12 Denverites of 2021

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From mid-September to mid-December 2012, I was in Madrid, Spain, interning for a website company called Just Landed.

Just Landed is a company of expats for expats. Though a small team, in addition to people from Spain, I got to work with people from all over Europe — England, Poland, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Russia, to name a few that I remember off the top of my head.

I was on the editorial team, and we wrote blogs and created robust country guides, which helped people settle in countries abroad, providing information on everything from obtaining a visa to not-to-miss annual cultural events.

At Just Landed, it was tradition to conclude an internship with a company-wide celebration of sorts, during which the interns had to creatively express or recap their time in Madrid, or their experience at Just Landed. It was meant to be fun and entertaining, and did not count toward a review of how we performed the duties and tasks of the internship itself.

Neither of my two fellow interns had an idea for our presentation, so because it was December, I suggested “performing” the holiday song, “12 Days of Christmas,” except replacing the word “Christmas” with “interning” and “true love” with “Just Landed.” As so: “On the first day of interning, Just Landed gave to me…”

We replaced all the gifts in the song (like the partridge in a pear tree) with things like blog posts and new Spanish amigos.

I will not say that we performed the song well. In fact, it was probably a disaster, as nobody knew the song, so I had to teach it to them, beginning with its basic tune. But we forged ahead with our “performance” and it was sure fun! We got some good laughs out of it.

Skipping to present day, it is common for newspapers to recap a year with a “top stories of the year” article. So here is a Denver version of “12 Days of Christmas,” recapping some of the Denverites we met over this year through the stories in the Life on Capitol Hill and Washington Park Profile newspapers.

12 Denverites of 2021

January — We met George Washington High School alum and Denver Girl Scout Meredith Neid, who earned her Gold Award for helping to spread the word about the importance of self-care among her peers amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (tinyurl.com/processingapandemic)

February — We met Capitol Hill resident and playwright Mike Broemmel, and were introduced to his Iconic Women Theatre Series, which are full-length, one-actor plays that chronicle the life stories of women that history has somewhat overlooked. (tinyurl.com/IconicWomenTheatreSeries)

March — We met Alejandro Flores-Muñoz, a Mexican immigrant and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient who settled in Denver and became a small business owner/food truck restaurateur and used a smart refrigerator to build community. (tinyurl.com/SmartRefrigerator)

April — We met small business owner Michelle Lasnier, who launched Ruby’s Market as an online shop during the COVID-19 shutdowns of spring 2020. Today, its brick-and-mortar location in Platt Park serves as a neighborhood hub and is the spot in Denver to support local immigrant and refugee artesian entrepreneurs. (tinyurl.com/RubysMarket)

May — We met local author Joe Beine of Platt Park and learned how his fictional book, “Made Out of Trees,” can inspire people to be friends with the natural world. (tinyurl.com/MadeOutOfTrees)

June — We learned some of the rich history of the Denver Municipal Band — which got its start in 1861 — and how music can build community. (tinyurl.com/DenverMunicipalBand)

July — We met Denver artists Rachel Crosby, Thomas “Detour” Evans and Ciara Bourne, who were three of about 60 artists who had their work on display at Civic Center Park this summer for the 2021 Black Love Mural Festival. (tinyurl.com/BlackLoveMuralFest)

August — We met Keo Frazier, a Denverite and founder of New Thinkers, which is a group “designed to bring people together who are creating great change and solving world problems,” its website states. (tinyurl.com/NewThinkers)

September — We learned about the late Emily Griffith, a Denver resident who opened her Opportunity School in 1916. Known today as Emily Griffith Technical College, the higher-education institution celebrated its 105th anniversary in September. (tinyurl.com/EmilyGriffithTechnicalCollege)

October — We met Warren Stokes, an “artrepreneur/mazeologist” of Washington Park who shared his personal account of using his art to combat racial injustices. (tinyurl.com/WarrenStokesMazeologist)

November — We met Capitol Hill author Adam Kaat, whose debut novel, “Life on the Grocery Line: A Frontline Experience in a Global Pandemic,” provides a fictional account of working in a grocery store, based off Kaat’s real-life experience. (tinyurl.com/AdamKaat)

December — We met Wellshire artist Desmond O’Hagan and learned about his fine art paintings, many of which are inspired by urban and interior views of Denver. (tinyurl.com/DesmondOHagan)

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