Sunday, February 25, 2024

A Science and Culture Celebration Day at the Colorado Capitol

Last week, on a bright blue sky day, my husband and I drove to Denver, Colorado, to attend the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District --known as SCFD--2024 Celebration of "Culture For All" event being held on the first floor of the Colorado State Capitol building.

The SCFD is a seven-county tax district created and approved by Colorado’s General Assembly, and renewed by voters multiple times over more than 30 years. It is the second-largest cultural funding mechanism in the United States. We fund nearly 300 organizations across our front-range urban corridor, distributing more than $60 million annually.

You can read more about the SCFD on this link and see a list of the many organizations it supports on this link.

In our invitations, we were told we would "experience interactive exhibits on the first floor of the Capitol hosted by a selection of our funded partners, including Mr. Bones from the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, the Filipino American Community of Colorado, HawkQuest, Mudra Dance, and the Broomfield Veterans Memorial Museum," and that  "pastries and beverages will be provided!"  How could we resist this fun opportunity?

I was greeted by the big SCFD mascot bear and we were given a bag to hold all the information handouts that the organizations present that day would be handing out.

It was hard to miss "Mr. Bones" sponsored by the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, which was actually a man wearing a dinosaur costume.  The schoolchildren who were visiting that day were excited to see him!

We then went around the room to visit all the booths. The first stop was at the Philippine-American Society of Colorado.
"The Philippine American Society of Colorado is a nonprofit organization dedicated to cultivating, preserving, promoting, and sharing the Philippine culture and heritage through educational and cultural opportunities that would enrich and enhance the lives of its members and the people of Colorado."  They host multiple events during the year and have a choir and dance troupe.

Next, we stopped at the Butterfly Pavillion booth. The Butterfly Pavillion has been a favorite place to take our grandchildren over the years. You can read prior blog posts I wrote about those visits--here-- and here.  The famous "Rosie the Tarantula" was in attendance and my husband was brave enough to hold her this time! I opted to just take photos with my cell phone.  We were excited to learn that a new larger Butterfly Pavillion is in the works with fundraising still going on--click here to read more about that.

The next booth was HawkQuest.  HawkQuest's approach to education in classrooms and lecture halls is participatory, allowing the audience to experience HawkQuest's eagles, owls, falcons, and hawks at close range. They do not have a facility to visit, but bring the raptors to events.

Information from their website:

"HawkQuest offers four distinct outreach programs, plus booth appearances and special events. We bring live birds of prey to people of all ages, from preschool children to senior citizens. We strive to impress upon our audiences the importance of preserving ecosystems and the wildlife that depend on them. Through understanding the world around them, diverse populations will appreciate that they can influence the environment positively."

Volunteers displayed the birds on their arms and told us some of the fascinating facts about the raptors found in Colorado.

We saw a wonderful HawkQuest presentation at an outdoor Buffalo Bill Day fair in Golden, Colorado--click here--to see that blog post.

An interesting part of the HawkQuest display!

Next, we visited the wonderful Broomfield Veterans Museum exhibit. 

Information from their website:

"The Broomfield Veterans Museum honors local veterans of all the United States conflicts and peacekeeping efforts, from the Civil War to the present, from all branches of service. The museum not only shares the stories of Colorado veterans, but it is also a center for veterans to connect, students to learn about our nation’s history, groups to explore the rotating exhibits, and families to honor their loved ones who served in the military.
The museum houses nine rooms of exhibits, a library with over 3,000 history/military books and hundreds of archived videos of veteran interviews, and a multimedia room that seats over 40. The museum is free and open to the public and offers docent-guided or self-guided tours, and, twice a month, a presentation called Coffee and Conversation, where you can hear fascinating stories from local veterans and historians."
We definitely hope to visit this museum one day soon.

 The last booth display was for the Mudra Dance Studio located in Cenntenial, Colorado. Mudra celebrates East Indian cultural diversity using the medium of dance and music.

Information from their website:
 Our students learn the beautiful rhythmic movement of the North Indian classical dance “Kathak” (dancing a story) with folk and modern elements. Their performance group performs all around Colorado, extending to other states and countries as well, and is available for hire for dance performances, cultural events, private, and public, and in schools.
You can see photographs of past dance performances on their website at this link. I gave them my name and e-mail address to be notified of their next dance performance.

The Colorado State Capitol is a beautiful building!  I could not resist taking some photos of it as we walked around the SCFD celebration.   We have visited the capitol before on free tours and I blogged about an exclusive guided tour we were able to take a few years ago where we were able to visit the entire building including the very top of the dome, which you can read on this blog link.

