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Guest Editorial – Taking Home With You

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I am leaving Pueblo this month, the month of June. When some of you read this, I will probably be already gone. I’m moving to New York City to begin a giant new life. It all seems like a dream-come-true. 

I came by plane on August 16, 2008 when I was 18. The city I came from lies on the eas…

!– BEGIN THEIA POST SLIDER —

I am leaving Pueblo this month, the month of June. When some of you read this, I will probably be already gone. I’m moving to New York City to begin a giant new life. It all seems like a dream-come-true. 

I came by plane on August 16, 2008 when I was 18. The city I came from lies on the east coast of China with a population of 8 million. It’s humid, busy and booming. It’s among the TOP 10 most energetic cities in China, and I took great pride in it. 

I took my first glance of Colorado when I was above the outskirts of Colorado Springs on a plane preparing to land. I almost burst into tears as I saw the brown, bare land with no green space, no skyscrapers, and no trace of human activities. It is not the America I imagined, and I had never stepped outside China before then. I was confused, and frankly, very terrified as I had no clue what I was coming into. 

When things finally started to settle down after two weeks of novelty, I often wandered to the parking lot west of campus where I could overlook Pueblo with the Rockies in the background. I sat there for hours at dawn and thought for hours. I still couldn’t grasp the idea that a capsule had transferred me from one point on the earth to another, where I barely spoke the language and knew nothing about the culture. The concepts I established growing up in China were not helping out, sometimes even working against my situations. There was only one Chinese student at the university and no authentic Chinese food in town. Because of the dry weather, I got fish skin and my nose was always stuffed with dry blood. Nothing is accessible by walking, and way far from what I came to America to achieve in life. Honestly, Pueblo sucked in everyway for me. 

Every summer I was gone within one week after school finished. I literally fled as fast as I could from Pueblo, craving home food, going on world trips, longing for something amazing out there to happen that’s no way happening in Pueblo. I couldn’t believe how much I was missing out on in life. 

Then one day in the summer I got into ferocious argument w…

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Minority Majority: Pueblo Hispanics must redefine what it means to be Hispanic in the Steel City

Now that the minority are majority in Pueblo, Hispanics will for the first time be forced to define is what it means to be Hispanic in Pueblo, in the ways of culture, sports, civic life, philanthropy, and faith.

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Sometime in this last decade, the City of Pueblo hit the inflection point where there were more people of Hispanic origin than of White according to the census.

The number, 49-percent of persons of Hispanic origin in 2010, ticked quietly to 52-percent in 2017. Pueblo County as a whole is 42-percent Hispanic origin.

Pueblo is and will be a ‘Border Town’– a confluence city of cultures and people where it’s normal and unsurprising to meet a family with a Slovenian-Irish-Greek-Mexican-German-Italian origination story or some combination thereof because of the number of immigrants needed to work the mines and mills for production of American steel.

In less than 50 years Hispanics have gone from being no more than a quarter of the population and marginalized in many ways of Pueblo life. What Hispanics will for the first time be forced to define is what it means to be Hispanic in Pueblo, in the ways of culture, sports, civic life, philanthropy, and faith.

After steel and the industrial era of Pueblo collapsed, Pueblo began commodifying the nostalgia into heritage tourism and it found another worldwide brand – Pueblo Chile. From the Pueblo Chile license plates, TV shows featuring Coor’s Tavern and The Sunset Inn sloppers, an official brand for Pueblo Chile, and reputation for its food – Pueblo has changed its narrative from an industrial western town towards a dustier version of a border town, with an adobe fort, traders from various nations and more copacetic spirit towards indigenous peoples.

It’s a positive image but the focus on only Pueblo Chile has dominated, even pushed aside other aspects of Hispanic life to be reduced down to a Fiesta Day Parade and Tex-Mex La Cocina dishes.

This is the space Pueblo Hispanics will have to settle in to change. What is Pueblo beyond Pueblo Chile for Hispanics?

