This week we’re talking about how to get involved in your community on the ground floor, where change actually happens. Our local podcast friend and journalist Bree Davies from CityCast joins us and it’s a great conversation you don’t want to miss!
This is Joy & Claire Episode 68: Getting Involved
Episode Date: April 1, 2021
Audio Length: 56:36 minutes
Joy: Hey guys, this is Joy.
Claire: And this is Claire.
Joy: And this is Joy and Claire, not Wayne’s World. This episode, we’re going to talk everything local. It’s all about Denver because we have a special guest on the show that knows Denver really well. Welcome Bree Davies.
Bree: Hi, thank you for having me.
Joy: You’re welcome. I feel like we could just make this whole episode about – people message us all the time and they want to know about my skincare routine. They want to know about Denver and where to go in Denver, and “I’m coming to Denver.” We just need to do an entire podcast episode about things to do in Denver. So it’s kind of nice to have you on because tell the audience what you do and your podcast.
Bree: Sure. I’m the host of City Cast Denver. We’re a brand new daily news podcast. We’re starting out slowly with every other day, but the first week of April we will be Monday through Friday, 15 minutes every morning. A little bit of news, so you’ll get some headlines and things to talk about throughout the day, and then we’ll do a longer conversation with somebody related to a topic in Denver. It could be anything from upcoming city council legislation to a restaurant opening or closing to a festival coming to town to an art opening or to a historical event. Really, anything related to Denver. And the idea is to connect with Denverites, whether you’ve been here six months or six generations and find something interesting for you to walk away with from the podcast every day that says, “Oh, I learned something new about Denver.”
Joy: Yeah, truly, even if you don’t live here, it’s a really good listen. I’ve listened to all your episodes. And just taking a step back for a second, you have a background in journalism, yes?
Joy: So tell the listeners a little bit more about you and your career. Your evolution.
Bree: Yes. I know, my friend Jessie says, “I have a face for radio” is what she says about herself. And I think that about myself too sometimes because I didn’t think I would end up in this space. I’ve been a print journalist for over a decade and a half. The Denver Post used to have a blog called Reverb, which was music coverage, turned into The Know. I did show reviews for them in the mid-2000s.
Joy: I love The Know.
Bree: I do too. I’m an arts and entertainment journalist, is really where I started.
Joy: Okay, great.
Bree: That’s the community I know the best. I grew up in the arts community here in Denver. My parents are avid supporters of local artists, musicians, visual artists. I grew up going to art openings and all sorts of things, so I’ve just been involved. I was in band. I’ve hosted and produced and organized several music and art festivals throughout the city. Where my heart really started in journalism was covering that community and being a part of that community. I really got my footing with Westward. I think around 2010 I started writing for them. I wrote a weekly, it was like an online column called Reality Bites, and it started out as a column –
Joy: I love that. Reality Bites. And for listeners who aren’t in Denver, Westward is kind of like the local –
Bree: It’s our alternative weekly paper.
Bree: So alternative weekly papers used to be prolific. They were everywhere across the country. Everybody had their own.
Joy: Oh my God, our was – I grew up in Arizona, and everyone in Arizona’s probably screaming at me, but I just remember in college picking it up and I loved it.
Bree: We had the famous New Times for sure.
Joy: We had the New Times for sure, and there was another one.
Bree: I’m sure there were tons.
Joy: Yeah. And I just remember this columnist who would do like an advice column, or she would do a funny article about the week about just some topic or restaurant. It was just hilarious. Laurie Notaro – do you know her?
Bree: I don’t.
Joy: Or have you heard of her? If anyone out there who knows Laurie Notaro, she goes way back. She’s written a ton of books. But yeah, I love that vibe. So yes, continue.
Bree: Yeah, the alt weekly vibe is definitely where I found my voice because they let me really write about whatever I wanted. The column started out as… my first story was about getting diarrhea in yoga class and then accidentally telling my friend’s husband on Facebook, not her, because they had the same picture. I mean, this is 2010.
Claire: “I’m sorry about that time I told everyone you had diarrhea in Barnes and Noble. And I’m sorry for repeating it again now.”
Bree: It’s like a thing you would tell your friend about, right?
Joy: Of course you’ll tell your friend. Of course you’ll tell your friend.
Claire: That’s amazing. How did her husband respond, I have to know?
Bree: He didn’t respond. She responded to me and was like, “You said that to my husband,” and I was like, “Sorry.” So I just wrote a story about it because this is what Westward let me do. They let me go free.
Claire: They’re like, “Yes, please talk about diarrhea.”
Bree: And write crazy things. But it got picked up readership. I think part of it was talking about things that people experience. The column eventually evolved into more stories about the city because I was writing about the city changing, new development, things getting knocked down, businesses disappearing, feelings I was having about what was going on in the city. Because of that, I started getting more involved with civic issues, and that’s kind of how I got into this niche of Denver. I didn’t initially set out to write about Denver because I think sometimes when you’re from somewhere, you’re just like, “I can’t wait to get out of here kind of thing.”
Joy: Yes, for sure. Yeah, that was me. In Arizona, I was like, “I’m getting out of here.”
Bree: Yeah. I did it. I lived in New York for a year. It was a fantastic experience. I came back to Denver for several other reasons, but when I got back I was like this is a really special place and I have a natural expertise about it. Just you know, you grow up somewhere, you just know about it.
Joy: Yeah, you know the ins and outs, yeah.
Bree: Yeah. So I just parlayed that into this career of advocacy and education and engaging other people in conversations about Denver. Because if there’s anything that I want to do with the work that I do, it’s get other people involved in civic issues, in social justice issues, in neighborhood-level issues. And that’s kind of what I did with this column. And then I also for the last five years was the host for PBS 12’s Sounds on 29th, which was a music and comedy show, and I got to talk to musicians again. I’ve always been rooted in music, but the advocacy side and my interest in Denver just became a natural thing and eventually that came into this podcast, City Cast Denver. They were looking for a host. I was interviewing for the job not realizing that’s what I was doing. Which I wish everybody could do that. If you didn’t know – do you know what I mean?
Joy: That’s the best thing ever.
Bree: If you didn’t know the job description of what you were applying for, you act more natural.
Joy: You absolutely act more natural. So City Cast, is it a city-wide thing or is this just Denver?
