Five years of advocating for safe streets in Denver
By Jessica Vargas, Denver Streets Partnership, Program Manager
When I started working for WalkDenver in 2016, we were a small team working on making Denver the most walkable city in the country. Such an ambitious goal could never be accomplished without like-minded partners to help us reach it. Now as I’m preparing to move on from the Denver Streets Partnership (formerly WalkDenver) and return to my hometown, I’ve had some time to reflect on the partnerships that made my job so meaningful. One of our strongest partnerships has been with the Denver Community Active Living Coalition. I was always excited to get to work with the CALC team not just because I wanted to learn more about how they combined public health with active transportation and community engagement, but also because our work together always involved something fun.
One of my first experiences with CALC was helping organize a series of community street art projects with residents of three different neighborhoods. We had so much fun working on these intersection murals and artistic trail wayfinding projects that they’ve now become a regular part of CALC’s line-up of community activities. This creativity in finding ways to connect with people about active living in their neighborhoods has been at the heart of the many projects we’ve worked on together since then. As another CALC alum put it, “people make the place, not the other way around.”
Whether we were painting in the middle of the street, riding bikes with community members showing us around their neighborhoods, taking counts of kids walking to school, dancing in support of safer streets, hauling out plants and colorful tires for some pop-up traffic calming, or supporting community-led projects at a social distance, working with CALC was one of the highlights of my time with DSP. Thank you to the amazing CALC staff and coalition members for their support, energy, and positivity - and keep up the good work!