Our wonderful client Sonya closed on her home, just in time to get settled before welcoming her twin grandbabies! Sonya chose to donate to CWEE: Center of Work, Education, and Employment, because she wanted to support an organization that empowers local families to better their lives and break the cycle of poverty.

CWEE is an impactful nonprofit, based in Denver, that assists low-income single parents to gain employment and create financial security, often to transition off public assistance.

The participants attend CWEE’s program 30 hours per week for an average of three to six month. Participants learn soft skills necessary in employment and then begin building credential-backed technical skills they need to obtain and maintain long-term employment. They also learn such necessary skills as building a budget and finding childcare. After the participants complete the program, they can still access post-employment support as needed.

In 2015, CWEE served 616 participants, with a 62% increase in the number of individuals who gained employment from the previous year, with an average starting wage of $11.36 for full-time employment. CWEE is especially impactful in resolving the disparity in single mothers’ experiencing poverty – single mothers account for 10.7% of families in Colorado, but comprise 42% of all families living in poverty.

Caitie from CWEE, our client Sonya, and Conscious Real Estate Owner/Broker Allison Parks

Caitie from CWEE, our client Sonya, and Conscious Real Estate Owner/Broker Allison Parks

To date, CWEE has assisted more than 13,000 single parents to lift their families out of poverty, which has resulted in an estimated $6 million in wages being invested back into the Denver economy.

In the photo , we are standing in front of the CWEE tree of jobs. Each leaf has a CWEE participant’s name, their new job title, and their hourly wage.

I was thrilled to learn about this organization and to be able to donate on behalf of Sonya.

If you would like to learn more about CWEE, you can follow them on Facebook or Twitter. You can donate money, volunteer, or you can even donate professional clothing or business books! CWEE’s annual luncheon will take place this year on September 22 at Mile High Station, if you would like to honor their successful alumni, outstanding volunteers, foundations, community partners, employers, and corporations.

As always, you can always donate to CWEE if you choose to purchase or sell your home through Conscious Real Estate, since we donate 10% of our agent commissions with every transaction. To learn more about this, call Allison Parks at 303-908-9873 or email at allison@theconsciousgroup.com.

CWEE's Tree of Jobs

CWEE’s Tree of Jobs

 

Welome aboard, everyone… This is your Captain, Allison speaking…

The subject heading of this blog is about our company donating to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of Colorado, and we did. A client selected this organization after a recent home sale. Rather than discussing the donation, I would like to discuss cystic fibrosis.

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Cystic fibrosis is a life-threatening, genetic disease that causes persistent lung infections and progressively limits the ability to breathe. In people with CF, a defective gene causes a thick, buildup of mucus in the lungs, pancreas and other organs. In the lungs, the mucus clogs the airways and traps bacteria leading to infections, extensive lung damage and eventually, respiratory failure. In the pancreas, the mucus prevents the release of digestive enzymes that allow the body to break down food and absorb vital nutrients.

Today, the median predicted survival age is close to 40. This is a dramatic improvement from the 1950s, when a child with CF rarely lived long enough to attend elementary school. Thanks to advances in medicine, the life expectancy has been increased dramatically.

By pursuing bold strategies, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation has built a robust pipeline of potential new therapies that fight the disease from every angle. And, nearly every CF drug available today was made possible because of Foundation support — including therapies to treat the underlying cause of the disease. However, there is still much research to be done. While there has been significant progress in treating this disease, there is still no cure and too many lives are cut far too short.

From discussing this with the directors at the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of Colorado, they informed me that we may often not know that this is affecting someone who we may work with or know. People aren’t always forthcoming with the information, because they may not want to be perceived or treated differently. The directors at CFF of Colorado also told me amazing stories of the resiliency of the families who have children who are affected by CF.

My takeaway from this meeting was an extreme sense of gratitude… On a personal note, I get stressed about my problems and love to worry about this and that. But when I consider the fear and challenges that other people sometimes must face and the STRENGTH that other people bring to the table when facing these complicated issues, I am reminded to be grateful that I have my health… to not sweat the small stuff… I sometimes think I have “problems,” but there are plenty of people who would be grateful to have my problems.

I also remembered to have compassion for other people. I’ve learned this a million times and I even run a company that donates money constantly, but I still need the reminders. We may not know what the person next to us is dealing with. I learned that many people who have CF may look incredibly healthy, but they’re actually dealing with some extreme health issues.

