On October 19th, Engage Boulder is hosting a breakfast with me from 7:30am to 9:30am to discuss the past, present, and future of Boulder. I’ve lived and worked here since 1995 so I’ve seen, and be involved in, a lot of the evolution of our city over this period of time. I’m hoping to have a thoughtful and open conversation about a lot of the issues that are coming up around our local election. If you are interested, please join us.
Recently, the Daily Camera did an excellent series of profiles on the fourteen candidates running for the five open Boulder City Council positions. I recently endorsed five specific people: Jan Burton, Eric Budd, Jill Grano, Mark McIntyre, and Bill Rigler. Following are excellent profiles from interviews with each of them that I encourage you to read to get to know them, and their viewpoints, better.
Our local election, like our recent national election, has had some extreme animus creep into it. It’s not my nature to engage with what I view as irrational and ad-hominem hostility, especially when I view it as disingenuous. So, I was happy to see the Editorial by Dave Krieger, for the Daily Camera editorial board, call some of this out in a measured way. It’s worth a read, but listed are a few of the key statements.
“We came away convinced that Boulder will be in capable hands no matter which five of the 14 are elected. We think some of the fear-mongering that has already appeared in the campaign verges on the ridiculous.”
“We think today’s Boulder is a vibrant, bustling small city known nationally for the cutting-edge research of its university, federal labs and high-tech sector, but struggling to maintain its historically funky feel due to soaring property values and creeping gentrification. So we endorse forward-looking candidates seeking innovative ways to keep Boulder from becoming a gated community of wealthy white folks. We think this is what “progressive” means in the 21st century.”
“We do not share the view that Boulder is going to hell in a handbasket. There is no question it has undergone a growth spurt since the last recession, in part based on pent-up demand from that slowdown. It could have done a better job encouraging creative design of new buildings that better fit their surroundings. We have high hopes that a new planning director, in concert with a new council, may improve this process.”
“Colorado’s growth appears to be slowing, which may allow everyone to take a breath and lower the civic temperature. Boulder has too much going for it to engage in a divisive war choosing among a strong slate of City Council candidates.”
If you are game to have a calm and constructive conversation around this, please join me for breakfast on 10/19.
Amy and I have always believed in this value and importance of voting. If there was any doubt about how this can impact our society, that doubt was obliterated in the 2016 election.
Boulder has an odd-year election cycle so our local elections are happening between October 16, 2017 (ballots get mailed) and November 7, 2017 (the last day to vote). Historically, less than half of the registered voters in town have voted in our local elections. A group of us, led by Engage Boulder hope that meaningfully increases (both the registered voters and the ones who choose to vote) this year.
Having lived and worked here for almost 22 years (longer than I’ve lived anywhere else by a wide margin), I now feel like I understand the strengths and weaknesses of Boulder. I get the difference of opinions about the long-term view of the city. I think we are living in an amazing place, but we have a lot of work to do to both keep it amazing and have it continue to evolve in a healthy, productive, and successful way.
As a result, I believe that our city council election is critically important. In the past, I’ve voted but I have not been public about my endorsements, nor have I put much energy into helping the candidates I endorse get elected. This election feels different for me, partly because I’m now thinking a lot about the long-term health of Boulder, but also because I feel like the low voter turnout in past elections shows that the broader population is not necessarily being represented.
We have chosen to endorse these five candidates because of their commitments to bring visionary and practical strategies to:
- Create more housing and transportation for all Boulder residents;
- Make our streets and paths safer;
- Meet Boulder’s carbon reduction goals;
- Keep Boulder open for entrepreneurs and the ecosystem that encourages them;
- Make Boulder attractive for creative people, in the arts, research, and elsewhere;
- Maintain a balance of conservation and recreation access on our open space.
While I don’t necessarily agree with every position of each of these candidates, I strongly believe they are all smart, thoughtful, willing to engage, and capable of thinking long-term about what is good for our city and community.
Voting in Boulder is easy. If you haven’t registered to vote, please register now. And, Engage Boulder is having voter-oriented events several times a week between now and the election – get involved!
Boulder has local elections every odd year. That means we are having a local election this year, with mail-in balloting starting on 10/16/17 and ending on 11/7/17.
