Terrorist attacks like the underwear bomber's incendiary attempt to blow up Northwest Airlines Flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day remind Americans that the threat of terrorism is still pervasive — and in Denver, that reminder usually translates to more attention for the Cell, the nonprofit at 99 West 12th Avenue that Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano praised in October when she visited during the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference.
"The Cell understands this," says Melanie Pearlman, executive director of the Center for Empowered Living and Learning, which will mark its official one-year anniversary next month. "As far as increased attendance — unfortunately, these types of reminders bring terrorism to the front of mind, to the front of people's consciousness." So much so that many more people walk through the doors of the Cell when terrorism is back in the news — when Aurora's Najibullah Zazi was arrested last fall, for example, "and in the last two weeks in comparison to where we were last year," she adds.
As a result, the Cell is always looking to be "a living, breathing exhibit where the issues remain fluid," Pearlman says. That doesn't mean it's going to be putting Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's exploding undies or Zazi's mailbox key on display, but the Cell did take out a large ad in the Denver Post on Sunday citing the Christmas Day attack and promoting its video, Recognizing 8 Signs of Terrorism. That production, which is disconcertingly narrated by John Elway and 9News anchor Kim Christiansen, is designed to help cops and citizens alike recognize people or activities that could be part of a planned terrorist attack. It has also been viewed by high-school classes and other "first responders," like ER doctors and ambulance crews.
The Cell is now in the process of planning its next speaker series, which Pearlman says will involve a terrorism expert of some sort. Probably not Elway, however.
Scene and herd: You can find almost anything for sale at the National Western Stock Show — from $500 boots and truly awesome cowboy gear to lavender oils, wind chimes, stuffed animals and Universal Semen Sales' line of T-shirts, hats, bumperstickers and coffee mugs featuring its mascot, Sammy Semen.
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Still, it was a little odd to find one item advertised on what looked like handmade fliers on the walls above the urinals in the Coliseum restrooms. The item in question: historic Red Rocks Amphitheatre benches that the Denver Division of Theatres and Arenas began selling in 2009, after it replaced the original benches — installed in 1941 by the Civilian Conservation Corps and made of old-growth redwood trees — with "new, historically sensitive and eco-friendly wood," the flier says.
So how did the city decide on this bathroom-positive advertising approach? It turns out that Theatres and Arenas handed the job of selling the $195 benches to Aramark, the company that operates concessions at both Red Rocks and the Coliseum, says division spokeswoman Jenny Schiavone. Aramark figured that "the rustic, handcrafted appeal of the keepsake seemed like a natural fit for the event," she adds.
So far, the company has sold eight benches at its Stock Show booth, although 660 have been sold altogether. "Apparently the folks staffing the bench kiosk have also answered lots of questions about Red Rocks in general, turned people on to checking out the Visitors Center or getting married up there, so it's apparently a wonderful marketing opportunity," Schiavone says.
And something to think about...while you're peeing.