Colorado Edition KUNC's Colorado Edition is a look at the stories, news, people and issues important to you. It's a window to the communities along the Colorado Rocky Mountains.
KUNC's Colorado Edition

Colorado Edition

From KUNC

KUNC's Colorado Edition is a look at the stories, news, people and issues important to you. It's a window to the communities along the Colorado Rocky Mountains.

Most Recent Episodes

Colorado Edition: Roe v. Wade in Colorado; salvaging memories from the Marshall Fire; the ...

Coloradans are still processing the Supreme Court's historic decision to end federal abortion rights. Some residents are joining together to protest, while others are making plans to protect — or challenge — access to abortion here. KUNC's Scott Franz has more on the early reactions to the ruling, and what it might mean going forward. KUNC's Beau Baker spoke to Dr. Warren Hern, director of the Boulder Abortion Clinic. He's been providing access to care since 1975, and says that the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade could impact abortion services in Colorado. In the months after the Marshall Fire devastated parts of Boulder County, many families returned to sift through the debris. KUNC's Leigh Paterson brings us a story about the memories contained in salvaged objects. The Greeley Stampede returned this year for the first time since COVID.. The summer rodeo festival celebrated its 100th year with rides, children activities, and food vendors at the Island Grove Regional Park. KUNC's Yoselin Meza Miranda was there, along with lots of families enjoying live music, kid's sheep races, and, of course, a multitude of different food trucks. Colorado Edition is hosted by Yoselin Meza Miranda and produced by the KUNC newsroom, led by news director Sean Corcoran. Web was edited by digital operations manager Ashley Jefcoat. Additional production support was provided by Stephanie Daniel. The mission of Colorado Edition is to deepen understanding of life in Northern Colorado through authentic conversation and storytelling. Colorado Edition is made possible with support from our KUNC members. Thank you! Our theme music was composed by Colorado musicians Briana Harris and Johnny Burroughs. Other music in the show by Blue Dot Sessions.

Colorado Edition: Roe v. Wade in Colorado; salvaging memories from the Marshall Fire; the ...

Colorado Edition: Recovering from the Marshall Fire; how beavers are reshaping rivers and ...

The Marshall Fire ripped through Boulder County at the end of last year. Many fire victims took almost nothing with them that day. But they went back to sift through the debris in the months that followed. In the KUNC series From The Ashes, Leigh Paterson brings us the stories of how they salvaged objects to help families process what they lost. Climate change is reshaping the natural world, but one animal is doing its part to fight back. A new study lays out all the ways that beavers are helping reshape rivers and streams. As Alex Hager reports, they're creating healthy waterways that are more resistant — and resilient — to the worst effects of climate change. Last week marked the 10th anniversary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. There are over 14,000 DACA recipients living in Colorado. The federal program has allowed undocumented people to take advantage of many opportunities — including being able to work and go to college. Luis Antezana is the founder and CEO of Juntos 2 College. The organization awards 10 grants a month to DACA recipients to pay for DACA renewals and legal services. He spoke with Yoselin Meza Miranda about his organization and 10 years of DACA. Colorado Edition is hosted by Yoselin Meza Miranda and produced by the KUNC newsroom, led by news director Sean Corcoran. Web was edited by digital operations manager Ashley Jefcoat. The mission of Colorado Edition is to deepen understanding of life in Northern Colorado through authentic conversation and storytelling. Colorado Edition is made possible with support from our KUNC members. Thank you! Our theme music was composed by Colorado musicians Briana Harris and Johnny Burroughs. Other music in the show by Blue Dot Sessions.

Colorado Edition: Recovering from the Marshall Fire; how beavers are reshaping rivers and ...

Colorado Edition: Revisiting favorite interviews from a Fort Collins veterinarian helping ...

