2019 GIA Conference
Cultural Intersections
Denver, CO  |  October 13–16

Culture as Civic Practice

Exploring Denver’s civic & cultural communities


Sunday, October 13, 8am-5:00pm
with a special farm-to-table lunch at Westwood Food Co-op

In communities and neighborhoods facing an obstacle course of change – infrastructure development, displacement, immigration/migration, homelessness, and food security to name a few – artists, cultural and community organizations, and local leaders come together to imagine and build healthy and thriving communities. Inspired by The Bach Project’s Day of Action from Yo-Yo Ma, which began in Denver in August 2018, we will explore how Denver’s cultural community uses connection to create greater civic commons across the city, specifically centered on Denver’s most vulnerable residents.

Visits with local cultural community leaders and organizations will take attendees to several neighborhoods throughout Denver, connecting with the historic African American and Mexican American communities, refugee and migrant communities, and student and local leaders. Learn and explore in these central neighborhoods alongside local cultural organizers and artists:

City Park – Picture Me Here and Lighthouse Writer’s Workshop

Where participants will hear from representatives from Colorado’s refugee community and how poetry, writing, photography, and storytelling shape their experiences with civic engagement as new Americans.

Westwood – Re:Vision and Westwood Food Cooperative

Where participants get to tour the newly opened arts and culture center, hear directly from community members about their cooperatively designed and managed cultural enterprises and how they have been able to space their community through a community farm, commercial kitchen, and arts center.

Participants will get to tour the Westwood farm – an important civic asset in a neighborhood without significant access to food markets – participate in a cooking demonstration and share in a farm-to-table meal together. Lunch provided by Re:Vision and RISE Westwood.

Lincoln Park + the Mariposa

In collaboration with The Bach Project Day of Action partners, Youth on Record, and with support from the Bohemian Foundation and Colorado Creative Industries, participants will have an opportunity to attend a special screening of Moonlight Sonata: Deafness In Three Movements, followed by a community discussion with director Irene Taylor Brodsky and Colorado music education stakeholders.


Participants will visit the archive site of the collaborative community project and installation This Machine Has a Soul! (TMHAS!), a community project that combines participatory budgeting with artworks and performances inspired by Rube Goldberg machines. We’ll be joined by collaborators including Evan Weissman of Warm Cookies of the Revolution, Councilwoman CdeBaca, and graffiti artist Jolt, who will speak about the impact of cultural interventions through a “civic health club.”

Green Valley Ranch / Montbello

Following a discussion with TMHAS!, collaborators, participants will close the cultural tour with a snapshot of civics at the barbershop with Theo Wilson and Shop Talk Live (STL) regulars who will welcome participants into a time-honored cultural tradition, talking about the issues that need to be talked about - for and by the black community - in order to better our communities and our livelihoods.

Join us and special guest, Yo-Yo Ma, as we are invited into a look at Denver’s efforts to build a shared future through cultural connection and civic practice.

Detailed schedule: Map with addresses here.

Saturday, October 12 Event Location
4:00-8:00pm Registration open South Convention Lobby, I.M. Pei Tower, Sheraton Hotel
Sunday, October 13 Event Location
7:00am Registration open South Convention Lobby, I.M. Pei Tower, Sheraton Hotel
7:45-8:45am Breakfast buffet Windows, I.M. Pei Tower
8:45am Preconference bus loads outside of hotel lobby Tower Lobby, I.M. Pei Tower
9:00am Bus departs conference hotel  
9:15-10:30am CITY PARK
Lighthouse Writer’s Workshop & Picture Me Here
1515 Race St
The Grotto
Denver, CO 80206
*including lunch
Re:Vision & Westwood Food Co-op
including a special cooking demonstration and farm tour alongside a farm-to-table lunch*
3738 Morrison Rd
Denver, CO 80219
Screening of Moonlight Sonata: Deafness In Three Movements, in collaboration with Youth on Record
2510 E Colfax Ave
Denver, CO 80206
3:30-5:00pm SWANSEA
Archive Site of This Machine Has a Soul with Warm Cookies of the Revolution + Jolt + Council Member CdeBaca

Sample of Shop Talk Live with Theo Wilson
4335 Thompson Ct
Denver, CO 80216
5:00pm Bus returns to conference hotel  

Speaker and Organizational Bios

Lighthouse Writers Workshop

The mission of Lighthouse Writers Workshop is to provide the highest caliber of artistic education, support, and community for writers and readers in the Rocky Mountain Region and beyond. They strive to ensure that literature maintains its proper prominence in the culture, and that individuals achieve their fullest potential as artists and human beings. Lighthouse Writers Workshop created Write Denver with the aim of getting everyone in the city writing. They collaborate with fellow community and arts organizations to bring together people of all ages and backgrounds. They provide simple writing prompts and then let creativity take over.

Picture Me Here

Picture Me Here (PMH) is a storytelling program for refugees, immigrants and others who have been displaced. Photography, video, animation, and writing are taught as creative tools for self-expression, social engagement, community building, leadership, and integration. Projects are based on a variety of themes including migration, memory and place. Participants explore and share their personal histories, cultural identities, new surroundings, and resettlement experiences. They build skills in technology, English language, leadership, and public speaking. Projects culminate in exhibits, screenings and events that bring together diverse groups to view photographs, hear stories, and build new connections.

