For FoCo

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

Fort Collins is in this together.

Let's show that Fort Collins is a truly exceptional community that rises up to help one another. At For FoCo, you can share all the ways you and your neighbors are showing up to support one another.

We’re looking for stories, photos, videos and ideas that show:

  • neighborhood generosity, camaraderie and kindness
  • support for small businesses; healthcare workers, first responders and other essential workers
  • your neighborhood's 8 p.m. howl, sidewalk chalk, remote mariachi band – you name it!
  • how to stay connected with friends, neighbors and our Fort Collins community

Show us how you're rallying for each other, your neighbors and your community!


Many of us look to our neighbors for a sense of community outside our home. Neighbors let you borrow you a cup of sugar, plow your sidewalk when you’re out of town, bring over baked goods and casseroles when you’re going through a difficult time. We know folks have been leaning on neighbors for friendly interaction and support, and we believe that Fort Collins is a city of neighbors who look out for each other and whose kindness is a huge part of our community’s resilience.

From encouraging messages in sidewalk chalk to stuffed animals safaris in home windows to remote and physical distancing check-ins, we want to see and hear how you and your neighbors and staying safe, while still connecting to support one another.



Our treasured local businesses are the fabric of Fort Collins – they’re part of what makes our community unique and they’re an essential part of our culture. We encourage you to show kindness and support to local businesses to the best of your ability, because Fort Collins businesses and the spaces they build for others have a major impact on the vitality of our community.

We encourage you to show us how you’re adapting your support for our businesses so they can continue to thrive. Tell us stories or share photos or videos of your support, whether it’s by purchasing gift cards, ordering no-contact delivery from your favorite restaurants, sending messages of support or connecting with local establishments directly to ask them how you can help them on their road to recovery.



Many of us look to the arts – visual arts, poetry, music and more – to help us grow our spirit of resiliency and focus on the beauty in our world and in our community. Luckily, Fort Collins is known as an artistic community with cultural vibrancy at its core. From our first-in-the-nation Transformer Cabinet Mural Program, Pianos About Town and Art in Public Places (in its 25th year!), to our beloved Fort Collins Museum of Discovery, Lincoln Center and Gardens on Spring Creek, we have a host of artistic offerings – and staff who are eager to connect with the patrons (that’s you!) they are desperately missing!

Whether you are making your own art or holding closely the art of creatives in our community, we want to know what art you are turning to during these times, as well as what Fort Collins arts institutions you miss most!



We’ve all had to adapt our routines to accommodate recent public health recommendations – wearing masks or face coverings, working from home, keeping six feet away from most people. It’s tough to make all these changes, but we also know that our community’s ability to be flexible is key to everyone’s health and safety.

We want to see how you’ve gone the distance to social distance. Have you handsewn masks for your family, neighbors or local healthcare providers? Used the City’s low-stress bike network to avoid more crowded trails? Worked out in your basement using FCRecreator’s video library? Hosted remote happy hours with your coworkers or remote jam sessions with your mariachi band? We’re in this together, and sharing your stories can help others continue to stick to best practices for physical distancing while staying connected to other community members.


Fort Collins is in this together.

Let's show that Fort Collins is a truly exceptional community that rises up to help one another. At For FoCo, you can share all the ways you and your neighbors are showing up to support one another.

We’re looking for stories, photos, videos and ideas that show:

  • neighborhood generosity, camaraderie and kindness
  • support for small businesses; healthcare workers, first responders and other essential workers
  • your neighborhood's 8 p.m. howl, sidewalk chalk, remote mariachi band – you name it!
  • how to stay connected with friends, neighbors and our Fort Collins community

Show us how you're rallying for each other, your neighbors and your community!


Many of us look to our neighbors for a sense of community outside our home. Neighbors let you borrow you a cup of sugar, plow your sidewalk when you’re out of town, bring over baked goods and casseroles when you’re going through a difficult time. We know folks have been leaning on neighbors for friendly interaction and support, and we believe that Fort Collins is a city of neighbors who look out for each other and whose kindness is a huge part of our community’s resilience.

From encouraging messages in sidewalk chalk to stuffed animals safaris in home windows to remote and physical distancing check-ins, we want to see and hear how you and your neighbors and staying safe, while still connecting to support one another.



Our treasured local businesses are the fabric of Fort Collins – they’re part of what makes our community unique and they’re an essential part of our culture. We encourage you to show kindness and support to local businesses to the best of your ability, because Fort Collins businesses and the spaces they build for others have a major impact on the vitality of our community.

We encourage you to show us how you’re adapting your support for our businesses so they can continue to thrive. Tell us stories or share photos or videos of your support, whether it’s by purchasing gift cards, ordering no-contact delivery from your favorite restaurants, sending messages of support or connecting with local establishments directly to ask them how you can help them on their road to recovery.



Many of us look to the arts – visual arts, poetry, music and more – to help us grow our spirit of resiliency and focus on the beauty in our world and in our community. Luckily, Fort Collins is known as an artistic community with cultural vibrancy at its core. From our first-in-the-nation Transformer Cabinet Mural Program, Pianos About Town and Art in Public Places (in its 25th year!), to our beloved Fort Collins Museum of Discovery, Lincoln Center and Gardens on Spring Creek, we have a host of artistic offerings – and staff who are eager to connect with the patrons (that’s you!) they are desperately missing!