Bree: We’re our own media company at this point. We have a show in Denver and a show in Chicago. So we’re specific to Denver right now, and Chicago has its own team and its own show specific to Chicago. Eventually it will branch out to other cities as well. But right now for our coverage, we focus on Denver, but like anything in the Denver metro area, we end up covering things – like, unfortunately the shooting in Boulder, of course we’re going to talk about that because that impacts our community. So our focus is really, we’re hyper focused on Denver but understanding that larger metro area is part of the place that we cover.
Joy: Right, right. And I listened to the episode about how those are the things that are going to happen where you just went on and you were like, I can’t cover anything else today. There’s a shooting that happened in Boulder and just kind of the sad situation that we have living in Colorado of a history of shootings.
Joy: And you kind of referenced a moment after the Aurora shooting of you were on stage doing a music festival, and tell the listeners what you said because I have a follow-up question.
Bree: Yeah, sure. So I was playing the underground music showcase with my band Night of Joy, and it had just happened. Someone from backstage was like, “Hey, this happened. Can you say something or have a moment of silence?” When you’re thrown that information, you’re first of all thrown information about something really tragic happening, and then you’re the guy with the microphone in front of a room full of people.
Joy: Like they’re expecting you to address it or maybe not address it, and if you don’t address it they’re like, “What an asshole?”
Bree: Yeah, for not addressing it – I mean, this was like 2012. I wasn’t in the space that I am now as a person that works on civic and social issues. It was just me as a guy in a band who has the microphone, so you’ve got to say something. I said something like – God, what did I say? It was like, “If you could think about someone else other than yourself for a moment, that would be great.” I would love to go back and say something else.
Joy: I actually like that.
Joy: Yeah. When you were like, “I wish I could go back and I’m really mad that that’s out there and that’s what I said” because it’s short and sweet, and what are you going to do? Have this huge talk about whatever?
Joy: It’s just kind of like, “Yeah, think of others. Think of someone else today.”
Bree: It’s weird because you don’t want to make this moment about yourself, but you’re inherently coming from a –
Joy: But you know other people are thinking about it.
Bree: Yeah. Where you’re like, all of the sudden I’m in charge of how this room of people is going to feel and remember this experience. That’s the other thing, remembering that experience forever. We remember where we were when kind of things.
Joy: Yeah, and that’s something that you referenced in one of the recent episodes where you’re like, “We have so many moments of ‘I remember when…’ I remember when I heard about this. I remember when this happened. I remember where I was when I heard about 9/11” or whatever it is that’s tragedy that happened. Who was the guest that you had on in that episode? Because I really liked her.
Bree: Her name is Leigh Paterson, and she is a reporter for KUNC, which is a public radio station here in Colorado, and she had spent two years reporting on guns in America. So we thought how could we add to this conversation by maybe just contextualizing what gun violence means and looks like in Colorado. Because, like she said, mass shootings are this very tiny percentage but get a lot of coverage for obvious reasons. But throughout the year, we’re also seeing gun violence happen in neighborhoods across – you know, my neighborhood that we happened to have a high instance of gun violence on the west side of Denver, and it doesn’t get covered in the same way. It just doesn’t.
Joy: No, yeah.
Bree: We were trying to figure out, what sort of angle can we bring to this conversation that’s a little bit different than what everyone else is offering so that we can add to the conversation.
Joy: Right. And then you’re not taking some polarizing view and then we’re getting into the weeds about gun control or whatever other things can we do.
Bree: This doesn’t seem like the time.
Joy: No, it doesn’t seem like the time. So I think she did such a good job, and you did such a good job too.
Bree: Thank you.
Joy: You’re a really good reporter. Just vocal-wise too of being a very clear communicator about how this is very important to us, and let’s just talk some facts. Because what I think gets so lost is the emotion, understandably so. We all just want to come into it with emotion, and it’s really hard to be objective at the same time when you’re in that moment. And then we just end up not listening to each other.
Bree: Right, right. Because it becomes political automatically. Which I understand why it’s political. Absolutely. We’re dealing with legal rights of citizens, but also the legal right to live.
Joy: So as a journalist and with that background, talk to us a little bit about the ethics of journalism and how you approach really typical topics like that when perhaps your views are really, really… skewed to one way?
Bree: Sure. It’s interesting because like I said I’ve been an arts reporter for a long time where politics doesn’t necessarily intersect with the conversation as much as other topics. It’s inherently political. Everything is political that involves human beings. And art is political in itself. For instance, there was an investigation into the founder of the Crush Walls Festival here in Denver over allegations of sexual assault. And I’m very close to a lot of the women that participate in this sort of street art graffiti community and scene. It was before we had started the show that we did some practice runs. And it was like, if we were going to cover this, how would we cover it? To me, I had to say, well I would have to be upfront. Because I’m very upfront with my views on how I feel on – I’m biased in this certain sense. I’ve seen the graffiti scene and the street art scene from the inside as being an inside but also an observer of it, and I just have very strong feelings about the festival itself and how it represented artists, particularly women. So the way that I approach these stories is I try to bring my honest perspective while also allowing for our guest or whoever we’re having on express their opinions in a way that I’m not butting heads with them. I’m giving them space to say their thing. Like today, our show was about scooters and bike share in Denver, and I’m not a huge fan. Part of it is I work within the disability community, a lot just by proxy of my friend group. And scooters and bike share tend to take up a lot of sidewalk space that –
Joy: So much sidewalk space, especially downtown where you’re needing to get around and if you’re in a wheelchair it’s a nightmare.
Bree: Forget it. And so it’s an access issue. But the guest that we had on really helped me see, well, we need to give up some of the space that we have for cars and put it towards these other, what she calls “micro mobility” options, like scooters and bikes, and then it would get it off the sidewalk and then we could have that conversation about the sidewalks being safer. So the approach also I take with my conversations with people is I’m learning as much as the audience and lister is learning as well. My ethical stance is just be open and honest about where you are and then listen to the person that you brought on, and maybe you take something from that conversation. Because often times I am swayed after I’ve listened to somebody share their side.