Re:Vision and Westwood Food Cooperative

In 2007 Re:Vision set out to rethink community development. Their mission is to work with people in economically marginalized neighborhoods to develop resident leaders, cultivate community food systems, and create an economy owned by the community. Their purpose is to cultivate thriving, resilient communities.

Westwood is one of the most culturally vibrant neighborhoods in the Denver Metro Area, with over 81% of its residents identifying as Latinos. Known for its delicious tacos and pho, Westwood is actually a food desert, which means that most of the population has limited access to affordable healthy food. In 2014, after several years of community organizing, Re:Vision helped a group of residents form the Westwood Food Cooperative (WFC) as a member-owned and operated grocery store. The purpose of the WFC is to increase access and affordability of fresh and healthy food, while empowering community ownership and increasing community wealth.

Youth on Record

At Youth on Record, they believe that all young people, including those who are at-risk and written-off, have the ability to turn their lives around. They are committed to ensuring that the youth they serve graduate from high school and are ready to enter the workforce, and transition to college or enter advanced technical training and careers. Their programs empower 1,000 teens in some of Denver’s most vulnerable communities to make life choices that positively impact their future by teaching them to develop the coping tools, inspiration, and wherewithal to succeed in today’s world and to become leaders of tomorrow.

Moonlight Sonata: Deafness in Three Movements

Director Irene Taylor Brodsky once again turns the camera on her deaf parents and, now, her 11-year-old deaf son Jonas, who has cochlear implants and is discovering a profound world of hearing—and music. As Jonas learns the first movement of Beethoven’s iconic sonata on the piano, his grandparents, deaf for nearly 80 years, watch with deepening awe what time and technology have bestowed their grandson. But when Jonas struggles with the sound of his mistakes, Beethoven’s own musical journey comes to life in an animated world of watercolor and haunting soundscapes. As the great composer loses the sense that brought him so much music and fame, Jonas’s grandfather Paul loses his grasp on his mind. Their lives weave a sonata over three centuries, about all we can discover once we push beyond what has been lost.

Warm Cookies of the Revolution

“What is Warm Cookies of the Revolution?”

Well, you go to a gym to exercise your physical health, a religious institution to exercise your spiritual health, and a therapist to exercise your mental health. Warm Cookies of the Revolution is where you go to exercise your civic health.

“Got it… But what is Civic Health?”

Civic Health is a measurement of how well we participate in our community as citizens. Are we engaged in the decision-making processes? When it comes to our environment, our education, our government, our work/life balance, our health, our systems of justice, etc., do we have power? Do we know how to affect change? Are our needs and hopes being met?

Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca

Candi CdeBaca is a proud fifth-generation native of northeast Denver, Colorado. She lives in the same home in the Swansea neighborhood that her great-grandmother lived in nearly 80 years ago. CdeBaca is a proud graduate of Manual High School where she was valedictorian and class president and one of the first students to be appointed to the Denver Mayor’s Commission on Youth and Denver Mayor’s Latino Advisory Council. A recipient of the Daniels Fund Scholarship, CdeBaca was the first and youngest dual-degree graduate from the University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work. She was previously the executive director of Project VOYCE, a youth development and civic engagement organization CdeBaca co-founded at 18 years old.

CdeBaca is a community champion in Denver on social justice issues spanning the range of nonprofit, K-12 education, higher education, community, business, development, and environment.


Graffiti writer, fine artist, muralist, and curator with over twenty years of experience creating public art, commercial murals, live art performance and curating events around art. With experience in hosting radio, creative consulting, and public speaking.

Evan Weissman

Founding executive director of Warm Cookies of the Revolution. He spent 12 years as company member of Buntport Theater Company winning over 100 awards (including the 2010 Mayor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts) as playwright, director, designer, and actor, from media outlets such as The Denver Post, Westword, The Rocky Mountain News, and American Theatre Wing. Formerly a Kellogg Foundation Leadership for Community Change Fellow with Mi Casa Resource Center for Women and a Jane Addams-Andrew Carnegie Graduate Fellow for Leadership and Philanthropic Studies at Indiana University.

Shop Talk Live

A show that talks about the issues that need to be talked about. Where you don't have to be politically correct. A show where speaking truth, understanding, and just having great discussions in order to better our communities and livelihood... This is what goes on in the Barbershop…

Their vision it to impact communities in order to create change. Motivate people to strive more for themselves and those within their communities. Make people laugh, cry, smile, and become aware of all that's going on in our world. All with the intentions to discover ways to become better men and women for ourselves and our families.

Theo E.J. Wilson aka Lucifury

Theo E.J. Wilson (aka Lucifury) is a founding member of the Denver Slam Nuba team, who won the National Poetry Slam in 2011. He began his speaking career in the N.A.A.C.P. at the age of 15, and he has always had a passion for social justice. Wilson is executive director of Shop Talk Live, Inc., an organization that uses the barbershop as a staging ground for community dialogue and healing. In 2017, he published his first book, The Law of Action. His TEDxMileHigh talk, “A black man goes undercover in the alt-right,” has over 10 million views online.