Whether you are making your own art or holding closely the art of creatives in our community, we want to know what art you are turning to during these times, as well as what Fort Collins arts institutions you miss most!



We’ve all had to adapt our routines to accommodate recent public health recommendations – wearing masks or face coverings, working from home, keeping six feet away from most people. It’s tough to make all these changes, but we also know that our community’s ability to be flexible is key to everyone’s health and safety.

We want to see how you’ve gone the distance to social distance. Have you handsewn masks for your family, neighbors or local healthcare providers? Used the City’s low-stress bike network to avoid more crowded trails? Worked out in your basement using FCRecreator’s video library? Hosted remote happy hours with your coworkers or remote jam sessions with your mariachi band? We’re in this together, and sharing your stories can help others continue to stick to best practices for physical distancing while staying connected to other community members.


  • Staff Chats: Cate Eckenrode, Budget

    Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link
    13 Aug 2020

    What excites you about your work?

    CE: I get nerdy when I talk about what I do with FC Lean because it truly ties into the City of Fort Collins’ vision, mission and values. Our vision is to provide world-class municipal services through operational excellence and a culture of innovation. The part that excites me is the connection between innovation and outstanding service and collaboration. Everyday I work with City staff to deliver more efficient and effective City services to our community. Some people think of innovation as a big new idea, but it can be as simple as looking...

    What excites you about your work?

    CE: I get nerdy when I talk about what I do with FC Lean because it truly ties into the City of Fort Collins’ vision, mission and values. Our vision is to provide world-class municipal services through operational excellence and a culture of innovation. The part that excites me is the connection between innovation and outstanding service and collaboration. Everyday I work with City staff to deliver more efficient and effective City services to our community. Some people think of innovation as a big new idea, but it can be as simple as looking at the work that you do with fresh eyes and an open mind. I get to work with City staff on everyday innovations to make forms easier, service delivery faster and more consistent, and increase capacity to do more. Their creativity and willingness to try new things is inspiring. We listen to each other, work together and brainstorm solutions. And we have a lot of fun doing it, too. The impacts of small improvements are huge. I am grateful to play a role in helping people become better problem solvers for themselves, their workgroups and our community.

    How are neighbors helping each other during this difficult time?

    CE: In my role as a Process Improvement Specialist with FC Lean, I served on the team that created the processes and structure for our Adopt a Neighbor program which expanded in April to better serve our community through the COVID-19 crisis. To date, more than 400 people have registered to volunteer to help at-risk neighbors with outside chores, grocery and prescription pick-up, and other tasks. The way our community has come together from volunteering to donations to buying local has been inspiring. I’ve seen people step up in small ways to ensure that their neighbors feel supported and less lonely during this time. The stories from Adopt a Neighbor and outpouring of support for our non-profit community are full of meaningful donations of time, talent and treasure to offer a support system to each other.

    What’s been the most challenging/rewarding part of your job the last few months?

    CE: The work that we do in FC Lean is built on collaboration and teamwork and has relied heavily on bringing people together to facilitate continuous improvements. The transition from in-person to virtual meetings was a challenge for our team. We offer training, coaching and facilitating on continuous improvement so transitioning all three of those services to a virtual format was hard to imagine at first. How can we continue to assist staff in their continuous improvement work as well as facilitate process creation in response to the crisis? It took a few weeks but together Roland Guerrero, FC Lean Program Manager, and I retooled our Lean Basics course from an all-day in person format to multi-session webinar format. We’ve held four sessions since April and even opened the course up to community members who are interested in taking advantage of our services. In addition to our training courses, we were able to transition to virtual facilitation and coaching on process improvement projects using multiple online tools. It’s a new world but has been extremely rewarding to continue to help people build efficiency, efficacy and capacity in their work areas. If any community non-profits or business would like to learn more about what FC Lean does and how we can help please email us at lean@fcgov.com or visit us at https://www.fcgov.com/lean/.

    How are you staying connected with people outside of your household?

    CE: I’ve taken to heart what our Chief Human Resources Officer Teresa Roche said early in the crisis: practice physical distancing and social solidarity. I’ve looked for ways to stay connected to my friends and family. I’ve participated in virtual happy hours and physically distant driveway happy hours. My work group has a thirty-minute check-in every week where we’re not allowed to talk about work at all and it’s fun to just hear about their lives and how they’re doing. I even did a book and puzzle trade with a friend. In April, I started sending cards to friends and family who don’t live nearby. It’s nice to put pen to paper again and just check-in and say I’m thinking about you. It’s time for another round of those cards.

    What’s one thing you’ve learned during the pandemic?

