When 28-year-old Jevon Taylor took over Green Spaces, a co-working space in Denver’s Five Points neighborhood powered mostly by solar energy, his goal was to push beyond the typical definition of “environmentally friendly.”
“The whole goal since I’ve taken over Green Spaces is redefining what sustainability is — beyond saving the turtles and saving the trees,” said Taylor, now CEO of Green Spaces. “How do you retain talent in your community and create ecosystems? That’s what we’re doing now through our small business development and environmental work.”
The awards, along with the festival, are part of a growing list of commemorations of Juneteenth.
“Juneteenth” combines the words “June” and “nineteenth.” On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger issued an order proclaiming freedom for enslaved people in Texas — more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation had been signed.
Just a year ago, Colorado became the eighth state to formally recognize Juneteenth as a holiday. This year, 28 states and the District of Columbia will celebrate it, along with the federal government.
Building a community hub
Taylor was running a clothing store nearby when the former owner of Green Spaces noticed how Taylor had turned his business into a community hub. He sold Taylor the co-working space with the understanding he’d seek to do the same thing there. Taylor bought the building in January 2022, and hasn’t slowed down since.
“We host 11 local businesses,” Taylor said. “We have coffee shops, we have plant stores, small grocery stores, exotic snacks, candles, CBD products, a little bit of everything, [and the] majority of the vendors are minority-owned businesses.”
That’s what he calls the marketplace, located in the front of the building. Additionally, he rents out about 6,000 square feet of office space. Private offices cost from $1,200 to $2,400 a month, and people can also show up for one day, rent a desk or hang out in the lounge space, where they work without their own four walls for privacy.
The building has 160 solar panels on top, cutting the electricity bill down to almost nothing.
What he’s bringing to the block is what Juneteenth awards celebrate, according to Norman Harris, CEO of JMF Corporation and founder of the Juneteenth Music Festival.
“By honoring their accomplishments, we hope to foster a growing community of Juneteenth supporters and continue to uplift and empower the voices of our local leaders,” he said in a statement.
Other honorees include a leader in the cannabis industry to an ICU nurse and clinic director
In Denver, Juneteenth has long been a big deal, state and federal status notwithstanding. Celebrations, typically in Five Points, have revolved around music, celebratory foods, a parade and uplift.
The giving of awards was started in 2015 to recognize community members. This year, in addition to Taylor, the other award recipients are:
- John Bailey, founder of the Black Cannabis Equity Initiative (BCEI), an organization designed to create a bridge between the black community and the cannabis industry, who also created a Cannabis Business Accountability Report Card that will allow businesses to hold themselves accountable in inclusivity, according to a video interview.
- Patricia Duncan, freelance photographer whose body of work includes photographing former President Barack Obama
- Maisha Fields, an ICU nurse currently serving as deputy director of the DAWN (Dedicated to Aurora’s Wellness and Needs), a medical clinic in Aurora
- Allan Jordan and Roger Mack, whose responsibilities of handling trash removal at the festival has led to the composting and recycling of trash produced by the festival
- LaDawn Sullivan, creator and director of BRIC (Black Resilience in Colorado), which is part of an effort to provide reparations grants to Colorado-based black-owned businesses
- Elbra Wedgeworth, a longtime public servant who served on the Denver City Council, and worked for Mayor Wellington Webb’s administration, Denver Health and Denver Public Schools.
The awards ceremony will be Saturday, June 17, at 2 p.m. on the main stage at 25th and Welton Streets in Denver. That will be just part of the two-day event that continues until Sunday, which will also include a performance by Musiq, a parade, and a wide range of vendors.
Things to do in Denver: Juneteenth 2023 edition (via Denverite)
For Jevon Taylor, Juneteenth is not only a celebratory time, but a time as good as any other to pitch prospective tenants on his nearly-full eco-friendly co-working space, Green Spaces.
“We still have lounge memberships that are available ... we have some dedicated desk space that's available ... and we actually had one office open up last week,” Taylor said.
Editor’s Note: Due to an editing error, a previous version of this story incorrectly stated the date of the awards ceremony.
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