Joy: I was just going to say, do you ever get a different opinion after someone – I mean, how can you not? Because here’s the other thing, I wish everyone had that experience at some level of interviewing someone. And I’m probably speaking for myself too. I’ll have very strong opinions on this show that can be pretty polarizing or just come across like I’m close-minded. Or not close-minded. Just like I think if I were to sit down with some of the things that I criticize and have an honest conversation, that would be completely different. And I think that’s true for a lot of things. When you’re face-to-face having a conversation, it’s completely different. It’s so much easier to “hate far away.” Or it’s easy to hate far away and it’s hard to hate up close. I just think that that’s a really beautiful thing and probably gives you a much better perspective on a lot of big issues.
Bree: Yeah, and that brings me back. I forgot to mention in my career of journalism. In 2018, I started a podcast called Hello? Denver? Are You Still There? And the purpose was exactly what you’re talking about. It was to get people in front of each other, having conversations that are tough. Because when we have to face each other, it’s so more likely that we’re going to have a productive conversation about an issue than if we are battling it out on the internet. Like if we’re just chatting back and forth.
Claire: So. I know, I’m trying to raise my hand. I feel like one thing that I at least feel a lot lately, when we’re trying to have conversations about difficult topics, is the sort of push to – don’t let someone get away with thinking they’re incorrect thoughts. Don’t just walk away from a topic. Don’t just let them believe that – keep pushing, keep having the hard conversations. Sort of that narrative of don’t look away, don’t turn away. And I find that that’s such a hard balance to achieve when you are recording and you do want to have a productive conversation, but you also want to in the same way take the opportunity to really stand firm in what you believe. And of course, there are some things where maybe your difference of opinion is either, not to throw out the most hot-button topic, but abortion rights. That’s something we’ve talked about. And I can come to it by saying, listen, I don’t believe that fetuses are humans. I don’t think human rights start at conception, but I can completely understand why someone would and I can completely understand that that is an opinion that is going to be at odds with mine that I cannot argue with. It’s not an incorrect opinion. It is informed by your lived experience and your beliefs that are not fact-based. And neither are mine. Versus another discussion might be around racism or around gun rights or things where it feels like there’s more hard and fast fact to say, “No, this is really happening,” or, “No, this is really a problem” while also creating space for someone to be like, “Well, I don’t see it that way.” How do you approach that?
Bree: It’s hard. It’s really hard. But what I’ve found is when people are fact to face, the other aspect you don’t have is when you’re online, we’re just by nature angrier for some reason.
Joy: We’re so much angrier. So much angrier. I don’t know what it is about being behind a keyboard where you can just let it roll.
Bree: There’s psychology around it. And you have all this time to like, “I’m going to get my retort together and I’m going to have all the facts” and that’s not real conversations.
Joy: No. “I’m going to post this article.”
Bree: That no one’s going to read, so.
Joy: You don’t have to face the person face-to-face and see their actual humanness.
Bree: Changes everything. It still can be hard. You still can be completely in your beliefs, and the person you’re talking to will stay in their beliefs. But I’ve found most times it changes enough that you can at least empathize with that person, versus online we just don’t empathize with each other. It’s very difficult because the communication is so calculated. It’s like, “I’m going to say this.” When you’re in person, you can’t do that.
Joy: No. You’re having a back-and-forth conversation, you can’t sit and think. I guess you could sit and Google –
Bree: Be like, “Hold on, I’m going to go get some links.”
Joy: Yeah. You could sit there and Google articles I suppose, but –
Claire: “Delete, delete, delete. I didn’t mean to say it that way.” I do think in some ways that can be beneficial because you do have the ability to really think through what you’re going to say instead of just reacting. However, on the flip side of the authenticity of that, sometimes giving yourself time you just add fuel to the fire.
Bree: Totally, totally. It can totally blow up in your face too. I did a show once about food insecurity and the older notion of food banks verses food sovereignty and food access. And my mother-in-law was in the audience and she worked for The Salvation Army decades earlier, and she had a very different and distinct view of the good of food banks, and my guests didn’t like the way that food banks were run and the felt like there was no freedom of choice, and it got really heated. And my mother-in-law started crying at my live show, I felt so bad. But it helped us to have a conversation afterward as well that I never had with her before. I didn’t know how she felt about food insecurity or her work in that field, and she’d done it for a long time. But it wouldn’t have come out if we weren’t having this conversation in a forum where she could get up and say, “Hey, wait. I don’t agree with this.”
Claire: I feel like my lesson from that would be don’t invite your mother-in-law to your live shows.
Bree: She’s the most genuinely sweet person too, so to see her crying at my show, I was like I feel horrible that this is the first one she comes to and this is what happens.
Claire: I could see that happening with Joy’s mom. We always talk about Joy’s mom being like Snow White.
Joy: She’s the nicest.
Claire: So pure.
Joy: And so pure.
Claire: That would be so sad. I’m glad she stuck with it though.
Bree: She did, and she didn’t take it personally. You know what I mean. We were able to have a conversation later. She’s a really wonderful, just a really loving – and she has this sweet naiveness about her that’s just like, “I just like people and I want to help people.” So it was good too for my cynicism I think to meet up with that just sweetness too a little bit. It was just one of those moments where I’m like, why am I doing this show? Making my mother-in-law cry in public. What the fuck?
Joy: I know a lot of your work too – and you mentioned this earlier, and I’d love you to talk about this more for our listeners – of how can people be more involved in their communities. I love this podcast for the highlight on what is going on in our communities. I think that when we have these huge national, sometimes worldly issues, such as in the United States gun control, abortion, those big, big, passionate issues that people have strong opinions about, I think sometimes we forget that change really starts on the ground where you are.
Joy: So talk a little bit more about what people can do in their own communities that you’ve seen has the biggest impact.
Bree: I mean, it can be something as simple as joining your neighborhood organization. So neighborhood organizations have a lot of sway and power in local politics, but it really depends on who’s operating that neighborhood association and who is representing your neighborhood. And they deal with things like there may be a new development coming into your neighborhood and you don’t know enough about it or you’re like, “Oh, it’s going to increase traffic” or “I’m worried about who’s going to be moving into my neighborhood.” These kinds of conversations that can get so coded about our neighborhoods when you are the neighborhood. You’re the neighbor.
Joy: Where would we find that? Where do you go?
Bree: Just Google.
Joy: If you’re in Denver, “Denver neighborhood” or “Denver government”?