    CE: The one thing I’ve learned is how to slow down properly. I’ve had to build new daily routines because everything from home to work life was upended by the pandemic. I’ve started reading the books that were on my side table that I was too busy to pick up before. I have a new morning routine that includes enjoying and not just drinking my coffee. I even bought myself a meditation cushion for my birthday as a reward for getting my meditation practice back into swing. I‘m more mindful about how I’m spending my time and not just getting things done or checked off a list. It’s been nice to slow down with purpose and rebuild my time with meaning.

  • Staff Chats: Tanya Pappa, Natural Areas

    Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link
    06 Aug 2020

    Hear from City staff about their COVID-19 work, how they're staying connected and what they hope to learn from community members like you.

    Why is it important for communities to have a vibrant and diverse culture?

    TP: It is important and crucial for communities to have a vibrant and diverse culture because it allows for more voices to be heard and more knowledge to be gained. When we have diversity in our population, we have diversity in our thoughts, our perceptions and our ideas. Understanding others who may not think or look like you, allows us to all be more...

    Hear from City staff about their COVID-19 work, how they're staying connected and what they hope to learn from community members like you.

    Why is it important for communities to have a vibrant and diverse culture?

    TP: It is important and crucial for communities to have a vibrant and diverse culture because it allows for more voices to be heard and more knowledge to be gained. When we have diversity in our population, we have diversity in our thoughts, our perceptions and our ideas. Understanding others who may not think or look like you, allows us to all be more compassionate. I hope to see Fort Collins continue to grow in this way.

    What excites you about your work?

    TP: My colleagues and the youth I work with excite me about my work and allow me to dream for the future in a hopeful way.

    What COVID-19 work – from your office or that you’ve worked on personally – are you most proud of?

    TP: At the beginning of the pandemic, I remember reading “don’t worry about what we can’t control, but rather focus on what we can create.” I feel my team in Natural Areas did just that. We offered a range of different programming both virtually and eventually in small in-person groups.

    The program I facilitate is called Club Outdoors. Typically, we take members from the Boys and Girls Club of Larimer County to Natural Areas. This year we made huge pivots due to COVID-19 and were able to still run programming, but in a different way with the appropriate safety measures. The youth and I met 3 times a week and went on nature walks, completed various activities around topics like mental health awareness and environmental education, and enjoyed lunch from Yampa Sandwich Company. The summer season just wrapped up and we were able to serve around 45-50 kids weekly. It was a great season!

    Are there positive ways your work has been reimagined because of the pandemic and current events?

    TP: I have felt empowered to share my ideas about how to reimagine programming and professional development within my team and department. I am grateful we collaborate on how to reimagine our future because it is important to continue these processes of evolving for all the communities we serve.

    What do you love most about Fort Collins?

    TP: I may be biased when I say this, but I love our Natural Areas. The Poudre River specifically has been a place of solace and peace for me since I moved here 9 years ago. I am thrilled that after fostering this relationship with the river, I am able to share it with the youth from the Boys and Girls Club in Fort Collins. I hope they are able to share the same appreciation with their own connection.

  • Staff Chats: Sue Schafer, Human Resources

    Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link
    29 Jul 2020

    Hear from City staff about their COVID-19 work, how they're staying connected and what they hope to learn from community members like you.


    What do you want community members to know about the City right now?

    SS: I’ve worked for the City for 13 years and am prouder than ever to be a part of it. Our leaders are flexible, and responsive to changing conditions. I feel supported as a working parent. I feel that my work is important, and my talents are being called upon in new ways. I have seen our leaders become vulnerable, serve as cheerleaders and...

    Hear from City staff about their COVID-19 work, how they're staying connected and what they hope to learn from community members like you.


    What do you want community members to know about the City right now?

    SS: I’ve worked for the City for 13 years and am prouder than ever to be a part of it. Our leaders are flexible, and responsive to changing conditions. I feel supported as a working parent. I feel that my work is important, and my talents are being called upon in new ways. I have seen our leaders become vulnerable, serve as cheerleaders and handle adversity with grace. This is an organization that cares for its employees and is willing to think outside the box to support the work we do. I think COVID has lowered fences and brought out the best in everyone.

    How would you describe Fort Collins’ culture?

    SS: In Fort Collins we have a culture of philanthropy and volunteerism. Everyone wants to help. In fact, we have the sixth highest rate of volunteerism for similar cities in the country—38.2% of residents volunteer! We like to say that this City runs on the power of volunteers—from youth sports coaches, to volunteer rangers, our community works together to make this a special place. This has never been more true than it is now.

    What COVID-19 work – from your office or that you’ve worked on personally – are you most proud of?

    SS: I am extremely proud of the Adopt A Neighbor program, which was repurposed to serve the needs of vulnerable residents during the COVID. Adopt A Neighbor volunteers were already active in helping with snow removal and lawn care, but after the City had to close Recreation facilities, we searched for innovative ways to help our community get the vital supplies they needed. With more than 400 volunteers helping across the City, the program has been incredibly successful and will continue to be necessary as we move into colder months.

    Do you have a favorite Fort Collins neighborhood/neighbor story?

    SS: We have a neighborhood with tons of kids. We have created a “bubble” with a few families and have enjoyed camping and other outdoor activities together. We are celebrating birthdays, learning new skills and supporting each other. I’m so grateful for our neighborhood!