Because it’s on an odd-year cycle, turnout has historically been relatively low (under 50%). As a result, a very small number of votes can have a big impact on the election results. This is especially important for the city council election.
A number of Boulder residents, including me, have organized a new group called Engage Boulder to help get out the vote in this election cycle. Between now and 11/7/17, you’ll see a number of suggestions, events, and encouragement.
Yesterday, Engage Boulder put out a short overview on why you should vote in the local election. It also had easy links to register for the mail-in voting. The overview follows – and, if you are interested – there’s a Get Out the Vote Event 9/27 at Oskar Blues in Boulder. To learn more about the upcoming Boulder election and related events, sign up to join the Engage Boulder newsletter.
Participating in your local election is critical. It’s up to all of the citizens of Boulder to elect a slate of candidates committed to practical, analytical decision-making and a vision for the city that is open, progressive, and forward-looking. With your help, this can happen.
Why Vote in Local Elections
(And Why You Should Encourage All Your Friends To Vote Too)
Because your vote matters: We know that a few voters can drastically shift the outcome of an election. In the 2015 city council election, Jan Burton was only elected by 125 votes. Your vote can literally sway the election.
Because what local government does affect you: It decides:
The safety and upkeep of our public areas.
The quantity and type of local housing.
The quality of trails for riding, hiking, and running.
The level of support for the art, music, and entrepreneurial scene.
How easy it is to get from home to work to play … and back.
How easy it is to start and grow a business, or a family.
And much, much more.
Because it gives you the power to create change: We become the city we imagine, and how we govern ourselves has a lot to say about it. So vote on behalf of the next generation of Boulderites trying to live affordably, work hard for a worthwhile company, and enjoy a high quality of life.
Because it’s easy: A few years ago Boulder started voting entirely by mail. You get the ballot around October 16. Why not take 15 minutes to fill it out? If you aren’t registered here, spend less than five minutes on the Secretary of State’s website to change that.
Because you try hard to be practical and forward-looking: We want our local government to also be practical and forward-looking.
Because you don’t need to spend hours researching the issues and candidates (unless you want to!): Open Boulder, Better Boulder, and Engage Boulder have specific recommendations of who and what to vote for in the upcoming election. If you agree with their general philosophy you may wish to leverage their research to vote their recommendations.
Mail-in ballots will be sent out on October 16th, register or check your registration online here. In 2013 and 2015 voter turnout was about 46% in Boulder. In 2016 it was 92%. We know you have it in you! Please share this email with at least five friends!
Hope to see you at our Get Out the Vote Event 9/27 at Oskar Blues in Boulder.
I spent the last month in Arizona. I missed Boulder and thought I might need a refresher on what it’s like.
If you – like me – love science fiction, I encourage you to support the new sci-fi magazine Compelling Science Fiction. The editor, Joe Stech, lives in the Boulder area and has been actively involved in the Boulder/Denver startup community. He’s using Patreon as a funding model, which I’m a big fan of for new and indie writers.
Many cities around the world have bike to work day. We take it up a level in Boulder and have an annual tube to work day which occurred today.
Enjoy a laugh at the end of the week after a troubling few days in the world.
Fresh off a week of vacation, I’m rolling into the annual joyful madness that is Boulder Startup Week. If you don’t know the history of Startup Week (now owned by Techstars), it was founded by Andrew Hyde in Boulder in 2010 and subsequently begat the overall Startup Week program (powered by Chase) happening all over the world.
The schedule begins Monday morning (5/16) and continues through Friday night (5/20). I’m speaking at / co-hosting the following events.
Tuesday, May 17 – 10:30am – 11:30am: It Takes Two To Tango – The Working Relationship Between Venture Capitalists and Angel Investors
Tuesday, May 17 – 2:00pm – 3:00pm: Why and How we Invest in Women
Thursday, May 19 – 11:00am – 12:15pm: Mental Health and Wellbeing in the Startup Realm
Thursday, May 19 – 7:00pm – 9:00pm: CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap documentary
Friday, May 20 – 10:00am – 11:00am: The Birth of BB-8
Friday, May 20 – 7:00pm – 10:00pm: FounderFights – The Struggle Is Real, You Might As Well Hit Something!
