9:00 – 10:00 am
light breakfast, coffee, and networking
10:00 – 10:45 am
Dr. Timothy Tyler, the Food Rescue Alliance, Groundwork Denver, and Columbine Elementary.
Thank you to Heart & Hand Center, Denver Writes, and Bike Denver for supporting this year’s kid’s programming at the Forward Food Summit. Activities include a historical story hour, arts and crafts, neighborhood walks, and a city planning game. Sign up your kiddos when you register for the summit. If they are between 3rd and 5th grade sign up for the bike ride and poetry class here.
Keynote Introduction from Dr. Damien Thompson
Right to the City: A vision for for food and land rights in Denver and Beyond
Damien Thompson, PhD is Associate Professor of Anthropology, Department of Anthropology, Sociology and Criminal Justice at Regis University and Director of Center for Food Justice and Healthy Communities at Regis University. In addition to his training in anthropology, Dr. Thompson also holds a certification in Permaculture Design and a 200 hour Yoga Alliance Teaching Certification. His interests center on the building of community food systems, small scale urban food production, developing community and cultural practices related to food and medicine, teaching and learning in education and permaculture as one method related to how to pursue those interests. Most specifically Dr. Thompson is interested in how communities can utilize traditional and new information and practices to build food systems which uplift marginalized and oppressed peoples, restore ecosystems, build biodiversity, support cultural diversity as well as provide individuals and families with the highest level of access to the means to support their own health.
10:45 – 11:30 (simultaneous sessions)
Building Power & Taking Back Our Communities
This session will examine the root causes that allowed neo-colonialism policies to devour neighborhoods in the first place. DenverCan will also unveil their citywide platform based on input from their gentrification summit to rebuild community ownership and local control for the residents of today and future generations.
Denver Community Action Network (DenverCAN) is a grassroots collective of progressive organizations and individuals working collectively in a citywide effort to resist gentrification, create ownership opportunities for marginalized residents, and cultivate new political leadership. Denver Community Action Network (DenverCAN) is comprised of social justice organizations including Colorado Latino Forum, Cross Community Coalition, GES Coalition, Ditch the I-70 Ditch, Project VOYCE, Indivisible Denver and Shorter Community AME Church.
Food and Shared Economies
Mickki Langston is the founder of Mile High Business Alliance, an organization which led the “buy local” and “eat local” movement in Denver from 2007-2015. A passionate leader and entrepreneur, Mickki brings a passion for local business, meaningful community building, and the empowerment of girls and women to everything she does. Through her newest venture, Tellicherry Trading Co, Mickki makes delightful soap and other skin care products which are sold at locally owned retailers. In her “spare” time, Mickki takes care of her backyard chickens and rabbits, and practices her cooking skills, including brewing kombucha and making yogurt. Learn more at www.denversoap.com and www.moonrabbitfarm.com and follow her at www.linkedin.com/in/mickki
Mapping Activity led by Sabrina Sideris
In a collaborative community mapping exercise, we will work together to map the assets and unique characteristics of the places we call home. Drawing upon some other people’s community maps as examples, we will make hand-drawn maps and then use them as platforms for story sharing with each other, highlighting the ways that maps can help us see, understand and address persistent structural oppression. How does scrutinizing space illuminate inequity? Where and how can spatial analysis be used to disrupt inequity? What tools can we develop together (maps, drawings, photo collages) to conduct a spatial analysis of equity in our cities? In small groups, we will dive in to experimentation with these questions, applied to our own home communities.
Sabrina Sideris is a social justice educator at the University of Colorado with INVST, an academic program focused on community studies and activism. Sabrina is passionate about helping people become more skillful change makers. She is pursuing a Doctoral Degree in Higher Education at the University of Denver where she focuses her studies on spatial justice, racial justice and the ways that institutions shape cities. She is on the board for the Boulder Housing Coalition, which develops affordable housing cooperatives. In her free time, Sabrina likes to play ping pong with her wife Sarah and spend time outside enjoying the beauty of Colorado with Quimby, an energetic terrier.
Columbine Elementary School is located in the Skyland/North City Park neighborhood. Skyland has been both a neighborhood from which blacks and Chicanos were barred from living in and in the near past was dominated by those same people. The walking tour is meant to honor the history of gentrified communities everywhere by honoring the history of the ground on which we stand.
11:30 – 11:45 AM
Performance 1 from Ara Cruz with Café Cultura
Born and raised in Denver, Ara Cruz is a Xicano/Indigenous (Nahua/Genizaro Tiwa) spoken word artist, educator, and organizer who finds himself standing on the shoulders of those women and men who have struggled to maintain traditions and dignity. With this strong sense of responsibility, he tries to walk in a good way every day in order to better his community. Graduating from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a B.A. in Ethnic Studies (emphasis in Chicana/o and American Indian Studies), he now works with youth in Denver as an educator, advocate, and workshop presenter. Using the experiences he gained in campus and community organizing through MEChA (Movimiento Estudiantil Chican@ de Aztlan), Oyate (Native student group), and other organizations, Ara became a co-founder of Café Cultura in 2004 and now serves as Executive Director. Ara has received a Cesar Chavez Leadership Award and the Mayor’s Diversity and Inclusion Award. He has participated in the National Association of Latino Arts & Culture Leadership Institute and the Denver Foundation’s Executive Directors of Color Institute. He is also completing his Master of Nonprofit Management at Regis University as part of his Livingston Fellowship.