If you would like donate to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of Colorado, click here. Or, if you would like a fun challenge that benefits this organization, on June 25th, 2016, they will be having the Denver CF Climb, in which you climb ALL of the stairs – 3865 TOTAL – at Mile High Stadium. Sound difficult? I was told that some of the participants who have CF and only have 40% lung function still participate and do the climb! Conscious Real Estate will be hosting a water station at this event, so we certainly hope to see some of you there.

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Maybe you have already heard of VORP, but I pride myself on knowing about all local nonprofits and I had not yet heard of this one, although they have been providing services to Denver youth for over 20 years. I was incredibly inspired by my visit and am grateful that my clients chose to donate to this wonderful organization, so that I could learn about this organization and contribute to their cause.

VORP stands for Victim Offender Reconciliation Program and they keep young people out of jail by restoring the relationships between oneself, one’s family, and one’s community. This is an alternative justice practice, which acknowledges individual experiences and identities. Have you ever heard of transformative justice?

Angell Perez, Executive Director of VORP, almost brought me to tears with the story of Julia…

Julia was a 12-year-old when she was referred to VORP from the Denver Juvenile Diversion Program after receiving a ticket for Assault and Interference with School Staff. She had been handcuffed, arrested, and expelled from her middle school, after spending 5 days in a local “juvenile jail.” Why? Because she got into a fight with another student and when a teacher tried to break it up, she was punched in the mouth by someone who she thought was Julia. Completely unacceptable, right? Sure… but there’s a lot more to the story.

For many months, Julia had been consistently bullied at school by several girls because she plays a lot of sports and dresses like a tomboy. Julia had sought help from several staff members at school and their advice was to “just ignore it.” One day, she finally lost it and got in a fight with one of the bullies. She had been having a terrible time at home. Six months prior, her father had passed away from cancer unexpectedly. Julia had been separated from her siblings, as they were all living with different relatives. She was worried about her little sister, who had been threatening suicide, and since they were separated, Julia could not be there for her. And so the events of Julia’s fight unfolded as they did.

VORP facilitated a Face2Face healing circle with Julia, her grandfather, and the teacher from school who pressed the charges, Ms. Audrey. Ms. Audrey was able to share how much hurt she experienced, both physically and emotionally. She shared that her daughters were students at the school, who saw her get assaulted and were afraid for their mother’s wellbeing. The incident caused so much harm to Ms. Audrey that she had considered leaving her career as a teacher, although she had become a teacher because she wanted to support youth in their education to lead them to better lives.

In this circle, Julia was able to face the harm that she had caused and was able to share her story with Ms. Audrey, so Ms. Audrey could understand the root of Julia’s anger and help her learn how to better deal with it. With the staff and volunteers of VORP, everyone was able to create empathy and understanding with one another.

Ms. Audrey praised VORP’s Transformative Justice Programs and vowed to advocate for calling VORP, instead of the police with school administrational issues. Ms. Audrey also committed to helping Julia get back into school after she had been expelled. Julia completed her community contract to make amends to Ms. Audrey, herself, and her family. She got back into school and finished the school year with all A’s and B’s.

The focus of Transformative Justice is to begin a journey of transformational healing for youth, families, and community by focusing on the root causes of harm (crime.) This is done by addressing generational wounds and trauma caused by societal oppression (racism, poverty, etc.) to inspire youth to empathize with survivors of crime and heal the harm they’ve caused them.

Transformative Justice also actively works to transform systems that cause harm to particular communities, especially communities of color, such as the school to prison pipeline, mass incarceration, and the prison industrial complex. VORP provided programs to 230 youth and their families in 2015. Over 90% were youth of color and 87% qualified for free or reduced lunch.

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Pictured are Conscious Real Estate clients: Zoe, Patrick, Aster, and Oriole with myself

I am incredibly grateful to Zoe, Patrick, Aster, and Oriole for choosing VORP for their Conscious Real Estate donation, so I was able to meet Angell and learn about all of the wonderful work that VORP is doing in our community to help young people. We met with them on December 31, 2015 and I couldn’t ask for a more inspiring end to my year. As we were walking out, Zoe mentioned that one of her friends had recently purchased a home from another realtor and was bragging that her realtor had given them a new security system as a closing gift. Zoe responded to her friend, “Our donation to VORP is our security system.”