    What do you love most about Fort Collins?

    SS: Access to nature! I have young kids and we have explored more of the natural areas, open spaces and trails than ever. During the Stay-at-Home Order, we explored our local natural area every day, getting to know wildlife and watching everything wake up for spring. We would have struggled more if we did not have our daily walks. Now, we camp, paddleboard on Horsetooth, enjoy our backyard wildlife and play on the trails every chance we get!

  • Staff Chats: Jensen Morgan, Environmental Services

    Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link
    17 Jul 2020

    Hear from City staff about their COVID-19 work, how they're staying connected and what they hope to learn from community members like you.

    What’s been the most challenging part of your job the last few months?

    JM: My job is focused on engaging our amazing community members - to get input and ideas for how we can improve climate action in Fort Collins. However, with COVID-19, the world of engagement has transformed in a matter of months. Our team works everyday to discover best practices and learn directly from community members how we can involve people in government decision-making and...

    Hear from City staff about their COVID-19 work, how they're staying connected and what they hope to learn from community members like you.

    What’s been the most challenging part of your job the last few months?

    JM: My job is focused on engaging our amazing community members - to get input and ideas for how we can improve climate action in Fort Collins. However, with COVID-19, the world of engagement has transformed in a matter of months. Our team works everyday to discover best practices and learn directly from community members how we can involve people in government decision-making and community action that encourages people to stay safe during COVID. Obviously, virtual engagement is a key part of this, but there are still many in our community that do not have access to internet or a computer. We are still wrestling with how best to make it accessible for people to participate without putting themselves at risk or needing a computer.

    What has inspired you the most about our community?

    JM: We recently launched virtual brainstorming workshops for Our Climate Future. It was challenging to transition this kind of community dialogue into Zoom, but I’ve been impressed, inspired, and invigorated by all the community members joining conversations to imagine solutions to create Our Climate Future. I want to encourage everyone to go to fcgov.com/climatefuture to sign up for a workshop and join the conversation!

    What would you recommend for folks looking to stay active during Safer at Home?

    JM: Shift Your Ride and Get Outside! September is going to be Shift Your Ride Month and the City of Fort Collins is putting on a series of virtual and COVID-safe in-person events to encourage everyone in our community to get some exercise and go car-free by biking, scooting or walking more around town. Using active modes of transportation is a great way for folks to stay healthy even when many of us are spending more time indoors. I have been trying to hop on my bike more for short rides to the grocery store and the park. It has been so nice to stretch my legs!

    What do you miss most about life before COVID?

    JM: As silly as it may sound I love going to the movies! I love the tradition of being in front of a huge screen with people whispering and laughing all around you while the buttery smell of popcorn wafts through the air. I really miss that experience. My roommates knew this and set up a mock “movie theater” in our house to give us a fun substitute. It’s not quite like a real theater, but it’s still pretty darn good with a bowl of popcorn in your hands.

  • Staff Chats: JC Ward, Neighborhood Services

    Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link
    08 Jul 2020

    Hear from City staff about their COVID-19 work, how they're staying connected and what they hope to learn from community members like you.

    What COVID-19 work – from your office or that you’ve worked on personally – are you most proud of?

    JC: I am most proud of the magic the City has been able to create under incredibly difficult circumstances at a time where someone’s safety, family, and health may depend on how quickly they get assistance. Adopt A Neighbor is an existing program that was repurposed in 48 hours by Volunteer Services, Natural Areas, and Neighborhood Services...

    Hear from City staff about their COVID-19 work, how they're staying connected and what they hope to learn from community members like you.

    What COVID-19 work – from your office or that you’ve worked on personally – are you most proud of?

    JC: I am most proud of the magic the City has been able to create under incredibly difficult circumstances at a time where someone’s safety, family, and health may depend on how quickly they get assistance. Adopt A Neighbor is an existing program that was repurposed in 48 hours by Volunteer Services, Natural Areas, and Neighborhood Services to match neighbors in need with volunteers who could help. Many residents who are in COVID-19 “high risk” categories are not necessarily the same neighbors who needed help from the old version of Adopt A Neighbor, which mostly helped lower income senior citizens with snow shoveling. Fort Collins had college students, nurses, new moms, and world travelers self-quarantining and for the first time, many of them had to rely on neighbors and friends to meet basic needs. Adopt A Neighbor was flexible enough to put a support network of background-checked volunteers in place for anyone asking for help. My philosophy in life and work is: “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” (-Arthur Ashe) The Adopt A Neighbor expansion and the outstanding City departments involved did just that.

    With more people staying at home, have you seen any silver linings in your field of work?

    JC: Most of my work is public engagement and community organizing. COVID-19 restrictions took away many of the tools I typically rely on to get community members together and improve livability in Fort Collins. The silver lining is that everyone’s expectations changed and this uncharted territory is full of adventure. Necessity meant we could not be in a physical space together, so we have to think about other kinds of spaces to connect people. Virtual meetings and remote participation were seen as a “stretch goal” for the distant sci-fi future and now my Nana is on Zoom meetings every day. We are having a collective ‘make it work’ moment that calls for creativity and optimism because no one knows what this is supposed to look like now and that opens up opportunities to try new things.

