Photo of Rocker Spirits bar with text that reads,

You're invited to Vibrant Littleton fall mixer at Rocker Spirits — Friday, Oct 21

Photo of Rocker Spirits bar with text that reads,

You’re invited to Vibrant Littleton’s fall mixer at Rocker Spirits on Friday, October 21. Join fellow Littleton enthusiasts from 5:30 to 7:00 PM at this downtown Littleton gem of a bar.

Plus: Vibrant Littleton subscribers get a 15% discount on all Rockers delicious drinks during our event. Just look for our “Vibrant Littleton” sign when you arrive and sign up on our mailing list to get a wrist band for the discount.

Rocker Spirits, located at 5587 Hill Street (about a block north of Main St downtown), distills their own rum, vodka and whiskey. Weather permitting, we’ll be enjoying Rocker’s outdoor patio and menu of tasty nibbles. Mark your calendar and come by Oct. 21 at Rocker, Littleton’s own microdistillery!

FRIDAY • OCTOBER 21, 2022 • 5:30 to 7:00 PM

A huge Thank You to Rocker for being our generous sponsor for the gathering.

If you missed our summer social, we hope you’ll join us for this fall mixer. Sign up for our newsletter to get word on all Vibrant Littleton events as soon as their scheduled.


photo of Matthew Duff on bike with two of his children

In My Own Words: Matthew Duff and a Vision for Littleton

photo of Matthew Duff on bike with two of his childrenHow did you come to live here in Littleton?

I moved to first moved to Littleton in 2001 when I graduated high school. This is my third time living in Littleton, but we are here for the long haul this time. Littleton has such a great mix of nature trails, proximity to Denver, and an old Main Street style development that creates a great space to live. We love it here. We have kids in Heritage High School, Euclid Middle School, and Runyon Elementary.

Tell us about your home building experience and what you learned from it

This could be a really long conversation. But to keep it brief, we wanted to build the most energy efficient home we could. I had gone down a rabbit hole of Youtube videos on how we miss so much comfort and less reliance on energy needs by building a standard, minimum code home. We ended up hiring an energy consultant and an architect to help us build our current home trying to optimize the free energy from the sun as much as possible and making a comfortable place for our family to live.

We ended up building our house to the Passive House standard out of Germany. This standard requires things like orienting the house southward to take advantage of the free energy of the sun in the winter, having triple pained windows, and having an airtight home. Our walls are about 14 inches thick and are around R60 or something like that. Our roof is around R80, if I remember correctly.

We learned during the build process that with some modifications to how a home is built even Colorado’s harsh winters can be lived in with comfort if we build according to the best practices in building science. We also learned that building a home during a pandemic is very expensive!

Share with us your vision of what Littleton should be, in terms of how we build homes here

Probably that the top of what I would love to see is for us to embrace multi-family homes more. We built a single family home because that is what is allowed by code when we built on our lot. But there are few things that can reduce energy costs like sharing a wall with another house. I also believe we should incentivize building homes that exceed the minimum building code. Almost all tax benefits of green building come from retrofitting a house, not from building the house correctly from the start.

I believe we should build many more multi-family and mixed use developments along the four primary corridors of Littleton: Littleton Blvd, Santa Fe, Mineral, and Broadway (we live off Broadway). We can build a multi-modal city that fosters less car dependency while also making a fantastic place to work, play, and live. Littleton’s roots are a town with greater density (think Main Street) and a trolley system for transportation. The city has great bones in comparison to towns like Highlands Ranch or newer developments.

I would love to see Littleton define a vision of what “great” city building looks like, and then incentivize developers and individual home owners to help make that vision a reality. We so often focus on “what is the worst thing you are allowed to build” instead of asking what we want to see built if we were building the best city we could build.

What’s your philosophy about wanting things to “stay the same” and “keep Littleton little”?