In the months since Russian forces invaded Ukraine, millions of Ukrainians have fled the country — many of them refusing to leave without their beloved family pets. Seeing those images prompted Dr. Jon Geller to hop on a plane and head overseas to the Ukrainian border to help. Once there, the Fort Collins-based emergency veterinarian helped set up a clinic providing necessary care to ensure families' pets are cleared to travel with them to other European countries. In 2015, Geller founded the Street Dog Coalition, a nonprofit based in northern Colorado that helps people experiencing homelessness get free vet care for their companion animals. He quickly discovered that his mission assisting Ukrainian refugees wasn't all that different from helping unsheltered people care for their pets here in the U.S. He spoke with Colorado Edition on April 1, shortly after he'd returned home from the Ukrainian border. There's a long history in the U.S. of people creating guides to help others find safe, inclusive spaces. In the 19th century, safe houses along the Underground Railroad displayed quilts with coded messages to help people who escaped slavery find safe passage. In the 20th century, Black travelers used the Green Book to navigate as safely as they could. Now, in the 21st century, two Colorado women have created a website that aims to do something similar. The Inclusive Guide, allows users to rate their experiences at businesses and other spaces. Those ratings give insight to users about how others with a similar identity have been treated, and whether they will be welcomed at a given business. Crystal Egli and Parker McMullen Bushman are the co-founders of Inclusive Journeys, a tech startup that created Inclusive Guide. They spoke with Colorado Edition in January. One Monday morning in August of 2020, host Erin O'Toole started getting a flood of new Twitter mentions and followers – from Canada. A quick search of the news revealed there is another Erin O'Toole, north of the border, who was just elected leader of the Conservative Party in Canada. Lots of social media merriment ensued, and when news of the mix-up reached the offices of the Canadian Erin O'Toole, the Conservative Party politician was kind enough to join his newfound American doppelganger to discuss their unlikely connection. Legendary ski map artist James Niehues recently announced his retirement from hand-painting ski trail maps. Niehues, who lives in Parker, Colorado, has painted more than 200 ski trail maps in multiple countries over his 30-year career. Those resorts include Vail, Breckenridge and Winter Park here in Colorado. Some of his work has been published in a coffee table book called The Man Behind the Maps. Colorado Edition first spoke with Niehues in 2019. Colorado Edition is hosted and produced by Erin O'Toole (@ErinOtoole1). Web was edited by digital operations manager Ashley Jefcoat. The mission of Colorado Edition is to deepen understanding of life in Northern Colorado through authentic conversation and storytelling. It's available as a podcast on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. Colorado Edition is made possible with support from our KUNC members. Thank you! Our theme music was composed by Colorado musicians Briana Harris and Johnny Burroughs. Other music in the show by Blue Dot Sessions.

Colorado Edition: Revisiting favorite interviews from a Fort Collins veterinarian helping ...

How to vote in Colorado's upcoming primary elections; new businesses opening in Yuma Count...

The COVID-19 pandemic forced many Colorado businesses to shut down storefronts. Many are still dealing with supply chain issues and inflation. Despite the financial squeeze, new business filings in the state have skyrocketed during the last three years, hitting a ten-year peak. And, as KUNC'S Adam Rayes reports, this economic development is happening in urban and rural communities alike. Colorado's 2022 primary elections are on June 28. They'll determine which candidates appear on the November ballot for U.S. Senate and House, Governor and Lt. Governor, Secretary of State, and other offices. One big change for this year is that Colorado picked up a new seat in the U.S. House, so many voters will find they're in a new Congressional district this year. Colorado Edition spoke with Bob Murphy, AARP Colorado's state director, for advice on how to make sure your voter registration is current, and about the issues that are most important to voters 50 and up this year. Colorado Edition is hosted and produced by Erin O'Toole (@ErinOtoole1). Web was edited by Ashley Jefcoat. The mission of Colorado Edition is to deepen understanding of life in Northern Colorado through authentic conversation and storytelling. It's available as a podcast on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. Colorado Edition is made possible with support from our KUNC members. Thank you! Our theme music was composed by Colorado musicians Briana Harris and Johnny Burroughs. Other music in the show by Blue Dot Sessions.

How to vote in Colorado's upcoming primary elections; new businesses opening in Yuma Count...