!– BEGIN THEIA POST SLIDER —

Sometime in this last decade, the City of Pueblo hit the inflection point where there were more people of Hispanic origin than of White according to the census.
The number, 49-percent of persons of Hispanic origin in 2010, ticked quietly to 52-percent in 2017. Pueblo County as a whole is 42-percent Hispanic origin.
Pueblo is and will be a ‘Border Town’– a confluence city of cultures and people where it’s normal and unsurprising to meet a family with a Slovenian-Irish-Greek-Mexican-German-Italian origination story or some combination thereof because of the number of immigrants needed to work the mines and mills for production of American steel.
In less than 50 years Hispanics have gone from being no more than a quarter of the population and marginalized in many ways of Pueblo life. What Hispanics will for the first time will be forced to define is what it means to be Hispanic in Pueblo, in the ways of culture, sports, civic life, philanthropy, and faith.
After steel and the industrial era of Pueblo collapsed, Pueblo began commodifying the nostalgia into heritage tourism and it found another worldwide brand – Pueblo Chile. From the Pueblo Chile license plates, TV shows featuring Coor’s Tavern and The Sunset Inn sloppers, an official brand for Pueblo Chile, and reputation for its food – Pueblo has changed its narrative from an industrial western town towards a dustier version of a border town, with an adobe fort, traders from various nations and more copacetic spirit towards indigenous peoples.
It’s a positive image but the focus on only Pueblo Chile has dominated, even pushed aside other aspects of Hispanic life to be reduced down to a Fiesta Day Parade and Tex-Mex La Cocina dishes.
This is the space Pueblo Hispanics will have to settle in to change. What is Pueblo beyond Pueblo Chile for Hispanics?
I don’t know that answer but I know today just the name Hispanic, or Latino, Chicano even LatinX isn’t enough to describe some Puebloans.
Like the confluence point where the Fountain Creek mixes with the Arkansas River, Pueblo is much the same, a multicultural town made up of various nations, immigrants and indigenous peoples.
Hispanic-Slovenian, Vietnamese-Mexican, Italian-New Mexican, Mexican-Anglo, Navajo-Mexican American – the combinations change but the effect is the same. None of which is unique to Pueblo except the affinity that Pueblo sees itself as a place of confluence.
Maybe that’s why Hispanic culture in Pueblo is muted beyond the tourism angle. For many Hispanics, myself included, either you’re white or you’re Hispanic and with that comes the racial predetermination that you are, well, – not American but Mexican-American, from the barrio or “east side,” which is not something that should be looked down on.
This space is where Pueblo Hispanics will be challenged to retain their heritage but also redefine what it means to be “Pueblo.”
You can see this playing out now in “The Grove,” one of Pueblo’s oldest neighborhoods, which sits above the Arkansas River and Fountain Creek confluence. Because of its position between downtown Pueblo and CF&I, the neighborhood was a likely spot for immigrant families to live, worship and enjoy life. Today, however, like other old neighborhoods in Pueblo it’s tired, not broken, just tired from the weight of steel’s collapse.
There is progress. In a span of just a few blocks underneath the redesign of I-25, …
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Let’s Talk About It: Pueblo Murals

Once viewed as vandalism, street art has become the dominant voice of art in Pueblo.

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Look down virtually any of the alleyways in the East side and Bessemer areas of Pueblo and at various locations downtown and in the business district, and you can find some form of street art. Pueblo is regarded nationally as a street art capital, and it’s no secret why. For one, Pueblo is home to many members of the high-profile Creatures Crew – a muralist/graffiti artists group that host collaborators and fellow artists from around the country. You can find some of their work gracing the walls behind The Klamm Shell in Bessemer, or the alleyway outside of Shamrock Brewing Co.