I agree with many sentiments about wanting to keep Littleton great. Littleton is a fantastic city and we should keep many of the things that people love. I love having a downtown in Littleton, public transit options, an city with public trails that bring community together. I want a city that is a great place for small businesses to start and grow. These are all great parts of living here. We should focus on maintaining that.

But it is not possible for a city to not change. As an example, if a city decides they don’t want to get “big” they often block new developments from coming in and double down on single-family zoning. It’s a good idea (depending on your goals) in theory, but in practice the consequence of that is skyrocketing prices because of artificially limited supply of homes. Then the city becomes a city only for the wealthy. California has shown the folly of this approach in towns up and down their state. It has become unaffordable for everyone except the exceptionally wealthy.

I just invested a lot of money in living in Littleton. I care deeply about our city. But I see us going down a path where only the wealthy can live here. I want Littleton to have a diverse housing supply so people across the lifetime spectrum of situations can live here: single people who are renting or owning, young families, professionals, and our older neighbors who need better amenities as they age and lose their ability to drive. We need to create a Littleton that serves people across the spectrum. Many cities across the world have shown that if you design a city for the most vulnerable in our society, people like small children, those with disabilities, or the elderly, that it often creates an incredible, vibrant city for everyone.

Change will happen. There are no laws that we can put in place that will keep things the same as they are now, because there are so many variables moving as time progresses. We need to create a city that provides more people with the opportunity to live in Littleton, as the population of the front range expands. We can either infill our existing cities, which makes the most sense fiscally as well as environmentally, or we can force further sprawl out into our undeveloped edges of our city. That is damaging to our pocket books and our environment. We can embrace infill projects and reap the rewards in a more vibrant, walkable city while also improving our city’s finances.


graphic of homes near a train that says

Ballot Measure 301 - Repeal Approval of Homes at Aspen Grove

graphic of homes near a train that says "Block homes near transit?"
Measure 301 is a citizen-initiated ballot question to repeal a 2021 city council decision which approved an plan update to the Aspen Grove mall to allow homes there. That proposed plan would have allowed up to 2,000 new homes on some underused areas of the existing mall. However, those plans have been superseded because Aspen Grove's owner submitted a different plan for 481 new homes using the 2022 land use zoning on that location. This revised plan was approved by the Planning Commission and the City Council.

Though Measure 301 will still appear on the November ballot, it is effectively moot because the measure refers to an older proposal which has been superseded.

Vibrant Littleton has been on record advocating for more homes near Littleton transit areas (such as at Aspen Grove mall). We have expressed reservations about this ballot measure as well as the ongoing petition to change our City Charter. In general terms, Vibrant Littleton opposes efforts to circumvent our city's development or political process, thus we do not support Measure 301 or similar initiatives which attempt to make homes more scarce and more difficult to build.


The gratitude we gain through our local gardens

Littleton's Shepperd Community Garden

 

By mid-September, Littletonites are ready for a cooler breeze and a shift in our mindset. The transition from summer to fall brings on a sense of strength and fortitude. As a gardener, I’m drawn to the measure of life as these summer colors fade, and I focus my efforts on sharing the fruits of my labor. This season, I’ve had a healthy harvest from my little garden, and it has brought about an intentional commitment  to save foods for myself and others into jars for the future. Still, the story of fall is one of strength earned and the sacred relationships that are formed when a garden brings us together. This month, we are focusing on the Shepperd Gardens a.k.a. the Pea Patch and how it has had a positive ripple effect on our Littleton community.

Our community gardens are relatively new, but Littleton’s farming history goes back to the late 1800s. The Highline Canal was completed in 1882 and it provided improved irrigation to local farms east of the Platte River. It also gave them the possibility for larger scale farms with a greater variety of foods. In the late 1890s, local orchards reached their peak and put Littleton on the map as the beekeeping capitol of Colorado. Historically, Colorado’s harsh and short growing seasons required many locals to make great sacrifices and forced Littleton to make more improvements to city ditches and canals. However, it also helped Littleton residents discover a unique, communal strength amongst the difficulties in the rise and fall of our seasons.

