Preserve your sanity; election year is here.

November 3, 2020, is still a long way away—as of the first of the year, it’s 307 days and counting. One day at a time. This year is gonna be a wild one, friends, guaranteed to be contentious as can be. It’s far too easy to get overwhelmed by all the noise and burn out before the primaries even begin. We’ve got a long road ahead of us, and the cacophony promises to grow louder and louder as the first Tuesday in November nears. Our nerves are frayed already, so if we’re not hypervigilant about protecting our mental health, they’ll be shredded long before November.

So, what do we do about it? Listen to Obama and chill. That’s the instructions the former president gave a room full of donors last November, urging everybody to “gin up about the prospect of rallying behind whoever emerges from [the primary] process and making sure we’re hitting the ground running.”

This is a marathon, not a sprint. Let’s pace ourselves. We need to be in it till the end.

Learn hip-hop dancing or basket weaving, celebrate the Year of the Rat, envision 2020, and toss some fruitcake.

No doubt, we’re in the thick of it—in every way. Don’t even think about hibernating. Winter in Southern Colorado offers the best of all worlds—there are plenty of opportunities to play, learn, and create that could keep you busy morning through midnight. Here are a few of our favorites.


The Original Colorado Springs Food Tour

Jan. 5
Downtown Colorado Springs

rockymountainfoodtours.com
Celebrate local chefs during a roving food tour (advance ticket purchase required).


Adult Hip-Hop Trial Class

Jan. 13
Dance Wonderland, Colorado Springs

Tickets on Eventbrite
Learn some new moves and get a workout too.


Chinese New Year Festival

Jan. 18
City Auditorium, Colorado Springs

cscci.org
Celebrate the Year of the Rat with dancing, music, demonstrations, food, and tea.


Frosted City Winter Market

Jan. 18–19
Colorado State Fairgrounds, Pueblo

Event info on Facebook
At this winter market, you’ll find more than 100 booths selling handmade goodies in the Palace of Agriculture.


Southern Colorado Largest Bridal Festival Wedding Expo

Jan. 19
Hotel Eleganté Conference & Event Center, Colorado Springs

hotelelegante.com
Find everything for your wedding, from cosmetics to cake.


The 25th Annual Ouray Ice Festival

Jan. 23
Ouray Ice Park, Ouray

ourayicepark.com
Celebrate the growing sport of ice climbing.


Utilitarian Basket Weaving

Jan. 24 & 26
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Colorado Springs

cmzoo.org
Learn everything you ever wanted to know about baskets, including how to make one.


2020 Vision Board Workshop

Jan. 25
Yoga Olas, Salida
Event info on Facebook
Create a vision for 2020, learn about intention and attraction, make new friends, and eat burritos.


Fruitcake Toss

Jan. 25
Memorial Park, Manitou Springs

manitousprings.org
Fruitcakes will get tossed, but organic, non-GMO fruitcakes will also get tasted during a bake-off at this annual event.


Pikes Peak Writers: Writers’ Night

Jan. 27
Johnny’s Navajo Hogan, Colorado Springs

pikespeakwriters.com
This is a place for aspiring writers and old pros to network and share accomplishments.

Your parents’ bad diets weigh heavily on how you nibble today.

Someone in my house was always on a diet when I was growing up. Sometimes it was my older and younger sisters who followed various diets, and sometimes it was my older and younger brothers. My dad—an anesthesiologist who struggled with his weight—believed in burning more calories than you eat.

My mom, the former nurse, was a chronic dieter throughout her life, from the Scarsdale, South Beach, and Atkins diets to the Cabbage Soup and Grapefruit ones. She was one of the very early adopters of the original Weight Watchers. More often than not, she was on the Pall-Mall-cigarette-and-black-coffee diet.

“I didn’t want to be like my mother, Nanna, with her hanging stomach,” my mom would later say. She started smoking as a teenager to control her weight and inhaled for more than 70 years. We all got the not especially subtle message.

I was the middle child and on a diet for half of my youth. I know all the euphemisms. Chubby. Heavy boned. Overweight (or is it under-height?). The most feared was the dreaded obese, uttered by our terrifying family pediatrician who expressed apocalyptic opinions about my weight.
Fueled by shame, Catholic guilt over failed willpower, and sublimated anger, I was well on my way to the vibrant dysfunctional relationship with food that has inspired my best writing over the years.

I was a great student, but I got a lot more positive feedback when I lost 10 pounds than when I got straight As—even if it was the same 10 pounds I’d lost (and gained) repeatedly.

They called me “Fatso.” Under the moniker “Fitchburg Fats,” I penned a high school editorial against overweight prejudice. In college, I became “Big John.” Eventually that became simply “Big.” I learned to wear all black clothes because, as Mom said, “It’s slenderizing.”

One summer, I lived on tomatoes, cottage cheese, grapefruit, hardboiled eggs, and burger patties. I tried low calorie, high protein, heavy on the broth, apple cider vinegar, and artificial sweeteners from saccharin to stevia. I wanted to be a loser.

My fatness was blamed on my Sicilian heritage or my Austrian parentage. Now, with genetic testing, I blame it on my Jewish heritage too. Mostly, I blame it on bad messaging.

When my mother moved out of our family home, I grabbed a stack of diet-related pamphlets and cookbooks, some now dating back 70 years. I started flipping through them recently and was stunned by the absolutely idiotic—if not dangerous advice and language that now would be labeled offensive, patronizing, and misogynistic.

Simply Because They Eat Too Much

The oldest of the pamphlets includes some of the most truthful tips. “Overweight and Underweight” (1950) by MetLife takes a matter-of-fact approach: “Overweight people are apt to develop diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure … die younger …are poor surgical risks, and have less resistance to infection.”

The volume offered some decent advice including: “Never eat when emotionally upset or overtired. Relax or rest first.”

Reducing Without Tears

The pamphlet promises we can learn “how to eat as much as you want and lose weight” without falling into the usual diet despair: “If you follow the rules, you will not be hungry, or depressed, or irritable, or weak for one minute during your reducing program.”

“The rules” largely center around the word no. One page is a laundry list of excluded foods including no jam, raisins, soft drinks, candy, macaroni, cakes, pies, white bread, grits, corn, potatoes, drippings, lard, bacon, cheese, chocolate, fatty ham, ice cream, beer, wine, or whiskey.

According to the pamphlet, you must confess your sins. “Keep a record of the times you forgot and took sugar in coffee, just one bite of French pastry, just one cocktail.… Write all the forbidden foods you take in the Out of Bounds column.”

Allowed snacks ranged from bouillon, carrot sticks, and lemonade sweetened with saccharin to tomato juice, cantaloupe, and black coffee. Two appetite-supressing recipes are boiled beef heart and broiled smoked tongue.

The Reducing Cook Book and Diet Guide, published in 1951, offers some good news: “No longer is overweight just a subject for condescending humor. Today, practically everybody knows that [being] overweight threatens health and longevity.”

Three-Day Slimming with Pleasure Plan

“If you’ve been hitting the calories a little too hard, you’ll be surprised how peppy and energetic a three-day rest from heavy meals will make you,” offers 1952’s “Best Diets from Good Housekeeping.”

The paperback book warns that exercise is not the answer to being overweight: “There is only one way to proper poundage: The quick way, the simple way, in fact, the only practical way to attain a pretty weight, and stay there, is to control your diet. So, don’t think you can play a few more sets of tennis, or do 50 bends a day, and take off fat…. To take off just one pound, you must walk about 36 miles or wash clothes on a washboard for 28 hours.”

If You Can Cut Out Just 50 Calories

“Tempting Low-Calorie Recipes” (1956) turns to “science” to provide answers. The Cream of Celery Soup recipe includes “½ teaspoon monosodium glutamate.” In fact, flavor-enhancing MSG appears in multiple recipes, including a lamb kabob and the always-popular jellied veal loaf. Many recipes such as Harvard beets call for saccharin, a substance that would be declared carcinogenic a decade later.

Why Be Fat When It’s So Easy to Slenderize?

“The Slenderizer Unit System Calorie Counter” (1958) proudly proclaims that it “recommends no starvation diets, no steam baths, or tiresome exercises—nor any other unpleasant experiences.”
However, it does recognize one reality: “Realize that it’s impossible to reduce your weight and at the same time freely indulge in alcoholic beverages.”