Bree: No, because they’re not official government entities. Generally, their registered as a neighborhood organization, so you could Google “registered neighborhood organization Highlands” or “registered neighborhood organization Barnum” and a bunch of different ones might pop up. You have to do a little bit of research and see which ones are active. Capitol Hill United Neighborhoods is probably one of the biggest, and they’ve really mobilized to work on equity issues in Capitol Hill.
Joy: And tell listeners where Capitol Hill is and what that means to Denver.
Bree: Sure. So Capitol Hill is kind of central Denver. So it’s like the Denver that’s not downtown.
Joy: It’s beautiful too, and it’s old school, I love it. It’s such a great neighborhood.
Bree: I think it might be our oldest if not one of our oldest neighborhoods. It’s around the capitol. But they do everything from organizing neighborhood festivals to working on legislation around their community. So that’s one really easy way. And again, don’t be deterred if you go to a neighborhood organization meeting, and you’re like, “Oh, these aren’t my people.”
Joy: Yeah, it’s probably a different one. It’s probably like AA meetings. Don’t link to the first one you go to. You can find different ones.
Bree: Or you have to be the person that’s like, “I’m going to stick around and start inviting my neighbors to this conversation.”
Joy: Oh that’s a good, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Bree: Because an unfortunate thing that has happened is a lot of times neighborhood organizations are run by a small minority of the neighborhood versus the majority of who’s being represented. Like if you’re a renter for instance, not a lot of renters are a part of neighborhood organizations, so their voices are never heard. But in Capitol Hill, I’m sure a huge percentage of people there are renters. So renters have different issues than homeowners. Those are the people that need to be –
Joy: That’s very interesting.
Bree: You know what I mean, it’s very nuanced. Another thing is you can always contact your council person’s office or follow your council person. You can look at denvergov.org. You can Google “council person this neighborhood in Denver” and it will show up. And a lot of council people will post through their social media if they’re working on something like a food drive or if there’s what’s called a visioning process happening for your neighborhood. Like, “We’re going to get a new park. What do you want to see in that park?”
Joy: I know this sounds so dumb, but I’m so excited that I actually have things to Google. Because I know in the past we’ve talked about this briefly on the podcast of getting involved in your neighborhood or getting involved – you know, we’ve talked more about buy from your local farmer, doing things that are local or getting involved in activities or street fairs or whatever. But this is so much different than anything that I’ve ever been, like, “Oh yeah, I can do this. Duh.”
Bree: Yeah. It can be overwhelming.
Joy: But I learned.
Bree: You know, you can be like, “Where do I start?”
Bree: “I have no idea.”
Joy: And it’s a little intimidating, to be honest.
Bree: Sure, absolutely. Especially if you’re new to the city too, and you’re like, “I don’t even know where to begin.” Or you’re somebody who’s lived here forever and you’re like, “I’ve never been involved with my neighborhood. I have no idea who my neighbors are.” And that’s the other thing that’s really simple is talking to your neighbors. If you want to get involved with neighborhood issues, just introducing yourself to your neighbor. Which seems really simple, but it can be really hard when we’re in our own worlds every day. We work with our own people. We have our friends. We have our family. And that doesn’t necessarily mean the person next door, but establishing those connections with our neighbors really helps us understand. What are our neighborhood issues? Talk to your neighbor. They might be the person that’s been on the block for 30 years and they know everything, they’re a great person to know. Or they’re someone that’s even newer to the neighborhood than you are, and they’re like, “Thanks for reaching out to me. I didn’t feel like I knew anybody in the neighborhood.” So that’s how I’ve gotten really involved with my neighborhood.
Joy: Okay, so get on the registered neighborhood organizations.
Bree: Yeah, you can just Google “registered neighborhood organization” and your neighborhood, and it will come up.
Joy: Okay, look at your council person for your city.
Bree: And I just follow him on social media. Most of them are pretty active, and they do things. Everything from, “Here’s the vaccination sites that are coming to our community” or “There’s a neighborhood fair happening. We’re looking for volunteers.” Another great thing, volunteer. Any cause that you’re interested in, you can Google, like I always take this advice from my friend Erin Stereo who’s a DJ. And when she wanted to learn how to DJ, she just Googled “how to DJ Denver” and she ended up at KGMU which is the oldest run community radio station, and now she’s a DJ full time. This is what she does for a living. And she also teaches other people and young people especially how to DJ for radio, for shows. But she just Googled “how to DJ Denver.”
Joy: That’s so great.
Bree: It’s pretty simple. I’m trying to think of an issue that, you know, if you wanted to get involved with affordable housing issues Denver organization. And there’s organizations that always need people. They need donations, they need people to show up, they need volunteers. Any organization that’s working with the immigrant community always can use volunteers. Anything that you find interesting or you feel driven to be a part of, you can just Google that thing “Denver volunteer,” you’re bound to find a Facebook group or an organization that could use your work and your time.
Claire: And I think a lot of people are held back from doing that because they think, “I don’t have the skills” or “I don’t know enough about it.” Especially joining council groups or anything like that, or reaching out to your council person. First of all, your local politicians dream about hearing from you.
Bree: Right. As long as you’re not yelling at them because they get yelled at a lot.
Claire: They dream of hearing from you because you want to get involved. They will drop everything they’re doing if you’re like –
Bree: Their constituency, that’s who they work for and they know that. And a really good council person says, “What are you facing on your block that I don’t know about?”
Claire: Right. And the more local that person is, the easier it is to first of all find out who they are and also to really get your voice heard. Because I think a lot of people do talk themselves out of taking that next step to get involved. And I think it’s just so crucial to realize that as an adult in the community, your input is valuable no matter what your background is. And in fact, if you’re coming to the table from a different place than everyone else, that’s actually the most valuable position.
Bree: Absolutely. And something that’s really simple that you can do, and these can be really dry, but you can Google “Denver city council meetings” and on Mondays the agendas are out there. There’s actually a lot of activists and advocates who are already piecing through the legislation that City Council is looking at. If you start following along, there’s a group called From Allies to Abolitionists. They’re pretty active on Facebook, and they’re really great about breaking down legislation that’s coming up, how you can put in input. You can reach out to your council person and say, “This thing is coming up for a vote, and this is how I feel about it. I hope that you would consider my voice.” Something as simple as that. You can watch City Council meetings now from Zoom. It’s super accessible.