    How are neighbors helping each other during this difficult time?

    JC: I always say that in times of emergency, your neighbor will be your first responder. Fort Collins has seen this during fires, floods, and now during a global pandemic. The City’s Adopt A Neighbor program was expanded to match volunteers with neighbors in need during the COVID-19 recovery and the response was amazing! More than 300 neighbors signed up to help with grocery shopping, medication pick up, outdoor pet care, and other errands. These volunteers are also regularly communicating with their “adopted” neighbor, providing safe social interaction for folks who are high risk and staying home.

    I have asthma, so I have been in Safer-at-Home mode for almost 15 weeks. I did not anticipate how much of an emotional toll my “new normal” would take and how much I would miss the random drop-in office conversations or small talk with neighbors at the mailbox. My neighbors started a painted rock scavenger hunt with encouraging words waiting to be discovered around the neighborhood. Other neighborhoods are sidewalk chalking messages of hope, love, and connectedness as a happy surprise to come across while you are walking the dog. Some neighborhood Little Free Libraries are being used as small food pantries and craft supply swaps. Fort Collins has also had driveway Zumba fitness classes, parking lot dance parties, and front porch concerts. Neighbors have been innovative with hundreds of new ways to say, “I hear you. I see you. I am with you.” during the past few months.

    What are some of your favorite neighborhood events?

    JC: My favorite neighborhood events are always those that neighbors create and lead. With more than 185 neighborhoods in Fort Collins each is unique and special. Neighborhood Services Staff provides a big picture idea for an event and supports neighbors in bringing their own vision to life. Neighborhood Night Out is a huge citywide event with more than 100 block parties on a single night. No two Neighborhood Night Out parties look the same. Some are giant pool parties for 200+ kids and some are a handful of long-time residents meeting up for homemade ice cream in someone’s driveway. One size does not fit all for neighborhoods and I love to see neighbors how run with an idea!

    Some neighbor-led events grow out of programs like Sustainable Neighborhoods or Neighborhood Connections, where neighbors attend leadership training, develop a communication network, and use their new skills to bring something exciting to the neighborhood. One Neighborhood Connections graduate started a Happy Hour where the neighborhood flag gets passed around each week and when neighbors see the flag out, they bring their own drinks and snacks over to share. It is so difficult as an adult to knock on someone’s front door and tell them you want to be friends. The Happy Hour neighborhood flag is an open invitation to all neighbors that gives people a reason and space to connect.

    What’s been the most welcome change to your daily routine?

    JC: The most welcome change in my daily routine has been getting outside more. The dogs are very stoked that my commute time has been converted into dog walk time. It is not dark when I come home and I have the flexibility to take breaks outside throughout the day. The natural light coming in through the windows is also a huge upgrade from the office fluorescents.

  • Staff Chats: Lauren Nagle, FC Moves

    Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link
    25 Jun 2020

    Hear from City staff about their COVID-19 work, how they're staying connected and what they hope to learn from community members like you.

    How are you staying connected with people outside of your household?

    LN: I am a car-free and an active cyclist, and I have been making efforts to connect with as many as I can in all of the spaces I occupy in that area. I have continued going to the Murphy Center to wrench on bikes there for the homeless and near- homeless community members. I have gone to neighborhoods on the north side of town...

    Hear from City staff about their COVID-19 work, how they're staying connected and what they hope to learn from community members like you.

    How are you staying connected with people outside of your household?

    LN: I am a car-free and an active cyclist, and I have been making efforts to connect with as many as I can in all of the spaces I occupy in that area. I have continued going to the Murphy Center to wrench on bikes there for the homeless and near- homeless community members. I have gone to neighborhoods on the north side of town to do the same for our Latinx community members. I have had a backyard hangout with my bike polo team. I have worked with the other leaders of the Hex Wenches, a FTW/NB (Femme Trans Women and Non-binary) wrenching group out of the Fort Collins Bike Co-op, to create a Ride with Pride for the LGBTQIA+ community and its allies.

    This month is Pride Month, and while it is hard to celebrate given all that is going on, there have been major milestones that we have experienced in the movement towards equality. Earlier this month, the Supreme Court ruled that gay and trans people can’t be discriminated against or fired for just being themselves. While it is upsetting that it took until 2020 for this to be clarified on a national level for those that didn’t already understand it, it is a huge win.

    Instead of ignoring what is going on for the sake of celebration, we also stand (ride) in solidarity with those protesting, and those fighting for equality for black lives and for QTBIPOC (Queer and Trans, Black and Indigenous and People of Color) lives. Just because we had a huge step taken forward for our equality doesn’t mean that everyone has. This ride will be on Friday, June 26th, and will be a little different because of COVID-19. People are encouraged to ride their bike at any time during the day, on a general loop of Mountain Ave, from Old Town to the cemetery and back. The ride is open to all to express themselves however they want, with rainbow flags, protest signs, costumes, or just plain noise.