The Slenderizer includes calorie counts for a lot of foods most folks no longer consume such as Liederkranz cheese (100), gum drops (25), creamed chicken (150), chopped chipped beef (300), ladyfingers (25), fried ham (250), and banana custard (100).

Men Never Get Chatty with Gals who Are Fatty

The dieting artifact that made me cringe the most was “The Fat Boy’s Calorie Guide,” published in 1958. It is a treasure trove of antique insults. It offers wisdom like “Men never get chatty with gals who are fatty” and bad advice, as in: “To lose one pound, you have to take 370 steam baths.”
Under the heading “The Fat Boy’s Bartender,” the pamphlet reminds readers that “one jigger of Scotch has less calories than a glass of prune juice.”

Look at a Pound of Lard

“For many and many a year, people have been inventing doodads to shake the fat off us, or to roll it off, or knead it away, or cook it out of our systems, or sweat it away,” notes the 1962 Edition Diet Handbook.
The book discourages excess eating by contemplating pig fat: “In a pound of excess human weight, there are about 3,500 calories. Look at a pound of lard. It contains about 4,100 calories.”
One of the book’s 320-calorie lunches gives you 3 ounces liverwurst, 6 leaves lettuce, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and 1 cup skim milk. However, it includes a warning: “Notice whether a too-light lunch leaves you faint in mid-afternoon.”

You Can’t Eat Cigarettes

Under the heading of “Cigarettes and Your Appetite,” the Weight Losers Cookbook & Diet Guide (1967) offers dieters a low-cal option: “You can’t eat cigarettes, but in a pinch, they can serve as food until something better comes along. By smoking you can dull the pangs of hunger until you hardly knew you had an appetite … If you hold a cigarette in your fingers you can’t hold a chocolate.”

To be fair, the pamphlet notes that there is no evidence that smoking is a desirable health habit, and considerable evidence that it isn’t.
The paperback’s attitude toward women—the main target of all these volumes—is typical of the times. It recommends exercise but warns ladies to avoid certain suggestive motions: “[Avoid] the hip-rolling act.…This posture is vulgar as the lady throws herself about like a Grade-B-Movie-Trollop-on-the-Prowl, until people fear she will become disjointed.”

Avoiding the Sleeping Beauty Diet

However, despite how little they knew about nutrition and metabolism at the time, much of the advice remains true today. Seeing these diet pamphlets and books after all these years was like getting my 23&Me report and finding out my family is screwier than I ever imagined. Frankly, I’m amazed my relationship with food is not even more messed up than it is.
I live near Boulder, an area swarming with profoundly trim and fit adults (from age 20 to 90) who fast-walk past me on the trails and outswim me at the rec center. I think I thought living here—instead of say, Green Bay, would inspire me, and maybe it has.

At least I’ve avoided the worst diet idea I’ve ever heard. The “Sleeping Beauty Diet,” an approach reportedly favored by Elvis Presley, pairs sedation with starvation. Dieters knock themselves out with sleeping pills and, since they’re asleep, they can’t eat.

I still need to lose 25 (or 50 or 75) pounds, and I may well let them go for all the best reasons. I looked into the keto, Paleo, and Whole30 diets, and decided that a modified Mediterranean diet works best. I make small incremental changes I can maintain while supplanting Camembert, pie, and French fries with nonedible forms of joy. I’m a work in progress.

The number 2020 vibes to the number four. How will that affect the coming year?

The sum of the numbers of the last year of the decade is four. Four is the number of foundation and structure.

This is the year of establishing your legacy. Wills, trusts, inheritances, and the settling of old affairs will be a priority. The faster any pending legal issues are concluded, the better it will be for you moving forward. This is where you leave your home each day with the vibration that things are squared away.

Do not worry about those people who haven’t taken care of their issues; just gently remind them that you are taking care of yours.

This is not a time of preaching what you know to be right for you. Wait until you are asked for your advice. Each of us knows what’s right for us (if we are still enough to relax into our spirit). Think of the things and people around you as treasures. They are your foundation for the upcoming years.

This decade is ending on the vibration of setting things in order, so that means that you are establishing the energy for the next decade (beginning in 2021) with the structure of what you set in place in 2020.

Also, 2020 can be considered a “Master Year,” because of the number 22. It resonates with the master builder, so think of large projects where the attention to detail is respected, honored, and celebrated. The number 22 is also the only master number where its digits can be multiplied or added together to reach the sum of four. Because the energy revolves around setting things in order, you will find that your awareness of what’s most important will be what attracts your attention.

Some cultures resist the number four in the same way we avoid the number 13. In languages such as Mandarin and Japanese, the word “four” sounds identical to the word for “death.” In this case, however, that death is not an actual ending of life; it is the end of irresponsibility. It is the freedom that comes from being disciplined enough to plan, from here, your future. The year 2020 will be one for checking the details of everything before making any decision and not a year of shortcutting anything.

Purge away any old, unused items and sage your home on New Year’s Day (or as close to the beginning of the month as possible). It’s a lovely ritual to cleanse away any negativity from the previous year.
Have flat surfaces in your home become a cluttered menagerie where dust bunnies lurk? Then it’s time to get rid of that clutter. Even those clothes that still have the tags on them could be returned or donated to an organization that helps people restart their lives.

The number 2020 vibes to the number four. How will that affect the coming year?

The sum of the numbers of the last year of the decade is four. Four is the number of foundation and structure.

This is the year of establishing your legacy. Wills, trusts, inheritances, and the settling of old affairs will be a priority. The faster any pending legal issues are concluded, the better it will be for you moving forward. This is where you leave your home each day with the vibration that things are squared away.

Do not worry about those people who haven’t taken care of their issues; just gently remind them that you are taking care of yours.

This is not a time of preaching what you know to be right for you. Wait until you are asked for your advice. Each of us knows what’s right for us (if we are still enough to relax into our spirit). Think of the things and people around you as treasures. They are your foundation for the upcoming years.

This decade is ending on the vibration of setting things in order, so that means that you are establishing the energy for the next decade (beginning in 2021) with the structure of what you set in place in 2020.

Also, 2020 can be considered a “Master Year,” because of the number 22. It resonates with the master builder, so think of large projects where the attention to detail is respected, honored, and celebrated. The number 22 is also the only master number where its digits can be multiplied or added together to reach the sum of four. Because the energy revolves around setting things in order, you will find that your awareness of what’s most important will be what attracts your attention.

Some cultures resist the number four in the same way we avoid the number 13. In languages such as Mandarin and Japanese, the word “four” sounds identical to the word for “death.” In this case, however, that death is not an actual ending of life; it is the end of irresponsibility. It is the freedom that comes from being disciplined enough to plan, from here, your future. The year 2020 will be one for checking the details of everything before making any decision and not a year of shortcutting anything.

Purge away any old, unused items and sage your home on New Year’s Day (or as close to the beginning of the month as possible). It’s a lovely ritual to cleanse away any negativity from the previous year.
Have flat surfaces in your home become a cluttered menagerie where dust bunnies lurk? Then it’s time to get rid of that clutter. Even those clothes that still have the tags on them could be returned or donated to an organization that helps people restart their lives.

A loophole in Colorado law still allows school districts to deny cannabis medicine on their campuses.

It’s one of those things that seems so easy but proves to be oh so difficult.

Benjamin Wann, 18, is a senior at Mountain Vista High School in Douglas County. Diagnosed with epilepsy, he is a registered medical-marijuana patient who uses a product made from hemp oil, morning and night, to help keep seizures at bay. He also likes to keep a nasal spray (CannatolRx Rescue) handy, to stop unexpected seizures. Call it insurance.

It’s that nasal spray that has made things difficult. CannatolRx Rescue contains a miniscule amount of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the chemical associated with cannabis “elevation”), and it is the policy of the Douglas County School Board not to allow anything containing THC on school campuses.

It’s not that it’s illegal in the state. Colorado passed House Bill 1373 in early 2016, which allows a parent or designated caregiver to administer cannabis products to authorized patients on school premises. The bill was passed after a student named Jack Splitt, who used medical cannabis to curb his dystonia, and his mother, Stacey Linn, lobbied for the chance to allow Splitt, who died on Aug. 24, 2016, and other students like him to have access to their medicine at school. Splitt’s honesty and buoyant personality won the attention of lawmakers and everyone else at the Capitol, and the bill is commonly known as “Jack’s Law.”