Café Cultura hosts one of the best open mic venues in the Denver metropolitan area, and the only space focused on family and youth. We also conduct highly engaging and culturally relevant spoken word/poetry workshops for underserved youth throughout Colorado. Café Cultura partners with organizations and schools to teach spoken word classes, publish youth poetry, and organize participant showcases. In an effort to develop young leaders within our community, we also coordinate a youth leadership program for Indigenous youth.
11:45 – 12:45 (simultaneous sessions)
City Planning and our Food System
Colorado Springs was recently voted the #2 place in the nation to live! We all know what this will mean for our future population growth and land use. More importantly, what will this mean for our neighbors who are threatened with displacement and access to good food in the process? Our city has been presented with a golden opportunity through Plan COS to map out land use as we grow. Join us as we talk with Councilwoman Yolanda Avila, Hillside Neighborhood Resident Victoria Stone, and Southeast Colorado Springs Resident Jeannie Orozco to become more informed, and what it means to cultivate good food in the midst of development what that will mean for community development over the next 20 years and beyond.
Yolanda Avila’s family has lived in Colorado Springs since 1958. Yolanda attended every level of education in the Springs, starting with kindergarten on base at Fort Carson and ending at Colorado College with a BA in International Political Economy.
In 1990 Yolanda landed her dream job as an investigator with the Orange County Public Defender’s office in California. She was also a field supervisor and mentor to the local university seniors. In 1998 Yolanda was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative eye disease that has a prognosis of blindness. Yolanda continued to excel in her work until her retirement in 2011. When Yolanda moved back to Colorado Springs to be near her now 94-year-old mother Angela Avila, she immediately became an active participant in our community. Prior to her election to City Council, Yolanda was involved in the Black/Latino Leadership Coalition, the Community Transit Coalition, the Ad hoc Committee for the Independent Center, the Colorado Springs Police Department Leadership Advisory Committee, the Board of Trustees for Amblicab, the Leadership Pikes Peak Signature Class of 2015, and the RISE Steering Committee as a resident leader.
Jeannie Orozco is a long-time resident of Colorado Springs that has spent the last decade advocating for communities, she was recently elected to the Harrison school districts board of education and fills the role of board treasurer. Jeannie has had tremendous success as a grassroots community organizer, played a key role in keeping her local community center open and has gained the trust of her neighbors. She recently finished working on a national grant that focused on the social determinants of health in impoverished communities, she has spoken nationally on grassroots community organizing, and believes that community voice is the most valuable and underrepresented voice. Prior to her community work Jeannie spent the better part of 15 years in management and operational support. In her free time, she volunteers for the Young Marines Organization, focusing on keeping youth off drugs and out of gangs. Her family keeps her mission driven, knowing that too change the future for her children, family, and neighbors means to change the world. “Community work is a labor of love. Trying to create lasting change for the next generation.”
Victoria Stone is the executive director of nonprofit Pikes Peak Justice & Peace Commission. Stone has been advocating for those experiencing poverty and homelessness in the region since 2008. Before working at J&P as its Executive Director, Stone served on its board for 10 years. When she’s not furthering J&P’s mission of nonviolence and sustainability, Stone also runs a no cost youth leadership development group called Lead. Lead began in 2014, meets twice a month, and currently works with 20 youth, ages 8 to 16.
Pamela Washington is a native to Denver.Sustainable Food Policy Member,Counselor (CACI-II), facilitator, prior corrections officer and one amazing community volunteer/activist. Departing Division of Youth Corrections, Pamela started giving back to the community by helping establish the Greater Park Hill Emergency Food Pantry which has been successful for the past five years.Further Assessing the needs and obstacles residents faced daily around food inequality and accessibility in the Northeast Denver community, she set out to rectify the issue.