While there are many great events, I think one of the best is going to be my partner Seth’s on Thursday, May 19 from 2:00pm – 3:00pm titled Seth Levine: Let’s Get Real About Angel Investing In Colorado. I’ve seen the slides and if you are an angel investor or a founder raising an angel round, this is a must attend event.
Enjoy the week! I hope to see you around.
We had the first Reboot VC Bootcamp several weeks ago in Boulder. Based on the feedback and the experience, we’ve already decided to have another one, probably early in 2017.
Three of the participants – Steve Schlafman, Rob Go, and Josh Guttman – wrote posts about the bootcamp. Since the content was confidential, each of them is careful about what they say and does a good job personalizing the experience.
In A bunch of VCs went on a retreat. Here’s what happened Steve lists 16 things he took back with him to New York and his daily life from the bootcamp. To get a feel for them (and hopefully inspire you to go read the whole post), here are the first three:
- When your inner and outer self aren’t in sync, it creates personal dissonance that results in being afraid, feeling unsafe, etc..
- If you ask a founder how you can help, it means you haven’t been listening close enough. Be fully present.
- Being a great board member or investor isn’t about having all the answers and fixing things. Don’t underestimate the power of listening and supporting.
“The idea is that one’s “shadow” is a deep rooted thing (not necessarily good, not necessarily bad) that exists in one’s psyche that drives your choices, behaviors, or emotions. The shadow is often linked to early, memorable childhood experiences, and is reflected in multiple arenas of life over and over again. The challenge occurs when one is unaware of these influences, and as a result, it drives him/her to make decisions or react to circumstances in a less than ideal way. Often, we can go years not really understanding how major decisions have been guided by hidden motivations, and that can get in the way of being the best leader, friend, or team member one can be.”
Josh wrapped the summaries up in his post Keeping it Real with an overview of the structure we used for the bootcamp
Practical Skills + Radical Self-Inquiry + Shared Experiences = Enhanced Leadership + Greater Resiliency
followed by a good discussion around imposter syndrome, which came up a few different times and manifests itself in many different ways in our daily life, especially around entrepreneurship and investing.
It was deeply enjoyable to host this event at my house and spent a few days at a very emotionally intimate level with some VCs I know and have worked with and others that I met for the first time. I was a player-coach for the weekend – participating instead of facilitating, but also co-hosting with Jerry. I was concerned that this would be a challenge, but in hindsight it felt very natural to me. And, during a session where I became Jerry’s focus, I realized something profound that I had never put together before about my relationship with power.
To everyone who participated – thank you for being brave and taking the risk to engage at the level that a Reboot bootcamp demands.
I spent an hour yesterday at The Corner Boxing Club. I spent an hour with Carrie Barry (the founder) learning the very, very, very basics. And I got an incredible workout that had me in bed reading – after a bath – by 9pm.
I love trying new things. Often, I only do something once if I’m not interested in it, but I’ll definitely be back to The Corner Boxing Club. I loved everything about it – the vibe, the place, Carrie, the workout, what I learned, and how it felt.
After awkwardly walking into the club with my street clothes on and a running bag full of workout clothes, Carrie found me and pointed me at the Men’s locker room (which is a bathroom in the office building they are in.) I changed into completely inappropriate, uncool, and wrong running clothes, including a new yellow LuluLemon top that I recently got and my orange Asics running shoes. Carrie pretended she didn’t notice.
Her first question to me was “how many fights have you gotten into.” My answer – two. The first was in third grade. A kid was picking on me and I turned around and punched him in the face and flattened him. The second was in eleventh grade. My friends had turned on me for a year (I don’t remember why) and one of them (Drew) was pushing me around. I turned around, punched him in the face, and flattened him. I’m a mellow happy guy but apparently there is some primal rage buried deep somewhere. Carrie’s response was to grin a big grin and say, “Cool – so you aren’t afraid to throw a punch.” I didn’t respond, as I’d never thought about it and didn’t think two childhood random lucky left hook connects counted for much.
She took me through a 10 minute warm up that had me dripping sweat and my muscles burning at the end of the backward bear crawl. My warmups at Revo are much easier – suddenly I missed them.