“We got some attention from folks in the cannabis industry and also (then) Rep. Jonathan Singer,” Linn says. “We were able to get an amendment to the caregivers act, which was being introduced at the time, to allow medical cannabis to be administered to kids at schools. That was the first time in the country that happened.”

In June of 2018, legislators added an amendment, House Bill 1286, that allows school personnel and nurses to administer medical marijuana. But, like much state cannabis legislation, the bill allowed schools and districts to opt in or out. So far, only one of the 179 districts has incorporated the new law.

For its part, the Douglas County School District uses the federal definition of cannabis to disallow the THC nasal spray to be placed on its shelves—even for a just-in-case situation. And since the parents are the designated caregivers, and neither could get to the school to administer the drug in time to do any good should he have a sudden seizure, it leaves Benjamin and others like him without alternatives.

In October, school board president David Ray commended Benjamin and the family for their persistence on the issue—they have been attending meetings for more than a year—and said that the board would review the policy and put it on the November agenda. Before that meeting, the item was pulled at the behest of city attorneys, the board said, because it is dealing with another complaint filed against it concerning its cannabis policy. No date has been set for its return to the board’s agenda.
Benjamin will graduate in 2020, but the Wanns, along with the family of Marley Porter, a 14-year-old at Castle Rock Middle School who uses homemade cannabis capsules to help control her Crohn’s Disease, are not going to stop advocating for these rights in Douglas County.

The Wanns started the Green Crayon Campaign to bring awareness to the cause and pressure lawmakers to force districts to allow THC medicines to be on shelves and administered by school personnel and nurses.

They are also working with legislators to amend “Jack’s Law” during the 2020 session to force districts to obey state law as well as asking Governor Polis to sign an emergency executive order to allow medicine to be kept overnight and administered by school personnel. “The Green Crayon campaign stemmed out of needing a visual to catch the attention of our leaders and whoever we’re sending this campaign to,” says Benjamin’s mother, Amber Wann. “It started with sending notes and crayons to the superintendent of the school.”

It appears the issue will be decided by the legislature. “The governor understands the importance of access to medical cannabis for Coloradans who use these products to alleviate the symptoms of their health challenges,” a spokesperson from Polis emailed. “However, he cannot legislate or reverse legislation contemplated by the general assembly and will not act to overturn legislation through executive order. It is up to the legislature to take another look at Jack’s Law to determine how to encourage access for student patients who use medical cannabis.”

All this over keeping a state-legal bottle of medicine in a locked cabinet at a school with other medicines. School districts have too much power, Amber says. “We want to keep reminding people nationwide that we have to go to legislators and boldly demand mandatory laws.”

The Fit List, Instant Potted Plants, and More.

  • Fresh research confirms Denver and Colorado Springs are among the healthiest cities in US. Read
  • This vegan cookbook proves that plants and pots go together. Read
  • January 28 is National Plan for Vacation Day 2020. Read
  • What Matters This Month Read
  • Yoga-inspired dog wear is finally here Read
  • Apricot Lane Boutique is the newest fashion boutique at the Belmar Center in Lakewood. Read
  • Vortic is taking vintage timepieces to a new level. Read
  • Combine a mother mushroom and hops and you get a drink that blends the best of kombucha and beer. Read
  • If looks could kill, you’d slay all day… Read

The Fist List

Fresh research confirms Denver and Colorado Springs are among the healthiest cities in US.

The MindBody Wellness Index surveyed the most populous 50 cities in the US and ranked them by health. In 2020, Miami topped the list as the healthiest city in America. A number of factors contribute to a city’s score, including how much locals prioritize wellness and ultimately invest in it (including fitness, beauty and grooming, and integrative health services), their healthy habits (across multiple dimensions of wellness), and the success of wellness businesses within the city.

Denver, which came in at number four behind Atlanta and San Francisco, is home to some of the most dedicated fitness fans in the country. Over 80 percent of residents work out at least once a week. And those sweat sessions are paying off; 40 percent say they’re satisfied or very satisfied with their fitness level (compared to the national average of only 31 percent). Denver residents especially love yoga and weight/strength training, and the top reason Denver works out is to feel good. The same research put Colorado Springs as the 24th healthiest city in America, based on physical activity, BMI, alcohol consumption, connection to the community, healthy eating, and spiritual wellness.


Instant Potted Plants

This vegan cookbook proves that plants and pots go together.

Nisha Vora may be one of the most brilliant and flavor-forward, down-to-earth vegan chefs you’ll come across. She has devoted her life to finding delicious, nonboring ways to make plant-based eating the greatest thing since vegan sliced bread. Though she started out as a lawyer, her story isn’t unlike most. She worked hard, joined a legal team, but after two years realized that she wasn’t happy. So, she threw caution to the wind, quit her job, and she and her partner backpacked around the world for six months. In that time, she gained a totally new perspective on life, which included transitioning to veganism. Not only did Vora adjust her own lifestyle, she started blogging about it, learning the art of food photography, and launched a highly successful platform sharing her thoughts, her poems, her musings, and her recipes for living an intentional life.

The Vegan Instant Pot Cookbook features 90 recipes meant to be made in an Instant Pot pressure cooker and includes cooking tips and cooking guides. Between the YouTube tutorials, brand partnerships, and overall awareness raised around the joy of cooking, Vora is doing more than making plant-based eating appealing. She’s making it downright gorgeous and practical.

The Vegan Instant Pot Cookbook / $15 on Amazon


Plan to Get Going

January 28 is National Plan for Vacation Day 2020, a campaign organized by the US Travel Association. The goal is that you plan your vacation days for the full year at the start of it. If your anxiety spikes at the thought of committing to anything a month in advance (feel you on that!), there are a bunch of reasons to consider daydreaming about your dream trip this month. First, the mere act of planning a getaway is shown to improve happiness, boost morale, prevent burnout, and reduce stress. Second, Americans who plan their vacation time are more likely to use it to venture away from home (76 percent) compared to non-planners (50 percent), according to the US Travel Association. And people who actually do get away report they are happier with their job, company, relationship, and health. Carve out some time on the third Tuesday of the month and commit to taking some time off. It’ll be good for you.


Sensibilities

What Matters This Month by Stephanie Wilson

1. Goals are the new resolutions. And since we’re in a new decade, let’s set loftier targets, hit them, surpass them. Where do you want to be in 2025? 2030? Start manifesting the life you want. In the shorter term, however…

2. Manifest the outfits you want by signing up for Nuuly clothing rental from Free People’s parent co. For just $88/mo., you get six temporary additions to your wardrobe—perfect excuse to try out new trends.

3. Be extra extra. I resolved to be just that at the start of last year. Met that goal and have a photo of the statement jacket I borrowed from Nuuly as proof. See @stephwilll if you’re curious just how extra “extra extra” is.

4. See Also: posts about my apartment/urban jungle.

5. Putting it out there now. I’m setting my first intention for 2020: I will get my place featured on Apartment Therapy as a home tour this year. Boom.

6. Wanna be my goal buddy? DM or post a comment—we’ll start a club. One with books and discussions involved. Community and knowledge will result. We’ll call it…The Book Club. Let’s do this.


Downward Dog

Yoga-inspired dog wear is finally here. How did our pooches live without this apparel? If only they could tell us. Alas, we’ll just have to trust they are able to move freely and comfortably during zoomies thanks to a new line from Pet Life. The collection features state-of-the-art materials that are antimicrobial, quick-drying, and breathable. The collection includes stretchy dog T-shirts, polos, full-body gear, tank tops, and hoodies.

“It took years to develop this collection after studying what the leading activewear manufacturers are doing in the human space,” says Joseph Braha of Pet Life. “We understand the yoga fashion market very well and how dog yoga is becoming a larger trend.”

With breathable four-way stretch fabric, the Eboneflow dog yoga T-shirt worn here starts at $43.

shop.petlife.com


Boutique Buys

Apricot Lane Boutique is the newest fashion boutique at the Belmar Center in Lakewood. A locally owned women’s and teen shop offering a handpicked assortment of on-trend clothing, accessories, and gifts, Apricot Lane Boutique has a curated collection of casual and going-out styles of well-known and up-and-coming brands along with a great selection of the latest denim brands. “Think of us as your fashion fairy godmother: we transform your look by providing the outfits of your dreams,” said Owner Lisa Hild in a recent press release. Cheesy? Yes. Still a cool store worth checking out? For sure.

apricotlaneboutique.com


Going Back in Time

Vortic is taking vintage timepieces to a new level.

