Last Tuesday, our West Denver participants attended their last Project Shift session – and it was their turn to lead it. They had the chance to reflect on what they’ve learned throughout the program, present their neighborhood projects, and celebrate their accomplishments with friends, food, and beer. The session started off with a roundtable where the participants discussed how their own perspectives have shifted during their time in Project Shift. The topics ranged from transportation to growth in their communities to local government decision-making that affects what makes a truly walkable and livable city.
Then it was time for their presentations on their neighborhood projects. Up first was The AV Club, made up of residents of the Athmar Park and Valverde neighborhoods. Brien Darby, Maureen McCanna, Steve Luebke, and Keesha Luebke organized a Neighborhood Bike Fest that was held on June 25 in Valverde. The event was a celebration of all things biking – and how easy it is to use a bike to get around the area. They offered bike safety training for kids, free bike maintenance courtesy of Velofix, and bike maps showing locations in Valverde and Athmar that are easy to walk or bike to. They also organized a raffle to give away bike accessories and even an adult bike! They also took families on a fun and safe ride to the Denver Animal Shelter.
The group discussed how they were able to visit local businesses and get their support to promote the event in the weeks leading up to it, connecting them to many business owners in the area who said they would love to get local residents to walk and bike in. During the event, they were able to talk to neighbors who loved to bike and some who would like to bike more often. The AV Club’s teamwork and enthusiasm for engaging their neighbors about safe biking made their event a success!
Next up, Team Green gave us a look at the walking tour of West Colfax that they hosted on July 8. Sean Brady, Lauren Hegge, Karlie Kahl, Rey Sosa, and Doug Wooley, all residents of the West Colfax and Villa Park neighborhoods, wanted to get their neighbors walking the streets around W. Colfax Ave and getting a sense of what it was like to explore the neighborhood outside of a car. They had two walking tours scheduled for the day: the first focused on the history of West Colfax while the second was going to highlight the local businesses in the area. There was a good turnout of friends and neighbors for the first tour on that hot and sunny day in July but unfortunately, the second tour had to be cancelled after a lack of interest.
However, one Team Green member wisely pointed out that you learn as much from your failures as your successes. Community engagement is rarely without setbacks but full of learning opportunities for how to do things differently and better in the future. The team was still able to get great feedback from their neighbors about how to make the neighborhood more inviting for walking and biking and also about how great it was to learn interesting historical facts they never knew about their neighborhood. A few of them were even lucky enough to win gift cards for food, coffee, and movies in a raffle organized by the team!
Last to present were the Multimodal MacGyvers, who hosted a booth at the Candy Cane Lane Bike Ride event on June 24 hosted by West Colfax Connects, an initiative that WalkDenver is part of. West Colfax and Jefferson Park residents Nicole Bush, Stephanie Leonard, Jonathan Lorincz, and Brian Schroder worked with the West Colfax Connects leadership team on ideas for reaching out to neighbors about all the transportation options available in the area.
Leading up to the bike ride event, they volunteered to help paint colorful wayfinding signs along the Lakewood Gulch Trail that would direct people walking and biking to nearby destinations. To celebrate the new wayfinding system, West Colfax Connects organized the Candy Cane Lane Bike Ride with stations along the trail promoting walking and biking. One of those stations was the Project Shift booth where visitors could learn about all the multimodal options in West Colfax, spin a prize wheel made out of a bike wheel, and learn bike safety tips.
The team was able to collect surveys about multimodal transportation and signed postcards for the Mayor and City Council supporting GO Bond transportation projects from event attendees. They learned how to leverage connections to gain a wider audience for their outreach efforts and had fun encouraging their neighbors to walk, bike, and take transit!
We hope that this is just the beginning of a more involved and connected West Denver now that our participants have had the experience of working on a neighborhood project. They learned valuable lessons in community outreach, teamwork, communication, and engaging local elected officials. We look forward to seeing them continue to work on changing the ways West Denver gets around through projects such as the Over the Clover design demonstration project. And as we say congratulations and good luck to the West Denver cohort, there is still plenty more from Project Shift to come. Make sure to check back here on the blog this Friday as we introduce the first blog post from a Central Denver participant!