Denver has had its share of eras — but every year seems to mark the coming and going of some element of local culture, and 2017 was no different. Sure, we had the restaurants that opened and closed, the sports seasons that are, frankly, better left to the dustbin of history, and news that confused and concerned us and then faded out of our attention span to make room for more news.
But what from 2017 made its mark on Denver — elements of the year that have legs — and might influence our 2018? Here are ten trends Denver saw this past year that seem to have some staying power.
10. Goat yoga
Goat yoga. Yes, it's a thing, and, yes, we're talking about goats, those apocryphal tin-can-eating, bridge-crossing animals. We can learn something from goats, one presumes, but I’m not sure what. Eat what’s available? Maybe. Go with the flow, even when people around you are doing yoga? I guess, but the real lesson might be to steer clear of anyone requiring you to display admirable patience while someone else exhibits weird behavior. Keep calm and downward goat.
9. Urban renewal (whether we want it or not)
This year saw a number of infill and city renovations that were met with varying levels of opposition. Some were based in the politics of gentrification: the slow but inexorable conversion of RiNo from scrappy and cheap industrial wasteland to polished and decidedly not cheap hip residential neighborhood. The city shut down City Park Golf Course for two years — at least — to improve stormwater drainage...and remove most of its trees. And then there’s the the I-70 project that will restructure the ten-mile stretch from the Mousetrap to Chambers Road, affecting the primarily working-class neighborhoods of Elyria/Swansea and Globeville. The debate is multi-faceted, including objections based on everything from air pollution to bad design to gentrification, prompting signs to pop up all over town advocating that the city “Ditch the Ditch.” With all this going on (and more, surely, with the bond issues passed in November), will there be any part of Denver left to renovate? Will any part of the Mile High be available for moderately priced housing? Will your favorite hole-in-the-wall bar somehow keep from becoming a craft-beer-bistro parody of its former self? All signs point to no.
8. The rise of biking
We took time to enumerate the rules for polite biking a while back because there seem to be more people doing it. And why not? It’s a great way to get in some exercise and save yourself from the headaches (and the environmental impact) of a daily commute. And Denver’s doing a lot to support it. This year saw the implementation of protected bike lanes downtown, and an expansion of the bike routes overall. The world is looking rosier — and by that, I mean a little less intimidating — for bikes in traffic. Just remember that those traffic signs and signals refer to you, too, ten-speed.
7. Less snow, more heat
September was warm. So was October. November was among the warmest on record in Denver, with no real measurable snow at all, and December doesn’t look to be much better. The snow might come in 2018, but are we seeing a trend that’s going to seriously (and negatively) affect tourism in the long term? Maybe Colorado can convince the world that while we might not have much snow for skiing anymore, rolling downhill is pretty fun.
6. We’re getting fatter
Speaking of rolling down hills...we’re getting a lot better at it, because we’re a little rounder than we used to be. Colorado might boast the lowest obesity rate in the nation, but that’s a low bar — in this case, “lowest rate of obesity” translates to more than one in five people registering as obese, and the rate is climbing. I blame Voodoo Doughnut.
5. Housing market stabilizing
Or is it cooling? Taking a short respite? Is the bubble about to burst? Or is there no bubble? Everyone’s got an opinion on where the housing market is going, but the fact is that in 2017, the market took a deep breath and collected itself a little. Inventory was down, purchases were steady, and prices actually dipped in September for the first time in a while. Rents are getting a little better, too, but not after an increase so ridiculous that it serves as a strong reminder that "better" is a relative term when you're spending close to $1,500 for a one-bedroom.
4. Taking to the streets
The Women’s March on Denver attracted well over 100,000 (estimates of crowd size were actually hampered by the crowd size itself; on site, police were saying that there were at least 200,000, and some estimates ranged as high as 400,000), and brought out the anger (and the creativity) of the crowds. Throughout the year, voices were raised time and time again both for and against the Trump administration and its policies. Denver ended the year by taking to the streets in RiNo, when Ink! was dumb enough to try to make gentrification a punchline.
3. A rising mistrust of Cory Gardner
And a well-deserved mistrust it is, too. Town halls were scheduled without him, with only a cardboard Cory cut-out at the podium. Then when he did show up, the pent-up anger and anxiety from the Colorado audience was loud and resolute. The nail in Gardner’s political coffin may have come in the aftermath of the Doug Jones win over teen predator Roy Moore in Alabama; while our senator was rightly opposed to Moore going to Washington, he also said that he hoped Jones would “do the right thing and truly represent Alabama by choosing to vote with the Senate Republican majority.” Is it that Gardner truly didn’t realize how that might reflect on him, a senator in lockstep with a president and party that was not supported by the majority of Coloradans? Or is it just that he didn’t care? Either way, Senator Gardner, you might want to start polishing that résumé before 2020 rolls around.
2. An emphasis on environmentalism
Denver saw one massive change in the interests of supporting more recycling efforts: We lost our dumpsters. Where once we had these iron giants along our alleyways — where we could throw away everything from bags of trash to rolls of carpet to broken furniture — the city kept its 2016 promise and replaced just about all of them with individual rollaways in the hopes that we throw away less. We’re also changing the way we build our city structures. By a slight but significant (and to many, surprising) margin, the Green Roof Initiative passed in November’s election, which will require buildings within certain specifications to set aside rooftop space for gardens, solar panels or both. It passed despite opposition from developers and Mayor Hancock, who called it “too much, too soon.” Guess not.
1. More people moving away
Not that Denver’s losing population. We’re still seeing a net increase in population. It’s just that the numbers of people moving in are down, and the numbers of people moving out are up. The traffic is bad, starter homes are priced like anything but, rents are ridiculous, and the Broncos have lost their mojo. So some are saying "Well, shit, might as well try Utah." Which is, by the way, the Utah state motto.
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