The Littleton Community Gardens include the Shepperd Gardens (2171 W. Shepperd Avenue) and the Berry Gardens (703 W. Berry Avenue). They continue the Littleton tradition of cultivating the earth and bringing residents together with community improvement projects, while also donating thousands of pounds of food to 3 local food banks and our local GraceFull Café. Jeremy Major, the Grounds and Open Space Horticulturist for the City of Littleton, says that their “ultimate goal with the pea patch, moving forward, is to build stronger communal ties within the garden that will hopefully spread out to the rest of the community.”

The community gardens are already spreading communal ties through donations to GraceFull Café. These donations have a tremendous positive effect on their ability to serve Littleton, by providing warm and scrumptious meals to members of our community. Megan, the assistant manager at GraceFull, says, “Jeff Baessler is a resident that maintains a plot in the Pea Patch and grows specifically for GraceFull.  At least once or twice a week, Jeff brings by beautiful produce that we are able to use in many ways.  Over the summer, it’s been really special to feature local veggies in the weekly menu.  Recently, we had poached cod with local tomatoes for a lunch special and it was as gorgeous as it was delicious!  The peppers, squash and other vegetables add nutrition, beautiful color and extra love to our meals!”  There’s no question that gardening brings people together, but when the fruits of our labor bring our community together over a hot meal, it can be life altering. The impact of our Littleton community gardens has an even greater effect on us as a community than we may realize, and we see the pay-it-forward in action through generous donations from the gardens, and people like Jeff.

In addition to providing hot meals and a place to gather, GraceFull also uses those food donations to serve families experiencing food insecurity in the Littleton Public School District. Megan explains, “Once a month 22 families come by the café to pick up a partially prepared meal package.  The package focuses on seasonal produce and includes a main dish, healthy snacks and GraceFull menu staple items.  In the month of September, families picked up homemade pizza dough, sauce, cheese, pepperoni, salad greens and dressing, homemade applesauce (a neighbor brought honeycrisp apples from her tree!) and GraceFull pancake mix.  We were able to share freshly picked cucumbers and heirloom tomatoes from the Pea Patch which was such a wonderful and appreciated addition.”

Jeremy foresees many inspiring changes to the community gardens in the coming years and says, “next year we have hopes of incorporating educational sessions throughout the year on subjects like compost, cover crops, insects, etc. through local groups like A1 organics, Denver Botanical Gardens, and more.” He is most excited about the “serious interest from the gardeners to set up a children’s garden next year.” Through some of these programs, he hopes to foster a greater connection between gardeners and the Littleton community.

There is something so incredibly humanizing about the changing seasons, especially in community gardening. The change forces many of us to shift our focus from gardening to helping our community. While Littletonites anticipate this shift from the blissful chaos of summer to the focused intentionality of fall, let’s draw our attention to how our garden harvests can impact our entire community like our Littleton gardens.

If you would like to get more involved with the community gardens of Littleton, call Kelsea with the City of Littleton at 303-795-3766.


photo of Eric Veith, Vibrant Littleton founder, with shark in his arms

In My Own Words: Eric Veith, founder of Vibrant Littleton

photo of Eric Veith, Vibrant Littleton founder, with shark in his armsWhat led you to start VL and tell us about your vision for it?
I've lived in Littleton most of my life, but wasn't engaged on a civic level until I volunteered to participate in the city's Housing Task Force back in 2019. As I learned more about Littleton's history and politics through that process, it became clear to me that our town needed a place where solutions-minded folks could come together and work constructively on the issues facing our town. The vision was to create a hub for all the people who loved Littleton and recognized the unique challenges in our town and who were excited about finding unique solutions to those challenges. One especially pressing topic was finding ways to both celebrate our historic identity and harness the power of growth in our booming region. As various members of Vibrant Littleton came together, we realized that those two identities can actually be very symbiotic. For instance, when we're thoughtful about it, the energy brought by population growth and new investment can be harnessed to improve and expand public spaces like Downtown, and even reproduce new places like them elsewhere in our town. That vision for a Littleton that leans into its identity energizes me and a lot of the other members of our group.

