New & Next: Gratitude and Giving Thanks

Rebecca Saltman, community engagement officer for Confluence Denver, takes stock in the year, and looks forward to the next one.
As 2016 nears its end, I want to take this opportunity to share some of my thoughts about the past year, and more importantly my gratitude and thanks for a year's journey well spent.
 
Maybe it is just my personal perspective and perhaps experience, but people seem to be struggling more than ever before. Should we have known that 2016 would be so challenging a year in terms of loss  -- when we lost David Bowie so early in the year, followed by so many other beloved celebrities like Patty Duke, Prince and Muhammed Ali, and local leaders like Penny Parker, Kevin Johansen and Sheila Bugdanowitz?
 
We are living in a time of deep contrasts and resonating ironies. Living in a community that is burgeoning with record growth, driving record construction, yet simultaneously where it is "normal" to have homeless sweeps during Homeless Awareness Week in Denver. What?!
 
This year saw a silent majority find its voice at the voting booth, while outspoken organizations shouted the rights of the disenfranchised to a silent minority. Documenting this kind of transformation is Confluence's mission, leading our readers to greater understanding of their immediate environment as well as society at large. This past year's journey meant we all faced contrasts within us, not only among us.
 
And yet there is still so much good happening in our community every day that brings me so much hope:
 
As I write this, Colorado Gives Day will bring $33.8 million dollars to more than 2,100 nonprofit organizations in Colorado, some of which are so small, this is the biggest marketing opportunity for them.
 
I am also encouraged by the daily work of my amazing friends and colleagues. As the community engagement officer for Confluence, I normally curate this column because I greatly value the work and the words of my colleagues on the front lines. I believe that Issue Media Group and Confluence Denver provide a safe and just place to talk about this important work.
 
A comprehensive list is both impossible and reductive but I would like to call your attention to some initiatives and the hope these people and organizations may inspire in you as well:
 
Chinook Fund and its giving project funds diverse organizations engaged in all types of social justice and community organizing across Colorado. Giving Project volunteers make all grant-making decisions independently. By having community members manage the grant-making process, Chinook Fund is able to fund movements which are most relevant to the community.
 
The Community Wealth Building Network is working to change the economic paradigm in metro Denver, by focusing on building wealth in economically marginalized communities. Community Wealth Building (CWB) is an economic model based on place, inclusion, broad-based ownership, and institutional commitment to buying local.
 
The Open Media Foundation has launched a new addition to Denver Open Media: 104.7FM, a revolutionary radio station created by, operated by, and dedicated to Denver's creative community. Exclusively for local artists, bands, comics, podcast authors and more, community members create the content, while listeners vote to give the most prime and repeat air-time to the top-rated content.
 
Girls Inc.'s Strong, Smart & Bold Beans coffee cart is inside the Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzales library. The cart, a social enterprise of Girls Inc. of Metro Denver, is serving up coffee for a great cause. Strong, Smart & Bold Beans provides entrepreneurship and business-leadership training to high-school and college-age members of the Girls Inc. program to empower girls as leaders in an equitable society.
 
Hope Tank is an awesome social enterprise gift store ("gifts that give back") located in Denver's Baker neighborhood. They started off selling handmade products by local artists who then donated a portion of their sales to a charity of their choosing. They have since expanded the inventory to include products from all over the world, and from companies that are philanthropic and environmentally responsible.
 
mpowered is a leader in financial coaching and education whose vision is to create Financial Security for All by empowering people to transform their financial futures.  
 
Re:Vision is working with people in economically marginalized neighborhoods to develop resident leaders, cultivate community food systems, and create an economy owned by the community.
 
Youth on Record's Y.O.R. Sessions bring together emerging, national, global, and local musicians to record in Youth on Record's state-of-the-art recording studio. These once-in-a-lifetime musical experiences bring relevant and compelling artists to the community and give students the opportunity to learn all aspects of the recording arts. Annual recordings are released on a compilation album, with proceeds from the sales benefiting Youth on Record's music programs for underserved teens. 
 
I want to thank Issue Media Group and its leaders, Brian Boyle and Paul Schutt, as well as my colleagues, Amy Elliott Bragg, Erica Schopmeyer and Denise McGeen and the most awesome editorial and writing staff led by Eric Peterson. We also couldn't do this work without our amazing underwriting partners, including AIA Denver, Bonfils-Stanton Foundation, Colorado Creative Industries, The Denver Foundation, Denver Housing Authority, Downtown Denver Partnership, Koelbel Companies, Otten Johnson and Rose Community Foundation.
 
We are truly so much better together. Thank you, I am so grateful.
 
Rebecca Saltman is community engagement officer for Confluence Denver.
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