In 2015, local muralist Mathew Taylor hosted The High Desert Mural Fest here in Pueblo. And along the Arkansas River levee used to be the longest mural in the world as officially declared by the Guinness Book of World Records. The mural ran for three miles along the levee up until around four years ago, when the City of Pueblo announced that a nearly $15 million construction project to address repairs to the levee would mean the destruction of the beloved mural that had been around since the 1970s. Efforts were made to preserve parts of the mural, but it ceases to maintain its world-record status.

Other recognizable murals in Pueblo include a large brown bear surrounded by flowers in the Central Plaza area (painted by Taylor and co artist Michael Strescino), the famous faces depicted outside the Pirate’s Cove, a horse stuck in a tree down on Main Street (that was actually commissioned by the city to commemorate the flood of 1921) and many others ranging from simple to more abstract designs. Some of these designs cross into graffiti territory, but retain an obvious component of artistry that keeps people of the community and city officials from calling for their removal.

Therein lies a point of debate surrounding the street art movement in Pueblo. When is street art considered vandalism? Where do we draw the line between approved artistic expression and illegal tagging?

!– BEGIN THEIA POST SLIDER —

Look down virtually any of the alleyways in the East side and Bessemer areas of Pueblo and at various locations downtown and in the business district, and you can find some form of street art. Pueblo is regarded nationally as a street art capital, and it’s no secret why. For one, Pueblo is home to many members of the high-profile Creatures Crew – a muralist/graffiti artists group that host collaborators and fellow artists from around the country. You can find some of their work gracing the walls behind The Klamm Shell in Bessemer, or the alleyway outside of Shamrock Brewing Co.
In 2015, local muralist Mathew Taylor hosted The High Desert Mural Fest here in Pueblo. And along the Arkansas River levee used to be the longest mural in the world as officially declared by the Guinness Book of World Records. The mural ran for three miles along the levee up until around four years ago, when the City of Pueblo announced that a nearly $15 million construction project to address repairs to the levee would mean the destruction of the beloved mural that had been around since the 1970s. Efforts were made to preserve parts of the mural, but it ceases to maintain its world-record status.
Other recognizable murals in Pueblo include a large brown bear surrounded by flowers in the Central Plaza area (painted by Taylor and co artist Michael Strescino), the famous faces depicted outside the Pirate’s Cove, a horse stuck in a tree down on Main Street (that was actually commissioned by the city to commemorate the flood of 1921) and many others ranging from simple to more abstract designs. Some of these designs cross into graffiti territory, but retain an obvious component of artistry that keeps people of the community and city officials from calling for their removal.
Therein lies a point of debate surrounding the street art movement in Pueblo. When is street art considered vandalism? Where do we draw the line between approved artistic expression and illegal tagging?

Artist Mathew Taylor gives a guided talk in front of one of his murals during a 2018 Pueblo Mural Tour. (Photo: Ashley Lowe for PULP)


Taylor is firm in his belief that legal graffiti art murals deter the practice of illegal graffiti tagging. In his perspective, the artistic drive that goes into composing a mural commands a certain degree of respect. Tagging for the sake of staking a territorial claim is distinguishably less driven by artistic vision and marked by its hurried or moreover careless appearance. Thus completed murals tend not to be vandalized by gang-related tagging in his experience. In t…
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Hostility and hucksterism runs rampant in Pueblo and it is choking our city

What kind of city do we have when leaders act like bickering indignants and Pueblo Chieftain joins in with the politicians to attack things it doesn’t like?

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It’s pretty clear when a group of city officials all congratulate themselves after killing a baseball hotel deal that maybe we should rethink who the hucksters are around here — the developers or the people who deal with the developers.

I don’t think Jeff Katofsky, the owner of the Orem Owlz, a minor league baseball team, and hotel developer will look back at Pueblo and think too much of it. But what Pueblo saw was a city and county that couldn’t work together. A city intent on killing the project because its own pet projects wouldn’t have been prioritized. A newspaper that went on the attack because — well, no one is quite sure why the Chieftain attacked the developer and helped to kill the project. And then a room of 35 people, mostly candidates for mayor, saw Pueblo City Council congratulate itself after it was known the project was dead for good.

