Happy Friday, Boulder, and here we are. And here’s the news.

Today, John Herrick covers the Lived Experience Exhibition at the Boulder Public Library, a new photo exhibit that seeks to elevate the perspective of homeless people in Boulder. The exhibit, which launched on Tuesday, includes 20 black-and-white, hand-printed photos that were taken by homeless people. In May, they were given disposable cameras by a local photographer and the nonprofit Feet Forward. Some photos are quirky and playful, others are not.

Also, the city council took an incremental step last night to form a library district after voters approved the measure on Nov. 8, and neighbors came out to oppose a housing factory the city wants to build in East Boulder.

Have a tremendous weekend.

— Tim, reporter

What to know today

Cloudy today but sunny over the weekend: In the 20s today with a chance of more snow. What flakes are left finish up by tomorrow, which should be nothing but sun.

Meadows Branch Library closed: Just Monday, Nov. 21 through Wednesday, Nov. 23. They’re replacing the carpet. It will reopen after Thanksgiving, on the 25th.

Neighbors speak out against proposed housing factory. City of Boulder officials want to build an $8.5 million factory to build modular homes on an East Boulder property owned by the Boulder Valley School District. The location is at 65th and Arapahoe Avenue. (There’s a complicated back story to this project. In short: City officials have been eyeing the site as one of the best options for the factory. In order to build it, they’re asking BVSD to hand over the land in exchange for city water, as part of an annexation agreement. After BVSD recently built a new kitchen at its nearby headquarters, the city dug up a decades-old ordinance that deals with sewer and water services to BVSD facilities. It seemingly says that BVSD now needs to apply for annexation.)

  • The annexation deal is hitting some snags with neighbors. During a public hearing on Thursday, residents called into city council to voice concerns about potential noise and truck traffic from the modular home factory. The proposed deal would allow the facility to operate from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Saturday. All trucks carrying supplies and materials would enter the property along 63rd Street, which runs along the Columbine Mobile Home Park.
  • Residents are also worried about potential impacts of dust, noise and light on the nearby Sombrero Marsh, which is protected city open space and used as nature lessons for students. The marsh is located near 63rd Street.
  • City councilmembers deferred making a decision on whether to approve the agreement. To help mitigate potential impacts on neighbors and the marsh, they want city and district officials to discuss whether to move the access point to the factory from 63rd to 65th.

Incremental step toward library district: Councilmembers Aaron Brockett and Nicole Speer are poised to serve on a committee that will appoint the first trustees overseeing Boulder’s new library district. A formal vote is expected during the Dec. 1 meeting, after councilmembers return from their Thanksgiving break.

  • The appointment will be one of the first steps toward setting up the new library district, approved by voters in the 2022 election. The Board of County Commissioners will also appoint two of their colleagues to serve on the committee to appoint the district’s first trustees.
  • The four elected officials will appoint up to seven trustees to serve a maximum of five years. They will be responsible for taking over the city’s existing library system and setting up a new one.

Homeless shelter open for critical weather nights: Last night and tonight, in light of the cold weather, the Boulder Homeless Shelter will increase its capacity to 180 people. Those wishing to use the shelter will not need to enroll or utilize services. As is normal, the shelter will close at 8 a.m. tomorrow morning, unless the high is 20 degrees or below, in which case the shelter will remain open to those who stayed the previous night.

  • Related: If you have extra winter gear, Feet Forward, an organization that provides resources to homeless people at the Boulder Bandshell on Tuesdays, needs adult-sized clothing and boots. They also need hand warmers.

American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) newsletter for Boulder: Boulder County is launching a newsletter to let residents know what our county is doing with money it received. The act focused on pandemic recovery, including $1,400 checks for individuals to alleviate Covid-induced struggles.

  • “Each new edition of Boulder County ARPA News will feature progress being made on of Boulder County’s Phase 2 Pandemic Recovery and Relief Projects supported by ARPA, with content on resource distribution, implementation of ARPA relief funds, and insights from funding recipients and project collaborators,” said Leslie Irwin, ARPA administrator. “We are excited to share stories in the ARPA newsletter that will feature the latest developments for each project and how these funds will support those most affected by COVID-19 across Boulder County.”

Audit of election: Each year in Colorado, election division officials conduct a risk-limiting audit that ensures ballots were counted properly and the election reflects the will of voters. As always, the public is invited to attend this audit to gain an understanding into the election process, and quell any concern of malpractice. It starts this Friday and continues through the weekend.

  • “The risk-limiting audit is a test that helps ensure the accuracy of election results and provides the public with evidence that election outcomes reflect the votes cast by voters on their ballots.”