You grew up in Littleton, what changes stand out the most to you?
When I was growing up here, downtown Littleton was kind of an afterthought. There were a handful of thriving businesses, and a few not-so-thriving ones as well. But downtown was far from the hub of activity and civic pride that it is today. Watching our downtown return to what it was historically has been a joy, and given me lots of confidence that citizens of Littleton want more of it. The town has also changed economically, from a borderline "company town" where a large portion of my friends' parents worked for Lockheed, to one that's more of a hub for things going on all over the Metro area. That has created a different energy, but also new challenges, including new demand for housing.

What do you see as the biggest challenges for Littleton today?
Our biggest challenge is managing growth wisely. Jobs, lifestyle, and other big forces are bringing lots of people to our region. It's very easy to identify the challenges that come along with that trend, like winter traffic on I-70, suburban sprawl, and cost of living increases. But people tend to forget all of the good things that come with growth — economic opportunity better public amenities, new friends, etc. So the question becomes: if we want all the good stuff, how do we manage the process and minimize the bad stuff? I think the key is moving beyond frustration and focusing on solutions. For instance, lots of Vibrant Littleton members view strategic increases to density as a really effective way to embrace growth. A new approach to development, where we start diversifying the shapes and sizes of our housing and businesses, will help better meet the demand for housing, while also preserving open space, supporting walkability, and fostering intergenerational community. If our community can identify and lean into solutions like that, hopefully in 20 years we'll all be bragging about our hometown more than ever before.


Matt Duff speaks at Littleton City Council on 8/16/2022 in favor of density like our old downtown

A small town feel doesn't necessarily equate to “no density."

Matt Duff speaks at Littleton City Council on 8/16/2022 in favor of density like our old downtownI'm Matthew Duff and I wanted to stand up today in support of the ULUC. And one of the things I love about this is that, unlike previous zoning codes and a lot of zoning codes around the country, it isn’t a kind of set it and forget it. And I love this is a living document that we have, where we're going to continue to find things that need to be improved in it.

And I was here during that one of the study sessions last year when they're reviewing the ULUC (and in Counselor a lot of times), people would say, "You know, I'm not really sure about this. And there was a specific topic at hand. And I appreciated that because you all cannot be experts on everything.

I feel like this living document gives you the opportunity to say, "I'm not sure." Let's get it directionally correct And then let's make improvements as we go in an iterative process, and I think that’s an incredibly healthy way for us to move the town forward.

I think specifically about the ULUC that the most effective way for us to enable families to have their kids be able to move here and settle down here and so can you continue enjoying the neighborhoods that we all love in the city that we all love is to add infill developments. To have additional density around the corridors.

A lot of the small town feel that we love is in some of the most dense parts of our town. If you think of Main Street and other parts that are a very dense part of town, it has such incredible character and people come from far away to come spend time there and I would love to see that expand that type of development. Expand it all around the corridors.

And if we don't build more developments, and specifically infill developments that are more environmentally sustainable, then we’re removing green space by expanding and sprawling out further into the into the undeveloped parts of our town. Then we'll become more like California with skyrocketing costs because they simply do not build enough housing to meet demand.

A small town feel doesn't necessarily equate to “no density." Small towns are often like the old Main street style that many of us love. With often people living closer to together. Densely, like main street or old town Littleton and enjoying all of the different benefits that that provides.

So again, I want to thank you all for your continued work on this update with staff and the council. I really love the direction of this is going. Thank you.

Watch Kylie's speech to Littleton City Council on Youtube >


photo of Kylie Duff speaking to Littleton City Council about land use on 8/16/2022

I hope to see mixed-use developments become more common in our city

photo of Kylie Duff speaking to Littleton City Council about land use on 8/16/2022Hello I am Kylie Duff. I live at 463 West Easter Avenue. I wanted to speak today and support of the ULUC.

