Colorado’s Poet Laureate Shows Us Around North Denver, Giant Eyeballs Cross Speer And More Photos From The Week

September 6, 2019
Colorado Poet Laureate Bobby LeFebre sits under the kiosko at La Raza (Columbus) Park in north Denver on Aug. 15, 2019. Colorado Poet Laureate Bobby LeFebre sits under the kiosko at La Raza (Columbus) Park in north Denver on Aug. 15, 2019. Xandra McMahon/CPR News
Colorado Poet Laureate Bobby LeFebre sits under the kiosko at La Raza (Columbus) Park in north Denver on Aug. 15, 2019.

On a walk through Colorado Poet Laureate Bobby LeFebre’s north Denver neighborhood, he can point out the exact path he used to take as a child to get from his home in Sunnyside to his grandparents’ house only a few streets over. Colorado Matters producer Xandra McMahon tagged along with microphone and camera.

“I’d run down the block here,” said the state’s first poet laureate of color, and its youngest ever, while driving through the neighborhood he still lives in today. “I went to middle school here at Horace Mann. Yeah, so that’s where I fell in love with arts and culture actually.” See the full story here.

And on with our favorite photos of the week.


The USAFA Chapel Gets Ready For Rehab

1908730 USAFA CHAPELDan Boyce/CPR News
The United States Air Force Academy chapel on Aug. 30, 2019.

Reporter Dan Boyce got a look inside The Cadet Chapel at the United States Air Force Academy — touted as the most-visited building in Colorado — right before it closed for at least four years of extensive renovation. Shortcuts in the original construction have plagued the building since it was completed in 1963.


Doing Good In A Denver Dojo

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Sensei Gaku Homma leads a squad of Nepali soldiers as they feed unhoused Denverites on the Auraria campus, Aug. 18, 2019.

Diners who visit Domo, the Japanese restaurant in La Alma/Lincoln Park, seem to pass into another dimension when they enter into its lush, meticulously planted garden. The building was once a mattress warehouse surrounded by empty fields, but it’s long been transformed to look like a traditional Japanese home.

This is a place to learn martial arts, to train soldiers, to experience culture, to eat. It’s also home to Homma, a worldwide charity operation. Domo’s plurality is part of a broader philosophical agenda, which Homma calls “Engaged Budoism.” Denverite's Kevin Beaty has more photos and the story here.


Fracking With Nukes

rulison-50Jim Hill/CPR News
Judy Beasley, who has a long history in Parachute, Colo., shares memories of nuclear fracking, from her home, Aug. 27, 2019.
rulison-50Jim Hill/CPR News
The metal plaque that marks Surface Ground Zero of the Rulison blast that took place Sept. 10, 1969.

On Sept. 10, 1969, six and a half miles south of Rulison, Colorado, a 40-kiloton nuclear device exploded in the subterranean depths of the Piceance Basin. More than twice as powerful as the weapon at Hiroshima and with muscle equivalent to 40,000 tons of TNT, it was an unorthodox tool in a grand experiment to free natural gas and kickstart a boom. The nuclear age wanted to give the oil and gas age a hand up. Reporter Grace Hood has the full story, with photos by digital editor Jim Hill.


CDOT Wants You To Gaze Into These Eyes

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Katie Clements, a CDOT eyeball, stands at a Speer Boulevard corner to promote eye contact awareness, Sept. 4, 2019.

Via David Sachs and Kevin Beaty at Denverite: Research suggests that eye contact creates a powerful psychological connection between humans that can extend to street safety. However, CDOT spokesman Sam Cole said the department cannot measure how effective the eyeball masks, the walk-sign-suit guy or other campaigns are at changing behavior and saving lives. Actors with giant eyeball masks repeatedly crossed Speer Boulevard at Larimer Street on Wednesday to draw attention to the idea.


Welcome To High Altitude Aviation Training

HAATS High Altitude Aviation Training Site Eagle Army National GuardHart Van Denburg/CPR News
The Army National Guard's High Altitude Aviation Training Site in Eagle County schools helicopter crews from all U.S. service branches in the high-risk skill of managing their aircraft in the thin air over mountainous terrain. A HAATS Black Hawk helicopter approaches Pyramid Peak, left, and the Maroon Bells outside of Aspen on Aug. 13, 2019.
HAATS High Altitude Aviation Training Site Eagle Army National GuardHart Van Denburg/CPR News
HAATS Commander Lt. Col. Britt Reed straps in aboard a Black Hawk helicopter for a flight to Aspen on Aug. 13, 2019.
HAATS High Altitude Aviation Training Site Eagle Army National GuardHart Van Denburg/CPR News
A Virginia National Guard crew practiced landings in the White River National Forest between Gypsum and Aspen on Aug. 13, 2019.