12:45 – 1:00 PM
Performance 2 from Victor Galvan with Motus Theater
Victor Galvan is a Rocky Mountain native, born in Chihuahua, Mexico, and a graduate of North High School in Denver. He began organizing in the immigrant community in 2008, at age 16, through Padres Y Jóvenes Unidos. In 2012, Victor joined the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition (CIRC) team to help mobilize Latino and immigrant voters in the general election and was instrumental in the campaign to win ASSET in-state tuition equity in 2013. Victor’s voice helped to ensure that ASSET included state-funded scholarships for undocumented students. In 2017, Victor was the lead organizer of the September 5th walkouts in Denver, in which almost 3,000 students from 27 schools walked out in response to the Trump Administration’s repeal of the DACA program. Victor is a directly impacted by immigration rights issues and proudly calls himself a Dreamer. Victor dreams of one day finishing his college education as he qualifies for ASSET. He wrote and performed a monologue in Motus Theater’s Do You Know Who I Am? production that toured to over 4,000 people and was made into a film. He won three awards for his work in this production: Person of the Year Award from the Boulder Weekly, and Peace Make of the Year Award from Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice (along with the rest of the cast and Motus Theater’s director); and the Multicultural Action Award in the “Artist” category from Boulder County. He is called on frequently for local media interviews on DACA because of his ability to speak from the heart about complicated legislative immigration policies. He is currently the Director of Membership and Engagement at CIRC.
The mission of Motus Theater is to create original theater to facilitate dialogue on critical issues of our time. We aim to use the power of art to build alliances across diverse segments of our community.
1:00 – 2:00 PM
Lunch from Comal Heritage Food Incubator
Syrian cuisine edition
Comal Heritage Food Incubator is a lunch restaurant in partnership with Focus Points, a non-profit that serves families in the Globeville and Elyria-Swansea neighborhoods. Its goal is to provide skills in culinary arts and business as a platform for economic development to aspiring women- many originating from Mexico, El Salvador, Syria, Iraq and Ethiopia – to maintain and celebrate their traditions through entrepreneurial ventures.
Walaa Almohamad was born in Damascus, Syria and came to the United States as a refugee in August of 2016. She began to learn to cook when she was around 12 years old and fell in love with cooking. She has always loved a popular dish called, Kibbeh, which is a very difficult dish to make. When she was young she would always ask her mom to make it for her. Her mom taught her at a young age how to make this dish so that she could help in the kitchen. This began her passion for cooking. Walaa’s dream is to open her own restaurant one day. Her dream is to have an authentic Syrian restaurant, using her heritage food, that is very welcoming to all people and makes other feel at home. The Syrian culture is known for their hospitality and her dream is to create a restaurant that emanates this. One of her favorite recipes to cook is, Jaj BlFirin, using a family recipe that has been passed down. This is a chicken dish that is cooked with a garlic and yogurt sauce and is usually served with smoky rice and salad.
2:00 – 3:00 PM (simultaneous sessions)
It’s not who you are, it’s how you show up! Sharing our best practices for being a responsible and responsive business owner in a community grappling with gentrification.
Sharing best practices for being a responsible and responsive business owner in a community grappling with gentrification.
Khalid Morris has over 15 years of professional and educational experience in business consulting, development, accounting, finance, and real estate. He has a passion for economic development which he developed as a kid in South Central Los Angeles where he saw how a movie theater and a few coffee shops could transform a community. Khalid has an IMBA from the Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver along and a Masters of Science in Real Estate and Construction Management from the Burns School of Real Estate.
Millete Birhanemaskel owns Whittier Café in Denver’s historic Whittier neighborhood. The African espresso bar has a social justice focus, is a gathering place for community activists and keeps a justice tab to provide coffee to individuals who need a break. Birhanemaskel is also an area real estate agent and believes you fight gentrification by helping people, especially people of color, buy homes. She holds investment management and financial planning licenses and is an Investment Executive at PB Advisors. Birhanemaskel earned an MBA from Colorado State University and was selected as a 2013 Monfort Professor-in-Residence. She was one of the first women appointed to the Colorado Economic Development Commission and is a graduate of the Denver Chamber of Commerce Leadership Denver. Prior to becoming a licensed advisor, Birhanemaskel was an award-winning reporter for six years. Highlights of her career include covering the election of Africa’s first female president, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf in Liberia as well as being awarded Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists Region IV. In 2009, Birhanemaskel won the Social Responsibility Award from the Colorado Black Chamber of Commerce Chamber Connect after she founded of The Ethiopian Community Center in Denver. She is a past board member of Project Education Sudan and Denver Sister Cities International. Her father, Birhanemaskel Madhaniy, was a freedom fighter and governor in Ethiopia. He also began the first Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Denver. She lives in Denver with her 3 children.
Asia Dorsey is a serene, green, afrofuturist spreading the seeds of collective creativity, scientific inquiry and food justice through radical education. Asia has facilitated fermentation and food anthropology workshops nationally and internationally. This community food activist, educator and leader of the Five Points Fermentation Cooperative enjoys her time hand-crafting high-integrity, bioregional foods and brews . She combines her academic background in economic sociology and food systems, with her passion for kitchen alchemy and community empowerment to cultivate the leaders needed to create equitable, regenerative economies and foods as medicine rooted in the ethics of people care, landcare and fairshare. A graduate of New York University and currently a member of Denver’s Sustainable Food Policy Council.
3:15 – 4:00 PM
Closing Remarks / networking time.