Vortic Watch Company is a small-batch, vintage timepiece restoration company headquartered in Southern Colorado. Vortic offers several wrist watch lines: American Artisan, Railroad Edition, Military Edition, and Red Rocks Edition. You can also have your own timepiece custom-made from your own family’s heirlooms with the “convert your watch” program.

Each line is unique, from the American Artisan pieces made from upcycled parts to the Railroad Edition’s removable bezel and other features. The newest line, Military Edition, features meticulously restored AN5740-1 pocket watches, which were commissioned by the United States government at the beginning of World War II. The originals were designed to withstand altitude as they were utilized by navigators on bomber aircrafts including B-17s and B-29s, equipped as stop watches, used as location devices, and made to meet very clear specifications to ensure the navigators would always have accurate time.

Timepieces steeped in American culture combined with the Vortic promise to preserve history through truly refined and unique watches is what sets them apart.

$1,295–$6,995 | vorticwatches.com


Strange Brew

Combine a mother mushroom and hops and you get a drink that blends the best of kombucha and beer.

Kombucha is that increasingly popular drink that owes its probiotic properties and tangy taste to a mother fungus. Beer is, well, you know. Kombucha can contain small amounts of alcohol due to fermentation, and it also mixes well into a cocktail, but Unity Vibration has taken the pairing one step further with its kombucha beers. They combine the healthy tonic with organic hops and fruit flavors ranging from ginger to peaches to elderberries to create a concoction that’s easy to sip. Just be prepared: it packs a whopping 8 to 9.1 percent ABV. The Bourbon Peach is the beer snob’s favorite, and the Raspberry is a crowd pleaser.

unityvibrationkombucha.com


Expletive Infixation

If looks could kill, you’d slay all day… No, actually, you wouldn’t because you’re not totally cliché like that. You’ve got all sorts of style, and you’re used to standing out in crowds of Coloradans. You’re a badass statement maker who commands attention when you walk in a room. Maison BangBang’s latest release lets you make an effin’ statement without so much as parting your lips. The US-designed, French-made products are produced in super limited numbers and sold exclusively through the company’s website. This limited-edition unisex Nessuno Black & Gold Rosé bag, crafted from non-animal leather and adorned with a gold rosé motif, is going for $449.

maisonbangbang.com

Editor’s Note: Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD

Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD, is so much more than just a case of the winter blues. It’s a sign that our brains and our bodies aren’t in harmony with the world around us. Last winter, I was struck by SAD, unable to shake free from its cold grip until the snow finally stopped falling in June, months after my Florida-raised brain had expected spring to arrive.

I know for many, summer was brutal this year, with temps in the 90s lasting until almost October. Personally, I loved it, lay in it, soaked up as much as I could, damaging my skin to deliver dopamine to my brain. And then a winter weather advisory alert cannonballed into my inbox the first week of October, warning eight inches of snow would soon follow.

I wasn’t ready for that yet. So, I did what any sane Coloradan would do: shut my blinds, ordered the SAD lamp recommended by Wirecutter and some removable palm tree decals to liven up those blinds, and pretended it wasn’t happening.

It was quite an effective strategy. I work from home, and the snow was gone 24 hours later. By the time it returned, my light therapy would be well underway.

I am happy to report it’s working. My blinds are open, and I am loving the brisk fresh air that comes with the season. I’ve even geared up so I can bum a buddy pass or two and try to ski some powder again this year. (I grew up in New Hampshire, so skiing ice is my speciality. When I hit powder, my ass hits the ground. I’ll get the hang of it soon.)

Along with tips on how to combat SAD, we’ve packed this issue with topics that cover the full spectrum of what’s new and what’s next. It’s our way of celebrating the arrival of a new year, a new decade. A ray of light in the middle of a long winter, a reminder to be brilliant and send good vibes out to the world.

Don’t be sad. Spring is on its way.

Stephanie Wilson
@stephwilll

Six ridiculous cannabis laws and regulations that made it onto the books across the country.

Cannabis prohibition is falling like an old empire across the United States. Yet not all new laws and regulations surrounding cannabis are winners. There are many laws in legal marijuana markets, both medical and adult-use, that are not based on data but are in fact quite arbitrary. At best, these regulations are off-base. At worst, they are curtailing access for medical patients who desperately need to access their medication. Laws have forced patients, adult consumers, and cannabis companies alike to jump through unnecessary hoops in order to get weed. But why?

Lawmakers have predisposed notions of what would happen if weed became legal. Unfortunately, many of the laws you see today were written by people coming from the perspective of a deeply ingrained “Reefer Madness” culture. Those in charge fear repercussions that are simply not backed by the data. When laws are developed through that lens, they are not likely to make a lot of sense.

It will take time to iron out these regulations, but someday they will be history. Fingers crossed. Here are six ridiculous, arbitrary, and damaging cannabis laws across the country.

1. No Restrooms Allowed

In West Hollywood, a lot of attention has been given to the country’s first open cannabis consumption lounge licensee. The Original Cannabis Cafe
(previously known as Lowell Farms) has one
bizarre quirk in its regulations forced by zoning. The restroom, formerly a part of the building located within the walls of the restaurant, had to be built out with a separate entrance.

The café owners told Sensi they were asked to disconnect the bathroom from the main building space. This forces customers to exit the front door and walk around the exterior of the building to use the restroom. Before opening its doors in October 2019, the restaurant scrambled to comply with this seemingly arbitrary building requirement.

As far as zoning is concerned, cannabis consumption needs to happen in a closed space. It is all very confusing. But the first cannabis consumption licenses to get off the ground will undoubtedly have some kinks.

2. Limited Lineup

Yes, there is a medical marijuana program in New York. No, it is not making a dent in the demand in the unlicensed market. This can be attributed to the state’s strict regulations, which make it so the only available products are items that aren’t as popular with medical patients.

Products in New York are limited to edible cannabis concentrate oil, capsules, or topicals. You can’t smoke it. Keep in mind, the allowable cannabis concentrate oil is not the same as the popular oils you’d dab with or put in a vape pen. You also can’t buy edibles that are already made with cannabis. Just capsules. New York consumers and patients do not have the option of regular ol’ flower.

This tight restriction on the products available for sale has deterred many cannabis patients, store owners, and cultivators from participating. While its medical program was enacted in 2014 by the Compassionate Care Act, the state has fewer than 30 medical dispensaries five years later.

3. Environmentally Unfriendly

All the largest markets have one unfortunate regulation in common: You cannot recycle or reuse any cannabis packaging. In Oregon, plastic childproof containers are required, but once the container is used to store cannabis, it is not allowed to be recycled, meaning all this plastic packaging ends up in landfills. The Bureau of Cannabis Control in California and Washington State laws make recycling products difficult. Colorado does not have any language in place for the recycling of cannabis containers.

It will become a Goliath issue if these laws are not amended to make practical recycling a part of the cannabis industry. Companies want to recycle, and they want a safe and effective way to reuse the old vape cartridges that are brought back into the store. Bad news is, because of these strict state regulations, they can’t. One solution companies are finding is to begin with recycled and reclaimed plastic, like products made by Sana. An innovative company called TerraCycle offers another solution in melting down and cleaning cannabis packaging waste. But like all other industries grappling with the plastic problem, the most impactful changes will be made top-down, not at the consumer level.

4. Not Fit to Print

Marketing regulations for the cannabis industry are a patchwork of chaos. There remain a limited number of ways that companies can advertise, and those laws vary state-by-state. Facebook and Instagram have gone out of their way to shadow ban cannabis companies, sometimes deleting the accounts of licensed, legal businesses. Google AdWords doesn’t play nicely with cannabis companies either, offering payment ad options to very few exceptions. In Colorado, you can’t advertise on billboards, on mobile, in banners, or in handout leaflets. California allows cannabis companies to advertise on billboards, but there is currently a lawsuit attempting to ban that method.

As a result of this mess, the industry has gotten creative with advertising. This very magazine is one avenue that exists without restriction, paving the way for marketing in the cannabis world.