We enjoyed the refreshments available to visitors at the celebration, before leaving the building. We enjoyed the event very much and learned about many new places that we hope to visit and performances to see.

We also took a brief walk around the outside of the capitol. It's always fun to see the "mile high above sea level" markers on the front steps of 5280 feet (1609 meters),  As measurement became more exact over the years the markers' location changed a few steps.

A close-up of a marker engraved into the Capitol step

A closeup of the view of snowy 14,130-foot (4,306 meters) Mount Blue Sky in the distance (formerly known as Mount Evans). The Mount Blue Scenic Highway is the highest paved road in America to the top and is open from late spring to early fall. 

The SCFD Celebration at the Colorado State Capitol event was a fun event to attend and to learn about some of the 300 organizations in the seven counties of Colorado that it supports. 

Other Organizations from across the metro area, such as the Denver Art Museum, the Denver Zoo, the Museum of Nature and Science, the Denver Botanic Gardens, and the Denver Center for Performing Artsalso provide hundreds of free days and free programs each year made possible, in part, by funding from SCFD.-- the dates for those free days in 2024 are on this printable free day updated bookmark.

There is so much to see and do in Colorado!

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Derry, Northern Ireland


Our bus tour of Ireland left Galway, and headed towards a stop in Northern Ireland, called Derry, officially Londonderry.  It is the largest city in County Londonderry, the second-largest in Northern Ireland, and the fifth-largest on the island of Ireland. The old walled city lies on the west bank of the River Foyle, which is spanned by two road bridges and one footbridge. The city now covers both banks.

Derry is the only remaining completely intact walled city in Ireland and one of the finest examples of a walled city in Europe. The walls constitute the largest monument in State care in Northern Ireland and, as part of the last walled city to be built in Europe, stand as the most complete and spectacular. The Walls were built in 1613–1619 by The Honourable The Irish Society as defenses for early 17th-century settlers from England and Scotland. The Walls, which are approximately one mile (1.5 kilometers) in circumference and vary in height and width between 12 and 35 feet (3.7 and 10.7 meters), are completely intact and form a walkway around the inner city.

It was a beautiful autumn day in late October as we drove into the city of Derry on our tour bus and we soon passed some of the building murals about the Irish Troubles--political and nationalistic conflicts that occurred between 1960 and 1998 in parts of Northern Ireland. More about the murals later in this post.

Our tour bus parked at the historic Guildhall building, in which the elected members of Derry City and Strabane District Council meet. 

During the visit, we were able to use the bathrooms inside and browse the exhibits on display. The building's stained glass windows were beautiful!

Please click on the photo to enlarge it to see more detail.

I was particularly impressed with a quilt that was hanging on the wall.

We had a few hours of free time to walk around on our own, so my husband and I headed over to the Bogside neighborhood of Derry to see some of the murals we passed on our way into the city. 

Please click twice on the photo collage above to enlarge it to full size to see more detail about the neighborhood where the majority of the murals are located 

The Bloody Sunday Memorial.

Bloody Sunday, demonstration in Londonderry (Derry), Northern Ireland, on Sunday, January 30, 1972, by Roman Catholic civil rights supporters that turned violent when British paratroopers opened fire, killing 13 and injuring 14 others (one of the injured later died).

Please click on the photo above to read the placards in front of the Bloody Sunday Memorial to read more about what happened that sad day.

On a prior visit to Northern Ireland in 2011 I took a "Troubles" bus tour of Belfast --the capital of  Northern Ireland --click here-- to read that blog post, and I was even more impressed with the amount of murals about the Troubles in Derry.  Belfast and Derry contain arguably the most famous political murals in Europe  It is believed that almost 2,000 murals have been documented since the 1970s.

Civil rights leaders around the world were also depicted on some of the murals.

This touching mural, called "The Death of Innocence,"  is of a 14-year-old student, Annette McGavigan, who was the 100th victim of the Troubles in Derry.

We also passed this colorful mural of a dove of peace. 

Derry--Londonderry has officially been declared a United Nations (UN) International City of Peace. The accolade was awarded in recognition of the city and district's transition to peace over the years following Northern Ireland's Troubles.


I'll admit when we were back on the tour bus again and passing bright green fields full of grazing cows I breathed a sigh of relief and felt far removed from the reminders of the sad times Ireland has faced in its history. I wish and pray that the entire world could also solve its continued "Troubles" of war, hatred, and prejudice, and work towards peace for all.

We were now headed for Belfast, Northern Ireland, where we were staying the night and then later the next day taking a ferry to Scotland--see my next post.