I am a little late this week. I had picked a topic, done my due diligence and was ready to roll when I changed course. I was going to delve into one of our problems du jour and make one of my earnest but often unsuccessful attempts to crack the code. Then a random act of random hit me and I was off on a new trail.
I met a fellow for a drink last night in a local tavern. Local in every sense of the word. The building and the decor were at least fifty years old. A simple brightly lit bar had chrome spinning stools a la the soda shop of yesteryear. The dining area was series of tables and booths where I am sure the fare was hearty and simple. A place you could just be yourself whoever you are.
We were talking about how we could make what was an Army Corps of Engineers flood control project of the 50’s into a vibrant amenity for all to enjoy. If you are from Denver you understand the Cherry Creek is more of a marketing scion for a well to do area than the creek itself. People drive and ride bikes past it but never stop to smell the roses so to speak. Bordering its banks are ample swathes of green space named as parks in a city that is looking for development acreage anywhere it can find it. The particular stretch of a mile or so, although unruly and overgrown is truly a diamond in the rough.
The Creek empties into the South Platte River to the west. Enter my friend. His dad and he in succession have turned the Platte from what was beyond a dumping ground for sewers and chemicals as well as a repository for Denver’s junk into a sparkling waterway. Pop is gone but Jeff carries on the love of the river and nature itself. Through the Greenway Foundation they have shaped not only a scenic wonder but an educational resource for kids to learn of nature and how to preserve it.
There is a not a lot of fanfare to this man although his eyes sparkle and these two lunatics got really wound up when we spoke of what could be. Born and raised in South Denver he is I guess to use a term a public servant although that somehow would seem to denigrate him. He has been a teacher, a politician, a conservator but most of all a person of vision and enthusiasm. As the Platte has cleaned up and become more commercially viable for development it is too bad he can’t share the financial fruits of his labors. I wonder if anybody ever says thank you. I do.
As we talked it was like we were on crack instead of beer. The beauty of this man is that he not only talks the talk but walks the walk and is getting things done. He does most of his work with only a smattering of public funds. Ingenious not only because of his contacts but by doing so he can get things done rather than being locked up in waves of bureaucratic pondering. In seeking support and guidance for this new project I was more than content to let him drive the steam engine while I just shoveled the coal.
As time went on we spoke of other things like families,wives, kids, grandkids. More than a business meeting we got to know each other. We spoke of the city and the country and the world not in any ominous but optimistic way. We both agreed that we had to do it for our kids and not our personal improvement. I also met the bartender and and those around me. People of all walks. There were old people who barely shuffled in for an evening meal of whatever. It was a daily event and they knew the menu and specials by heart. It might have been their only contact with their fellow man all day. There were kids meeting mom and dad for a pizza. Rockwellesque and oh so neat.
We derived a game plan and said adieu but the repartee rolled over and over in my mind as I drove home. I threw in a dash of conversations I have had with my kids over the past few weeks and I was on a trip. Megan is running a leg in the Denver Marathon on Sunday. My daughter in law is getting more and more involved in her kids’ school in London as she coaches and cajoles. I have had exchanges on the whole concept of education today with my niece who teaches school in the mountains. I will watch my grandson play lacrosse this afternoon. A thing called life was coursing through my veins and it was exhilarating.
Now I am not avoiding Putin, income inequality, ISIS or Baltimore. Yes we have problems and we must meet them head on. It’s part of the scenery as we go down the highway of life. But so is what I have described above. It’s is the going down of a backroad every now and then. It is finally discovering the beauty of this world and its inhabitants that have been staring us in the face and we have been too blind to see.
This veering left or right goes beyond the office or the country club. It takes you out of you and into the rest of the world. It finds pleasure in small things that don’t cost a lot of money. When we get the Creek project finished as I know we will, you will have to come out and have a beer with us and dangle your feet. Even better maybe you will have found a project to sink your teeth into in your own burgh. We will have to schedule home and aways. Until then.
Ted The Great
Our little stretch of the Cherry Creek is part of a 48 mile wandering from its headwaters in El Paso County to the South. The South Platte is integral to our water supply and provides irrigation to good portions of the farmlands of eastern Colorado.
Access to and views of water throughout the world are probably the single most contributor to commercial and residential property value throughout the world. It can be an ocean, creek, pond or bay.
Since 1974 he Greenway Foundation has partnered with numerous public and private agencies, corporations, and individuals to create over $130 million of environmental, aquatic, recreational, and open space improvements along the South Platte River and tributaries.It has facilitated more than $13 billion in residential and commercial development. That’s a bunch.
At the tavern I met a young man who volunteers in a program called Healing Waters. It is dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled veterans through fly fishing and associated activities including education and outings. I went to one of these as a observer and believe me you walk away a different person.