no. 11: Deep Roots, Short Commutes

At our first Wheaties Academy meeting someone asked, “What is Wheat Ridge’s slogan?” and a response from a few in the group, “Deep Roots, Short Commutes.

Some people nodded in an "ah-ha" moment. Others cringed. It really stuck with me. At first, I was with the cringers thinking: what are we? Just the neighborhoods people use to get to Denver, Arvada, Golden or Lakewood? My home in Wheat Ridge is on a busy cut-through street so my mind immediately goes to a bitter place about speeding cars.

But then I attended an Activate 38 meeting and thought about it some more. Should we change our slogan or should we keep it and own it? It’s not up for discussion as far as I can tell with City Council, but let’s make it a topic for Wheaties to take on!

Here are some ideas I have been mulling over...

Some pros to owning it

“Deep Roots, Short Commutes” is factual and literal. Wheat Ridge has deep roots -- check out the photo of my grandmother and her sisters in THEIR grandmothers clothes on “Blue and Gold Day” in Wheat Ridge circa 1935. They were farmers in Wheat Ridge and so were their grandparents. All the neighborhoods in our city are built on former farms. You sense it as you bike and walk around the irrigation diversions and well water signs. I bought my home from the original owner from 1963. Many of the new Wheaties moving to town are buying from original owners too. Those are some deep roots with strong connection to our community.

And my commute to Downtown Denver is a short 10.2 miles. That used to be a 20-minute commute in a car, but as congestion increases it can take well over an hour to get downtown on bad days. We are all waiting for the G Line to open to help shorten the commute time and lessen the stress. Short commutes mean that residents of Wheat Ridge are home in their homes and shopping at Wheat Ridge local businesses faster. My neighbors and I can get up to the mountains in an hour to ski, hike, bike, fish whatever we want!

Some cons to keeping it

When it comes to deep roots we have a lot of examples to show how long we have been here farming and becoming Denver’s first suburb. But, here is a big question I have been tossing around. Having deep roots is not that welcoming to newcomers. It is similar to driving by a “Native” Colorado sticker if you just moved here from California. We need to show more examples of our deep roots by showing our diversity. I have heard that Wheat Ridge years ago was nicknamed “White Rich” probably by rival high schools. But our community can’t deny there is some truth to that nickname. Let’s find a way to be more welcoming and inclusive in our City’s slogan.

Short commutes does not make me think of thriving community or inclusive. It actually alienates those that do not work. Also there are not many alternate commuting options. I wish there were more safe bike routes for me to trailer my kiddos around town and drop them off at their schools. I also think that referring to commutes in the slogan we are framing ourselves as a drive through community instead of a destination community. A destination community is where people from the community and from other communities shop, eat and spend money. Wheat Ridge is so much more than short commutes! We are a community worth being a part of.

Author: Val Nosler Beck, 2018 Wheatie

In 2014, Val, her husband and 2 young daughters moved to Wheat Ridge where she has deep roots going back 5 generations. Val’s family loves the parks/events, mid century neighborhoods and the Anderson Pool. Val works as the Resiliency Engagement and Outreach Manager for the State. She has worked at the Colorado Lottery, CO Department of Human Services. Val attended CSU then worked for Congressman Mark Udall in Washington DC. She's worked for Obama '08, Senator Evan Bayh and Gov. Hickenlooper.

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