Evan Weissman wants Denver to take control of its civic health, so he's created Warm Cookies of the Revolution, a monthly gathering where the community can discuss important issues, promote advocacy and also enjoy entertainment. Tonight's event at Buntport Theater is a letter-writing party, where attendees can write a letter to a loved one or a government official -- enjoying cookies and milk along with the food for thought.
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Weissman, who has been part of the Buntport crew for eleven years, has always been involved with social and political issues. But he understands that people also want to do something fun after a long day of hard work, so he decided to combine the two ideas in Warm Cookies of the Revolution.
"If I send you an e-mail or a flier saying, 'Come to this talk about the city budget' or, 'Come to this talk about welcoming sex offenders back into the community' -- these are things that are happening and the ramifications are huge -- you're not going to come," Weissman says. By combining civic discussions with fun activities, he thinks the community will be more interested in getting involved.
The initial Warm Cookies board comprises friends Weissman met through working with the Mi Casa Resource Center. "We're concerned about the community as a whole, but we also know people want to have fun," he says.
"The term 'revolution' is fun, it's a fun way of saying it," Weissman says. "But I take that word seriously. And I think what that means is, if we can start advocating for ourselves, if we can decide what it is that we want as a community and advocate for that, that's a revolution."
Weissman hopes to have a permanent location for the gatherings by this time next year, ideally near the Esquire Theater. "Once it's open, there's going to be a storefront and it will be a pay-what-you-can donation-only system for cookies and ice cream and soup from local businesses," he explains.
Until then, the monthly gatherings are at Buntport -- but the Warm Cookies crew is also trying to arrange events at the McNichols building and in other parts of town. "One of the restraints and challenges is that we're going to be in one location, so it's not in every neighborhood," Weissman explains. "So we're going to try to get people involved and feel a sense of ownership before it's open, so that maybe coming to that neighborhood won't feel as daunting."
The first gathering was a game night at Buntport last month, where close to a hundred people played board games and talked; Weissman also provided background on the organization, as well as cookies from the Santa Fe Cooking Company and WaterCourse Foods. "The hope there was to show, 'Look, you can come to the fun thing, it's game night.' But when we do it, we'll have a different topic each time. And it's not forced, it doesn't have to be a horrible lecture," Weissman says.
Tonight's gathering starts at 6:30 p.m. at Buntport . "Come write a letter," Weissman urges. "It can be a love letter, it can be a letter to your family, it can be a letter to no one, a letter to your future self, anything you want."
And it's important that in these days of e-mail, the letter be handwritten. "Everyone loves getting mail -- real mail. That is always the first thing you'll open and you're so excited," he says. "Sitting down and thinking about something or someone for a certain amount of time, we don't do that anymore, at all."
Letters to state representatives, city councilmembers, editors and even prisoners will be encouraged. Guests speakers will be there to talk about the importance of writing letters to the editor as well as public officials. Although some supplies will be provided (along with the cookies and milk), attendees are encouraged to bring paper, envelopes, postcards and pens. All the letters will be mailed out tomorrow.
Other Warm Cookies events over the next year will include book clubs, live talk shows and inter-generational programs. "We're told that the problems in our community are super complex," Weissman says. "I think that's a poisonous idea." Although he knows that experts are crucial in dealing with complicated civic issues -- city sewage systems, for example -- he thinks the community should also be part of the conversation: "That system of having techno-bureaucrats run things, it doesn't work because the same people get shafted over and over."
Community input is also crucial to keeping organizations like Warm Cookies alive. "If it's just up to me and the ten people I have on the initial board, then this idea is going to die," Weissman explains. "It needs buy-in from as many different people and organizations, from as diverse a range of people as possible. Or else it's going to end up just being a slice if the community."
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