Joy: Yeah, that’s such a good point. Here’s the thing – and this is just me being ignorant where I’m like, oh my gosh, I should have just Googled this stuff. But I consider being involved on being in my neighborhood’s Facebook group, which some council members are in there. But I never stopped to think, why don’t I just take a step further and see what else is going on and get more involved and go to their page. And then I think the other piece that turned me off from neighborhood stuff was that neighborhood app. Isn’t there an app?
Bree: Oh, like Next Door? It’s like the opposite.
Joy: It is so bad. I was just like, oh my gosh. I had to delete it. It is the worst of the worst. People just complain. I’m like, this is not productive. But the Facebook group is nice, but I think just taking that extra step now where I’m like now I can get more involved. And I love the idea of just being like City Council meetings, even though they may be dry, I think all of have a Leslie Knope inside of us that we all just want to be more involved.
Bree: Yeah, yeah. And Next Door unfortunately becomes this weird cesspool that all internet forums can become.
Joy: It’s so bad.
Bree: Just people complaining or ratting on their neighbors for weird stuff.
Joy: Weird stuff. Not productive. This is not at all productive.
Bree: Right. And that’s where I’m like, just walk out of your house and go talk to your neighbor. If your neighbor’s playing music super loud, you don’t have to go over and tell them to turn it off. You should just go over and talk to them, and then you’ll maybe start to understand a little bit about how they are, what they’re doing. And then when you develop a rapport with somebody, you can have those conversations, you know. But when our first introduction is just bitching about our neighborhood on Next Door, what are you doing? You’re not creating a relationship with somebody.
Claire: Guys, this is the same conversation we just had about tackling difficult conversations, difficult topics. It’s almost like it’s all related.
Bree: It’s almost like just talking to people like their human beings changes everything.
Claire: It’s going to really help you out. I had that experience with the mariachi band that lives behind me that practices every day.
Bree: Totally. And also, part of that’s just the neighborhood –
Claire: I mean, I wouldn’t change it for the world, but I also started taking to them when I was six months pregnant. So when I walked over there one day and wasn’t pregnant anymore, they were like, “Oh.”
Joy: You have a sleeping child.
Claire: You don’t want us to practice right this second. And it was like, we cool, we get each other.
Bree: Yeah. You just had a conversation.
Claire: Exactly. We know what’s going on. Yes. But yeah, I wouldn’t change the background mariachi music.
Bree: Yeah, that’s the other thing I think when we talk about neighborhood issues is, is something really an issue or are you just making it an issue? And how can you step back from yourself and say, “Okay. What is really bothering me about this situation? Why am I so desiring to control something that I can’t control?” I live off of Alameda and Federal, and it is nonstop racing, traffic –
Joy: It’s a busy area.
Bree: It is a busy area, but I moved here. So I moved into the situation, and it’s part of every summer. Of course, it’s 70 degrees today, people are going to be out.
Joy: Cinco de Mayo on Federal.
Bree: Yeah. So you just embrace it and go, “I moved into this community. This is what this community does. If I want to be a part of this community, I need to embrace some of it.”
Joy: You need to embrace, and you need to adjust. So it’s not always you adjusting other people. So for instance, speaking of Federal. For everybody listening, Federal is this big, main street, and on Cinco de Mayo everybody takes their cars and low riders, it’s a parade down Federal.
Bree: It’s wonderful.
Joy: My husband used to live on Federal as well. His window would face Federal and he would just sit. He would invite his best friend over, and they would just drink on the front porch and be like, we’re not going anywhere so let’s just watch the parade.
Bree: Enjoy it.
Joy: Instead of complaining like, “We can’t go anywhere on Cinco de Mayo,” let’s embrace this parade and have a great time.
Bree: That’s all people are doing.
Joy: Exactly. They’re having fun, they’re enjoying themselves. Lighten up.
Claire: I live in east Longmont, and it’s a very similar thing. When we moved here, it was like, we’re moving into this neighborhood. We’re not going to expect it to all of the sudden, we’re the young, white couple with our kids and our Subaru. We’re the only house that ascribes to that demographic. And it very much is like, we look around in Longmont in different neighborhoods, and one of the biggest things that keeps us in this house is knowing that we would just be moving into an area that would be so much more homogenous. And to be honest, at first when we moved here, it was like how is this going to go. And now it’s like I wouldn’t – it just, it does. But I loved what you said about, take a step back. Why are you upset about this? Is it truly an issue? Yeah, is the dog barking and waking your kids up every single day? Or is whatever happening that’s really affecting you? Or are you just trying to control something?
Joy: Because as I’m thinking about this, it doesn’t really harm me, but here’s a personal example. And you guys can walk me through this, and I know my neighbor doesn’t listen to this podcast. They have about a million cars parked in their driveway. I’m not kidding, a million.
Claire: Not exaggerated at all.
Joy: The other day, another one pulled up and it was broken down. It’s one of those things where I’m like, how many freaking cars can you have in your freaking driveway? Scott and I complained about it for a minute. And then I was like, “Is it hurting us?”
Bree: Does it matter?
Joy: Does it matter? No.
Bree: It’s your neighbor’s drive. Whatever, you know. I’m that neighbor. We park on our lawn. We are those people.
Joy: But you know, cars all over where I’m like, “I can’t even back out now.” I’m just like, whatever. You know what, this does not affect my daily life other than it’s an eye sore.
Bree: No. And next time you see your neighbor, say, “Hey. What’s up, man? How’s it going” And then –
Claire: Yeah, we had that exact situation. Come to find out, our next-door neighbor works at the car dealership across the street, and that’s why –
Joy: He’s working on cars.
Claire: Next thing you know, my husband’s sister needs a car. He sells it to her for a great price.
Joy: So good. Which is funny because my dad’s a mechanic. Growing up, we had cars in our driveway.
Claire: Seriously Joy, you should empathize with the situation.
Bree: Yeah, remember. See, now you have to step back and go, I have been this person. I am that neighbor. I was that neighbor. My parents parked their cars on the lawn.
Joy: We were all that neighbor. Yeah, they probably complain about something we do too. So we’re all guilty of some crap.