Pueblo lost big on the baseball deal, but not only because it lost a minor league team. It was estimated the team may have only pulled in a 1,000 or so people a night when the Pueblo Owlz played baseball. Honestly, what else on the Riverwalk attracts about a 1,000 people during random Thursday nights in the Pueblo summer?

And with the Pueblo Convention Center expansion coming online the city will be in even more need for hotels and nighttime activities.

A baseball stadium doesn’t solve that equation, but having baseball, festivals, farmers’ markets and large scale concerts do offer more to visitors than just walking in circles around the Riverwalk.

But Pueblo didn’t simply lose development; we were finally shown the true character of ourselves who claim everyone who wants to build in Pueblo is a huckster. Maybe it’s we who have the problem.

How does a city that wants to grow, a city that has amenities beginning to return to their pre-recession goals, go on the offensive to push out new ideas?

!– BEGIN THEIA POST SLIDER —

It’s pretty clear when a group of city officials all congratulate themselves after killing a baseball hotel deal that maybe we should rethink who the hucksters are around here — the developers or the people who deal with the developers. I don’t think Jeff Katofsky, the owner of the Orem Owlz, a minor league baseball team, and hotel developer will look back at Pueblo and think too much of it. But what Pueblo saw was a city and county that couldn’t work together. A city intent on killing the project because its own pet projects wouldn’t have been prioritized. A newspaper that went on the attack because — well, no one is quite sure why the Gatehouse Chieftain attacked the developer and helped to kill the project. And then a room of 35 people, mostly candidates for mayor, saw Pueblo City Council congratulate itself after it was known the project was dead for good. Pueblo lost big on the baseball deal, but not only because it lost a minor league team. It was estimated the team may have only pulled in a 1,000 or so people a night when the Pueblo Owlz played baseball. Honestly, what else on the Riverwalk attracts about a 1,000 people during random Thursday nights in the Pueblo summer?And with the Pueblo Convention Center expansion coming online the city will be in even more need for hotels and nighttime activities. A baseball stadium doesn’t solve that equation, but having baseball, festivals, farmers’ markets and large scale concerts do offer more to visitors than just walking in circles around the Riverwalk. But Pueblo didn’t simply lose development; we were finally shown the true character of ourselves who claim everyone who wants to build in Pueblo is a huckster. Maybe it’s we who have the problem. How does a city that wants to grow, a city that has amenities beginning to return to their pre-recession goals, go on the offensive to push out new ideas?Nothing about the opposition made much sense. With the Owlz moving to Pueblo, you had a legitimate baseball organization wanting to move to Pueblo. There was a developer and attorney that wanted to build hotels with retail space to complement the stadium. And with the Pueblo Convention Center expansion coming online, with a rather static Riverwalk at present at least in terms of land development, there was a project that could have spurred a boom in Pueblo’s historic district. The opposition led by Pueblo City Council President Chris Nicoll and Pueblo County Commissioner Garrison Ortiz made it clear that they believed the project would put Pueblo County into deeper debt, kill county jobs, steal the money from other projects and break Colorado’s TABOR laws. Let’s say this was the case, that there was no way this project was ever going to get off the ground and that it was little more than a huckster’s sham. And that Commissioners Sal Pace, Terry Hart and Pueblo County Economic Development Leader Chris Markusson bought into the scheme. Even if you buy this position, it doesn’t explain why the anti-baseball denizens would want to portray …
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One more thing...

Local and independent journalism is under threat in the West and you can change that.  With corporate raiders slashing newsrooms across the West, the PULP is one of the "Last Locals" in Colorado to produce original, compelling journalism missing in today's profit hungry world. But that costs money, time and hard work. We don't believe in spamming you with ads and that's why we need your help.

For every contribution, we put 100% back into producing original and amazing journalism. That's a promise only a local and independent newsroom can promise. Take heart because you will fuel stories just like this one and the future of journalism.

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