Celebrating African American Barbecue Culture And History With 'Black Smoke'

For many Coloradans, Memorial Day weekend marks the 'official' start of barbecue season. Not that we're afraid to fire up the grill in the middle of winter, of course — but there's just something about this holiday weekend that inspires the outdoor cook to clean off the grill or the smoker and get dinner fired up. Barbecue is hands-down one of the most popular cuisines in the country right now. But where did it come from? And why is it that the contributions of African Americans who helped establish this cooking style are left out of the current conversation around barbecue? Colorado Edition spoke with Adrian Miller last September to get some of those answers. Miller is a soul food scholar, food historian and certified barbecue judge. He's also the recipient of a James Beard Foundation Book Award. His most recent book, Black Smoke: African Americans and the United States of Barbecue, is intended to celebrate African American barbecue culture and to restore the voices of Black Americans to barbecue storytelling. Colorado Edition is hosted and produced by Erin O'Toole (@ErinOtoole1). Web was edited by Ashley Jefcoat. The mission of Colorado Edition is to deepen understanding of life in Northern Colorado through authentic conversation and storytelling. It's available as a podcast on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. Colorado Edition is made possible with support from our KUNC members. Thank you! Our theme music was composed by Colorado musicians Briana Harris and Johnny Burroughs. Other music in the show by Blue Dot Sessions.

Celebrating African American Barbecue Culture And History With 'Black Smoke'

A conversation with Erie's new mayor; 'groundbreaking' parental leave measure for state lawmakers