    What makes a community’s culture vibrant, rich and representative of its people?

    LN: Every community member’s voice and perspective should be heard. and decision-making spaces should be representative of more than just the majority.

    As a community, we must actively listen to everyone and seriously consider what everyone brings to the table. Ultimately, it takes effort to have a representative culture, and we have to be willing to upset the status quo and make tough decisions in order to represent everyone in our community, not just the majority.

    Why is it important for communities to have a vibrant and diverse culture?

    LN: This is something that is best understood when you consider what it would feel like to be invisibilized. For some, this isn’t easy to actually understand because they have never come close to feeling what that is like. For others, the act of invisibilization goes a step further: there are laws, or institutions, that are built against you, built to actively make sure you fail. These barriers hurt a community’s ability to thrive and prosper, and can cause wide swaths of culture and perspectives to be lost.

    Everyone should have a place they feel safe and a community they belong to. When culture is homogenized, people with diverse identities are left asking themselves where is my place? What do I do? Where is my community?

    What role does collaboration play in creating a vibrant community?

    LN: A truly vibrant community isn’t just made because someone decided to do so one day. A vibrant community is something that is built over time, with many different perspectives and life experiences contributing to the whole. In order to be ‘vibrant’ - full of energy and enthusiasm - there has to be room for everyone to contribute. If you are the majority voice, you can help to create a space for others to be heard. Working together, we can make sure everyone is represented in the fabric of our community.

  • Staff Chats: DeAngelo Bowden, Environmental Services

    Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link
    11 Jun 2020

    Hear from City staff about their COVID-19 work, how they're staying connected and what they hope to learn from community members like you.

    What’s been the most challenging part of your job the last few months?

    This is a really great question that I think I could write a book about honestly! I really miss seeing my friends and colleagues on a daily basis. A lot of my work centers on engaging our historically underrepresented/marginalized communities in the update of the City’s Climate Action Plan. It has definitely been a challenge to really embed myself in the work because...

    Hear from City staff about their COVID-19 work, how they're staying connected and what they hope to learn from community members like you.

    What’s been the most challenging part of your job the last few months?

    This is a really great question that I think I could write a book about honestly! I really miss seeing my friends and colleagues on a daily basis. A lot of my work centers on engaging our historically underrepresented/marginalized communities in the update of the City’s Climate Action Plan. It has definitely been a challenge to really embed myself in the work because of how important the storytelling element is, alongside embedding equity into every process of the plan. We have learned that online platforms are not always the best ways to engage folks and we are committed to finding the most appropriate ways to do so. I will never take shaking someone’s hand or giving them a hug for granted ever again!

    Why is it important for communities to have a vibrant and diverse culture?

    The last thing we would want is for someone to feel like they are not welcome in the community they live in. Inclusivity is key to maintaining a healthy environment. Equity is that special piece that makes it all come together smoothly. Having vibrant and diverse cultures in a community allows us to become more resilient, especially in times like these, ensuring that we bounce back quicker and stronger than ever before. It allows for more innovation and collaboration within a community, as we will also have access to a wealth of knowledge and diverse thought. In order to achieve that “Excellence” that we all strive for, we must first make sure that everyone has the opportunity to succeed and that everyone is provided the resources to do so.

    What has inspired you the most about our community these last several weeks?

    Over the past weeks, folks in our community have come together to peacefully protest ongoing systemic and institutional racism. With the ongoing injustices and violence perpetuated against African-Americans and other communities of color, I can’t tell you how important it is to see Fort Collins step up and speak out for systemic change. Knowing that our community is out at City Hall, Old Town Square, Police Services, our Natural Areas and other public spaces - to listen, to learn and to continue collaborative discussions that inspire meaningful action - is absolutely amazing.

    What’s been the most welcome change to your daily routine?

    I love that I can hop on my bike, hit Spring Creek trail and grab some morning treats from Butterfly Cafe before my usual Teams meeting kickoff in the mornings. Now that my schedule is so flexible working from home, I am truly able to enjoy what our community has to offer during these beautiful summer days. Also, the commute to work is amazing! Instead of being a part of the traffic on Shields during rush hour, I now get to pace myself as I maneuver down my stairs to my workspace!

    What do you want community members to know about the City right now?

    Equity and Inclusion could not be more top of mind for our City. COVID-19 has highlighted some of the inequities certain communities face daily within Fort Collins. To accomplish the City's goals of sustaining an environment where residents and visitors feel welcomed, safe and valued, we know that there must be action taken by our organization and those we typically collaborate with. We consider an equitable community to be one where a person's identity or identities--or what zip code they live in--does not negatively impact their ability to thrive. Because local government is uniquely poised to help dismantle the institutional and systemic impacts of racism and oppression, the City of Fort Collins seeks to proactively address barriers that perpetuate inequity.

  • Staff Chats: Shawna Van Zee, Community Development & Neighborhood Services

    Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link
    28 May 2020

    Hear from City staff about their COVID-19 work, how they're staying connected and what they hope to learn from community members like you.

    With more people staying at home, have you seen any silver linings in your field of work?