5. Mandatory Monopoly

Some cannabis regulations go so far as to defy capitalism at its core. In Vermont’s medical cannabis program, for example, a registered patient must choose one—and only one—dispensary to buy from. Patients can change their designated dispensary, but only once every 30 days, and only for a $50 fee. The cost is an access issue for many medical patients.

Another peculiar move for Vermont: while any 21-plus adult can legally grow two mature and four immature plants for personal use outside in the sunshine (fenced yard, screened from public view), medical cannabis patients must grow indoors if they want to take advantage of the higher plant count available to them (seven immature).

6. Cash or… Cash

States that legalize cannabis want cannabis tax money. But they don’t allow companies to have a safe way to pay their bills, pay their employees, and to store revenue. Until the SAFE Banking Act makes its way through the Senate and eventually to the desk of President Trump, there is a massive regulatory issue. Dispensaries across the country are forced to operate as cash-only businesses—in a cash-only billion-dollar industry.

Stripe, Square, and other payment apps are cracking down not only on cannabis businesses, including CBD businesses, but on ancillary companies as well. Hopefully a solution will be found in the SAFE Banking Act. Cannabis businesses need to be able to lean on legitimate financial institutions.

So Sad: For people with Seasonal Affective Disorder.

You know you need to exercise and socialize, but it’s all you can do to drag yourself to work in the dark, try to focus while you’re there, then drag yourself back home in the dark.

Maybe you rely a little too much on your favorite substance to numb your aggro. Maybe you binge on pretzel crisps, then beat yourself up because you should be eating kale chips—or no chips at all.

You wonder why you’re even on this cold, bleak planet. Every morning you want to pull the covers over your head and pretend your life isn’t happening. Some days you do.

For about five percent of Americans, this nightmare is a recurring reality. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) settles in just as winter does and doesn’t lift until spring. It’s been plaguing humans for centuries—French physician Philippe Pinel noted the onset of mental deterioration in psychiatric patients in his 1806 Treatise on Insanity—but it wasn’t included in the American Psychiatric Association’s official manual until 1987.

While studying the impact of light on mental health in the early 1980s, National Institute of Mental Health researcher Norman Rosenthal discovered Seasonal Affective Disorder, a recurrent annual depression characterized by hypersomnia, social withdrawal, overeating and carbohydrate cravings, and a lack of sexual energy that seems to respond to changes in climate and latitude. About 1.5 percent of Floridians have SAD, Rosenthal found, compared with nearly 10 percent of New Hampshirites.
No one knows why some people get SAD and others don’t. There seems to be a link to alcoholism as well as a genetic history of depression and bipolar disorder. Numerous studies have shown a correlation between SAD and the reduced ability to transport the mood-regulating neurotransmitter serotonin. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), people with SAD produce too much serotonin transporter protein in winter, leaving less of the “feel good” hormone available.

Rosenthal suggests lack of sunlight throws off circadian rhythm and interferes with the hypothalamus, the part of the brain responsible for hormones. This causes abnormalities in the genes responsible for both serotonin transmission and retinal light sensitivity. Just recently, Johns Hopkins researchers discovered a third photo receptor in the eye that syncs our internal clocks with daylight and provides a direct pathway to the areas of the brain that affect mood—backing up the ocular part of Rosenthal’s theory.

When your brain stops producing serotonin, it starts pumping out melatonin, the sleep hormone that responds to darkness, instead. This naturally makes you lethargic and groggy, and your brain’s instinct to correct serotonin deficiency could be the cause of your monster carb cravings, according to NIMH.

Studies have also found a link between vitamin D, which the skin produces after sunlight exposure, and serotonin production. In northern climates, rays aren’t strong enough to trigger vitamin D production during winter months. This suggests that vitamin D supplements might help with SAD, but studies have been inconclusive.

Torch It

There is no cure, per se, for SAD. The most prominent treatment is light therapy to replace sunlight with bright artificial light. You need to sit for about 30 minutes in the morning in front of a light box (readily available online) that exposes you to at least 10,000 lux of UV-free cool-white fluorescent or full-spectrum light—20 times more than regular indoor lighting. (You get 50,000 lux on a sunny day.)

The treatment is not unlike indoor tanning beds (but without the tan), and researchers speculate that frequent tanners might be self-medicating for SAD as much as getting their tans on. (Excessive indoor tanning is now recognized as a psychological disorder.) Red River College in Manitoba, Canada, offers light therapy stations for students who are suffering and also loans out portable SAD lamps.

Response to light therapy generally begins within a week or two, and its effectiveness seems to depend on how severe your SAD is. Studies have found that light treatment in the morning causes remission in two-thirds of patients with mild episodes but less than half with moderate to severe cases.

Light therapy is also being studied as a treatment for other types of depression, sleep disorders, and dementia, among other conditions. It’s not safe for people with diabetes and retinopathies and may contraindicate with certain medications.

Greens and Goals

Experts will try to tell you that your best bet for dealing with SAD is to get yourself up and out there, living your best life. This is clearly easier said than done when your serotonin-deprived, melatonin-drenched brain is begging for a long winter nap. You need outside help.

Lean on a good therapist or coach, in person or online, and let your inner circle know you need a little extra attention. Tell them not to take no for an answer when you try to weasel out of the Mardi Gras party. Find a workout buddy.

No matter what, succumbing to the urge to sink back under the covers will only make things worse. Sunlight is most effective against SAD in the morning, so that’s the time to get out there. An intense morning workout can do a lot—but again, be nice to yourself if you can’t make that happen. Taking a brisk walk whenever you can—even on cloudy days, sunlight filters through—is powerful medicine.

Moving your body, whether running or practicing yoga, and eating a diet rich in protein and greens are helpful when SAD is hovering. It also can’t hurt to give yourself something to live for as the dreary months drag along. Set short-term goals and see yourself reaping the benefits in the spring. This could be as simple as knitting an afghan, reading a classic, or trimming your fall harvest—anything you find worth getting out of bed for.

Those instincts to pull the duvet over your head and sleep the winter away aren’t wrong, by the way. Humans evolved to be less active in winter because they needed to save energy when food was scarce, but modern Type A culture never cuts us any slack—even when we’re going to and coming home from work in the dark.

Is “OK, boomer” a slur, a sign of increasing generational conflict, or just a meme-able mic drop?

Caitlin Fisher, an Ohio writer who describes herself as “queer as hell, autistic, prone to sudden outbursts of encouragement” and a lover of avocados, cats, plants, and soy chai lattes, released a new book this year, The Gaslighting of the Millennial Generation, based on a blog post by the same name that caught Twitter’s fancy and went viral in 2016. “The millennial generation has been tasked with fixing the broken system we inherited and chastised for not doing it right or daring to suggest improvements,” she wrote in the original post. “If you think we’re doing a bad job, ask yourself how it got this way in the first place.”

For Fisher, “OK, boomer”—the catch phrase that has surfaced as a way to dismiss stubborn, intolerant older folks—is nothing new. “We live in a meme culture, and this is a viral punchline,” she says. “It’s the new ‘whatever,’ a mic drop of, ‘I’m not dealing with this anymore.’”

Most boomers were blissfully unaware of the phrase “OK, boomer” until this fall, when a 25-year-old member of the New Zealand Parliament let it fly during a speech about climate change and the New York Times ran a “Style” section piece on it. Nearly every mainstream media outlet followed suit. Establishment boomers, publicly butt-hurt, declared intergenerational war, culminating in 60-year-old radio host Bob Lonsberry calling the phrase “the n-word of ageism” in a tweet he later deleted. Reaction was swift, fierce, and often hilarious. “You can’t say that, #boomer is our word,” @JazzHendrix tweeted. “But you can say booma.”

Though new to the mainstream media, on the subReddit
r/BoomerTears, 17,400 members post “any sour or garbage logic from boomers explaining why they’re special or complaining.” #BoomerAdvice, blasting out-of-touch words of wisdom from you know who, trends pretty regularly on Twitter. And of course, there’s a viral TikTok of a white-haired boomer ranting while a teenager scribbles “OK, Boomer” (flanked with hearts) on his notebook as well as an “OK, booomer” song that has spawned 4,000 TikToks. Hoodies, t-shirts, phone cases, and stickers emblazoned with the phrase are available on Redbubble and Spreadshirt.

