Last year, a number of community groups approached us about getting involved around the tragic youth gun violence epidemic that has been spiking throughout Denver communities and particularly in the Northeast Park Hill Neighborhood. We were happy to work with these groups that were developing the Mending Roots Forest Project and to provide land on the Park Hill Golf Course to plant 200 trees to serve as a community rallying point and living memorial to the precious lives that have been lost.
The product of a community collaboration between violence prevention service providers, survivor families, neighborhood youth and the property owner, The Mending Roots Forest Project works to raise awareness around a public health approach to reduce the increasing youth gun violence in Denver communities. Studies show there are many social determinants that contribute to youth violence like a lack of access to affordable housing, mental health and health services, healthy food and parks, community connections and economic opportunity.
We began this project with the planting of the first tree in October of 2020.
Last Saturday, The Mending Roots Forest Project brought together gun violence survivors, impacted families and local and national gun safety and community safety advocates for the ceremonial planting of the remaining 200 trees. Speakers at Saturday’s event included, State Senator Rhonda Fields, Representative Jennifer Bacon, Denver District Attorney Beth McCann, Board President for the Mending Roots Forest Project Maisha Fields and Executive Director of the Mending Roots Forest Project T’Chaka King.
The project also works to highlight and fund frontline community-based organizations already working to alleviate these problems in Denver neighborhoods including GRASP, The Power of One, McBride Impact, Park Hill Strong, Be Better Than Average, Kids Above Everything, and the Park Hill Pirates.
Other large event sponsors included Giffords, Brady United, The Denver Foundation, Moms Demand Action, Denver Community Media, Gun Owners for Safety, The Holleran Group, Amazon, Westside Investment Partners and more.
These groups came together in April as well to hold the six hour Mending Roots to Cultivate Communities Telethon. The six-hour broadcast featured interviews with national and community advocates, gun violence survivors and their families, and showcased live performances from saxophonist Tony Exum Jr, poet Suzi Q Smith, rap collective Last Supper and more.
While the telethon raised thousands for the Mending Roots Forest Project, they are still looking for donation to expand their important work in local communities. The first $50,000 in donations will be matched dollar for dollar by Westside Investment Partners and The Holleran Group.