Colorado is poised to take an unusual step in granting state lawmakers paid parental leave. The move highlights a legacy of female political representation in the West. KUNC's Robyn Vincent has the story. In April, voters in the front range town of Erie, Colorado, elected Justin Brooks as mayor. He's lived in Erie for 13 years and in that time, helped found a grassroots organization called Being Better Neighbors, aimed at making Erie a more welcoming and inclusive place. That group was instrumental in creating Erie's first Juneteenth celebration last year, just before it was declared a federal holiday.Brooks is the town's first Black mayor in its history. He joined Colorado Edition to talk about the significance of the moment, and to outline some of his priorities for the next two years of his term. Interview Highlights These interview highlights have been lightly edited for length and clarity. Erin O'Toole: For those who aren't familiar, what's it like living in Erie? Justin Brooks: People are flocking to the area like mad. Houses are on the market for a day, it seems — not much different than the rest of the Front Range, but the growth is extremely rapid. People settle here in Erie because it kind of gives you the best of both worlds. You get to be in a suburban landscape near open space, and it's quiet. Just this morning two hot air balloons went over my house, and I stood on the back deck watching them go over. So you have those unique pieces of solace that you get in in a town like Erie. But if you want to go to a major league sports game, it's really close to be able to get downtown through some mode of transportation and participate in it. So that's why I think Erie has been growing so quickly; and people come from all over. We have folks who are migrating here from every corner of the country, it seems. It's creating a little bit of a melting pot, and it's really changing the demographics and the dynamics of this area, and enriching it. You've been part of the Being Better Neighbors organization that helped create that first Juneteenth celebration; I imagine you're already planning for this year's! What prompted the creation of the organization? At the beginning of COVID, right at the very beginning of everything [being shut down] in our country, there were some instances of racial injustice where the concerns of Black people about being hunted in our neighborhoods by people who are fearful of our presence, or being unfairly mistreated by law enforcement when encountered. Those were very deep concerns. The town approached me and others in town about having some open dialogue about it. And so I and a few other residents participated in these talks. There was a virtual town hall talk on racism and about race relations. And that was the beginning of this community conversation that really has ensued over the last couple of years. You know, the town police department and the town government have been really mindful about finding ways to break down those barriers between people, to get people talking about the tough conversations with a goal of improving relations among community members. The Black people who live here don't want a community where we are perceived as outsiders, or that we are visitors to this area. We, too, want to be treated as residents and neighbors, just like everyone else. The town wants a community that is welcoming, that is open, that is accepting of all people. And if people are feeling as if they are unwelcome, unwanted in Erie, then we are failing as a community. What are some of your early priorities as you begin your term as mayor? One of the key issues that I am tackling in my administration is the trend of housing affordability. The area, as beautiful as it is and as wonderful as it is and as much as I love living here, I recognize that it is becoming out of reach for so many people. Young families are having a tougher and tougher time being able to live here. Young families are being priced out of our community. The average listing price in areas around $750,000. Now, our average household income is about 116,000. And so those numbers don't close. It means that the average person here could not purchase their own home were it not for the equity that they've accrued. That creates a problem for our workforce in a sense that our small businesses in town have a really hard time recruiting and retaining workers. This is a cocktail for crisis. I'm working diligently to partner with local and regional organizations and entities to try to curb that trend so that we can have Erie to continue to be a welcoming place. Over the time I've been here, it's largely been a community centered around families. It would be a shame if, as children are graduating from college and getting their first jobs, that they have to move away from this region because they just cannot afford to be here. So, I hope to have an impact there. I'm very passionate about ensuring that inclusion and equity are a part of the fabric of our town. I see that trend growing and I and I'm proud to be a part of it. So I want to further that. I am planning to utilize this summer to draw people out into in-person events. I hope the COVID numbers cooperate with this desire. Erie, when I first moved here, was known for all of our community events. I want to get people out and I want to see people in the community. We have a farmer's market on Thursdays. We have a huge Pride event that Being Better Neighbors is putting on on June 5th. I want to see people come out to that and show support. And so this first summer, while I'm trying to figure out how we tackle housing, in the forefront I'm going to be out in the community trying to meet as many people as I can and make sure that they're talking to one another and engaging, because I think that opportunity to meet and greet really helps bolster community. Erie is a town of about 27,000 people; and according to census data, its population is not very diverse. You are the first African American mayor in the town's 140-year-plus history. How significant is this? I think that my winning the election represents a voting base that has chosen to select a candidate based on the issues and platform that matter as opposed to just identity think. So, while it is extremely significant that I was elected as the first Black mayor, that wasn't necessarily my platform. It represents that people really listened to what was being said and what was being represented, and they took stock of what was important to them and what they felt needed to be represented in office. And they chose. Erie, demographically, I think it's 0.19% African American. And we are a family of six, so we're a pretty large portion [of that]. It's not lost on me that there are not numerically a lot of Black people in this area. I think it's a sense of progress that says I, for example, represent a different walk of life. I have a different cultural experience than a lot of my neighbors and for the 13 years that I've been here, I've had numerous frank and deep conversations to enlighten others and be enlightened myself about various issues. And that varying perspective, a different life experience and just the expertise that I bring to the area I think makes a difference in my ability to serve. The people who live in this community all have the success of this community in mind. My quest for making housing more affordable is not just about the BIPOC or minority population that is seeking to be a part of here. It's about everyone. And I think that anyone who works should be able to live and they should be able to feed themselves. These are bread-and-butter types of concepts that that we need to make sure that we are providing to one another as Americans. I have an appreciation for this community. I love being a part of it, and I want others to feel the same way. Colorado Edition is hosted and produced by Erin O'Toole (@ErinOtoole1). Web was edited by Jackie Hai. The mission of Colorado Edition is to deepen understanding of life in Northern Colorado through authentic conversation and storytelling. It's available as a podcast on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. Colorado Edition is made possible with support from our KUNC members. Thank you! Our theme music was composed by Colorado musicians Briana Harris and Johnny Burroughs. Other music in the show by Blue Dot Sessions.

A conversation with Erie's new mayor; 'groundbreaking' parental leave measure for state lawmakers

''What a community theater should be:'' Loveland's historic Rialto Theater celebrates a ce...

