By Kathryn White
I started writing for The Denver North Star shortly after its first issue landed on doorsteps in 2019. My column, The Gray Zone, was intended to ensure the lives of older adults didn’t get lost in the hustle of a changing community. I wasn’t much of a writer back then. Discovering my community turned me into one.
I first rented a room in North Denver back in the early ’90s. I bought my first home across the street from Skinner Middle School a few years later. On weekends I drank my morning coffee watching, from my kitchen window, a group of men play bocce ball on the patch of dirt and gravel that is now the school’s baseball field.
The Northside had become one of the first areas outside of Capitol Hill where LGBTQ+ people felt welcome, where we felt safe. Perhaps this was because other groups who had settled here over the generations understood how important a sense of belonging is to community. North Denver had responded to changing demographics, it seemed, by deepening its respect and curiosity toward people who came to call it home. At least it felt like home to me.
And yet, North Denver hasn’t always, and to everyone, extended a generous sense of curiosity and welcome. Our history is complicated. It’s downright bad in spots. Arrivals to the area have brought everything humans bring, including some baggage I wish had been left behind.
Economic change has meant people and businesses and other things we once loved are gone from us, gone from here. I’ve had kiddos in Denver Public Schools for 23 years. If the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. are true, that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice,” then our schools and school district have more bending to do.
Someday I will graduate from newcomer status. For now, I am happy with a perennial “just arrived” label. I learn something new about the community every day. Did you know you can pick up “rolled dough” at Carl’s Pizza for a few bucks, to take home for a pizza on your grill? Do you know about the secret bridge to bypass I-70 and I-25 to get over to Elyria-Swansea?
I look forward to being The Denver North Star’s new editor. I’ve covered city business, centenarians and psychics. I’ve gone from sitting at Common Grounds in 1995 watching the Honorable Dennis Gallagher do the people’s work over coffee and bagels to writing about him for The Denver North Star when he died last year.
A favorite author of mine, Margaret Wheatley, has written, “There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.”
Let’s keep discovering together.