Oct 06, 2017
Breathe Easy on the 16th Street Mall
The 16th Street Mall and downtown Denver is home to 20,000 residents and where 120,000 employees go to work each day. This is one of the densest areas within the City of Denver and hosts thousands of visitors every year.
The purpose of Breathe Easy is to prohibit the use of electronic cigarettes, the consumption of tobacco and marijuana along the 16th Street Mall. Protecting public health by prohibiting smoking along the 16th Street Mall including the use of e-cigarettes is a small step in the direction of promoting a healthier Denver. As a city that has a reputation of being healthy and clean, Denver has far more work to do. 17% of adults in Denver smoke, compared to the national average of around 15%.
Compared to the rest of the country, Denver is far behind on its smoking policies. According to the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation 4,523 municipalities in the United State have laws in effect that restrict where smoking is permitted; of these 4,523 a total of 1,287 municipalities have a 100% smoke free provision in effect either in non-hospitality work places, and/or restaurants, and/or bars.
Large cities such as Philadelphia and Boston have legislation prohibiting smoking of vape pens in certain areas such as: parks, stadiums and enclosed areas within a public space. While the primary purpose of these policies is to protect nonsmokers from secondhand smoke, studies have shown that prohibitive policies have reduced smoking prevalence among the general population and youth. Denver can and should do better.
Current Denver smoking policies do not include electronic cigarettes/vape pens in their prohibition and are not inclusive of the 16th Street Mall. Including electronic cigarettes in Breathe Easy is essential because of the dramatic increase in the use of such devices in recent years, the tendency of such devices to mimic traditional smoking and thereby “re-normalize” the act of smoking in public places and create the impression that the use of such devices is associated with a healthy lifestyle. Lastly, there is an increasing use of such devices for consuming marijuana which makes enforcing the prohibition of public consumption of marijuana difficult.
Join me in supporting Breathe Easy. To learn more you can visit my website.
We have made it a goal to celebrate diverse communities in the Fine District 9 for it is one of the key things that makes a community beautiful—the celebration and acceptance of one’s differences. To highlight some of the wonderful aspects of our community, we will be highlighting organizations and community members who promote and contribute to this very important value in our newsletter each month.
This month, we are highlighting Bird Seed Collective. I had the privilege of sitting down with Ms. Carla Padilla who is the Associate Director* for Birdseed Collective (BC).
BC started in 2010 as a for-profit company to provide opportunities for local multi-generational artists to showcase their works, wares, talents, and skills. As the company evolved, they began to provide more economic opportunities to artist by finding grants, some of which are used to employ local artist to provide more outlets for their work. Some of their community-focused work includes large scale art projects. In addition, they also run healthy food distribution for the past six years. In 2016, the company became a non-profit which allowed them to access additional grants to meet the demands of the community.
BC has a passion for going into communities who may not have art to make a connection with community members. Their target audience is middle through high school-aged children in the community, but all are welcome to be involved.
Birdseed Collective has a gallery located at 41st and Tennyson called the Alto, two community based studios, and they also run several projects out of the Globeville Recreation Center.
If you are interested in learning more about the Birdseed Collective, please check out their website at www. Birdseedcollective.org.
Q. What are some of challenges/obstacles you’ve had to overcome to bring your vision to fruition and how did you overcome them?
A. I would say that it is the length of time it takes to prepare, submit and approve contracts. The process for projects from funding to actual implementation can be lengthy. For example, for the Quigg Newton Dumpster project, it has been about a year since we applied for the funding, but we are just now at the implementation phase. Sometimes it is a challenge to keep everyone up-to-date when waiting for the projects to get to implementation stage.
Knowing the background of potential things that could delay the process is helpful and our staff members possess diverse skillsets which also helps to navigate the process. In addition, keeping our contact lists up-to-date is also helpful.
Q. What motivates you to do this work?
A. I feel like I grew up in the activist’s world. My mom was involved with busing and racial issues, for example. She used to take me to Corky Gonzalez rallies and school board meetings. I was engrained in the activist community. Also, living in Globeville’s tight-knit community contributes to a feeling of helping people with basic needs, for example. You see a lot of organizations come in and use communities, but I believe in sticking up for my rights and my community’s rights so that we have access to the same resources as other communities/neighborhoods.
It’s not about money for me. It’s about contributing to my community because I am a part of the community and know the people we serve personally. For example, when we do healthy food distribution each week, and can’t provide food to a family, it personally affects me because I actually know the families we serve…some for almost 50 years.
Gentrification has some positive aspects but it has also taken away some of the community-based aspects of our neighborhood, but knowing that people can count on us to be committed to that mindset motivates me to continue to do this work.
Q. If you could offer one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?
A. I would say work hard. You don’t get anything for free or by sitting around. The work that we do is a second job for us, but it doesn’t feel like work because we are all so passionate.
You must keep trudging away at your goals and your vision. A lot of people want to complain but never work, so if anything, work your butt off.
Sometimes it [working hard] feels like the song that says “I got six jobs, I don’t get tired”…that’s us.
Q. What do enjoy most about living in the city of Denver?
A. I like the community people the most—the long-term community people. I love seeing them and their families. I also like that Denver pushes for the arts. I’ve seen such a difference from when we started until now and how it’s changed so much. I love Denver.
If you or someone you know is impacting our community in a positive way, please send submissions to Evelyn Barnes at firstname.lastname@example.org and in the subject line please put “D9 Community Member Spotlight Nomination” in order to be considered for our monthly newsletter edition.
*An earlier publication of this newsletter shared that Carla Padilla was Executive Director of Birdseed Collective, she is the Associate Director.