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The Steel City’s Silver Housing Crisis

As Pueblo, Colorado sees its population get older, more seniors will require public housing as more older Puebloans face threats to their housing stability from a sudden loss of a spouse or unplanned expenses on a fixed income.

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Cora Cardenas was 63 years old when she got into a legal dispute with her landlord. Cardenas says the landlord decided Cardenas’ one-bedroom apartment was better suited for the landlord’s granddaughter. “I was homeless and I had nowhere to go,” says Cardenas, now 87.

Her saving grace came in the form of the Senior Resource Development Agency (SRDA), which at the time built, in conjunction with the city of Pueblo and the Pueblo Housing Authority, the Richmond and Union Plaza senior citizen apartment complexes consisted of 97 units adjacent to the Joseph H. Edwards Active Adult Center. It was also an SRDA project in the heart of the historic Union Avenue district.

Cardenas lives in the Union Plaza complex. “I was one of the first ones in the building when it opened in 1994,” she says.

She got into her predicament partly as a result of what happened more than three decades earlier. 1973 must have been a terrible year for her. First Cardenas’ husband, Dominic, died of a stroke at the all too young age of 49. Then on Dec. 11 of that year, one of her four children–her son, Sammy, a Navy fireman at the time–was killed in a fire aboard ship while serving in the Vietnam War.

A life lived

Before that fateful year, Cardenas remembers fondly that she was living in Pueblo with her family in a “beautiful dream house” on Lancaster Drive with “big bedrooms.” But after her husband died she could no longer take care of the place and moved into an apartment.

!– BEGIN THEIA POST SLIDER —

Cora Cardenas was 63 years old when she got into a legal dispute with her landlord. Cardenas says the landlord decided Cardenas’ one-bedroom apartment was better suited for the landlord’s granddaughter. “I was homeless and I had nowhere to go,” says Cardenas, now 87.
Her saving grace came in the form of the Senior Resource Development Agency (SRDA), which at the time built, in conjunction with the city of Pueblo and the Pueblo Housing Authority, the Richmond and Union Plaza senior citizen apartment complexes consisted of 97 units adjacent to the Joseph H. Edwards Active Adult Center. It was also an SRDA project in the heart of the historic Union Avenue district.
Cardenas lives in the Union Plaza complex. “I was one of the first ones in the building when it opened in 1994,” she says.
She got into her predicament partly as a result of what happened more than three decades earlier. 1973 must have been a terrible year for her. First Cardenas’ husband, Dominic, died of a stroke at the all too young age of 49. Then on Dec. 11 of that year, one of her four children–her son, Sammy, a Navy fireman at the time–was killed in a fire aboard ship while serving in the Vietnam War.

A life lived

Before that fateful year, Cardenas remembers fondly that she was living in Pueblo with her family in a “beautiful dream house” on Lancaster Drive with “big bedrooms.” But after her husband died she could no longer take care of the place and moved into an apartment.
In her prime, Cardenas taught bilingual classes and summer school at District 60. She graduated from what is now Pueblo Community College and from what is now the Colorado State University-Pueblo. She also worked at the university back in the day as a keypunch operator.
Cardenas has adjusted to life well at Union Plaza. “It’s very private, very quiet and very family-oriented,” she says.  She also likes that the Historic Arkansas Riverwalk is nearby. Her only complaint is: “There are no little grocery stores or a little Walmart around here. All we have are restaurants and clothing stores.” She says her daughter, Deborah, who lives in Pueblo, takes her grocery shopping at least once a month so Cardenas could buy prepared frozen food to reheat in her microwave.
“I used to cook, but not anymore,” she says. Cardenas says she also used to drive herself around when she was younger, but her family – she has another daughter, Mary, living in Denver, who she hopes will move to Pueblo soon, and a son, Daniel, who lives in California who calls her regularly–recommended that she shouldn’t, even though Cardenas says, “I think I can still drive.”
Now Cardenas prefers to eat at home in her roughly 500-square-foot apartment – about the size of all the apartments in Union Plaza and Richmond – even though she admits she could save herself the trouble of firing up the microwave by going to the dining hall and paying “$2 for a full-course meal,” she says marveling at the bargain. Yet she still likes eating in her apartment. “I do my own dishes and clean my own house.”
Nowadays Cardenas also keeps busy reading, watching rented videos with her daughter, and crafting. She says she makes decorations to adorn the Union Plaza dining hall for special occasions.
These days Cardenas doesn’t have many acquaintances at the Plaza. She says most of the friends she made there over the years have either passed on or are in assisted-living facilities. She adds that now she seldom goes to the Joseph H. Edwards Active Adult Center, which she says has a pool table and other amenities for seniors seeking comradery, because she no longer knows an…
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The allure of small parks like Pueblo Mountain Park

It’s time to rediscover why a small park like Pueblo Mountain Park is important to outdoor life.