“We chose to give to VORP because we have seen an increasing pattern of people of color being sent to courts and jails at early ages. VORP sees the factors that schools and courts miss, like trauma, economic, and social factors that make youth more likely to end up in the correctional system. We believe in VORP’s holistic and transformative approach to justice as well as their leadership opportunities that support young people in changing our future.”

If you would like to learn more about VORP and their programs, click here. You can volunteer or donate to VORP or “like” them on Facebook. And as always, when you purchase or sell a home with Conscious Real Estate, 10% of our commission goes to the nonprofit of your choice and we are always more than happy to donate to such wonderful causes. I hope everyone’s new year is going well. – Allison

We couldn’t be more thrilled to announce that Elizabeth (Ellie) Lord has chosen to be our newest broker associate.

She is passionate. She is knowledgeable. She chose to work with us because of our philanthropic business model. Let us tell you about all things Ellie…

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Elizabeth “Ellie” Lord’s personal mission statement reads; “my purpose is to create a life that is rewarding personally as well as professionally, and in return, enhance it through active community involvement.” She lives this creed every day, and through everything she does.

  Born and raised in Seattle, Ellie grew up surrounded by an amazingly supportive family and a herd of golden retrievers. After eight years in the residential design and construction industry, she moved to Denver for graduate school at the University of Denver. With a graduate degree in real estate and construction management, and a new found love of Colorado, she reestablished her award winning design business, Elizabeth P. Lord Residential Design LLC, in Denver. In addition to her extensive experience in residential design, and her background in construction, she offers her real estate clients the opportunity to use her wealth of knowledge to achieve the maximum value out of their home in preparation of selling, or insight into making a potential house their personalized space with design advice.

In her spare time, Ellie enjoys traveling the world and thrives on experiencing new adventures. After participating in a Habitat for Humanity build in New Zealand, she chose to live a life of gratitude and has continually pursued opportunities to give back to her community. She volunteers with the Golden Retriever Rescue of the Rockies and the local Habitat for Humanity chapter, as well as donating design services to charitable organizations. She recently purchased a condo in Wash Park, and adopted a Bernedoodle, who will be trained to become a therapy dog.

 

Greetings All!  This weekend, Kim Johnson of Faceted Media and I volunteered at the First Friday event with the Art of War Project.  While I was there, Erika Righter, owner of Hope Tank (that cool gift boutique on South Broadway, which gives a portion of EVERY item to nonprofits) introduced me to the artists of the VSA Colorado Access Gallery.

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The VSA Colorado/Access Gallery is an inclusive nonprofit organization that provides creative and educational opportunities for people with disabilities to access and experience the arts.  Each summer VSA Colorado/Access Gallery works with 15 – 20 high school students with disabilities to develop skills and strategies to increase access to economic opportunities.  I think these kids are awesome and I think you will think they’re awesome.

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A GREAT way to support these teens is through the “We Make Great Pets Project,” through which you can commission a portrait of your pet!  The goal is to develop, implement, and support arts-integrated education and employment programs for teens and young adults with disabilities.

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Commissioning a portrait of your pet is simple.  Come to the gallery at 909 Santa Fe, Denver, CO 80204.  See examples and pick three artists whose style you like.  They will make every effort to have one of your selected artists complete the piece, and for an additional fee, they can guarantee your top choice.  In two weeks, your portrait will be complete.  It’s fun for you OR it’s the perfect gift for any animal lover.

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It costs $80 for an 11 X 14 portrait of your pet.  You provide them with a photo of your pet and a deposit and the artists will begin the portrait.  You can commission any animal you choose.  The artists are encouraged to use their creative talent, so the painting will be an interpretation of your photograph.  (No refunds on commissioned paintings.)

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Find the artist that fits your pet’s flair and email them a photo!  For more information, call 303-777-0797 or email cris@accessgallery.org, you can stay updated on their events through Facebook, or if you’re feeling inspired, you can donate.  I hope you’re all having a great summer!  – Allison

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Traditional style coffee shop in central London

Boxcar Coffee Roasters:  With two locations (at Boulder gourmet shop Cured and The Source in Denver’s RiNo district), Boxcar richly deserves the strong buzz it generates for its roasting expertise and high-altitude brewing methods, showcased in every last espresso blend and single-origin coffee.  Also, The Source is freaking awesome.

