Originally published in the June 22, 2017, edition of the Lyons Recorder. An updated version was published in the August 3, 2017 edition. 

COMMENTARY: What’s the future of affordable housing in Lyons?

Summer reading list

by Amy Reinholds

Want some relaxing beach or riverside reading this summer? I like books that entertain but also help me learn about our society, step inside someone else’s shoes, and inspire me with approaches that work.

So here is my affordable-housing-related summer reading list. Comments and suggestions are welcome at the email address listed at the end of the column.

The Revolution Where You Live, by Sarah van Gelder. I’ve previously reviewed this book, and it encourages me that local communities – if residents gather together – can accomplish some good on the local level. Pick your favorite action out of “101 ways to reclaim local power” and talk to your neighbors. I’d be glad to join in. You can read my review at lyonscoloradonews.wordpress.com/2017/02/24/solving-big-problems-by-building-local-community.

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, by Matthew Desmond. When I was at the Conference on World Affairs at the University of Colorado this spring, many people were talking about Hillbilly Elegy, but one of the presenters suggested that Evicted is a top-notch book and recommended it for the conference discussion book for next year. I just started reading it and was struck by the detailed and succinct descriptions of both tenants and landlords in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I feel like the people Desmond depicts are family or friends I visit with across a kitchen table or sit next to in their cars as they drive to collect rent. Desmond’s writing transports the reader to the cold, snowy neighborhoods, into the lives of people struggling to make a living.

Chief Left Hand, by Margaret Coel. As the price of real estate skyrockets in the Lyons area, do you ever wonder about people who lived on the land before us? Many of us heard of “Chief Niwot’s Curse” when we first came to Boulder County, like I did when I was an intern at the Boulder Daily Camera, visiting from Illinois in 1991. It was rumored he said the beauty of the area causes you to return and never leave (although after reading this book I found there is no evidence he said these words). Many of us do not know any more about Chief Niwot (which means Chief Left Hand, translated to English) and the Southern Arapaho and other native people who lived in the area. I wanted to read this book ever since I heard Boulder libraries had selected it for a community-wide book discussion a few years ago. The book describes rivers including the north and south St. Vrain, and even mentions an area of present day Lyons. Follow the travels of tribes across the landscape now covered by our businesses, highways, and suburban neighborhoods. Gain understanding into the heartbreaking story of how European-American settlers moving west – seeking their own better way of life – affected the land, the animals, and the native people of Colorado. The stories of settlers, military troops, government officials, gold-seekers, and multiple Native American tribes are intertwined.

Latinos of Boulder County, Colorado, Volume I: History and Contributions and Volume II: Lives and Legacies, by Marjorie K. McIntosh. Still thinking about the people who lived on this land before we did, there are many books about immigrants who moved to the West. I’m interested in new books by Marjorie McIntosh, a retired CU professor, about people from Southern Colorado, New Mexico, Mexico, and Latin America who moved to Boulder County from 1900 to 1980. Her work includes stories and oral history from area families, some interviewed by their family’s younger generations. The Lyons Redstone Museum hopes to get Marjorie McIntosh and the Boulder County Latino Project to speak at the museum in the future. I just got both volumes and am looking forward to reading at least one before an event is scheduled in Lyons.

Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, by Natasha Trethewey. This book is also on my wish list. Those of us who lived through the Lyons 2013 flood might find some common ground with smaller communities who went through Hurricane Katrina, experiencing loss and the long journey to recovery.

And how about a summer listening list, a soundtrack to accompany your reading? Mix and match the songs in this playlist with any of the books, and add your own favorite songs.

This Land is Your Land, by Woody Guthrie: http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/this-land-is-your-land-the-asch-recordings-vol-1/id261231215

Little Pink Houses, by John Mellencamp: http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/uh-huh-remastered/id52310925.

No Vacancy, by Merle Travis: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A07ZjXsexjQ.

Lyonstown, by Bonnie Sims: http://store.cdbaby.com/cd/bonnietheclydes7.

What books and music do you recommend? I’m looking forward to hearing your ideas.

This column is a weekly commentary (opinion column) in the Lyons Recorder about affordable housing. If you have any questions, comments, or complaints about this column, please contact me directly at areinholds @ hotmail.com. For a history of post-flood efforts for affordable housing in Lyons, you can read previous columns from both Lyons-area newspapers posted on my blog at lyonscoloradonews.wordpress.com.

The Town of Lyons lost a total of about 70 flood-destroyed homes to both the federal buyout programs (including the 16 homes in the Foothills Mobile Home Park) and to the changed use of the Riverbend Mobile Home Park property to an event venue (rezoned for commercial use). In March 2015, a proposal for subsidized, affordable Boulder County Housing Authority rentals and some Habitat for Humanity for-sale affordable homes (a total of 50-70 units) on five to seven acres of Bohn Park was voted down 614 to 498 by Town of Lyons voters in a special election. At the end of 2016, Habitat for Humanity of the St. Vrain Valley purchased six residential lots in Lyons to build three permanently affordable duplexes.