A landmark of the northern Colorado art scene is turning 102 years old this year. The historic Rialto Theater in Loveland originally planned to celebrate its true centennial in 2020, when it would have turned 100. Because of the pandemic, though, those festivities had to be postponed – until now. Visitors from all over Colorado flocked to the Rialto this week to share memories and to marvel at the lovingly restored building. Guests enjoyed silent film screenings and special behind-the-scenes tours that took them through winding, cramped passageways below the stage and into the bright, newly designed community spaces. KUNC's Erin O'Toole and Yoselin Meza Miranda tagged along on one of those tours, joining about a dozen guests who gathered in front of the main stage with small bags of fresh popcorn. Rialto theater manager Steve Lemmon and events coordinator Heather Rubald spoke about the work that's been done to update and expand the space. Most of the theater's aesthetic has been preserved. The seats are new, but have a vintage look, and the stylized flower murals on the walls have either been restored or painted to look almost exactly like the original. Rubald remembers when she used to go to the Rialto to watch movies. "It was a rather run-down movie theater, so we had mutated the name from Rialto to 'Rathole,'" she said with a laugh. Built in 1920, the Rialto was designed as a silent movie theater. In the late 1960's they tried to attract more visitors by installing a large movie screen and a snack bar. The building went through many changes over the years, and for a time it housed a shopping mall and office space. It was so rundown that it came perilously close to being torn down. In 1988 it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. And after the Downtown Development Authority purchased the building, the process of restoring the Rialto to its original glory began. Some of that work included expanding dressing rooms and adding a modern Green Room for performers. Donna Evans was one of those touring the theater. Years ago, she performed a few times at the Rialto as part of a choral group. There were only two tiny dressing rooms below the stage, and she remembers a Tae Kwon Do studio across the alley that would allow performers to change costumes there. "We had to go out through those back doors, run across all the parking and stuff, get in there [with] no privacy, change your costumes, run back across the thing, get back up on the stage again," Evans recalled. "It's much better now. It's beautiful." Theater manager Steve Lemmon says much of the renovation was done by a group of volunteers who would come in Saturday mornings to work. "Slowly but surely they brought it back to life, and that's the only reason this theater's still open today," he said. Of course any building that is over 100 years old has secrets. "We have a couple of ghosts that live here in the theater," said Rialto technical coordinator Phil Baugh. One of those spirits haunting the theater is Clarence, a projectionist who worked from the 1940s and 50s. Baugh says Clarence messes with sound and light every now and then. There's also the infamous "woman in white," a performer from the vaudeville era who has allegedly been seen floating on the stage. She even has her favorite seat – J-16. "She was in the middle of a performance and passed away in the dressing rooms," said Baugh. "If you feel a little bit of a cold breeze, it just might be the woman in white." For those interested in paranormal activities, the Rialto offers ghost tours in October, just in time for Halloween. But for this week, the focus is entirely on celebrating the here and now of this longtime cornerstone of the Loveland arts community. "A lot of people who grew up here remember it in its heyday; they remember the tough times it went through; they remember the redemption story of all the community members who brought it back to life," said theater manager Steve Lemmon. "People feel like it's their theater, and that's really what a community theater should be." The Rialto's centennial celebration wraps up Saturday, May 21. Due to inclement weather, many of the events will be held inside the theater. Find more information and a full event schedule here. Colorado Edition is hosted and produced by Erin O'Toole (@ErinOtoole1). Web was edited by Jackie Hai. The mission of Colorado Edition is to deepen understanding of life in Northern Colorado through authentic conversation and storytelling. It's available as a podcast on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. Colorado Edition is made possible with support from our KUNC members. Thank you! Our theme music was composed by Colorado musicians Briana Harris and Johnny Burroughs. Other music in the show by Blue Dot Sessions.

''What a community theater should be:'' Loveland's historic Rialto Theater celebrates a ce...

Climate experts worry about water supplies in Colorado River; a conversation with 'Life on...

Warmer days are here, and the snow that supplies most of the water to the Colorado River is melting. Certainly, our drought-stricken region needs all the water it can get. With just a few weeks left in spring, KUNC's Alex Hager tells us what we can expect for water this summer in the Colorado River basin. The COVID-19 pandemic revealed a lot of uncomfortable truths about ourselves and our society. One of those things was just how undervalued many essential workers are, especially those in lower-paid service-industry jobs. According to an analysis from the Bell Policy Center, around 20% of Colorado's workforce are considered essential workers — in fields ranging from healthcare to transportation to stocking the shelves of grocery stores. Whether they considered themselves "essential" or not — there was no option for remote work in their fields. Many have said they felt unsafe working through the pandemic, and have said companies didn't do enough to protect frontline workers — from the virus itself, or from angry customers who were unhappy with mask requirements or stores running out of particular items. Some of that experience is behind a recent wave of unionization votes across the country, including at several Starbucks locations here in Colorado. Denver-based writer Adam Kaat had a unique vantage point to understand just what that was like. He happened to be working in a busy grocery store right as the pandemic hit. He then chronicled that experience in the form of a novel, Life on the Grocery Line: A Frontline Experience in a Global Pandemic. He spoke with Colorado Edition in March about the book, and what life is really like for essential frontline workers. Colorado Edition is hosted and produced by Erin O'Toole (@ErinOtoole1). Web was edited by digital operations manager Ashley Jefcoat. The mission of Colorado Edition is to deepen understanding of life in Northern Colorado through authentic conversation and storytelling. It's available as a podcast on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. Colorado Edition is made possible with support from our KUNC members. Thank you! Our theme music was composed by Colorado musicians Briana Harris and Johnny Burroughs. Other music in the show by Blue Dot Sessions.

