What advice would you hand down to the next generation of Denver residents?
Here's one suggestion: Remember to keep files on important city projects, since memories (like many political careers) can be short.
To commemorate the 160th anniversary of Denver's founding on November 22, 1858, Mayor Michael Hancock recently issued an invitation for grandparents, great-grandparents and senior residents to share "sage advice" about life in the Mile High City.
"We will use these personal treasures to create a historic database, a digital road-map, connecting the lessons of our past with the prosperity of our future," the announcement promises. "We are calling this 'Denver’s Next 160.' No matter your circumstance, whether you were born and raised in Denver or are a newcomer, we all have important lessons learned and advice to share. Mayor Hancock believes these perspectives play a pivotal role in informing future generations whose decisions will shape Denver’s next 160 years as a city."
To kick things off, the mayor shared a letter from his 79-year-old mother, Scharlyne Hancock, which includes this: “My advice to the next generation is to remember that the people have made this city great. Work to be an asset to Denver by getting the best education you can; be safe and keep your neighbors safe. Keep your health, mind and body strong, and for the good of all of us strive to be the best you be.” (See the full letter below.)
And speaking of people who make this city great, it wasn't so long ago that the Rocky Mountain News marked Denver's 150th anniversary with a special package celebrating just the sort of people Scharlyne Hancock cites: "People Who Care: 150 Who Make Denver a Better Place to Live." But just three months later, on February 27, 2009, the News itself disappeared, taking with it most memories of that project. ("Are the Denver dailies' 150th birthday sections keepers?" Michael Roberts had asked in the headline of his piece about the anniversary editions. Answer: No, since even the mayor's office didn't have a record of "People Who Care.")
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Parts of the Rocky Mountain News live on: Phil Anschutz, who was included in 2008's list of 150 "People Who Care" and went on to become a Colorado newspaperman himself when he acquired the Colorado Springs Gazette in 2012, still owns the Rocky Mountain News nameplate; the electronic archives from 1992 through the paper's final edition wound up with the Denver Public Library, which already had a print collection stretching from January 1865 to December 1941, as well as microfiche of issues from April 1859, when the News was founded, to 2009.
Someone from the mayor's office might want to run over to the Western History Library to check out what people who're now a decade older had to say about the city back in 2008; it could help jump-start the Denver's Next 160 project, or at least jog a few memories.
But in the meantime, seniors (and this city has plenty of them, since Denver was recently named one of the best three places for retirees) can send their letters to the future via email at DenversNext160@denvergov.org; mail them via regular mail to the Mayor’s Office, attn: Denver’s Next 160, 1437 Bannock Street, Denver, CO, 80202; or, for those particularly savvy seniors, post them on the mayor’s social-media platforms using #DenversNext160.