Claire: Alright tell us a little bit more – I’m going to [sound] all the way to the beginning of the episode. That was me rewinding by the way. I need to work on my sound effects, it’s fine.
Bree: I know what rewinding it. I’m old enough, so at least –
Claire: Oh my gosh, quick tangent. I have a five-year-old. Yesterday we were watching Home Alone. It’s his favorite movie, just watching people get smashed. And he was like, “Why are they doing that move with their shoulders to get the window to go down?” And he was referring to cranking. He was like, “Why are their shoulders moving up and down like that?” And I was like, “Oh, wow.”
Joy: Oh no. Actually using a handle.
Claire: Yeah, he didn’t even know how to describe it. He was like, “Yeah, there’s just so much going on.”
Bree: Yeah, those don’t really exist anymore.
Claire: No. If you’re five. He’s only ever been in two or three cars in his life. He barely is allowed to use the window button. Anyway, all that to say.
Claire: Tell us more about your band.
Bree: I was in a band – I think we started in 2009 until 2013. I was in a band called Night of Joy. We were kind of a heavy sludge punk band. I played bass guitar. I played bass my whole life. I haven’t played in many years. My husband is a touring musician, sound engineer. That’s actually one of our cute little stories. We met because I interviewed him for a story about a music festival he was putting on. We just really had a nice conversation. And then a couple of weeks later, he was like, “Does your band want to play this show with my band?” And I was like, “Yeah, sure, that sounds fun.”
Joy: That’s a cute way to start dating. “Does your band want to hook up with my band?”
Bree: Yeah. So we played a show together, and then we went on an official date to an art opening. And the rest is history. Yeah, I mean, I was in that band for like five-ish years. And then we broke up and – bands are kind of like relationships for me. There’s a lot of time between them. It was probably eight years or something between that band and my previous band, which was called The Hot House. And I love playing. I love playing music, but I also I found that I loved even more putting on shows and facilitating other people’s art. So in 2009, I co-founded a music festival here called Titwrench. It was all women to begin with, and then we expanded.
Joy: That is a great name.
Bree: Yeah. It’s a great name until you realize they can’t say it on Indie 102.3.
Joy: That’s true.
Bree: Now they can. They couldn’t when we started.
Joy: Could you go on 9NEWS and promote that?
Bree: That was part of the push and pull of it was we’re so –
Claire: Right, you’re so edgy.
Joy: We’re so edgy, we don’t need you.
Bree: Yeah. But it turned out to be this incredible experience over the last decade of putting on an annual festival every year that celebrates marginalized voices, people that don’t normally play music festivals or arts festivals. I mean, we had women performing for the first time in their lives in front of other people. That was the whole purpose was just anybody can do this. It was through that experience that I also got involved with the community because I was helping create this space for people to come and perform, and it was so much fun. So I would say I’m a musician, but first and foremost I’m sort of a facilitator of other people’s art. I love getting people together so say like, “You’ve got to check this band out or this performance out. It’s going to blow your mind.” You know.
Joy: Bree, I think we all need to get together and do that for podcasts in some capacity.
Joy: New project. Okay, last tangent here is for listeners who are always messaging us about their favorite things in Denver. What are some places off the top of your head that are your favorite places to go. Either music venues or any type of art exhibits obviously. The Denver Center’s great.
Claire: Pre and in COVID.
Joy: Yeah. So food places, favorite ice cream, those types of things. Go-tos.
Bree: My go-tos for restaurants. El Noa Noa is my favorite Denver Mexican restaurant. It’s on Santa Fe and 7th. They have the best patio too. So if you want to eat outside, which right now seems like the best, safest way, they’ve got a gorgeous patio. They are just Den-Mex, you know. Smothered burritos, platters, all kinds of things. They are my favorite. El Noa Noa. They’re across the street from Su Teatro, which is one of the oldest Chicano theaters in the country in terms of it started during the Chicano Civil Rights Movement in America, and it’s still going today. I think they’ve been around for 40 years, and they do original plays. A lot of it is about the Chicano experience in Denver, as well as global experiences for the Chicano and Mexicano diaspora. They do wonderful programming. I just love to support them too because they’re an independent theatre. And then music, let’s see, music venues. I love the Oriental Theatre. I love the guys that run the Oriental Theatre.
Joy: I live right by the Oriental. Love it, it’s the best.
Bree: It’s a wonderful space. It’s one of those cool venues that’s not – it’s an independently owned venue, and it’s large.
Joy: It’s a huge space.
Bree: Yeah, they can host really big acts.
Joy: I saw the Fleet Foxes there. It was so cool.
Bree: Oh wow. Wow, that’s amazing.
Joy: Really cool bands.
Bree: Yeah, you can see incredible national acts but also they do a lot with the local music scene here in Denver. It’s so weird because, like I said, my husband, music is what he does for a living. And for the last year, we haven’t been able to do any of that.
Joy: Yeah, so you’re like, “What do we do? What is socializing? What is going out?” Totally.
Bree: What are my favorite venues? I don’t remember.
Joy: I mean, Red Rocks, everyone has to go to Red Rocks. If you want to see a great show, if your favorite band is – or even any band to be honest – is going to Red Rocks, go to Red Rocks.
Claire: I once saw Flight of the Concords at Red Rocks, and it was terrible.
Bree: My husband said that was the most packed he’s ever seen Red Rocks.
Joy: Oh, was it too packed?
Claire: No, I don’t think that’s what it was. I mean, yes, every show I’ve ever been at is packed at Red Rocks. I’m a mainstream music person. But the thing that was weird about it was that it felt like it was a skit. The whole show was like a skit.
Joy: Oh, then that’s not a great show to see.
Claire: That’s what I’m saying. You can’t just see anything. It felt like –
Joy: Yeah, see a band that’s not a skit. I saw Bjork there. It was great. Bjork was like the best. Cold Play. We’ve seen everyone there.
Claire: What’s your favorite show you’ve seen in Denver, Bree?
Bree: Oh, I couldn’t even – it’s so funny because I’m kind of a Red Rocks hater because I got to be so snobby about it as a reporter that I got to cover so many shows there that I don’t want to deal with the parking and I don’t want to deal with the weather. But I’ve seen Beck there a few times, and he’s been incredible. Flying Lotus was incredible. Anybody that can utilize that stage, you know what I mean, as a piece of their show and not just show up and perform, who really gets it.