Climate experts worry about water supplies in Colorado River; a conversation with 'Life on...

How do you combat misinformation? CSU professor says personal responsibility is the best approach

Today – on KUNC's Colorado Edition. https://colostate.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_1AE0AAFmNOWWjcy Anyone with an internet connection these days can create false or misleading content that spreads like wildfire to reach millions of people. The rising flood of inflammatory rhetoric and false information is so concerning that the Department of Homeland Security recently announced the creation of a Disinformation Governance Board to combat it — a move that quickly prompted backlash from many Republicans, who compare it to the "Ministry of Truth" from George Orwell's novel "1984." It's an insidious issue that communities and local newsrooms in Northern Colorado are wrestling with, especially with the midterm elections less than six months away. Dominik Stecula studies the intersection of political communication and media. He's an assistant professor of political science at Colorado State University. He's part of a virtual panel discussing misinformation Thursday, May 12, 3:00pm to 5:00pm, hosted by the CSU Center for Public Deliberation, in partnership with the NoCo Deliberative Journalism Project. It's free and open to the public. Interview Highlights These interview highlights have been lightly edited for length and clarity. Erin O'Toole: What is the impact of misinformation or disinformation on people's perceptions of topics like science or vaccines, to use a recent example? Is this persuasive? I mean, does it change people's minds? Dominik Stecula: The reality is more complex than it frequently gets portrayed. We tend to have this belief that just because a piece of information exists out there, then it somehow has a super powerful effect on people out there. Actually, scholars have a name for it. It's called the "third person effect," and it's this idea that you yourself might not think that you would be persuaded by something, but other people are much more gullible than you, and they're definitely going to be persuaded. So I think it's a useful idea to understand when we think about the effects of these things, much like any other form of information, misinformation, disinformation matters. It plays a role in terms of shaping our attitudes, shaping our beliefs, and even shaping our actions, like whether to take the COVID vaccine, for example. But just because one is exposed to one particular false story or just because they listened to one questionable interview that somebody did with, like, Joe Rogan on his podcast, doesn't mean that persuaded them. So, we need to remember that there's a kind of supply and demand there. Some people want this kind of things, want this kind of content because they're predisposed to believe it — in the context of a pandemic, especially. The pandemic was, and still is, scary. And especially if you put yourself back in early 2020, February, March, when we were just trying to learn what's going on, exactly how it was going to impact us. Nobody really had all the answers, even the experts. Some people have a very strong psychological need to have simple answers, and they don't trust the kind of more complex, nuanced explanations. So, they're just more drawn to a particular set of answers that in that context tend to be the more harmful things. So when we talk about misinformation and disinformation and its effect, we have to understand it through the prism of all of these different considerations, all of the different predispositions, that every user of the information environment brings to the table. And also the fact that, you know, sometimes just because you see one story, it's not going to do it. You need repeated exposure, just like with everything else. That doesn't necessarily happen with misinformation, right? You might see like a viral meme or tweet or whatever, that is a piece of disinformation. If that just a one-off thing, then it's unlikely to have made a huge impact on you. But if you're kind of bombarded with the same kind of theme of misinformation on a specific topic, then it's going to be much more likely to influence you because you just consumed a lot more. It's