3350 Brighton Blvd.; 1825 Pearl St., Boulder, 303-527-1300 

Crema Coffee House: This is a true coffee connoisseur’s cafe, using only the French Press or lever espresso machine, they see the brewing of the brown stuff as a craft and art form that deserves great appreciation.

2862 Larimer; 720-235-2995

Denver Bicycle Cafe: This coffee shop in uptown is a bike-repair shop, a coffeehouse, and a craft-beer bar – all the things Denverites cherish most under one roof, complete with a fierce commitment to local vendors.

1308 E. 17th Ave.; 720-446-8029

 Gypsy House Café: So authentically Mediterranean in its décor and atmosphere, guests will feel like they’ve walked out of Denver and into Istanbul. Enjoy a cup of Turkish coffee, take a pull from their hookahs, listen to music, or get your tarot cards read.

1279 Marion St.; 303-830-1112

Hooked On Colfax: This hipster hangout on Colfax, (imagine that…) pours hot, simple and delicious coffee and espressos, as well as offering free wi-fi and hosting monthly local art shows.

3213 E. Colfax Ave.; 303-398-2665

Pablo’s Coffee:  A pioneer in the local roasting movement, this Alamo Placita coffee shop has it all.  (Ok, actually, they don’t have wifi.)  Well-worn space bedecked with mini-chandeliers, check; messenger bag-toting regulars, check; house blends accompanied by the requisite pastries. If you buy their reusable cup, the drink is free with additional discounts on future drinks when you bring your cup.

630 E. Sixth Ave., 303-744-3323; 1300 Pennsylvania St. Ste. 102, 303-832-1688

St. Mark’s CoffeehouseOk, I’ll be honest.  This is not the best coffee in Denver… and the food isn’t that great… but the ambiance has kept me going back for over a decade.  It just has an unparalleled charm.  If you want a similar ambiance without the coffee, go next door to the Thin Man, a bar under the same ownership.

2019 E. 17th Ave; 303-322-8384

Wash Perk: Tucked into the historic Wash Park neighborhood three blocks west of the park, this coffee shop boasts free wi-fi, lots of room for your laptop, a book and magazine library, and amazing pastries, both traditional and gluten-free.

853 E. Ohio Ave.; 720-542-9202

The marijuana state, Colorado grunge rubber stamp, vector illustration

Many homeowners have feared that the introduction of marijuana dispensaries and stores would place neighborhoods at risk by contributing to higher crime rates and nuisance factors.  This is a valid concern – I notice everything in my neighborhood that could affect my home value, even if it’s as minute as a neighbor getting a new roof.  Homeowners SHOULD consider their home as an investment.

However, a study from the University of Colorado at Denver, one of my alma maters, has shown that pot shops do not negatively affect local neighborhoods, cause higher crime rates, or create other undesirable outcomes.  The study focused on 275 marijuana distribution facilities in 75 Denver area neighborhoods, comparing 2010 census data to data from the 2000 census before dispensaries were legal in Denver.  This study sought to discover whether dispensaries qualify as “locally undesirable land uses,” evaluating whether or not these types of businesses contributed to higher crime rates, economic injustice, etc.

The study authors expected to see inequalities especially with shops located in poorer neighborhoods.  However, the research showed no relationship between marijuana store locations with poverty rates or ethnicity, as recreational pot shops are dispersed widely throughout the Denver area.

“Everybody is saying that [marijuana stores] are undesirable.  If that’s the case, it’s certainly not showing up in the data,” said Paul Stretsky, co-author of the study and professor at University of Colorado at Denver’s School of Public Affairs.

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1)  Chickens Lay Eggs.  Not just any eggs, but the most flavorful eggs you will ever eat.  The recent health benefits  from the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrient date suggests that eggs from hens on a pasture may contain: 1⁄3 less cholesterol, 1⁄4 less saturated fat,  2⁄3 more Vitamin A, 2 times more Omega-3 fatty acids, 3 times more vitamin E, and 7 times more beta carotene.

2)  Chickens don’t require a great deal of space.  One should allow for 4 square feet of space per hen in their house and 10 square feet of space in an outdoor run.