This is not your father’s generation gap; memes like “OK, boomer” spread exponentially faster in 4G. “We can talk to people across the world, and we have the power to create whole new movements and share information really fast,” Fisher says. “Teenagers are no longer rolling their eyes at the dinner table. Now, teenagers are joining the revolution.”

What Is This Revolution?

Millennials—along with their predecessors, Gen X, and successors, Gen Z—are angry. And whether they deserve it or not, boomers are taking the blame for social and historical factors that haven’t been kind to the generations that followed them. Boomers got college degrees “for the price of a McChicken,” according to one Redditor, while millennials are strapped with record student loan debt. The climate crisis and the rising tide of nationalism, inequality, and economic uncertainty all happened under the boomers’ watch. They elected Donald Trump.

Even to boomers, it’s pretty clear this hippie-cum-capitalist generation kicked a lot of cans down the road while they were chasing profits and partying like it was 1999 (well into the 21st century). “How many world leaders for how many decades have seen and known what is coming but have decided that it is more politically expedient to keep it behind closed doors? My generation and the generations after me do not have that luxury,” Chlöe Swarbrick told the New Zealand Parliament in her climate speech just before she dropped the OK bomb.

Even more maddening, boomers won’t acknowledge that younger generations are being forced to operate in a completely different economy, without the equity and safeguards boomers had and with huge fear about the future. “The world is just different,” says 30-year-old Lindsey Turnbull, who owns an empowerment company for teen and tween girls, MissHeard Media. “We need the adults to acknowledge that and not brush kids’ very real worries off as hormones.”

These millennials are quick to point out that not every boomer is a “boomer” (thank God!). And furthermore, anyone who is intolerant to new ideas and unwilling to unlearn their biases can be “OK, boomered.” It’s more about attitude than ageism.

“I know how exhausting it can be to debate with people, especially online, who are really adamant about not seeing another point of view,” says Turnbull. “‘OK, boomer’ just says you’re not wasting all that time and emotional energy trying to come up with a well-thought-out response when the person on the other side doesn’t listen.”

Trending on White Twitter

One of the biggest issues many people see with this meme-inspired revolution is that its guerrillas tend to be of a type—upper-middle-class white youth—and they’re complaining about issues like lack of economic opportunity and silencing that people of color have been dealing with for centuries. Black Twitter sees #OkBoomer as nothing more than disrespect for elders. “White Brogressives never cared about income inequity when it was just black or brown folks on the wrong end of it,” @Wonderbitch82 posted.

Bhaskar Sunkara, founder of Jacobin magazine and author of The Socialist Manifesto: The Case for Radical Politics in an Era of Extreme Inequality, believes white upper middle-class youth who find themselves shut out of the housing market and exploited by the gig economy should aim their angst at investment bankers, not boomers. “These young people are surrounded by baby boomers who’ve hoarded all the wealth and polluted the planet in the process; they haven’t had to witness—or deal with the ramifications of—old age and precarity for millions of working people in that generational cohort,” he writes in the Guardian. “Instead they get to revel without self-reflection in oedipal angst about their elders—many of whom were kind enough to pass them their ill-gotten privileges.”

Fisher doesn’t disagree. “It’s important to acknowledge that ‘OK, boomer’ is about privileged older people, baby boomers in Congress who keep voting to give themselves pay raises but don’t want poor older people to have affordable health care,” she says. “While we’re fighting against the ‘royal boomer’ we can’t ignore the needs of older people in our communities. Ageism is really serious. There’s elder abuse, and medical debt is bankrupting older Americans. We can’t point to all older people and say they are the problem the way they point to our generation and say we are the problem. We have to open up the conversation.”

The conversation opens up for Turnbull, who lives in Washington, DC, when she mingles with people of all ages during political marches and protests. But in many places in the US, opportunities for cross-generational conversation are becoming rare as children are shunted into age-based sports and activities while the elderly are sent to care facilities, says Timiko Tanka, an associate professor of sociology at James Madison University. “As is said in an African proverb, ‘It takes a village to raise a child,’” she says. “But today, many children are growing up without such a community.”

Tanka says intergenerational care centers, which are starting to crop up across the country, have been proven to be useful in reducing age-based prejudice and stereotyping. In her Social Gerontology course, students spend at least 20 hours interacting and becoming comfortable with elderly people—so comfortable that by the end of the semester, they’re playing cards together. Schools, care facilities, and municipal governments need to create more opportunities for people to share different perspectives, she says.

“‘OK, boomer’ is a warning that we need to find a bridge, not a wall, and have meaningful conversation,” says Tanka.

Here’s to the end of this issue. And here’s to the end of the decade.

Three cheers to the end of the decade. And what a decade it was. We don’t like to dwell on the past, but as the saying goes (although who said it first is up for debate): It’s ok to look back at your past, just don’t stare. 

And you should definitely
glimpse at this list we’ve compiled of random things that happened in the last 10 years.

2010: Justin Bieber is discovered
on YouTube.

2011: “I’m tired of pretending I’m not special. I’m tired of pretending I’m not a total bitchin’ rock star from Mars” is said by Charlie Sheen, who also decribes himself as a warlock with tiger blood, on the Today show.

2012: The world does not end, as the Mayan calendar predicted. 

2013: “Selfie,” “FOMO,” and “twerk” added to the Oxford online dictionary.

2014: Beyoncé’s sister Solange starts swinging at Jay-Z in an elevator after the Met Gala, inspiring the “Flawless Remix” lyrics “Of course, sometimes shit go down when it’s a billion dollars on an elevator.”

2015: Lin-Manuel Miranda’s
Hamilton is the hottest-selling ticket on Broadway.

2016: The US did not elect its first
female president.

2017: #metoo enters the lexicon.

2018: Voter turnout in the midterm
elections is the highest in a century.

2019: Two Fyre Festival documentaries drop the same week, and no one can get enough. Rumors of a series, a memoir, and more are still swirling. 

Now let’s get on with the 2020s already. The future so bright, we gotta wear shades. 

Editor’s Note

From the start, Sensi’s been all about progression. Growth is one of the two founding pillars of our company culture; humility is the other. I will be the first to admit the redesigned magazine you’re reading right now is long overdue. This is the first major overhaul of the magazine since we published the first-ever Sensi magazine covering the Denver/Boulder market in April 2016. Just one year later, our first Southern Colorado publication made its debut. Today, we’re making local lifestyle magazines fueled largely by cannabis industry advertisers in 12 cities coast-to-coast. 

The redesigned magazine and new branding you see here were about a year in the making. I jotted down my first notes on the subject last November while perusing old issues of Esquire magazine—the best of the best when under the editorial leadership of David Granger. He wrote about his title’s redesign in one of his editor’s notes: 

“The magazine is not an inevitability. It requires eternal vigilance. It needs to … make an argument for itself.” Elsewhere in my notebooks, I wrote down this Granger wisdom: “[a magazine] is at its best when it starts over, when it is reimagined by the people who make it in order to better address the lives of its readers.” 

So, that’s what we’re trying to do here. We glanced back to propel ourselves forward. We move onward, the only direction. And as author Jim Collins said (and I wrote down on a different page of that notebook): “[we] keep a clear distinction between what we stand for (which should never change) and how we do things (which should never stop evolving).” We stripped Sensi down to its core components and built it back up again with the reader experience in mind. With you in mind. I hope you like how it turned out. 

Stephanie Wilson

@stephwilll

They say they’re not alcoholics, and they’re certainly not anonymous. What is sober curious—and can sobriety really be fluid?

I drink badly, and I have a lot of fun doing it (when I remember). That’s a lethal combination, and when you throw in my unfortunate discovery of White Claw—I can drink as many as I want and never feel full!—I flamed out with alcohol last winter. 

On February 1, just as everyone else was celebrating the end of Dry January and just ahead of the Summer of the Claw, I swore off the seltzer. I figured I’d give myself one month (note: the year’s shortest) to reset. It wasn’t an easy 28 days, but when March 1 rolled around, I felt better than I’d felt in years. The chronic inflammation I had attributed to everything from gluten sensitivity to genetics was clearing. I saw the light, and there was no going back. 

I thought sobriety would be lonely, that every Saturday night would be Netflix. I forgot the Brett Kavanaugh generation isn’t in charge of culture anymore (thank God). 