more of a top-of-mind consideration for you, and it's more likely to kind of make an impact on you. I'm wondering how we can, as a community, address the impacts of misinformation while at the same time balancing freedom of speech, because that's also important. I think that's a very difficult and obviously contentious issue to grapple with. I think the first thing that is worth remembering is that the fact that we have misinformation on these platforms is not necessarily a thing that leads to our democracy and our politics being more toxic, but the other way around. When we think back to 2016 and we think back to Russian interference in the election and what the trolls from Russia were doing, they didn't create these divisions. They just poured gasoline on a fire. So I think it's worth remembering that as we think about solutions, because there's certain steps we can take to address some of the concerns surrounding information disorder, but to really get to the bottom of the issue requires fixing our politics, which is a much more complex task. Some of the things we can do — there's different layers. The first layer is what platforms can do, and platforms can design social media to slow us down so that we don't get into our partisan urges of sharing the most hyper partisan content. So little problems that pop up like, "Are you sure you want to share this before reading the article?" These things have been demonstrated to have an effect in randomized controlled trials. These things work. We have data to back it up and platforms are implementing them. I think I'm skeptical of the government and post-moderation policies. I think even the most well-intentioned laws — like in Germany, there's a fake news law that passed in 2017. It had the best intentions of trying to eliminate misinformation and disinformation from platforms like Facebook. And essentially if platforms don't remove certain things in a timely fashion, they face fines. But these laws essentially have been very heavily criticized by the human rights groups, by freedom of speech groups that highlight how they definitely stifle speech. And they have been used as a blueprint by authoritarian regimes who essentially passed similar laws that are de-facto aimed at censoring pro-democracy voices in countries like Russia or Philippines. I think that leaves us with what can we do as a citizens? And I think we are not helpless. I think the information environment is much more complex than it used to be. I study media and politics and I frequently see sources I've never seen before. There's definitely a lot of information out there. We're drowning in information. Some of it is good. Some of it is bad. There are tools that we can use to help us guide us towards better sources; there are browser plug-ins, like Newsguard. I think it's good to be aware of your own biases, knowing that we all come to the table with a certain set of beliefs. Getting outside of our comfort zone, having a balanced diet and when something seems kind of crazy or too good to be true, then it probably is. So triangulating, making sure you research something if something's particularly controversial or it strikes you as unlikely, it probably is. A lot of our politics are toxic because they focus on national culture wars. But local news is still trusted and they still give you good information about your community. And using local news is just a good way to avoid the national level, polarizing things and focusing on things in your community that really matter to your life as well. Not to say that national politics doesn't matter — obviously it does. But really focusing and going out of your way to consume reliable local news, it's a good first step. Colorado Edition is hosted and produced by Erin O'Toole (@ErinOtoole1). Web was edited by digital operations manager Ashley Jefcoat. The mission of Colorado Edition is to deepen understanding of life in Northern Colorado through authentic conversation and storytelling. It's available as a podcast on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. Colorado Edition is made possible with support from our KUNC members. Thank you! Our theme music was composed by Colorado musicians Briana Harris and Johnny Burroughs. Other music in the show by Blue Dot Sessions.