Joy: Who gets the venue.
Bree: It’s a beautiful space. I absolutely take it for granted. I was trying to even remember what the last show was that I saw before the pandemic hit because most of my social life is live music. So the Mercury Cafe, for instance, is one of my favorite places to see shows. Their small room on the first floor Jungle Room, I see a lot of local musicians there. It’s a really intimate space. But then upstairs is their more auditorium style space, and it’s even cooler to see stuff there because there’s Christmas lights everywhere. It’s just a beautiful experience. And the Mercury Cafe has delicious food, so I always want to give them a shout out.
Joy: I spent a New Year’s Eve there. What’s the Denver band that always plays?
Bree: It’s probably – it’s not DeVotchKa.
Joy: It’s DeVotchKa. They played New Year’s Eve.
Bree: They’re the perfect kind of band for that.
Joy: Forever ago at Mercury Cafe, it was great.
Bree: Yeah, they’re the perfect kind of band for that place.
Joy: So fun.
Bree: My other favorite restaurants I would say. Kokoro, which is fast casual Japanese food on Colorado Boulevard. It’s in a little strip mall next to a Dairy Queen.
Joy: Which is the best location. Like, that’s what you need for the best food.
Bree: Some of Denver’s best food is in strip malls.
Claire: I feel like some of the world’s best food.
Bree: Yes. You’ve got to do a little bit more digging to find them sometimes. But Kokoro’s been around for probably 30 years. They were doing teriyaki bowls before that was popular. They do sushi. And it’s really affordable, and it’s just delicious every time. Consistency. It’s perfect every time. And in that same strip mall is my favorite 80’s-ish looking steakhouse piano bar, Poppies. And if you want Sunday prime rib, Poppies is the spot.
Joy: See, I’ve never been to any of these.
Claire: Never in my life.
Joy: I have a list of things to do.
Claire: I’ve never even heard of a Sunday prime rib piano bar. Those are a lot of things –
Bree: It just has this 80’s fancy vibe to it, which I really love. But you can go in there in your Colorado, you know –
Claire: Right. Colorado doesn’t have fancy.
Bree: Yeah, we don’t do fancy very well, so you can walk in there wearing a North Face jacket. They don’t care. But the food is delicious. The lighting is dim. It’s my favorite. The food is delicious.
Claire: Like it you could still smoke indoors, it would be very smoky?
Bree: Yes, it’s exactly, like the vibe is that kind of place. They serve rice pilaf and shrimp scampi and stuff like that. But it’s so, so good. And it’s my family’s go-to, other than Racines, which is closed.
Joy: Oh, Racines shut down, I know. I love that place.
Bree: I know, that was my family’s spot for years.
Joy: Okay, what about – do you like Sweet Action? Colorado’s got some good kitschy ice cream places.
Bree: I was on another podcast where they asked me about ice cream and I felt so bad because I was like I love Sweet Action because they allow you to get a tiny taste and you don’t have to – like, I don’t want a kids’ size. I just want a scoop. I want a little scoop. But they have so many different flavors, and I’ve always found their staff to be super nice.
Joy: So nice.
Bree: And they have a cool spot. It’s one of those nice summertime things when you can hang out on South Broadway and just get some ice cream.
Joy: South Broadway’s so fun.
Bree: Wonderful, wonderful places around there. My friends that run Mutiny Information Cafe, Hope Tank. They’re business owners too that just love the city. So that’s another thing too. If you want to get involved in the city, go hand out in the Information Cafe. Stop into Hope Tank. Erica will tell you about some issue that she’s working on currently. They are super involved in the community as business owners, which I think is special that we have people that care that much. But yeah, I think South Broadway’s gotten a little weird. The problem is when somewhere gets really popular. It gets a little bit weird. But there’s still really wonderful places on South Broadway. I’m still a big fan.
Joy: What’s the music venue over there? We always would go there too.
Bree: Well there’s the Hi-Dive.
Bree: I was at the opening night of the Hi-Dive I think in 2003.
Joy: No way, that’s so cool.
Bree: The Yeah Yeah Yeahs DJ’d.
Joy: Oh my God.
Bree: It was really cool.
Joy: That is so cool.
Bree: It was a cool moment to be there. I played a lot of shows there early on when they first opened.
Joy: Why wasn’t I friends with you back then?
Bree: Because I was a drunk, and I don’t drink anymore. So I’m a much nicer person now.
Joy: You were too cool for me.
Bree: I’ve been kicked out of Sputnik on the same night that I had to play at the Hi-Dive, and they used to be owned by the same people so I had to kindly beg them to let me in.
Joy: You get a pass, Bree. That’s another podcast episode.
Bree: I love the Hi-Dive, and I always want to give them props because they’re an independent venue run by musicians who work really, really hard to keep that venue running an operational for all sorts of musicians, local and national, to come through. They’ve done wonderful. The Hi-Dive’s wonderful.
Claire: I feel like it also says so much about you that it’s 5 o’clock and you’re currently drinking coffee.
Bree: I’m real pregnant.
Claire: And you’re – wow.
Bree: I’m drinking decaf.
Claire: I mean, I don’t care about that.
Joy: She knows what’s up.
Claire: The whole caffeine pregnancy thing, that’s not what I’m commenting on.
Bree: It’s whatever.
Claire: I’m commenting on the fact that it’s 5 o’clock, and you’re just chugging a venti iced coffee.
Joy: Chugging a huge iced coffee, yeah. And your t-shirt says, “one tough mother.” It’s so great. I love Bree.
Bree: I joke it’s the only shirt I bought that’s like, if it isn’t obvious I’m pregnant, here’s a shirt that says it. You know?
Claire: If you just think that I’ve been eating a ton of tacos lately, so many tacos.
Bree: And I’m not 7 1/2 months pregnant. Coffee was my first word as a kid. I love coffee.
Claire: Oh, that’s hilarious.
Bree: I love it. But being pregnant, all I want is coffee-flavored anything.
Claire: That’s amazing.
Joy: Coffee-flavored anything. That’s a cool thing to crave.
Claire: I wish I was a person who could drink coffee all day and all night. And if I drink coffee after noon, I just don’t ever sleep again.
Bree: I’m learning that.