    SVZ: The work of our Home2Health team focuses on the connection between housing affordability and health equity. Our work feels more relevant than ever, as this pandemic has highlighted the connection between our community’s housing and health. During this time where people across the world are staying at home if they can, I think many of us have gained...

    Hear from City staff about their COVID-19 work, how they're staying connected and what they hope to learn from community members like you.

    With more people staying at home, have you seen any silver linings in your field of work?

    SVZ: The work of our Home2Health team focuses on the connection between housing affordability and health equity. Our work feels more relevant than ever, as this pandemic has highlighted the connection between our community’s housing and health. During this time where people across the world are staying at home if they can, I think many of us have gained a new appreciation for how important it is to have a stable, affordable, safe place to live. As we move forward, we see a huge opportunity to elevate the voices of those who have been historically underrepresented and integrate health equity into future policy decisions.

    What COVID-19 work – from your office or that you’ve worked on personally – are you most proud of?

    SVZ: I am so proud of our Home2Health team and their hard work developing creative ways to support and engage our community during this time. Our partners at the Center for Public Deliberation at CSU created an entirely online training for our Community Guides program that we are so excited to share with all of you! This program is designed to give you an opportunity to connect with members of your own community so that their voices can be included in local decision making. Anyone who is interested in learning more can check out our Home2Health website at ourcity.fcgov.com/Home2Health

    Have you started any new household or neighbor traditions or activities during the last several weeks?

    SVZ: I have been staying at my family’s farm during the pandemic, so I’ve gotten to spend lots of time with my nieces and nephews. I’ve played more games with them in the last two months than I have over the last few years combined! I’m getting to teach them Dutch Blitz, which is a family favorite of ours, so I’m excited to pass that tradition on to them.

    What do you miss most about life before COVID?

    SVZ: I miss celebrating in person with friends. I’m so grateful for technology that has allowed me to stay connected in some way, but nothing beats sharing life’s highs and lows in person with those you care about. I can’t wait for dinner parties, bonfires, birthday parties, baby showers, and all the other small ways we celebrate together!

  • Staff Chats: Sarah Gagne, Recreation

    Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link
    21 May 2020

    Hear from City staff about their COVID-19 work, how they're staying connected and what they hope to learn from community members like you.

    What’s been the most challenging part of your job the last several weeks?

    SG: The most challenging thing for me has been building new relationships with my co-workers through a virtual environment. I started working at the City just one week before facility closures and the beginning of the Stay-at-Home order from the Governor. I am somewhat of an introvert by nature, yet I thrive on deep, meaningful relationships and was initially worried...

    Hear from City staff about their COVID-19 work, how they're staying connected and what they hope to learn from community members like you.

    What’s been the most challenging part of your job the last several weeks?

    SG: The most challenging thing for me has been building new relationships with my co-workers through a virtual environment. I started working at the City just one week before facility closures and the beginning of the Stay-at-Home order from the Governor. I am somewhat of an introvert by nature, yet I thrive on deep, meaningful relationships and was initially worried that I may miss out on many of the first steps in building connections with others on my team. I am fortunate to have joined an already very strong team that values communication. Not forgetting to have fun in the workplace, the Recreation Department also holds virtual Friday “5:01” meetings as a casual opportunity to socialize and get to know one another!

    What would you recommend for folks looking to stay active during Safer at Home?

    SG: I have to admit that it has been tough for me, even with a background in recreation, to stay active while working from home. I have found the most success by scheduling physical activity into my plan for the day. By scheduling a morning dog walk, an afternoon bike ride, or an evening online yoga class, I am more apt to make the conscious effort to actually take a break and go do it.

    My recommendation is to look for what is normal and natural in your routine, and not to necessarily strive to learn a new skill or achieve hefty goals right now. What times during the day do you find yourself feeling the most bored, lonely, overwhelmed or stressed? And what activities do you already know and enjoy that are easily accessible? Replacing the times that my mind tends to focus on emotion with a scheduled physical activity has given me an outlet to let it go and continue moving forward. I would also recommend involving others in your household (especially the kids!) in your activity plans. We all work better with encouragement and support – maybe this could be a way to gift that to your loved ones and also receive a bit of that needed push in return. Also, if group fitness is your thing, the Recreation Department is hosting virtual fitness classes for free through the month of May – get yourself signed up online today!

    What’s your favorite thing about our Fort Collins community?

    SG: I grew up in a very small town in Vermont and moved to Fort Collins to attend CSU over 20 years ago. It’s definitely true that so many people come here for college and never end up leaving – I am also guilty of that! There are so many things about our Fort Collins community that have made this the best place for me to live, raise a family and start a career. I think the combination of a small town feel within a larger, City structure is ideal. There is something here for everyone – nature enthusiasts, artistic and creative souls, young children and kids at heart. People not only say hello when we pass on my morning walks, but they are also great friends and neighbors who are there to help when times are tough. I love that a regular occurrence on my street is a group text asking for items we can share or donate, sharing recommendations of available services, and kids showing off their creativity to make signs for the next neighborhood dog party. I am proud to call Fort Collins my home, especially now as we navigate life changes due to COVID-19.