How do you combat misinformation? CSU professor says personal responsibility is the best approach

As employees at a Denver Starbucks vote on unionizing, the company is accused of anti-union tactics

This coming Tuesday, employees at the Starbucks on Colfax Avenue in Denver will learn if they've voted to unionize. Their effort is part of a recent and historic uptick in worker activism across the country, driven partly by the impact of working conditions during the COVID pandemic. There are more than fifty Starbucks locations in the U.S. that have recently voted to unionize, including one in the town of Superior – the first in Colorado to do so. But pro-union employees at this particular Denver store say their efforts have resulted in backlash from the company. Nick Bowlin is a freelance journalist based in Colorado. He wrote about what's been happening in an excellent, in-depth piece that was published this week in The Guardian. Interview Highlights These interview highlights have been lightly edited for length and clarity. Erin O'Toole: Can you start with just a bit of a background about why employees at Starbucks might want to unionize? Not everyone is familiar with unions. I know there are a lot of myths and misconceptions about what it means to have union representation. Nick Bowlin: The workers that I talked to at the Starbucks in Denver had a couple main points. Starbucks has been historically known for having good benefits and good wages for service industry, front-of-house sort of gig. But they [the employees] say that wages have not kept up with inflation in recent years. They also are definitely motivated by some of the difficulties for service workers that resulted from the pandemic. They felt that the company wasn't protecting them when it came to keeping them safe from the virus and also from belligerent customers. Several had horror stories about customers getting angry — and at times violent — about mask mandates and about shortages in the store. They also cited a policy where Starbucks has just been raking in enormous profits in recent years. And they think that more of that should go to the people who make the coffee. They cited a policy that was proposed at the first Starbucks to unionize ever, which was December 20, 2021 in Buffalo, New York, where if a worker misses a shift, the wages from that worker will be distributed to the other baristas who are working at the time or on a short staff shift, rather than going back into their, you know, corporate profits. Many of the workers who I talked to who weren't aware of unions before, when they realized what the collective bargaining process entailed and the ability to really push for the benefits and the protections that they want, that aspect of autonomy; many of them brought that up as something that brought them around to supporting the labor organizing. You started following the effort to unionize at this Denver Starbucks several months ago. Tell us a bit about this particular store, which is on Colfax Avenue. It's known as the Barn. What is it like for employees working there? Well, first of all, it looks like a barn. The Denver Starbucks community says work there is very fast-paced. Inexperienced baristas tend not to start there. Compared to some of the suburban locations, it can be a little bit more rough and tumble. Starbucks workers at other locations tend not to pick up shifts at the Barn because it has something of a reputation. One of the baristas I talked to was punched in the face by an angry customer who was mad about the mask policy. There was this other incident where one of the baristas was pepper sprayed because they were out of frappuccinos one day. These are things that could happen at any Starbucks. But the Barn has a little bit of a reputation which gets back to the issue of workplace protections and maybe why the workers at the point were especially inclined to announce a union drive pretty early on. I have to say, one thing that really jumped out at me is that Starbucks for a long time has had this public reputation as one of the few companies that actually does care about its employees. They offer health benefits; they pay for college tuition. It's kind of hard to square this perception of a benevolent company with what's happening now to employees who want to unionize. And I think that perception is pretty common. And there's evidence of that. Like I said earlier, that's why baristas have sought out Starbucks, because they offer health benefits when not all coffee shop jobs necessarily do. They have a very robust tuition aid program. And they also have this kind of corporate culture that encourages this kind of friendly atmosphere. Every employee from management executives on down to the lowest paid barista are referred to internally in the company as partners. And this of goes along with the, you know, company culture they try to foster. But the workers say a couple of things. Just because there are benefits doesn't mean they're always the best — and they want them to be better. And they also say that if they have a union, it will be up to them to push for the benefits they want rather than, you know, the benefits coming down from on high from the company. You know, I think about one of the baristas at the Denver store named Vanessa Castro, who I spoke to and has worked for Starbucks for four years at multiple stores around the country. She's getting a college degree from Arizona State with tuition aid from Starbucks. And she said, if you start to empower employees by giving them benefits, options, resources to get to access, you don't get to choose when to stop. What happens next? You mentioned the votes for the Denver story will be announced on Tuesday. What are people expecting the results to be? That's right. The NLRB will announce the results on May 10th. All my reporting suggests that the workers are pretty confident that they have a wide margin of majority support. And then once that happens, I mean, that's a big win. But it's also just the beginning, because then they have to enter the collective bargaining agreement process. All expectations are that Starbucks is going to be very hard nosed with the bargaining. You know, the fact that they're trying to pit unionized workers against non-unionized workers with the benefit increase for the non-labor stores, I think, is evidence of how they intend to operate going forward. The National Starbucks Union is associated with one of the largest service-worker unions in the country. They have good lawyers. So they're certainly going to, you know, push back. And I definitely get the sense from the workers in Denver that they are both excited to just have the vote happen and get this, you know, this uncertain limbo period done with. Colorado Edition is hosted and produced by Erin O'Toole (@ErinOtoole1). Web was edited by digital operations manager Ashley Jefcoat. The mission of Colorado Edition is to deepen understanding of life in Northern Colorado through authentic conversation and storytelling. It's available as a podcast on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. Colorado Edition is made possible with support from our KUNC members. Thank you! Our theme music was composed by Colorado musicians Briana Harris and Johnny Burroughs. Other music in the show by Blue Dot Sessions.

As employees at a Denver Starbucks vote on unionizing, the company is accused of anti-union tactics