"Once upon a time... an apple seed was dropped on a hill by a farmer..."
Wheaties Academy 2018 kicked off on January 23 with 14 Wheaties, 6 returning Mentors and 1 special guest, all with a shared passion for our community. Over then next 5 months, these Wheaties will be working together to turn inspiration into ideas then turn ideas into action.
The first night, we began by telling stories. Where we were born. How long we've lived in Wheat Ridge. Our favorite spots in town. We learned how much we have in common: a love for the Clear Creek Trail, the trees, the quiet neighborhoods. And just how diverse we are: lived in Wheat Ridge for decades, just moved here, from Colorado, from all over, kids, no kids.
After we exchanged our stories, the Wheaties were tasked with writing the story of Wheat Ridge. They were given permission to be as creative or as specific as they wanted. They had 7 minutes to complete the story beginning with "Once upon a time..." and ending with "...and that's how Wheat Ridge was created."
"Once upon a time... there was an apple farmer in Denver. The local kids kept stealing his apples so he moved to the quiet wheat fields to the west of town..."
The Wheaties then read their tales to one another. 14 spunky and unique stories but with many shared images, values and themes. Farmers. Land. Views. Close to downtown and the mountains but distinct from surrounding towns. Water. Small town pride. Apples. Neighbors. Leaving Denver to find something better. Ownership. Families. Carnations. Community cultivated from potential. Seeds. Change. Intrepid. A sense of belonging. And, of course, wheat. We are the Wheaties of Wheat Ridge after all.
Since 2015, 46 Wheaties have completed this activity and it's no surprise the themes have been pretty consistent across the 46 tales. Why? Because it's our city's heritage. It's a story that was here before we were. It's our shared story that we didn't even know we were a part of until we took the time to write it. A story we can't change but we can help craft the next chapter.
"...they looked out over the mountains from the ridge and were in awe and brought more families to come and enjoy growing food and the beautiful location which included a creek and a lake..."
This year, I noticed more apple farmers than wheat farmers in the stories. I can't tell you with certainty why the 2018 Wheaties are apples over wheat but I wonder if it's simply because in 2018, we have more apple trees growing in our city than wheat fields. While both apples and wheat are part of our creation story, the apples have prevailed. I can see at least 5 apple trees from my kitchen window but can't tell you where to find a single stalk of wheat in the city.
Apples over wheat also reminds me that, of the many seeds planted in our city since it was founded in 1969, the apple seeds have been the most fruitful and long lasting. I'd like to believe it's because the folks who came before us knew wheat would make us the "bread basket" of the Front Range and giving us a distinct identity but the apple trees would make us a community.
"...they became a community and made roads, started businesses and schools..."
At it's core, Wheaties Academy grapples with preserving our unique cultural heritage which connects us with neighbors we have yet to meet while also shaping the inevitable changes ahead. Almost anyone can start something from scratch. True community leaders build on the time-tested foundations of our predecessors to build something for future neighbors to enjoy. And they do it while enjoying apples and dropping the seeds.
Please join us for this journey as the Wheaties and Mentors share their experiences and perspectives through the weekly blog.
"...Wheat Ridge promised the best of all worlds: rural charm with city culture. And the fairy flapped her wings as she flew off from the new charmed city... and that's how Wheat Ridge was created."
Thank you the following Wheaties for letting me share their tales: Kimberly DeJong, Andy Rasmussen, Madelaine DeVan and one talented-but-prefers-to-remain-anonymous Wheatie.
Author: Rachel Hultin Wheaties Founder and Facilitator
When it comes to community, Rachel is all in! Whether she's enjoying locally crafted beer on 38th Ave, leading the Active Transportation Advisory Team or catching up with neighbors while walking with her son, Rachel in a HUGE fan of where she lives: Wheat Ridge!