Millennials and Gen Xers aren’t interested in swilling beer until they black out like we did in the ’80s. Sober is sexy—or, as hipsobriety.com sees it, “sobriety is the new black.” 

On Instagram, there are influencers such as @stylishlysober, @thesoberglow, and the darker @fucking_sober and hashtags like
#soberliving, #soberAF, and #sobercurious. Millie Gooch, who posts as @sobergirlsociety, encourages her nearly 60,000 followers with inspirational messages like “Mocks not cocks” and “Sobriety: a surefire way to improve your wellbeing and your Uber rating.” 

Just like that, I’m a cool kid—with a huge range of new options on Saturday night (and beyond). I’m exploring elixirs made with raw cacao, maca, and horny goat weed at Tonic Herban Lounge just a few blocks from my home in downtown Boulder (I can walk home after imbibing, and it amuses me that I don’t need to). I can do yoga and shake it before dawn at a Daybreaker dance party (daybreaker.com) in Denver, one of 27 cities where the alcohol-free early morning rave pops up and invites people to “sweat, dance, and connect with ourselves in community.”    

I’m surely not alone in this realization that life is better without booze. Worldwide, alcohol consumption fell by 1.6 percent last year. Led by young people, heavy-hitting countries like Russia, Canada, Japan, and the UK are seeing drinking rates as well as tolerance toward intoxication decline. An international survey found that about a third of people wanted to reduce their alcohol intake because of everything from sexual regret and embarrassment to physical health. A 2018 survey found that nearly 40 percent of global consumers want to drink less for health reasons.

In the US, CNBC reports, 52 percent of adults are trying to lower their alcohol intake, and underage drinking has steadily declined in the last 10 years. But only 21 percent of US adults in a CivicScience poll said they had any interest in drinking less or not at all, and most of those were 21- to 34-year-old, vegan-leaning flexitarians who practice yoga and consume cannabis daily. Women, especially those in their 30s and 40s, are drinking more than ever.

Booze still rules for most Americans, and “increased stress and demoralization” is actually pushing more women, minorities, and poor people to the bottle, according to a study published in JAMA Psychiatry. The national Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that 17 million adults in the US are alcohol dependent, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says one in six binge drink—defined as drinking four or more drinks over two hours or until blood alcohol reaches 0.08—nearly once a week. For this White Claw guzzler, that definition is, well, sobering. I called that happy hour.

Giving up alcohol isn’t a hashtag for a lot of people. It’s not even a choice. As Sean Paul Mahoney writes on The Fix, a website about addiction and recovery, “I didn’t get sober to be cool. I just got sober to stop dying.”

A Little Bit Addicted?

“Sober curious” became a thing after HarperCollins released Ruby Warrington’s Sober Curious: The Blissful Sleep, Greater Focus, Limitless Presence, and Deep Connection Awaiting Us All on the Other Side of Alcohol in 2018. Warrington also has a podcast, runs Club SÖda NYC (featuring sober events like Kundalini Disco), and stages events (“Sober Curious: Choosing Sobriety for Focus, Presence, and Deep Connection” is February 14–16, 2020, at Massachusetts’ renowned wellness retreat center Kripalu). Her take is that a lot of Americans might not have a “problem” with alcohol but see it as getting in the way of their healthy lifestyles. “We eat well. We exercise. We meditate,” the press release for Sober Curious states. “So, why do we…still drink?”

Warrington wants to know why the only people who don’t drink are the ones who can’t and asks, “What if I am just…a little bit addicted?” 

Call me old school, but a little bit addicted sounds a lot like a little bit pregnant. I worry that people who shouldn’t will take the advice of John Costa, who writes on twentytwowords.com that being sober curious is like being bi-curious—you don’t always hook up with people of the same sex, and you don’t have to cut out drinking forever. “Be sober half the time,” he writes, “and sauced the other half.” He’s joking, but those are dangerous words for me. That’s the life I was living: sober by day + tanked by night = balance.

Like all disorders (and pretty much everything in our culture), alcohol use runs on a spectrum. I was at the end that spent hours upon hours researching whether drinking while on this antibiotic would really make me projectile vomit and scoffed at friends as they struggled through Dry January, Dry July, Sober September, and Sober October. I wasn’t interested in giving up drinking for any reason or any amount of time, until I had to give it up for life.

Warrington, who sees reducing alcohol intake as another step in the wellness revolution, is at the other end of the spectrum—and she is aware of the difference between recovering from alcohol addiction and feeling better during yoga. I hope all of her followers are, too, because the last thing most drinkers need is a loophole.  

I want to believe the trend Warrington is leading toward spirits-free activities and thoughtfulness about alcohol’s role in our culture—where every ritual, celebration, loss, entertainment, and even sporting event is cause for a drink—is not a trend but a movement. That we’ll look back at “mommyjuice” like we shake our heads at “mother’s little helper” pills from the ’60s and ’70s. The infrastructure to support sobriety is being built, and public opinion is turning. After centuries of going hard, America is getting woke, not wasted.

Cheers to that. 

Luxury has gone to pot.

 At the end of October, the Wall Street Journal ran an article titled “Cannabis Open Houses Are Putting the High in High-End Real Estate.” The trend piece by author Katherine Clarke revealed the emerging discovery being used by developers and real-estate agents to move luxe properties in communities where recreational cannabis is not just legal but widely accepted. 

It’s not unlike Los Angeles, where the rising industry is being hailed as an untapped source for buyers of high-priced homes. Throwing cannabis-related events—everything from elaborate seven-course pairing dinners with vapes in lieu of vino to live trimming classes—at multimillion-dollar properties on the market is garnering attention, building social buzz, and attracting buyers with money earned in, around, or on cannabis.

Not everyone sees the genius behind the trend, however. Clarke spoke to one agent in New York, where recreational cannabis is still a pipe dream and old tropes live on about munchie-motivated stoners. “When I think about cannabis, I don’t think about buying an expensive house,” says Warburg Realty’s Jason Haber. “It’s not a call for action as much as a call for Doritos.”

Someone should tell him friends don’t let friends make tired stoner jokes anymore. Especially ones implying cannabis consumers indulge their munchies with mindless consumption of unhealthy snacks when the reality is cannabis appeals to what The Economist dubs the “health-conscious inebriate,” citing a poll that 72 percent of American consumers thought cannabis was safer than alcohol. A 2018 The New Yorker headline declared cannabis to be a wellness industry in California where, in fact, a cannabinoid cousin of THC and CBD is starting to garner a whole lot of buzz. Instead of stimulating appetites, THCV may suppress those hunger pangs. When 2021 is declared the year of THCV, you can say you heard it here first. 

Consumption and consumerism

Cannabis has moved so far beyond the clichés of yore. Tie-dye tees, bell-bottom cords, dancing bear patches, plastic bongs, Ziploc baggies: these tired trends are so out of style, some have already circled back and left again. (Looking at you, tie-dye.) The stoner kids of yesterday are the cannabis entrepreneurs, enthusiasts, and connoisseurs of today. And as they’ve aged, their tastes in cannabis aged with them, like the fine wine they can now afford. Cannabis consumers have money to burn. 

And since we live in a capitalist society (an unjust one where people remain locked up for nonviolent drug charges in states that earn taxes off now-legal cannabis sales—that’s a whole layered story for a different day), money makes things happen. And what’s happening now is the emergence of a cannabis experience elevated to a higher level.

If you were paying attention to the pop-culture cues over the decades, you would have seen the high-end highs coming. When cannabis prohibition began its slow-and-steady march to its forthcoming end, it emerged from the black market with an established following of consumers—loyal cannabis consumers with no brand loyalty, because cannabis brands didn’t exist. Dealers did, growers did, activists, advocates, and believers, too. But the concept of cannabis brands was all brand-new. 

With strict laws surrounding where the substance can be marketed, sold, advertised, distributed, and more, establishing customer loyalty in this industry is more difficult than it would seem on the surface. What differentiates one edible brand from another, one vape pen from the next is complicated to discern for those who aren’t well versed in the modern verbiage or its meaning. (Full-spectrum distillate, live resin, 2:1 ratios, oh my!)