Claire: So I have two kids, and when my five-year-old was born, it was right when Chameleon Cold-Brew first was invented. But since I hadn’t slept…
Joy: Oh no.
Claire: I didn’t read the bottle, so I didn’t know it was a concentrate, so I just drank it. Like a lot of it.
Claire: For days. And then Miles stopped sleeping. So then I would just drink more of it. And finally someone came over and they were like, “Claire, you’re supposed to dilute this.” And I was like, “What? No.” And they were like, “You’ve just been shooting coffee.”
Joy: Wasn’t your head buzzing?
Claire: No, because I wasn’t sleeping.
Joy: Yeah, you were just so tired.
Claire: And I was just like, this is how I feel now. And somebody was like, “You’re turning your breast milk into a latte. That’s what’s happening here.” Oh.
Joy: Miles just lives at Starbucks now.
Claire: Yeah. Because then he wasn’t sleeping. I was like, what’s the deal. So he wasn’t sleeping, so I was drinking more, so then he wasn’t sleeping and I was drinking more. And it just created this horrible feedback loop.
Bree: You created a whole cycle. That is a good thing to know about.
Claire: No one told me that could happen, so I’m just telling you as someone who is maybe at risk of turning breast milk into a latte one day.
Bree: I didn’t think about that transference.
Claire: Also, I have another story about caffeine that I’ll save for another day where basically I drank an entire giant cup of espresso on my first day of work at a new job.
Bree: I bet you really impressed everybody.
Claire: I just didn’t understand the coffee maker, and I just kept hitting the espresso button. I just thought it was almost out because it only gave me like a little drop every time, so I just kept pushing it.
Joy: Oh, so you had like ten espressos.
Claire: So then I was sitting there. But it’s the first day at work, so everyone’s coming over to meet me and I’m like [jittery sound]. Everyone’s like, “Hi, Claire,”
Joy: Oh my –
Claire: [jittery sounds] I said I was going to save that story, but I didn’t save it. That’s the story.
Joy: I want to tell mine now. Mine was at a CrossFit competition that I ate – this was forever ago. I feel like Claire was there. Someone gave me a bag of espresso beans, like chocolate covered espresso beans. And I stated eating them like they were chocolate covered almonds, and it was a big mistake. My brain was buzzing. I had so much caffeine in me. It’s not a good look.
Bree: Because you also don’t think – I mean, can you get the same as from coffee beans? No. Yes, you can.
Joy: Yes, you can. You sure can. And it really hurts. It was like that part of caffeine high where it’s the point of no return and you’re like, I just have to ride this out, and it feels really bad.
Bree: You’re like, I feel like garbage, and this is the worst place to feel like garbage.
Joy: Yeah, totally.
Claire: Okay, so I have one last very unrelated question. And let me tell you the tiny backstory on this. I have a friend named Heather, who we talk on the podcast a lot because she’s my only friend that I see that’s not Joy. And I really think that you and Heather would get along because you just would.
Joy: We’re doing a friend match. Friend match.
Claire: So I just was texting her a little bit on the side. I was like, “We’re interviewing this woman. You would really like her.” And she said, “What’s her answer to this question – are hot dogs a sandwich?”
Bree: Oh. Well I will, hmm. I will say I’m a hot dog person, and I know you’re not supposed to eat hot dogs when you’re pregnant.
Claire: We won’t rat you out. It’s okay.
Bree: Okay. I’ll just rat myself out.
Claire: At some point in your past, you’ve eaten hot dogs and really loved them.
Bree: I was like, I have a very lovely friend named Keith who I get to drive me to Sonic for a footlong hotdog every once in a while.
Joy: That’s great. Keith is a good friend.
Bree: He’s a very good friend.
Claire: Have you ever been to Mustard’s Last Stand?
Bree: Of course.
Joy: I love Mustard’s Last Stand. That was a missed gem. Mustard’s Last Stand near DU.
Bree: Their fries are good. The whole situation in there is good. I’m an ambiance person, and it’s just –
Claire: Very classic hot dog stand.
Bree: I do love Mustard’s Last Stand. I would count it as a sandwich because it’s meat between two pieces of bread that are just connected.
Joy: They just have to be connected.
Bree: And I will also eat a hotdog from anywhere. I’ll eat them from a gas station, I don’t care.
Joy: DQ, even?
Joy: Alright. I had a grad school friend that would go two DQ hotdogs in one sitting.
Bree: I would do that.
Joy: Dang. Much respect. I also feel like Donna would love you, Bree. You have so many people in my mind where I’m like we just need to all have a big friend group now.
Claire: Alright. Well, this was fantastic to chat with you.
Joy: This was great.
Bree: Thank you.
Claire: Tell everyone where they can find your new podcast and all of your things.
Bree: If you go to citycast.fm/denver, you can hear our podcast. You can sign up for our newsletter. We have a lovely newsletter written by my colleague Peyton Garcia. She’s got a different voice and style than I do. So the podcast is more me, and the newsletter is more her. We give different information on Denver every day. The newsletter comes out to your inbox at 6am. We go live Monday-Friday starting the first week of April, you can find City Cast Denver wherever you get your podcasts. We’re on every platform. But you can also just find us online. citycast.fm/denver will take you to all of those places. And we would love it if you would subscribe and listen because that’s how podcasts get made.
Claire: And we will of course link to that in the show notes as well.
Bree: Thank you. I mean, I appreciate you guys having me on too.
Claire: Yeah, this was great.
Joy: This was a great conversation. I want to do this again. So fun to talk about Denver.
Bree: You guys are so good at it.
Joy: And talk about how to get involved in your community, and the audience will really appreciate it.
Bree: I hope so.
Bree: I hope so. Thank you so much for having me. This has been wonderful.
Joy: Of course. And listeners, you know where to find us. Joy and Claire, This is Joy and Claire. You have to Google it. Do we really need to keep saying where to find us? Is that how you end a podcast?
Claire: If you’re listening, you’ve already found us. So tell someone else about us.
Joy: Please share. Rate. Rating is a thing. To find us, you just need to keep rating. Click the five stars, leave a review, even if it’s a word that says, “Great.” Counts.
Bree: We love it. It’s helpful.
Joy: It really is. It really is. Alright, thank you guys for listening. Talk to you next week.
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