While living in Littleton, my family and I have lived in apartments, rented a single family home, lived in short term rentals and hotels. We need a different options while we have been in between homes at times and options to be close to LPS schools that my four kids attend.

Over the years we've found ourselves in many different circumstances, and I wanted to advocate tonight for a Littleton that provides housing options for all people. I wanted to see the option for a living in Littleton to be accessible to people all along that socioeconomic spectrum.

I support the new ULUC and I'm excited about expanding density and our city along the corridors. I hope to see mixed-use developments become more common in our city. And I wanted our ULUC to focus on how we can make locally owned small businesses more viable.

I want to say thank you to local officials who helped update the city’s land use code and make a more walkable, bikable, mixed-use Littleton possible. And where people at any point in their journey can find a place to call home in Littleton. Thank you.

Watch Kylie's speech to Littleton City Council on Youtube >


photo of Elizabeth Anderson at Littleton City Council, 8/16/2022

I specifically support is high density, mixed-zone housing

photo of Elizabeth Anderson at Littleton City Council, 8/16/2022Hi. I’m Elizabeth Anderson and I live in District Three at Caley and Lakeview Street.

I am in support of the U. L U. C. because it is a policy that can change as the community changes. And it can meet our needs that way better. One area I specifically support is high density, mixed-zone housing. We are currently in a housing crisis and this could be a great part of the solution. I think the corridors are a great location for this, and I believe a good compromise with single family homes.

I love this community, and I think this policy will allow Littleton to grow in the healthiest way. Thank you.

Watch Elizabeth's speech to Littleton City Council on Youtube >


portrait photo of Emily Dykes

In My Own Words: What Vibrant Littleton Brings to Me

portrait photo of Emily DykesOver the last two years, I’ve become involved in the Housing Task Force and Vibrant Littleton and it has been such a fun ride.

I grew up in this city. I attended Littleton High School and my family and I have lived in five different homes and an apartment all within a few miles of each other in the city.

This is my chosen home now and I realized that I don't just want to watch what happens to this city from the sidelines. I especially don't want to simply complain about what I don't like. I want to be a part of decisions that are made and be an advocate for the direction our city goes. I want my voice to be heard!

I love this community and I love the rich history of the city. I want to be a part of the movement to help it grow and thrive and change in a way that both honors the past and makes room for the new.

There is so much power that can be harnessed for good here in Littleton and I'm grateful to be involved.

I've been especially grateful for my time with Vibrant Littleton. We were able to help bring the Unified Land Use Code (ULUC) to so many different communities and they were able to share their voice and their thoughts on the document before it was enacted.

I also love the education I've received through Vibrant Littleton's work that teaches me about the pros and cons of different issues. I have so much more confidence casting my vote and speaking up at city council.

I didn't realize my voice would ever matter here at the city. But what I've discovered is that my voice, and the voices of all within this community, do matter and they can be heard and considered.

There is so much power that can be harnessed for good here in Littleton and I'm grateful to be involved.


Beers and socializing with Vibrant Littleton at BarBox, August 2022

Vibrant Littleton enthusiasts met at the Breckenridge Brewery open air bar at Aspen Grove, called BARBOX. Under mild summer skies, the conversations coursed over wide ranging topics, all centered on what we love about Littleton.

FRIDAY • AUGUST 26, 2022 • 5:30 to 7:00 PM

Anyone subscribed to Vibrant Littleton’s email newsletter received beer discounts. So a huge Thank You to Breckenridge Brewery for being our generous sponsor for the gathering. And kudos to all who brought new packs of underwear to donate to The Undies Project, too. We are happy to add our support to the over 5,000 pairs that were collected to help folks in need.

If you missed our summer social, we hope you’ll join us this fall for our next big gathering. Sign up for our newsletter to get word on that event as soon as it’s announced.