Parks and Rec director outlines goals: The director of Boulder’s parks and rec department, Ali Rhodes, wrote an open letter to the community. In it, she said that she will be “laser-focused” on helping promote health and well-being in this coming year. To achieve that, she included some of parks and rec’s goals for this year, which included:

  • Build a new restaurant at Flatirons Golf Course to replace the one destroyed in the 2013 flood.
  • Renovate the playground at North Boulder Park.
  • Begin the process to update the warm water wellness pool at East Boulder Community Center, including an increased warm water exercise area and to replace the play amenities.
  • Begin planning for East Boulder Community Park’s playground renovation and the development of Violet Park.

Go deeper

Boulder photographer lends homeless people cameras to capture life living outside

By John Herrick

In May 2022, B Goodell, a local Louisville-based photographer who founded Unboxed Photography, handed out 36 disposable cameras to homeless people living in Boulder. 

Goodell then hand-printed 20 photos that were selected for the Lived Experience Exhibition, which launched this week at the Boulder Public Library. It runs through Jan. 14, 2023.

Organizers of the exhibit hope it will give a glimpse into everyday life of people experiencing homelessness in the community. By allowing them to represent themselves as they want to be seen, they also hope it might balance narratives about homeless people at a time when some residents are posting photos online of trash and drug paraphernalia at encampments. 

The exhibit is located in a nondescript hallway inside the library near the cafe. The black-and-white photos do not include names or captions. Goodell printed the images at the North Boulder Photo Center without cropping them, either.

“I didn’t want to name the pieces or put some sort of interpretation on the pieces. I wanted to leave it up to the viewer,” Goodell said in an interview. “I wanted it to be as raw and pure as possible.”

Goodell partnered on the project with Jen Livovich, the founder of Feet Forward, an organization that provides resources to homeless people at the Boulder Bandshell on Tuesdays. Together they distributed cameras. They gave people who returned them $20 gift cards to King Soopers. They also plan to award cash prizes to all finalists whose images were used. 

The idea for the exhibit came from the Through Our Eyes Project, a similar 2016 photo project based in Spartanburg, South Carolina. The Boulder exhibit was funded with an $8,000 grant from the Boulder Arts Commission. 

Continue reading…

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BRL picks

🚜 Soil Revolution conference in Boulder: Farmers and ranchers “of all scales and production systems” are invited to hear from soil health experts and farmers who have converted to more sustainable techniques. Taking place on Dec. 6, the conference will be available in person and to stream. Registration, however, closes Dec. 1.

🪧 Understand the 1920s Coal Strike: A new exhibit at the Lafayette History Museum delves into the 1920s struggle for justice and equality. “Although our schools often teach students about the 1914 Ludlow Massacre in Colorado’s southern coalfields as part of state history, the Columbine Mine Massacre that took place the following decade just outside Lafayette is often forgotten,” says Dr. Leigh Campbell-Hale, historian and author of a new book on the subject, who was instrumental in creating the exhibit.

🦃 Do a Turkey Trot: Support the community food share by trotting about Thanksgiving morning. Less than a week left to register. The race will take place in old town Louisville.

☂️ Mary Poppins: Until Nov. 20, catch Mary Poppins at The Spark in Boulder. “Based on the books by P.L. Travers and the classic Walt Disney film, Disney and Cameron Mackintosh’s Mary Poppins delighted Broadway audiences for over 2,500 performances and received nominations for nine Olivier and seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical.” Tickets here. Run Time is approximately 2.5 hours.

Covid in Boulder County: Nov. 18, 2022

  • 87 daily new cases (7-day avg.) ⬆️ Up 44% over preceding 7-day avg.
  • 29 patients hospitalized with Covid (7-day avg.) ⬆️ up from a high of 18 last week.
  • 69% percent of ICU is occupied. ⬆️ Up from avg. of 64% since July 2020.

What else we’re reading

Colorado is trying to increase snowfall by seeding clouds, shooting silver iodide into the atmosphere from guns in the St. Vrain basin, West of Longmont.

  • “We typically like to say, on an average storm, we can increase it 8% to 12% of the snow-water equivalent,” said Andrew Rickert, weather modification program manager for the Colorado Water Conservation Board. 


Tim Drugan

Tim Drugan is the climate and environment reporter for Boulder Reporting Lab, covering wildfires, water and other climate-related issues for Boulder with a focus on explanatory and solutions journalism. He also is the lead writer of BRL Today, our morning newsletter. Tim grew up in New Hampshire and graduated from UNH with a degree in English/Journalism. Email: tim@boulderreportinglab.org.