While the process to rename Stapleton is well under way, with the nine finalists announced this past week, one Stapleton homeowner, argued that attitudes, not names, need to be changed in his essay "Being Neighborly Means Talking to Your Neighbors."
And plenty of neighbors talked back in response.
Says Erin Bodine:
I could not disagree more with Frank Conry's July 12 op-ed. First, the headline of this op-ed is misleading. It should read, "Being Neighborly Means Maintaining the Status Quo. It's not neighborly to advocate for social change, says this homeowner." It should also be called out for what it is: a criticism of the effort to begin to right past wrongs dressed up in a whitewashed version of being neighborly.
I see right through it, and so do a lot of others. Being neighborly first and foremost means listening to your neighbors. That's what this author said he did when he respected the request of his neighbor not to do something that the author found to be unpopular, inconvenient and cumbersome. And that is what we are doing by changing the name of our neighborhood.
We are listening to our neighbors — in the much larger sense of the word — including those across Park Hill and Denver, who have told us repeatedly, over decades, that this name causes them harm. But to liken changing the name of a neighborhood that honors a racist mayor and member of the KKK to not letting your dog pee in your neighbor's yard is patently absurd. Saying "Can't we all just get along and be more neighborly?" is exactly how the status quo is maintained. It's how white supremacy works.
Being neighborly also includes not racially profiling our neighbors of color. Being neighborly means engaging our neighbors of color in conversation and listening to and believing their lived experiences. It goes far beyond helping each other stain fences; it is about actually mending fences, or better yet, taking down the fences that separate us. And there is far more work to be done there. Changing the name is the first step, and as many have noted in our neighborhood, it is unproductive — and frankly unneighborly — to call for a second binding vote. That ship sailed weeks ago, a vestige of an era in which we overlooked racist symbols.
Now, the ship is docked in a new harbor. We await a better name that will mark a time when we put in the work to become more inclusive and make anti-racist actions the real definition of treating our neighbors as our brothers and sisters. Let's be truly neighborly and come together for a name of which we can all be proud.
Literally the biggest injustice this man has experienced is not being able to let his dog pee on a neighbor's lawn, yet he's going to complain about changing a name that honors a racist Klansman.
Sounds about white.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Westword's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Denver's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
To use his analogy, your neighbor asked you to stop letting your dog go on his lawn, but you didn't, so now your neighbor is going to put up a fence because you can't respect other people and understand how your actions are wrong, even if it's technically ok.
Last year's vote was the ask to do the right thing. Only 1/3 of the owners even cared to return their ballots, and 2/3 of those people made the un-neighborly choice to keep the name, so now we're making the right choice for them.
And then there's this from Sophie:
Oh, bitch please: As though every Karen and Becky in St*pl*t*n doesn't just complain about homeless people and teenagers on Next Door.
The vote is now under way in Stapleton, with the winner slated to be announced on August 1. What do you think Stapleton should be renamed? See the finalists here, and then post a comment or email your thoughts to email@example.com.