don't need a lot of resources to make this happen - with just a little paint and signage, we can make the bus much more attractive and convenient for people seeking better transportation options.
  • Reduce the neighborhood speed limit to 20 mph. Traffic fatalities are a public health crisis in Denver, with a record 70 people killed on Denver's streets this year. Speed is one of the most important factors that determine whether traffic crashes happen and whether they result in serious injuries or fatalities. Neighborhood streets in particular should be safe places not only for people traveling through the area, but for people walking dogs, playing with kids in their front yard, gardening in the planting strip, walking to the neighborhood store, or biking to school or the park. To make our streets truly safe, speed limit reductions should be paired with engineering changes that reinforce safe speeds. But data suggests that even just lowering speed limits can improve safety. Furthermore, by lowering the default speed limit for all neighborhood streets, the City can send a powerful message that human life and safety is more important than the speed of driving, and sets the stage for street redesigns that make our neighborhoods safe places for people, not just cars.

Lisa Raville, executive director, Harm Reduction Action Center

Supervised Use Sites (SUS) are legally sanctioned and supervised facilities designed to reduce the health problems associated with injection drug use. They allow the consumption of pre-obtained drugs under hygienic and low-risk conditions. Commonly, the purpose of SUSs are to reduce public disorder and enhance public safety, reduce overdose morbidity and mortality, reduce transmission of blood-borne infections, and improve access to other health and social services and treatment services. This initiative is supported by people who use drugs, moms, businesses, treatment/recovery centers, faith communities, homeless service providers and medical societies.

According to the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, overdose is the leading cause of death of unhoused community members, again in 2019. Seventy percent were meth overdoses or a combination of meth and other substances.

No one has ever died of an overdose at any SUS around the world -- in 11 countries and over 150 sites. The same cannot be said for local Starbucks, libraries, RTD transit stations, Subway, 7-Elevens, etc.

Denver City Council passed an ordinance in the fall of 2018 in anticipation of statewide legislation.  We hope that the Colorado State Legislators will make this a priority in 2020.

Jeff Roberts, executive director, Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition

I hope in 2020 and beyond we can find ways to increase community support for local journalism on all platforms. Our democracy needs a healthy Fourth Estate!

What else? This is more of a wish list than a list of resolutions:

1. government emails and text messages that don't disappear so quickly;
2. unencrypted police radio transmissions; |
3. public records that don't cost the public an arm and a leg to obtain;
4. a statewide standard for the suppression of court records
5. fewer executive sessions;
6. more disclosure of police body-camera footage.

And another World Series title for the Cubs.

Teva Sienicki, CEO, Metro Caring

1. I got a road bike in the 2010s and started biking more and driving less. Last year, I rode my bike to work 101 days, and next year, and each year thereafter, I'd like to bike commute at least 100 days again. It's good for my health, my mood, my parenting, city traffic and the planet.

2. I was privileged to travel for two beach vacations last year, and felt horrified to see the amount of plastics and garbage washing up onto remote beaches as well as serious damage to coral reefs, so in 2020 and beyond, I plan to continue to try and reduce my dependence on plastics, by using reusable bags and containers, and to use only reef-safe sunblock.

3. Last year we worked to raise Denver's minimum wage. This was a great start. In 2020 and for as long as it takes, I pledge to continue to fight for Denver's families, in Metro Caring's community and beyond. I believe that no parent working full time or more should struggle to put food on the table for their kids, and that we can and need to do a better job taking care of elders in our community who've worked their whole lives, and those unable to work, so that all can live healthy, dignified lives. I plan to show up for Paid Family Medical Leave at the statehouse, push back against RTD service cuts, and push our institutions and elected officials to continue to do better for all families.

Jeff Walker, secretary, RTD Board of Directors

One thing I plan to do for myself and the city is drive a couple miles below the speed limit. That will give me more reaction time and decrease the likelihood of getting into a crash.

I will also try to bring forth the good times, get on the good foot, and let it whip.

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