The final installment of this round of the Downtown Partnership’s City Center series, entitled “Urbanism Goes to the Movies,” is bringing back a popular concept from 2017.
The Downtown Partnership is presenting “[a]n evening of new short films from the New Urbanism Film Fest exploring how people and places around the world are building more resilient communities through innovation, placemaking and design. Following the films, local changemakers will respond with short commentaries about their own projects that resonate with the themes presented on-screen,” according to the Partnership’s event description.
“We’ll have films about the cycling culture in Kampala, [Uganda] urban redevelopment in Boston, films highlighting public art in L.A. or retail in the Midwest,” said Claire Swinford, urban engagement manager with the Downtown Partnership. “The goal is to show ordinary citizens who figured out innovative ways to solve problems in their community through design, innovation and urbanism.”
Featured local changemakers include Peri Bolts, owner and founder of Eclectic CO; Gregg Deal, local artist and activist; Chris Jenkins, president, Nor’wood Development Group; and Katie Branham, volunteer with and board member and vice chair of the Women’s Mountain Bike Association of Colorado Springs.
Branham will discuss the film “Cycologic,” which tells the story of Amanda, a Ugandan in Kampala who builds community by first building bike lanes.
“At first I thought, ‘There’s not a ton of what she’s working on in Uganda that has a lot in common with the Women’s Mountain Bike Association,’” Branham said. “Then I saw a lot of parallels between the two — the getting people on bikes. Both projects were passion projects by a small group of women and they grew into something bigger than the founders expected.”
Between June and September, Branham and other women bike enthusiasts lead weekly after-work group rides of up to 100 people.
“The biggest groups we have are beginner and intermediate-level riders,” she said. “It’s really a diverse group. And we have women from [age] 18 to women on our race team in their 70s.”
The group also leads social rides on weekends or later in the season where all are invited.
Branham, an Indiana transplant, said WMBA was one of the deciding factors in moving here.
“I was here for a job interview on a Friday with my husband, who had never moved outside a 3-mile radius in Indiana. We spent the weekend in town to see if it’s where we wanted to live. We walked into Criterium [Bicycles] and an employee asked if she could help us find something. I literally blurted out, ‘Should we live here?’
“That’s how I met a really great friend of mine. At the time I’d probably been biking three or four years but no women rode bikes with me until here. Hearing 100 women a week rode bikes together was mind-blowing.
“I got the job, but hearing about how supportive this community is made me think this is a place where we can make friends and connections. It evolved exactly into that.”
So how does biking mountain trails relate to urbanism?
“We’re so fortunate that our urban areas and mountain biking are totally connected here,” Branham said. “When I go on a mountain bike ride, I leave my front door, bike through an urban environment on my way to trails. We’re so fortunate. In other places, that’s not the case. Mountain biking is a weekend activity where you got in the car and drove an hour to a state park to experience nature.”
According to Swinford, the event will include an hour of films, 15 minutes of response and 15 minutes for Q&A.
She added that City Center Series fans should keep an eye on the Partnership’s website, as special events may be announced during the year.
“The event [on Feb 13th, Local Great Minds] was popular enough,” Swinford said, “that we’re exploring what it might look like to offer those events more often.”