News Briefs: Census workers reach out to Denver’s fringe communities

Published January 2010 Vol. 14 Issue 1

The U.S. Census Bureau is making efforts to reach out to the Denver Metro Area’s immigrant and homeless populations, hoping to encourage these groups to participate in the 2010 census, which will begin in March. Since census numbers determine everything from funding for schools and social programs to how many seats each state will get in the House of Representatives, it is important to include new immigrants and other groups traditionally wary of government in the census count.

The Census Bureau is using many avenues to dispel any fear people might have of working with them. Some Spanish-speaking radio stations, for example, will begin airing folk songs about the census. Telemundo has partnered with the U.S. Census Bureau to add a Census Bureau recruiter character to Mas Sabe El Diablo (The Devil Knows Best), one of the station’s most popular soap operas. The Census Bureau is also looking for interpreters that speak the languages of Bhutan, Burma and Somalia to help immigrants fill out census forms.

Census workers are also hoping to reach more of Denver’s homeless population this year. Officials began working a year ago with various homeless outreach programs to identify street hangouts. The workers will also be canvassing hotels and motels in an effort to connect with as many homeless citizens as they can.

-- Sarah Harvey

Art Feature: Drippy Bone Books- Art zines, subculture, & the future of humor publishing

Published January 2010 Vol. 14 Issue 1

by Travis Egedy

In this digital age of hypermedia and endless consumption of temporary, throw-away culture, Drippy Bone Books are a breath of fresh air. Drippy Bone Books is first and foremost a publisher of underground zines, handmade Xeroxed art objects that carry their signature style of pop culture collage and child like drawings. Each copy is a thing of personal touch, love and care, a touch that is becoming increasingly foreign in mass-produced culture.  Started by local Denver artists Kristy Foom and Mario Zoots, Drippy Bone is now based out of Amsterdam and Los Angeles as well, allowing a large mass of zine fans and appreciators to rabidly snatch up everything this extremely creative collective spits out. With zine titles such as “Whore Eyes,” “Sonic Bonk,” and “Bronze Legs” the collective have a playful approach to what they do, never taking themselves too seriously.  I spoke with Mario Zoots and Kristy Foom about building community through art, what it’s like to be making your own books just for the love of doing it.    

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Feature: The Resolute Shepherd

Published January 2010 Vol. 14 Issue 1

In the rugged hinterlands of Colorado, a Sheepherder has gone off the beaten path in a fight against one of Colorado’s lowest paying industries.

text and images by Jacob Ripple-Carpenter

Note: Employee names in this article were changed or omitted at their request for fear of reprisal.

Mentions of Western American culture conjure up images of corrals and Stetson hat-wearing cowboys with belt buckles the size of dinner plates riding broncos and bulls for eight seconds to the wild cheers of fans. You think of wide-open vistas, desert canyons, or mountains stretching as far as the eye can see.

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Local Buzz: Schooling Shelters

Published January 2010 Vol. 14 Issue 1

text by Michael Neary

photography by Adrian DiUbaldo

Living at the Salvation Army Lambuth Center in Denver, Luz Hernandez and her two children face some uncertainty about their future. But uncertainty and all, their lives clearly feel better to them than they did last spring.

About six months ago, Hernandez was holding down two jobs while the family lived in a Westminster apartment. The jobs—part of an effort to emerge from a deepening financial trench—left little time for Hernandez to spend with her daughter Lesley Velasquez, 13, and her son Adrian Velasquez, 12.

“I would hardly see them,” she said.

Hernandez, who spoke quietly, seemed to relish the time she could now spend with her children.

Hernandez talked about her move to the shelter as her son worked on lessons in a tutoring program begun this year by Denver Public Schools. Luz said her daughter, who wasn’t at the shelter that afternoon, would also be taking up the lessons. With wooden floors and modest but comfortable chairs, the shelter is an inviting place, and the moods of the families staying there seemed serene.

The children at the shelter are studying in ways they wouldn’t have been able to a year ago. DPS started the tutoring program where Adrian was learning with federal funds made available by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The ARRA funds are part of a big increase in federal dollars available to Colorado public schools to help homeless students this year—but the problem itself is growing at a daunting pace.

Adrian Velasquez, 12, works on a math worksheet at the Lambuth Center.

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News Briefs: Use of capital punishment on the decline

Published January 2010 Vol. 14 Issue 1

Fewer death sentences were issued in 2009 than any year since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, according to a year-end report released by the Death Penalty Information Center, a non-profit, nonpolitical group that provides facts and analysis, as well as opposition to the practice of capital punishment.

The number of death sentences in the U.S. has been on the decline for the past seven years. Eleven states, including Colorado, considered abolishing the death penalty in 2009. With many states facing severe budget issues, the cost of capital punishment has become increasingly important. Even Texas, which traditionally tops state lists for both number of executions and number of death sentences issued, has seen a decrease in the use of the death penalty over the past decade.

Since 1973, over 100 people facing death sentences have been exonerated.

-- Sarah Harvey

News Briefs: Housing development creates homes, jobs for homeless

Published January 2010 Vol. 14 Issue 1

The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless and Renaissance Housing Development Corporation is constructing a new, mixed income housing development at the northwest corner of Colfax and Pearl. The building, called the Renaissance Uptown Lofts, will provide at least 16 units for chronically homeless individuals, as well as affordable rent apartments for people at or below certain percentages of area median income.

The Renaissance Uptown Lofts will be the first construction built by the newly formed Renaissance Works Job Program, which will employ homeless individuals to work as construction laborers. The number of people employed at this development and the types of jobs available were unknown as of press time.

In addition, the Renaissance Uptown Lofts will be compliant with Green Communities’ guidelines. They will feature photovoltaic solar panels, Energy Star rated appliances, enhanced insulation and healthy interior materials.

-- Sarah Harvey

Local Buzz: Mentors instead of cell mates

Published January 2010 Vol. 14 Issue 1

Colorado Springs non-profits find alternatives to prison for juvenile offenders.

by Chris Bolte

Robert ran away from home at age 17, dropped out of school and couch surfed throughout the Colorado Springs area for four months. He was reluctant to talk about what, exactly, he did, so left it at he “got into trouble” and found himself in a treatment program through the Division of Youth Corrections. Through this program he was able to attain his GED and get started on a new path.

His circumstances are not at all uncommon.  Dropping out of school has ramifications for young adults; idle time, isolation and even being cut off from many services provided for those still attending school. It can be a recipe for bad decisions.

Minor charges specific to youth are things like truancy or running away from home, gateway crimes.  Some youth continue on this track to more serious crimes.  They can be sent to the Division of Youth Corrections or, even worse, adult prison.

From there, if a youth returns to the same peers upon release, the same temptations to commit crimes and return to the system all over again are all but inevitable.  This is what we have come to know as the recidivism problem.

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