She then spent the next 20 minutes taking me through the basics. I learned the boxing stance, the idea that I should think of it like dancing, and how to jab with my right hand and punch with my left. Some of the motions felt familiar because of tennis and I quickly realized how much of it was in the legs.
I spent the next 20 minutes with gloves on dancing around on Carrie’s command (1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 1, 1, 3, 3, 1, 1) and then doing 1, 2 combinations into her mitts. When that ended, I was physically done, but I still had more to do.
We went into a caged area, she gave me a baseball bat, and told me to hit the shit out of the hanging bag. She gave me a demo and then I went after it – probably 70 or 80 swings. Exhausting – but man it felt good.
As I got in my car, I remembered to send a quick note to my friends David Mandell and Jerry Colonna who had bought me an hour of boxing as a gift. My first hour was awesome – and – I’ll be back …
This year’s local election in Boulder is a critical one. The city that we love risks shutting its doors. While the business community in Boulder has contributed immeasurably to the vibrancy, charitable contribution base, economic development, and success of our community, there is a faction in Boulder that feels that our city should stop moving forward and instead should live in the past. This faction believes in a less inclusive Boulder and aims to achieve this goal by literally shutting the doors to our city.
This is what is behind propositions 300 and 301 which are proposed amendments to the city’s charter.
This faction is well organized and well funded and the slogans make it sound reasonable. But make no mistake: the goal is to immediately freeze all development of all types around the city by enveloping the city a bundle of political red tape.
In the coming days, Boulder residents will be asked to vote on the following:
#300 – Neighborhood Right to Vote on Land Use Regulation
#301 – New Development Shall Pay Its Own Way
These initiatives must be voted down.
While innocuous sounding, the names of these initiatives completely misrepresent their intent and the dire consequences that would result if they are enacted. The truth is that neighborhoods already do have a say in projects that affect them, and developers already do pay some of the highest fees and taxes in the country.
Effectively, these proposals will create 60+ neighborhoods in Boulder. Can you imagine what would happen if we had that many homeowner associations that had the power to hold special elections and veto land use changes approved by city council? The smallest of those neighborhoods would be comprised of just 19 houses. That’s not “local control” (which already exists), that’s a deliberate attempt to create gridlock.
These initiatives will immediately freeze important infill development, including affordable housing, transit-oriented development, neighborhood serving retail, social service centers, and day care centers. The city manager has stated that the city will stop issuing permits of any kind for at least six months while they figure out what these initiatives mean and how to implement them. Once they do start reissuing permits, these initiatives will force the city to levy such high taxes and fees that development will effectively stop in Boulder. This will stop our city in its tracks and greatly exacerbate an already expensive housing market.
These measures are opposed by six former mayors, all nine City Council members, numerous former city council members, Boulder Housing Partners, The Daily Camera, and numerous civic groups like Open Boulder, the Boulder Chamber, Better Boulder, and others. Open Boulder executive director Andy Schultheiss has called them “among the worst pieces of public policy I’ve seen in almost 25 years of observing and participating in local policy-making.”
It’s critically important that we defeat these measures. To do that we need to get the word out to those in our community who want Boulder to continue to be a vibrant city. The sad irony is that those promoting these measures have the time and organization to put towards pressing their backward and closed agenda while many who oppose it are busy helping keep Boulder prosperous by creating jobs and economic growth.
This is a battle we can’t afford to lose. Please take a minute to help us get the word out. Send it to your friends via email and social media. Urge your neighbors to vote and make sure you vote yourself. With ballots mailed out this week many in our community will be voting in the next seven days (over 50% of ballots are returned within a week of their being sent out).
Seth, Jason, Brad, Ryan
Below are some suggested tweets or Facebook posts should you chose to share them:
Click to Tweet: I agree with @foundrygroup. 300 and 301 will have devastating effects on boulder. VOTE NO on both! #keepboulderopen https://bit.ly/1ReQamJ
Click to Tweet: I stand for keeping the doors to boulder open. VOTE NO on 300 and 301. #keepboulderopen https://bit.ly/1ReQamJ
Click to Tweet: In boulder’s upcoming election we’ll decide if we want to live in the past or continue to thrive. #keepboulderopen https://bit.ly/1ReQamJ