There has been much talk about how the weak economy has hurt those who were already struggling the most. There seem to be more homeless men and women standing with signs at the highway entrances. The food banks and community centers say more children are showing up hungry and tired.
The task we face often seems insurmountable. And yet, I am seeing some of Denver’s most energetic, smart, successful people – politicians, business people, teachers, parents and more – working hard and using innovative means to achieve change.
This Thanksgiving and holiday season, I am thankful for them.
This energy and innovative spirit has inspired some very creative things going on in Denver to help communities lift themselves out of poverty. Floodlight, co-sponsored by the Piton Foundation, Denver Foundation and Knight Foundation, is one that has caught my attention.
Floodlight is an online platform where residents, students, business owners, and people working in the Northeast Corridor of the city can post their stories, photos or other artwork inspired by the neighborhood they inhabit. The concept is that by combining Census data and other numbers with real-life stories and images, a truer picture of life in one of our struggling neighborhoods will inspire appropriate, directed and effective action from the larger Denver community.
It is also a way for the community to come together to support those suffering most and take pride in the small victories or hidden talents that individuals decide to share.
The Floodlight vision, as stated on its website (www.floodlightproject.org), is:
We can’t change what we can’t see. But together, our stories can illuminate issues that matter and brighten the world. We believe in the inherent power, desire and creativity of people to enlighten the others in their community about critical issues that affect us all. We also believe that thriving communities hinge on full citizen engagement. Floodlight strives to empower as many community members as possible to translate their own firsthand, on-the-ground experiences and knowledge into stories to that can direct action to improve people’s lives.
On November 28, at Redline on Arapahoe Street, Floodlight is holding a free story-raising workshop, where participants from Denver’s Northeast Corridor will collaboratively create digitally stories that “can help others make a connection, solve a problem or find hope.” The Floodlight team hosting the event will provide lunch, instruction on using the site, and data that can be used to give more power to individual experiences.
Some of the initial posts on the Floodlight site include:
- The Poet-Athletes about a non-profit that offers soccer and literacy programs to third through fifth graders at ten local schools
- A Father and Daughter Discuss Immigrant Rights, an interview with two immigrants from Mexico
- Growing Pains at Denver’s Lake Campus about efforts to improve a neighborhood school
- DAVA Youth Explore Art and Technology about an organization that provides art programs to kids along the Colfax Corridor
There is also information about efforts being made in the Children’s Corridor, projects to revitalize Holly Park, and more.
I am eager to see how this project evolves. And again, I give thanks to those who have not given up on our communities – those who live and work there, as well as those who continuously reach out.