3)  Chickens are easy to care for.  Chickens need food and water and safe exercise space.  It takes a few minutes to feed them, collect eggs and clean up bedding.

4)  Chickens are fun and educational for children.  Children can experience firsthand where food comes from and learn how to be responsible with care and feeding.

5)  Chickens produce manure, which is an ideal fertilizer for flower and vegetable gardens.  Chicken manure provides more nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium to plants than horse or cow manure.  Note:  chicken manure is too strong to be used raw on your flowers or vegetables, but it can be composted and converted to “black gold”.

6)  Chickens are an all-in-one yard service, resolving most insect and weed problems. If you have a section of yard with problems – forget the pesticide and let them scratch it up. Within a couple of days, it’s tilled and ready for planting.

Local ordinances for urban chicken farming in Colorado vary considerably.  Currently, backyard chickens are allowed in Alamosa, Arvada, Boulder, Denver, Colorado, Springs, Greeley, Longmont, and most recently, Aurora.  You will need to investigate in your city to determine local ordinances.  There is a $50 fee for urban chicken farming in Denver.  You may only have chickens and hens; no roosters.

Talk with your neighbors and make sure they are comfortable with your backyard flock.  Make sure your chickens have a safe coop, as many Colorado areas have predators, such as foxes, raccoons, and coyotes.  Without a protective roof, they could even be prey for hawks.

 

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I attended Mayor Michael Hancock’s 2014 Denver Economic Development Update, with speakers Paul Washington, the Director of Denver’s Office of Economic Development and Kelly Leid, the project manager of the North Denver Cornerstone Collaborative, so that you don’t have to!  2014 is looking pretty strong, but let’s review what Denver has already accomplished…

-Unemployment is down in to pre-recession levels

-We have experienced record-breaking home prices

-Forbes listed Denver as a Top City for Economic Momentum and a Top City for Job Seekers!

-Nonstop international flights to Denver have been increased to increase our competitiveness as an international economic contender

-We have gained 80,000 new residents since 2001

-New construction has hit the highest levels in over a decade

-Denver Public School attendance is up from 72,000 to 90,000 students

-Denver has added 15,000 jobs over the last two years

Not too shabby!  So, what are we looking forward to in 2014?

Mayor Hancock is focusing strongly on building up North Denver, including the improving the RiNo district, redevelopment of Brighton Boulevard, increasing access, transit, and services to the long neglected Globeville and Elyria-Swansea neighborhoods.  (To learn about Globeville and Elyria Swansea initiative, click here.)  Interstate 70 is also looking to receive improvements to move the highway underground and place a park above ground, similar to the Klyde Warren Park of Dallas, which has been described as “a green space arising out of thin air.”

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Efforts are also being made to redevelop the National Western Stock Complex and Denver Coliseum, to turn them into a year-round destination for out-of-towners.  The Welton Corridor in Five Points is also receiving grant money for mixed-use improvements.  The Mayor is also focused on adding affordable housing, as well as mixed-income developments in lower income neighborhoods.

One of my personal favorites as an real estate agent who advocates for community building and eco-concerns is that the Mayor has recognized that many of Denver’s new residents are aged 18-34.  He acknowledged that these folks wants to live, work, and play in the same area, often eschewing vehicles for public transit.  To accommodate this, our transit system is being expanded and strengthened.

All in all, the future looks bright!

Skyscrapers in Downtown Denver, Colorado.

After some controversy, the Sloans development is coming to realization.  The former St. Anthony Central Hospital located at West 16th Ave and Raleigh in the West Colfax neighborhood has been scraped and will be redeveloped as Denver’s newest urban infill.  Infrastructure will be built this spring with construction expected to begin by summer.

EnviroFinance Group has placed four of the blocks under contract with local developers who will build a mixed-use area of apartments, restaurants, shops, and a hotel across West 17th Avenue from Sloan’s Lake.  The Denver Post has recently reported that an 8-screen Alamo Drafthouse Theater will be added to the development as well.

There have been opponents to this development, including neighborhood groups who are concerned with density issues.  Around 1,200 residential units are expected with building heights rising to 20 stories.  With this potential influx of new residents to the area, questions have been raised as to whether the area can handle the additional traffic.

Developers believe the project will be a strong addition to the neighborhood.  Most Denverites would agree that West Colfax could use some work… will the Sloans development be the answer?