Illegal Grounds
925 East 17th Avenue, Uptown
open 7 days a week
Bus directions: take the 12 or 20 from Market Street Station

This is a post about getting to know people and places. When I first met Mickki Langston, co-founder and executive director of the Mile High Business Alliance, I thought she was the business-marketing type, by which I mean far more talkative and outgoing than I am. We first met at a gathering of the alliance next door to the Vine Street Pub in the Uptown neighborhood.

There were about 10 people in the room, which is my comfort level for a roomful of people I don’t know. Any bigger than that and I can’t find an entry point. But Mickki made us feel at home, and soon a woman from the Vintage Theater was trying to convince my husband Todd to do sound design for her plays, and I was talking to the designers of the Local Flavor Guides to Denver neighborhoods.

But it wasn’t until last Tuesday that I got a better idea of what Mickki and the Mile High Business Alliance were all about.

She held a meeting that morning at Illegal Grounds coffeehouse, at 17th and Emerson in Uptown. It’s a great place to get away from it all with your coffee. It’s a quiet ground-floor location in a  house built in 1888, surrounded by other old houses and new condos, with a great patio, comfy chairs for the dawdlers, and straight-backed chairs for the hard workers.

I was in the dawdler category Tuesday as I sat down on the couch next to Mickki with my peppermint hot chocolate. She was talking to a couple who are starting up a business providing performance parts and accessories for Chinese-made scooters. Here’s a blog entry about their business, and here’s their website, though it seems to be under construction at the moment. We eventually made it to five people when a rep from showed up.

As most people do these days, we came around to the subject of the economy and the $700 billion bailout. And that’s when I discovered that Mickki is passionate about building sustainable communities, which she calls “eco-villages.”

I asked her about the difference between co-housing (which Todd and I have considered as an alternative to the single-family home) and eco-villages, and we were off and running. The meeting lasted twice as long as it was supposed to, but we had a fascinating conversation about the financial situation and how we need to nourish communities instead of playing with fake money, about how we need a new economic model that doesn’t depend on constant growth, but how do we get there?

We didn’t answer that question, of course. That will take decades.

But I did gain a little more insight into what kind of neighborhood Uptown is. It’s not just this hip, up-and-coming, soon-to-be-priced-out-of-sight Denver neighborhood. It’s a much quieter place than downtown Denver because it’s mostly residential, with these pockets of commercial activity here and there that make really good conversation possible.

The Mile High Business Alliance is a non-profit membership organization of local Denver Metro businesses and supporters committed to nourishing our community through enhancing local business-building a sustainable economy which provides a healthy environment, meaningful employment and strong communities.

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  1. Shannon October 10, 2008 at 1:47 pm - Reply

    Hi Beth!

    Chris and I had such a great time. The conversation really did take off, didn’t it? After we got home, the conversation continued between the two of us for three more hours. We are very much enjoying meeting new people and learning about others’ opinions.

    I hope to run into you again at another meeting!


  2. Beth Partin October 10, 2008 at 2:00 pm - Reply

    Yeah, it was a great talk. I don’t see too many people on a regular basis who are interested in sustainable communities, so it was really nice for me. I’m planning to go to more of these meetings–I’ve had a good time at the two I’ve attended.

  3. […] I won’t avoid Dazbog, but I won’t seek it out either. It doesn’t have as much character as some of the other coffee shops in town, and the baristas are not nearly as happy as at Illegal Grounds. […]