West Area Plan PhotoVoice Project

West Area Neighborhood Plan

The City of Denver kicked off the West Area Planning process on Saturday, October 5. West Denver stakeholders are invited to create a long-term, community-driven vision for Barnum, Barnum West, Sun Valley, Valverde, Villa Park and West Colfax. This is a great opportunity for Sun Valley FAC to advance food access and justice by shaping larger land use and policy plans.

Two action opportunities directly with the City: 

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The initial survey results show that the most commonly named challenge in West Denver is “access to fresh and healthy food.” When asked what kinds of places or activities are most important to you, 75% of those surveyed said “grocery stores.”

At the kickoff event on Oct 5, there was an exhibit of the “West Area Plan PhotoVoice Project” that showcased the photographs of 10 West Denver residents. Their photographs highlighted the things they believe the city should invest in their neighborhoods, and things that are unique and special about their neighborhoods. Among many other neighborhood strengths and areas for improvement, their photos brought the importance of food system planning forward. This was a central theme to the photos Elizabeth Walsh shared as the West Colfax neighborhood resident participant in the PhotoVoice project. The pictures she shared of West Colfax, Sun Valley, and Barnum West all featured aspects of our food systems. 

It’s unclear right now how the results of this project will be shared more broadly, but the project already resulted in a small book of photographs (pictured above). Below, Elizabeth shared her photos (and the summary-level text for each collage). Feel free to reach out to her at elizabeth.walsh@gmail.com if you’d like further info about the project. AND, if you feel like there are other perspectives that need to be shared PLEASE EXPRESS YOUR THOUGHTS IN THE SURVEY (link above).  We will likely have a representative from our planning department at our next meeting!

PHOTO 1: Growing Together in Sun Valley

In the Sun Valley neighborhood, diverse leaders are working together to co-create a neighborhood where all life can flourish. Diverse members of the Sun Valley Food Access Collaborative are united by a vision of a robust food system in the Sun Valley neighborhood that emphasizes locally produced, distributed and sold food that is nutritious and accessible to all Sun Valley and West Denver community stakeholders, especially community stakeholders who are experiencing economic challenges. The images in this collage – (1) Growing Leaders and Gardens, (2) We Have the Power, (3) Get Involved, and (4) Come to the Table – all reflect the vitality, collaborative energy, and resilience of the Sun Valley community.  [for further descriptions of each picture, please contact Elizabeth]

PHOTO 2: Searching for Common Ground in West Colfax: Highs & Lows

Soaring sunflowers and corn stalks? High-rising residential buildings? How do we want to grow together in West Colfax? What’s our common ground? How can we invest in infrastructure for a well-nourished and well-sheltered community? What’s in our collective interest as we plan for the future?  This collage of pictures – (1) “The Collective,” (2) “Live #SloHi,” (3) “No High”, (4) “The Commons,” and (5) “Good Fences” – speaks to current tensions and growing pains in the diverse, unique, and dynamic West Colfax Neighborhood. [For further descriptions of each picture, please contact Elizabeth]

PHOTO 3: West Colfax – Crossroads

From its beginning as a trail blazed during the Colorado Gold Rush to connect Denver to the mountains to present day, West Colfax Avenue has been an ever-changing commercial corridor known for its colorful past and entrepreneurial spirit. Today, it is the economic backbone of the West Colfax Neighborhood. The West Colfax Business Improvement District (https://westcolfaxbid.org/) supports the corridor’s many unique local businesses, while also guiding infrastructure investments to support the vitality of current residents and future generations. This collage of pictures taken at the crossroads of West Colfax Avenue and Wolff Street speaks to challenges and opportunities for the corridor to provide neighbors with food, shelter, and transportation systems needed for healthy, regenerative communities.  [For further descriptions of each picture, please contact Elizabeth]

PHOTO 4: Common Wealth & Health – The Coop at 1st

How can we build common wealth and community health, especially when reinvestment frequently results in physical, economic, and cultural displacement? Cooperative economic development offers one path forward. Whether worker-owned or consumer-owned, coops help create and maintain dignified jobs in locally grounded businesses. Cooperative groceries, childcare centers, and wellness centers directly contribute to community health and well-being. Local ownership is a great preventative cure for gentrification pressures. And yet, with skyrocketing rents in West Denver, cooperative start-ups face great obstacles. Initiatives like the Co-op at 1st pictured here are worthy of investment – by nextdoor neighbors and municipal support! The Co-op at 1st offers “shared community spaces to empower the Barnum Community with economic opportunity and increase access to healthy food, holistic wellness, and physical activity.” More specifically, they offer affordable event spaces, offices for rent, a year-round farmers market, movement studio, coffee shop, a commissary kitchen, and a wide array of services and classes in nutrition, cooking, massage, gardening, yoga, Zumba, herbal medicine and so much more. Stop by while you’re in the neighborhood, or support other coops near you – https://www.communitywealthbuilding.org/shop-at-co-ops.html!

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