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Inspiring Conversations at the Community Active Living Summit

Updated: Feb 4, 2019

On Thursday, April 26, 2018, the Denver Community Active Living Coalition hosted the 2018 Community Active Living Summit at the Commons on Champa. The event was a free bilingual event for community residents, partners and community organizations. The event was successful with over 80 attendees, 19 volunteers and 25 local expert speakers. Participants had a chance to network, share knowledge, and inspire action towards safe, active, and healthy neighborhoods in Denver. The summit provided the Denver Community Active Living Coalition an opportunity to explore future opportunities, ideas and resources with like-minded community members and partners to sustain and move the active living work forward, with a vision that all Denver residents can have access to safe, vibrant places to walk, bike, ride transit, and play.

A very special thank you goes out to all of our volunteers, speakers, and sponsors for this event. Thank you Christian Steward from Be Real Fitness for being our emcee for the evening and providing a physical activity break during dinner! Sponsors also included Denver Department of Public Health and Environment (DDPHE), Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), American Heart Association, Commons on Champa, Denver Public Health, VeloFix Colorado, Bicycle Colorado, WalkDenver, Denver Animal Shelter, Denver Public Works, Car2Go, and DRCOG / MyWayToGo.

Opening Keynote: Norma Brambila The CALC Summit was opened up with an inspiring keynote from Norma Brambila, a long-time resident in the Westwood neighborhood of Denver and Spanish speaker. Norma told the story of how she became the community connector for the Security and Physical Space group of Westwood Unidos and led her community in working together to find solutions to combat obesity, graffiti, and concerns about safety that kept her community from being active and enjoying their neighborhood. She helped to form committees to listen to the needs and concerns of the community, which led to forming youth groups to ensure all voices were heard. Some of the most significant changes that she and her community made included cleaning up and beautifying alleys to make them a safe route for students to get to school, advocating for more community green space resulting in the creation of the Los Cuatros Vientos park, and training the community youth to fix bikes and starting a small bike library. As a result of these changes the community now enjoys being active and outside in their neighborhood through community walks, moonlit walks, and dance walks. Norma’s speech in Spanish and English interpretation were filmed on Facebook Live.

Session 1 Breakouts: A: Panel: Programming to increase walking and biking This session shared perspectives from four programs engaged in active living promotion around the city. AnaClaudia Magalhaes of Denver Safe Routes, Ryan McCann from Denver Public Works’ Bicycle Parking Program, Norma Brambila of Westwood Unidos, and Mo McCanna and Dylan Monke of the My Denver Bikes Program (2017). Panelists summarised their program and discussed successes and barriers related to funding, coordination, and the importance of effective outreach to sustain engagement for future programs. Attendees were able to ask panelists about their recommendations for future active living engagement efforts, and how their programs anticipate the impacts of upcoming GO Bond and city planning efforts for biking and walking infrastructure (see Denver Moves Bicycles and Denver Moves Pedestrians and Trails Plan). This session was filmed and can be viewed in its entirety on Facebook live.

B: Workshop: Data - How to Collect and Use it for Positive Change In this small group workshop, attendees learned from Jill Locantore of WalkDenver and Djuana Harvell and Sam Valeriano from be well Health & Wellness Initiative about different types of active living data that has been collected throughout the Metro Denver area. Attendees had an opportunity to ask the organizations about their data collection processes and discuss future data collection opportunities to inform policy change and decision making. Participants also learned how they can incorporate active living data collection and dissemination into their future projects.

C: Workshop: Youth Engagement & PYD During this small group session, participants learned about engaging youth from Shane Wright of GroundWork Denver, Rachael Durham of Empowerment Center of East County, and Lorin Scott-Okerblom of Colorado Dept. of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), who shared how their programs and organizations engage youth in their active living work. This session also included three youth (one from GroundWork Denver and two from Empowerment Center of East County) to share their insights of how programs can better engage youth and the importance of youth engagement. Attendees were able to ask the organizations and youth about their experiences of working with youth, why youth choose to engage and stayed engaged, and ways they could engage youth in their own work.

D: Walking: Sustainability Scavenger Hunt Photo Walk Led by Taylor Moellers, administrator of the Sustainable Neighborhoods Program through Denver Department of Public Health and Environment (DDPHE), and Maria Rose Galter, a Member-Owner and Walking Movement Leader for Walk2Connect, participants were led on a short walk past the light rail station, along 14th’s protected bike lane, through the theatre district’s pedestrian mall, and past Sculpture park. Attendees were given instant print cameras and a Scavenger Hunt form to look for and take pictures of things along the way. Walkers photographed a stencil painted on the ground at 14th and Champa asking pedestrians to stow their phones, unique art sculptures by Colombia's Fernando Botero in the theatre district, and the blue trees along the way. Taylor discussed interactions with sustainability, including Denver’s Energy rating system and that transportation and infrastructure are highest greenhouse gas producers in Denver.