    What’s been the most rewarding part of your job the last several weeks?

    SG: A funny thing, is that the part of my job I found the most challenging in the beginning has actually created an experience that I am also very grateful for and has been very rewarding. In addition to daily meetings with my immediate team members, I have also been able to “meet” many people that work in various departments across the City, several of which I may not have been introduced to were it not for the challenges we are currently facing. I have been able to build relationships with colleagues in other departments of our Community Services division, and also work with some incredible people in our Human Resources and Social Sustainability departments. Outside of the City, I have had the opportunity to support our Recreation programs through partnership with Poudre School District, which is enabling us to operate our summer childcare program, Camp FunQuest. While our recreation facilities are closed, we will host modified summer camps at a local elementary school. Beginning all of these new relationships has been incredibly rewarding, mostly because I know that when we are finally able to meet in person, we will always remember the bond we created while working together to serve our community and live out our personal passions in community services.

    What do you miss most about life before COVID?

    SG: I know I said I was an introvert, but I think I miss human interactions the most! Maybe I will start exhibiting more extroverted tendencies when this is all over! I cannot wait to get back to in-person book club meetings, gathering with friends at Horsetooth Reservoir for doggy play dates, and enjoying dinners out at all of our amazing local eateries. Hang in there, friends. We will meet up again soon!


    Sarah also has questions for YOU. Check out the discussion on Staying Active!

  • Staff Chats: Selina Lujan, Environmental Services

    Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link
    14 May 2020

    Hear from City staff about their COVID-19 work, how they're staying connected and what they hope to learn from community members like you.

    What COVID-19 work – from your office or that you’ve worked on personally – are you most proud of?

    SL: I am especially proud of the work I have been involved in related to embedding equity in our COVID-19 responses. With my colleagues, we continue to prioritize equity as we explore ways to support our community. For the safety of our volunteers and community members we suspended our in-person Healthy Homes assessments; however, due to the Healthy...

    Hear from City staff about their COVID-19 work, how they're staying connected and what they hope to learn from community members like you.

    What COVID-19 work – from your office or that you’ve worked on personally – are you most proud of?

    SL: I am especially proud of the work I have been involved in related to embedding equity in our COVID-19 responses. With my colleagues, we continue to prioritize equity as we explore ways to support our community. For the safety of our volunteers and community members we suspended our in-person Healthy Homes assessments; however, due to the Healthy Homes staff’s deep value of serving the community, we felt that it is important to continue to make the program information available to all community members. While we have our online assessment tool, we recognize that not everyone has access to the internet, so we created the Healthy Homes Helpline. The helpline is intended to answer questions and provide assessments over the phone. Through the phone assessments, people can still get prioritized recommendations on how they can make their home healthier and safe, including a free radon kit, a natural all-purpose cleaner, and more. Our overall goal is to create greater access to help meet the indoor air quality needs of our community.

    What can community members do to stay healthy right now?

    SL: During this time, when many people are laser-focused on health, there are, fortunately, many things they can do in their homes to stay healthy and safe. Indoor air quality can be up to 5 times worse than outdoor air, and since we are spending most, if not all, of our time in our homes, it is critical to protect ourselves from other indoor air contaminants. Two key things people can do to make their homes healthier include focusing efforts on proper ventilation and safer cleaning.

    If the air quality is good outside, opening windows can provide great ventilation. Alternatively, equipping your furnace with a filter that has a MERV rating of 8 or higher and/or using portable air cleaners can also be helpful. If you use a MERV-rated filter with a rating higher than 11, be sure your furnace can handle it.

    In my home, I have prioritized using natural cleaners that are supported by CDC guidelines. A lot of the commercial-grade chemical cleaners can negatively affect a person’s respiratory health, so using natural cleaners that you can make yourself or products that have the EPA Safer Choice label can support healthier respiratory systems.

    With more people staying at home, have you seen any silver linings in your field of work?

    SL: While most of my work is concentrated on indoor air quality, outdoor air quality is also of importance. One major benefit from people staying at home is outdoor air quality has improved. With less people on the road, there has been a decline in major air pollutants like sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, etc. A recent 9News article noted the decrease in car emissions has allowed researchers to more clearly study emissions from consumer products like household cleaners, which I think is pretty cool.

    How are you staying connect with people outside of your household?

    SL: I have been learning a lot about the key elements of happiness, and I have learned that sharing gratitude can play a big role in our overall happiness. To boost the happiness level in others and myself, I have been sending hand-written letters. A big part of my role at the City is working with volunteers, so in order to stay connected to them, because I really do miss them, I have also written them letters of gratitude.

    What do you love most about Fort Collins?

    SL: I love the positivity and encouragement that I constantly see from City leadership and community members. I have been inspired by everyone who has stepped up to volunteer or adjust their work duties to support COVID-19 initiatives. People have really taken the time to show they care, and that is simply amazing. I also love how Fort Collins has embraced a culture of resiliency and improvement. I hope that as we work through recovery, we will emerge stronger than before.


    Selina also has questions for YOU. Check out the discussion on Healthy Homes!