Out of a nondescript brick building on the north side of the Eagle County Regional Airport, HAATS a one-of-a-kind military schoolhouse: the High Altitude Army National Guard Aviation Training Site. Washington D.C. reporter Caitlin Kim, and photographer Hart Van Denburg saw some of that schooling, from the back seat of a Black Hawk helicopter.

HAATS began in the 1980s as Vietnam-era aviators saw a need to train younger pilots flying in high, hot and heavy environments. The school became official in 1995. Since then, week-long classes are held between 30-45 times a year, training across 1 million acres of public land.


Holy Houses For The Poor

Rev. Jennifer S. Leath prays before her sermon at Campbell Chapel AME Church on a Sunday morning Aug. 11, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

The Interfaith Alliance of Colorado has been working since March of 2018 to persuade places of worship across the state to help address the affordable housing crisis. The idea has been pursued in the Bay Area and other parts of the country, with some coining the term YIGBY, for “yes in God’s backyard,” as an answer to NIMBY — “not in my backyard.” Denverite's Donna Bryson takes a look at developments in Denver.


Is Public Art Having A Moment Across Colorado?

Stephanie Wolf/CPR News
A mural by Armando Silva on the side of L.A Eatery in Granby.
Stephanie Wolf/CPR News
A crew installs Douwe Blumberg’s “Zephyr in Triptych” at a traffic roundabout in Superior on Aug. 2, 2019.
Stephanie Wolf/CPR News
One of the murals painted for the RKY MTN WALLS festival in Granby.

Duragoans remember “Arc of History,” the contentious public piece mounted at a busy intersection that eventually met its demise at the hands of vandals. Breckenridge’s trail troll was re-homed after its original location gave neighbors some headaches. Luis Jiménez’s “Blue Mustang” at Denver International Airport (aka Blucifer) and John McEnroe’s red, lumpy obelisk known as “National Velvet" still get doubletakes.

In Granby, the RKY MTN WALLS festival in June highlighted the artwork of more than a dozen muralists. It sparked a debate about what kind of art should go up and who gets to choose it. The town plans to establish a public art committee and the Board of Trustees will select the seven members at its Sept. 10 meeting. See more photos and the full report from Steph Wolf here.


Up On The (Green) Roof

Keivn J. Beaty/Denverite
Mike Spade releases a bunch of lady beetles into his crops at Larimer Uprooted, the garden above Larimer Square. Aug. 17, 2019.

By 8:30 a.m., the digging had only just begun and the sun was already beating down on Ed Kennedy’s felt green hat. Up here, six stories above Larimer Square, even the morning heat can be intense. It’s a challenge most farms don’t have to deal with.

As Denverite's Kevin Beaty reports, there are a lot of things growing above Larimer Square. And it’s not just vegetables in the 40 planter boxes that have replaced parking spots atop the garage. The elevated farm, dubbed Larimer Uprooted, is a testing ground for what rooftop agriculture could look like in the city.


Polis Recall Supporters Fall Short

190906 POLIS RECALL PETITIONS FALL SHORTHart Van Denburg/CPR News
Supporters of a petition effort to recall Gov. Jared Polis fall short of the needed number of signatures to get on the November ballot.Supporters unload boxes of signed peitions Friday Sept. 6, 2019 on the steps of the state Capitol.
190906 POLIS RECALL PETITIONS FALL SHORTHart Van Denburg/CPR News
Karen Kataline, a spokeswoman for Dismiss Polis, the group behind an effort to recall the governor, talks to reporters Friday Sept. 6, 2019 on the steps of the state Capitol.
190906 POLIS RECALL PETITIONS FALL SHORTHart Van Denburg/CPR News
Sheena Kadi of One Colorado asks a question of Karen Kataline, a spokeswoman for Dismiss Polis.

The mountain to climb to collect enough signatures to get a recall of Democratic Gov. Jared Polis on the ballot was always a tall one. Recall supporters had to wait for Polis to be in office for six months, get the petition approved and then collect 631,000 signatures. On Friday, organizers announced they collected only half of what they need. See Bente Birkelend's full story here.