Session 2 Breakouts: A: Panel: Health in All Policies and Vision Zero During this panel session, participants heard from five local experts in different areas of transportation and public health as they relate to health equity and Health in All Policies. Speakers included Dr. Nita Mosby Tyler of The Equity Project, Peter Manetta of Colorado Association of Local Public Health Professionals (CALPHO), Jill Locantore of WalkDenver, Michele Shimomura of Denver Department of Public Health & Environment (DDPHE), and Kimberly Ford of RTD. Participants learned how to define equity - from making sure everyone is allowed through the door (access) to making sure everyone gets to the door to begin with (equity). Participants enjoyed learning about the connection of transit and health equity, as well as the unanticipated challenges and outcomes associated with development and built environment changes, and how to address them proactively. A key takeaway was to enlist multi-sectoral collaborations in being accountable for health and equity in all policies, instead of just having public health drive the course. We must get at the root causes of health inequity, which is embedded into every system in our country, and collaborate with diverse partners to address them. This panel was filmed on Facebook Live and can be viewed here.

B: Workshop: Civic Engagement & Leadership During this small group session, participants engaged in rich discussions about how organizations, non-profits, and other groups can engage and empower community residents to become civic leaders and change agents around social justice and physical activity. Local experts from three community organizations - Shyretta Hudnell of be well Health & Wellnesss Initiative, Jessica Vargas of WalkDenver and Project Shift, and Benzel Jimmerson of Family Leadership Training Institute (FLTI) - shared civic leadership programming at each of their organizations. Attendees gained valuable insight to various approaches and strategies to engaging residents, communities and organizations in civic engagement and leadership opportunities.

C: Workshop Pop-Up Projects & Multi-Modal Planning During this small group session, participants heard from local experts Dan Raine of Denver Public Works, Piep Van Heuven of Bicycle Colorado, and Critter Thompson, project consultant. Participants learned about the Denver Moves plan for Broadway and Lincoln and the Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Committee (MBAC), and the pilot bike lane on South Broadway, including the process, tips for engagement, and key considerations. Attendees also discussed the Over the Colfax Clover project, addressing the intersection of Federal and Colfax in West Denver. He discussed the program goals to engage community in addressing the cloverleaf and activating the space into a better use for the community, and an upcoming event they are holding in one of the corners of the cloverleaf this June. Participants also discussed creating pop-ups and projects through the Denver Community Streets Program, maintained within Public Works.

D: Walking: Food Access Walk & Talk During this walking session, participants explored food accessibility in the downtown Denver area and discussed innovative strategies for increasing food access with Lindsay Saperstone of Denver Department of Public Health & Environment (DDPHE) and Maria Rose Galter of Walk2Connect. Walkers discussed the relationship between the built environment and food access and different barriers and potential solutions to increase the availability of fresh foods in urban areas and food deserts. At the only ‘grocery store’ in the area, Walgreens on 16th Street Mall, participants marveled that a pharmacy could offer fresh healthy products, and how this sets a model for other non-traditional grocers to do the same. Lindsay explained Denver’s Healthy Corner Stores program and new mobile grocer pilot programs, two innovative programs aiming to do just that.

Closing Keynote: Dr. Nita Mosby Tyler Dr. Nita Mosby Tyler, Chief Catalyst, of The Equity Project, LLC. shared her wisdom, passion, and advice on how we can continue to work together to build equity, diversity, and inclusion in our programs, policies, and systems. She discussed her experience as a Diversity Trainer in the 1980’s and how we “went a little sideways” with diversity during that time by saying diversity was everything that wasn’t white and that diversity was only people of color and their oppressions. These travesties of the 1980’s have led to confusion around the definitions of diversity, inclusion, and equity; and we need to fix the definition of diversity because diversity is all of us. Race is only one part of the diversity definition; it is not the definition. Dr. Mosby Tyler went on to state that “It is about the richness and beauty of all of our differences,” and that what we do next in our projects, programs, and policies matters, as equity cannot be advanced if racism is still in place. Lastly, she reminded attendees that it is not any one person’s job to collapse the entire system, but that each and every one of us is doing an important piece of that equity work. Even though we may not ever see the end result of our work, just as the great cathedral builders never saw the end result of their work. If you are interested in hearing Dr. Nita Mosby Tyler’s closing in its entirety, it was recorded on Facebook Live.

Glow Walk: Participants reflected on the lessons from the Summit and the connections between walking and community on a post-summit Glow Walk. Led by Maria Rose Galter of Walk2Connect and Sedona Allen of Denver Public Health, attendees took a bilingual nighttime walk from the Commons on Champa along the Cherry Creek Trail and the Sculpture Park, complete with glow sticks, music, and dancing.

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