Making our corner of Denver welcoming, inclusive and compassionate

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Spring is a time of great hope and new beginnings. I am hopeful that this spring will usher in a fresh new start for our city and the world. Denverites are looking forward to being with friends and family, eating at restaurants, and enjoying sports, concerts, weddings and parties. I’m hopeful for a kinder and gentler world — one that is inclusive, welcoming, generous and where we help one another. This past year has shown us how important our relationships, compassion and humanity are.

Last June, thousands of southeast Denver residents gathered in Southmoor Park for a Black Lives Matter Solidarity Walk. It was incredibly moving and inspired the creation of our Race and Social Justice Work Group which is working to engage and inform residents — opening hearts and minds — to make our corner of Denver welcoming, inclusive and compassionate. We are thrilled that students from Thomas Jefferson High School are part of the Work Group. I’m excited to see how our work evolves. We plan to bring race and social justice into our district work, including sharing book and movie recommendations, bringing minority students together with older adults for dialogue, creating a community art project and integrating a race and social justice theme for our annual South by Southeast festival.

We are excited to bring the South by Southeast Festival back on Aug. 21 at Bible Park, 6802 E. Yale Ave., with live music, a beer garden, food trucks, games, local vendors, nonprofits and more. With race and social justice as the theme, we will kick off the event with a 2021 Solidarity Walk around the park, and follow-up with diverse live music and performances including the Denver Municipal Jazz Band, The Bourbonites, Politiculture, a family from Venezuela who has recently migrated to Colorado and others. South by Southeast is a certifiably green event — attendees are encouraged to walk or ride to the event and to bring their own refillable water bottles. Beer will be served in reusable cups. Food will be served in compostable containers and our Waste Watchers will ensure that all waste is disposed of properly. Denver’s new Office of Climate Action, Sustainability and Resiliency will be onsite to distribute reusable shopping bags and share information about reducing waste and their other efforts. South by Southeast is free and everyone is welcome.

Sustainability is a top priority citywide. I continue to work on sustainability efforts including a new bill to reduce single-use plastic waste by requiring restaurants and delivery companies to ask customers to opt-in for cutlery, straws and condiments. Beginning on July 1, Denver’s Bring Your Own Bag program will kick off. Shoppers are encouraged to bring their own bags. Stores will charge a $0.10 fee for single-use plastic or paper bags.

Population growth has contributed to increased traffic and emissions. Reducing traffic and encouraging safe mobility options are another ongoing priority for me. We are looking forward to continued safety improvements on Hampden Avenue and around the Southmoor, Yale, Belleview and Colorado Light Rail Stations. I continue to advocate for more safety improvements at key street and trail crossings. The Near Southeast Neighborhood Planning Initiative will kick off this summer and will include neighborhoods along the Evans Avenue corridor. Residents will learn about the planning process and be able to provide input on how their community will evolve as Denver grows.

Our parks and trails are the soul of our corner of Denver. Exciting changes are coming to the High Line Canal including underpasses at Colorado Boulevard and Hampden connecting the Denver portion of the trail to Cherry Hills Village, a storm water pilot project that will bring much needed water to the trees along the trail, and a new bridge at Holly Street. A feasibility study is underway for another underpass at Holly and Yale. After years of waiting, the paths in Hampden Heights are being replaced. New playgrounds are coming to Bible and McWilliams parks, and the planning process for the new U-Hills North Park will kick off in 2022.

Denver and our world have changed so much in the past year, yet much of our work remains the same. City leaders care about every person and want to ensure that people are safe, healthy and housed. As we continue our citywide work on expanding affordable housing, increasing mobility options, maintaining a strong economy, expanding our green spaces and addressing climate issues, I hope that we will also continue our work to actively make Denver inclusive, welcoming and compassionate. We mustn’t lose the positive momentum for social change that was sparked last June.

Kendra Black represents District 4 on Denver City Council. She can be reached at kendra.black@denvergov.org. Learn more about what’s happening in District 4 by visiting denvergov.org/district4 and signing up for District 4’s monthly e-newsletter at bit.ly/southeastdenverscoop.

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