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If you thought the only officially sanctioned outdoor recreation area that Pueblo had to offer was Lake Pueblo, think again. When imagining Pueblo, visions of pine-covered mountains and thick evergreen forestry don’t necessarily come to mind. There really isn’t a place in Pueblo where you can go hiking – in the traditional sense. Unless you count dodging rattlesnakes out on the trails around the reservoir “hiking.”

But I’m talking about the kind of hiking where pine needles crunch beneath each step, where the bark of ponderosas makes the air smell like vanilla. Hiking that involves changes in elevation, in surroundings and in heart rate. And if you too crave this breed of hiking experience but suffer a loss of enthusiasm knowing you may have to travel 30+ minutes to satisfy it, then you’re in for a treat to savor an old favorite.

Nestled in the southern foothills of Colorado just outside of Beulah is Pueblo Mountain Park: a 611-acre piece of land owned by the City of Pueblo and managed by the Mountain Park Environmental Center (MPEC). The drive is 20-25 minutes and while making it a conveniently close hiking spot that eases the stress of planning around travel time.

There are approximately six miles of hiking trails through the Wet Mountains in Pueblo Mountain Park that connect with and loop around one another to give you options for a shorter or longer hike. Two of the trails at the west end of the park connect with San Isabel’s Squirrel Creek Trail on which you may access the nearly 17,000 additional acres of San Isabel National Forest land…

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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 produced by the best writers in Colorado. But that costs money, time and hard work. So enjoy this article right now, and if you read $5 worth of PULP, we’ll ask you to make a small contribution to PULP and writers like Madison Gill.

!– BEGIN THEIA POST SLIDER —

If you thought the only officially sanctioned outdoor recreation area that Pueblo had to offer was Lake Pueblo, think again. When imagining Pueblo, visions of pine-covered mountains and thick evergreen forestry don’t necessarily come to mind. There really isn’t a place in Pueblo where you can go hiking – in the traditional sense. Unless you count dodging rattlesnakes out on the trails around the reservoir “hiking.”
But I’m talking about the kind of hiking where pine needles crunch beneath each step, where the bark of ponderosas makes the air smell like vanilla. Hiking that involves changes in elevation, in surroundings and in heart rate. And if you too crave this breed of hiking experience but suffer a loss of enthusiasm knowing you may have to travel 30+ minutes to satisfy it, then you’re in for a treat to savor an old favorite.
Nestled in the southern foothills of Colorado just outside of Beulah is Pueblo Mountain Park: a 611-acre piece of land owned by the City of Pueblo and managed by the Mountain Park Environmental Center (MPEC). The drive is 20-25 minutes and while making it a conveniently close hiking spot that eases the stress of planning around travel time.
There are approximately six miles of hiking trails through the Wet Mountains in Pueblo Mountain Park that connect with and loop around one another to give you options for a shorter or longer hike. Two of the trails at the west end of the park connect with San Isabel’s Squirrel Creek Trail on which you may access the nearly 17,000 additional acres of San Isabel National Forest land.
There are four main trailheads at Pueblo Mountain Park. Devil’s Canyon Trail is the most popular, following the path of a seasonal drainage called Devil’s Dribble. After about a half a mile of easy hiking beneath the shade of the pines, this trail cuts directly through a small canyon, requiring hikers to scramble up jutting sandstone rocks and fallen trees along the Dribble to reach the checkpoint to link up with either Mace Trail or Northridge Trail.
On Mace Trail, you can get to Lookout Point where all that stands between you and the panoramic views of the valley below, the mountains above and San Isabel beyond is a guard rail fixed to the edge of a cliff. Northridge Trail is the longest trail in the park and one that connects to San Isabel’s Squirrel Creek Trail. The terrain of Northridge Trail changes rapidly: one moment in the dry and rocky semi-desert plains freckled with juniper and pinyon, another gazing down from above the treeline at a green sea of Douglas firs huddled shoulder-to-shoulder. Tower Trail is another that accesses Squirrel Creek Trail, but its main attraction is Fire Tower: built in the 1930’s as a fire lookout but never officially used. Fire Tower marks the highest point in the park at 7,400 feet.
Pueblo Mountain Park has b…
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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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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 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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A PULP Short: The Pueblo Slopper

Nearly everyone has their own take but it’s pretty simple: cheeseburger + green chile and you have a legend.

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It’s a Pueblo Legend. A Cheeseburger with some fixing smothered in Pueblo Green Chile. But would you know where your favorite came from if it just showed up on a plate? Ashley and Crew test their Pueblo Slopper tastebuds in this PULP Short.

It’s a Pueblo Legend. A Cheeseburger with some fixing smothered in Pueblo Green Chile. But would you know where your favorite came from if it just showed up on a plate? Ashley and Crew test their Pueblo Slopper tastebuds in this PULP Short.

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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 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.
Continue Reading

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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