This is where marketing and branding comes into play. And with marketing and branding comes the emergence of new market segments, including the ultra-luxury category. It is from within that category that future trends are likely to emerge. That’s how trends play out, as Miranda Priestly (played by Meryl Streep) explained to her new assistant in one iconic scene of The Devil Wears Prada. (If you haven’t seen it in a while, a quick refresher: “The color of the shirt you are wearing right now was determined years ago by high-end designers preparing their collections for fashion week runways.”) 

Trickle-down trends are a hierarchical process whereby individuals with high status establish fashion trends, only to be imitated by lower-status individuals wearing cheaper versions of the same styles.

“It’s always been a thing,” says Karyn Wagner, CEO of Paradigm Cannabis Group, a women-owned extraction company specializing in pre-rolls and extracts made from small-batch sun-grown flower. “There’s always been those products that are better than others. But now, with adult use, we have to be more brand-conscious. With that, how do you distinguish yourself from someone else? Why is this better? What makes it better?”

Some like it haute

With any luxury good, consumers want the assurance of quality and efficacy, Wagner says. But you can never underestimate the prestige that comes with a high price tag. “The moneyed class always loves expensive items,” she says. “This normalizes it in their world. It brings in folks who didn’t normally have the desire. It made it OK in their class. Expensive breeds expensive things. You wouldn’t have expensive cannabis if you didn’t have people who wanted to buy expensive cannabis.”

Jenny Le Coq, president of Le Coq & Associates, a marketing and communications firm in San Francisco that represents Kikoko cannabis-infused botanical mints, points out that most people typically don’t seek out a cheap bottle of wine, but look for something fine, trustworthy, and familiar. They want to know the winery, its reputation, who recommends the vintage. “People are looking at wines today with a more discerning eye—how their grapes are grown, for example,” Le Coq says. “People are looking at cannabis in the same way: with a discerning eye.” 

“Discerning” can add up to big money, for sure. Anecdotal stories abound in national media outlets, suggesting couples in Colorado will drop several bills on “cannagars” and other high-end party favors to celebrate weddings and anniversaries. At The High End, Barneys New York’s luxury cannabis lifestyle shop in Beverly Hills, shoppers can splurge on a $1,475 sterling silver bud grinder or a $950 water pipe. New York fashion brand Alice + Olivia partnered with luxury cannabis brand Kush Queen to debut a CBD wellness line earlier this year—bath bomb, body lotion, bubble bath with lavender. Alice + Olivia packaging features CEO Stacey Bendet’s signature “StaceFace” motif, with big sunglasses and a bold red lip. A timeless statement-making style that trendsetters of every era make their own while trendy types try to emulate the overall aesthetic. That’s just the way things work.

To be fair, luxury doesn’t have to mean $$$$. What it must indicate, however, is quality. “Luxury is an assigned label. It is typically assigned by marketers,” Le Coq says. “So, what do you want cannabis to be? As a consumer, how do you perceive luxury? The concept is really defined differently by every person. We want people to experience something that is luxurious. Not only the packaging is beautiful, the taste is beautiful, the place you are put into mentally is a nice, beautiful place.” 

Pueblo is finding its place in the post-industrial world by returning to the cottage industries that once thrived in southern Colorado.

Pueblo, Colorado, has been a crossroads for commerce since early settlers built El Pueblo Fort at the convergence of the Arkansas River and Fountain Creek in 1842. This geologically significant spot offers a bounty of natural resources, from sand to shale, that enterprising makers took full advantage of as the area developed. Colorado Fuel and Iron Company opened the first integrated steel mill west of the Mississippi on Pueblo’s south side in 1881 and dominated the town’s economy until the steel crash in the early 1980s caused a brutal economic depression and unemployment approaching 20 percent. 

Pueblo has struggled in the post-industrial world, but times are changing. Creatives and makers throughout southern Colorado are making their mark, forming collectives, providing education and mentoring, and nurturing the region’s traditional maker spirit. Pueblo is returning to the cottage industry economy that thrived here before it became a company town, and the maker community is leading the way. 

“Pueblo makes steel, but we also roast coffee, we design and make jewelry, we customize hot rods, and we paint murals,” Jane Fraser, a retired Colorado State University (CSU) engineering professor who founded the Pueblo Makes community collective to support local makers, writes in Watertower Place magazine. “We have great manufacturing companies that make carbon disk brakes for aircraft, towers for wind turbines, rail products, traction chains, custom kitchen cabinets, fruit-handling equipment, high-end GPS devices, bath and body products, and more. I sew.”

Fraser grew up in a paper mill town in New Jersey and immediately felt at home when she moved to Pueblo 20 years ago. Now she tries never to go north of milepost 110 on I-25, and she’s one of Pueblo’s biggest cheerleaders. “So many people use the word real about Pueblo,” she says. She was also the driving force behind Pueblo winning a $40,000 Etsy Maker Cities grant to support creative entrepreneurship and local development while helping traditionally underrepresented groups participate in the creative economy. In partnership with Mastercard’s Center for Inclusive Growth, Etsy is also providing Maker Cities with training and ongoing cohort support from Recast City, a technical assistance firm focused on business development for the maker economy.

Spearheaded by Southern Colorado Economic Development District (SCEDD) Executive Director Shelly Dunham, the Pueblo Makers City Project is a consortium of local organizations and makers who provide training, technical assistance, and mentoring for local makers, particularly those with diverse abilities and limited economic means (many from the East Side). Fostering collaboration and community among Pueblo’s creatives, the Pueblo Makers Project includes a business accelerator for creatives, a community creative project that will culminate in a gallery show, and a web page connecting creatives to resources, opportunities, and one another. 

“This is going to make a huge difference,” says Pueblo native Katie Velarde, who has sold nearly 3,500 chakra stones and handmade bracelets through her Etsy store, Glitter Zen (glitterzen.etsy.com). “I’ve already helped about five people launch Etsy shops, and I can personally think of 15 to 20 more people who want to. There’s a huge group of artists and crafters in Pueblo who could earn extra income if they learned more about Etsy and how to launch a shop. Their hobby could become their business.” 

Impactful Employer

As part of the grant, Etsy gave members of the Pueblo Makers Project access to data that Southern Colorado Innovation Link manager and Pueblo native Mark Madic found fascinating. “There are 657 artists in the area that sell primarily on Etsy,” Madic says. “That’s an impactful number. Most of those artists have full-time employment from e-commerce as makers or creatives—so it’s one of the biggest employers in the area.”

Southern Colorado makers are producing everything from handmade paper products to small-batch botanicals, with plenty of support from the community. The Pueblo Arts Alliance provides affordable studio, retail, and small-batch manufacturing space at 107 S. Grand. And the Creative Corridor focused around Pueblo’s historic city centers—Downtown Main Street, Union Avenue Historic District, and Mesa Junction—offers maker spaces in historic buildings where festivals and events such as First Fridays take place. At the Shoe Factory, Pueblo’s first member-supported, community-based art studio and gallery space, artists-in-residence provide education through local schools and organizations and invite the public to attend open studios and art walks. Steel City Art Works reps more than 40 regional artists.

“As an overall trend, not just in Pueblo but in southern Colorado and across Custer, Huerfano, Fremont, and Pueblo counties, a lot of meaningful collaboration has happened,” Madic says. 

Perhaps the region’s most ambitious project to date is Watertower Place, a 250,000-square-foot re-urbanist mixed-use development in the abandoned Alpha Beta meat-packing plant at 303 S. Santa Fe, offering residential, coworking, social gathering, and commercial space as well as fabrication, manufacturing, and makerspace entities. CSU opened a downtown satellite campus there, and plans call for three restaurants, a coffee roaster, and a brewer. Developer and Pueblo native Ryan McWilliams is aiming for an urban paradise, with a cheesemaker, a butcher, and gardens teeming with bees from local hives on the rooftop. Watertower Place hosts an annual festival, artist-residency programs, art commissions, and pop-up installations and performances.

Sculptor and Pueblo native Frank Nemick plans to move into Watertower Place by the end of the year. “I’m really looking forward to getting in there with all the different artists and studios and living arrangements and businesses,” he says. “It’s going to be a nice community.”

For Fraser, Watertower Place—where McWilliams’ team removed 1.5 million pounds of trash left by a homeless community before construction could begin—is a physical manifestation of the tremendous change taking place throughout Pueblo. “For so many years, it was sitting there as an eyesore,” she says. “Now to know it’s coming alive and great things are happening—just that physical change is fantastic.” 

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