At the State of Downtown 2015 breakfast briefing last month, the Denver Partnership rolled out a roster of impressive statistics, including the fact that Denver has seen the country’s “largest increase in residents with college degrees,” according to 2014 U.S. Census stats and has the “best commercial real estate market in the U.S.,” according to Coldwell Banker, with sixteen development projects completed in downtown in 2014, representing over $1 billion in investment.
But the most impressive display that morning may have been offered by poet Ken Arkind (one of our 100 Colorado Creatives), who’d been charged by the Partnership with taking a wall of wish-list sticky notes posted by attendees and turning it into a poem — which he performed for the crowd before rushing off to a gig in Wisconsin. “Considering that I did this within forty minutes,” Arkind says, “I am both a little embarrassed and a little impressed.”
Arkind had written and performed "a beautiful poem about the Rocky Mountain West for our Rocky Mountain CitySummit last year," says the Partnership's Brittany Morris. "We were so impressed that naturally his talents lent itself to this event as well." The CitySummit returns to Denver on April 23; in the meantime, here’s Arkind's poem on the range (the wish-list items are in bold):
When I was a little kid,
I asked my mother why we didn’t have the Olympics in Denver.
My teacher had told me that we lost the bid in 1976.
She told me that we never lost the Olympics,
we voted the idea down.
Too much traffic.
She said, “It would have clogged I-70” and given her a heart attack!
At the time,
I thought that my mother was solely responsible for keeping the Olympics
from coming to Denver.
The whole city was that concerned for her health.
Eventually, I figured it out.
Cities are living, breathing entities all their own.
They continue to live after the people who helped them have left,
expanding and shrinking,
reaching and breathing.
A healthy uncongested heart,
streets like veins,
flowing with commuters and residents.
This skyscraper-filled muscle,
keep it clean.
We hope for the best transit in the nation,
so our heart stays healthy.
Protected bike lanes from Broadway to DIA,
a city body with transit options
as diverse as its population.
Also, keep it green.
We want a city that helps you breathe,
where seniors never feel marginalized.
Where we keep housing affordable
for those moving in
and those who have always lived here.
From Wash Park to the Northside,
and everything in between.
We hope to continue to respect what a great place it is to be.
Its dynamic culture,
and its youth.
Because education is the key to a prosperous community.
and community is more important than money.
We hope to grow but retain our identity.
This is a 20,000 square foot playground,
where you get to build the slide as tall as you want.
How about some swings on the 16th Street Mall
or a four-day work week?
How about pockets full of cash,
and a downtown that never closes.
Something to occupy all of these attractive singles.
Maybe some of them could be men
that don’t just hike, bike and ski all the time.
We want to be a travel destination for all of our beauty,
not just the other green industry.
Most of the world already sees us as a thing of beauty.
So we could work to make our buildings as tall as the mountains that cradle them,
but we already live on one of the tallest observation decks in the world.
Queen City of the Plains,
look how beautiful
she already is. — Ken Arkind
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The 16th Street Mall.