On our second day in Denver, we were greeted by a nice, chilly morning breeze that woke us right up as we headed to our 8 am panel sessions. Today, the Leapsters would separate and attend two different sessions: “Public Policy Changes” and Local Government and Engagement.”
Public Policy Changes by Karla Rosales
Christina, Bianca, and I began our day with the first panel of the day, “Public Policy Challenges,” presented by three doctoral students and one graduate student.
The first presenter, and our favorite, was Neomi Frisch Aviram, a Doctoral Student from the University of Haifa, Israel. She discussed the topic of Policy Entrepreneurship Behavior and focused on the fact that bureaucrats do not employ uniform strategies to push policy as politicians do. In addition, she explained the Multiple Stream Approach (MSA) framework and how the combination of three separate streams of MSA (political, policy, and problem) opens a policy window for policy entrepreneurs. However, it was found that there is a need for an increase in civic engagement and media coverage in the private sector for public policy to succeed.
The next three presenters presented on the topic of the relation of human behavior to public policy and focused on the importance of exploring human behavior to understand its effects on public policy. Humans tend to make satisfying decisions to solve problems short term, but the problem will ultimately arise in the long run. Logical reasoning is slower, our decisions are biased and guided by emotions, our first instinct. Understandably, the conclusion was that our human nature is to hold on to existing beliefs to remain in societal groupings and retain social status which is a challenge when it comes to policy making.
Local Government and Engagements by Victoria McClendon- Leggett
The topic of policy making continued to the other groups panel as well.
Beatriz and I attended the panel titled “Local Governments and Engagement”. The first presentation was about “Public Engagement by Local Governments,” and it went over the many different ways that local governments keep citizens engaged such as online engagement platforms, 311 systems, and turning over more authority to neighborhood associations. This study found that governments that placed higher importance on meeting public engagement goals ultimately had higher participations in engagement practices. The second presentation was “Citizens’ Academies: Motivations and Meaning for Public Administrators,” and it found that citizens’ academy programs have a strong correlation with public engagement and organizational adaptability in government. The third presentation was “The Impact of Collaborative Leadership on Encouraging Citizen Engagement,” and it found that citizens are more likely to be engaged when they are presented with strong responsive leadership, specifically on social media. We thought it was interesting how both the first and third presentations mentioned social media and how it can be a useful tool for local government engagement from citizens.
Both panels were very interesting to all of the LEAP Ambassadors, especially since most of us want to work or have worked in the government system. All of the policy making made us even more conscious about the importance of being a decision maker. So, we made the important decision to go eat.
Lunch in Mexico City by Karla Rosales
To spice up our morning, we opted for a Mexican food. After driving through Denver downtown, we found “Mexico City Restaurant and Lounge.”
The restaurant’s extensive menu offered us some of the most traditional Mexican dishes, from menudo (a spicy tripe soup) to fried tacos. Some of us, in fact, many of us, ordered a plate that included a little bit of everything: one enchilada, one fried taco, one tostada, and some beans and rice. Others adventured into tasting their hot and spicy menudo. The Mexico City Restaurant has, for 51 years, been serving citizens of the Larimer district in downtown Denver. On a side note, Larimer district was named in honor of General William Larimer, who was a pioneer and one of the founders of the City of Denver. Our lunch was a thoroughly enjoyable experience and the perfect fuel to begin our art exploration!
Clyfford Still Art Museum by Beatriz Martinez
The Clyfford Art Museum was our first stop on our art tour as we got out of our panel sessions. Even before Rothko and Pollock, whose art we have seen many times on our travels, Clyfford Still was among the first generation of Abstract Impressionists after World War II. However, he did not start out that way.
Still first began with representational painting that showcased the Depression Era with one of his first themes: the human experience.
Slowly, he lost the definitive form of his earlier paintings to evolve into what he is now known for: Abstract Expressionism.
Interestingly enough, Still did not believe in titles. In fact, he stopped titling his paintings after 1947 so instead they were labeled by the year that they were created. Part of the reason that Still did this was because he believed that the person that looked at his art should not restrain their interpretation of the piece because of his title. His bright colors and jagged lines allowed him to become one of the first artists to set the tone for the future generation of artists.
It was a great experience to be able to see the timeline of his art especially since he severed ties with all the galleries in the early 1950s and his art was not displayed until 2011 when the Clyfford Art Museum opened.
Denver Museum of Art by Christina Perez
The moment we have all been waiting for… The Denver Art Museum! The sun was shining and we were thriving. As we headed down 14th avenue we could see the “Big Sweep” by Clause Oldenburg in the distance. Some of us had waited weeks for the opportunity to visit the museum.
As we walked in, we couldn’t help but admire the fun architecture of the building. Our special treat, their special exhibit show casing French artist Edgar Degas’ work from 1855 to 1906.
Degas is known for his fascination with movement, whether it be pretty little dancers or horses.
The exhibit took us through his early work with horses through his work with his ballerinas.
We definitely enjoyed learning about his art work and life as an artist, and the exhibit not only had some of his atypical works, such as “David and Goliath”….
…as well as artists he influenced and artists who influenced him.
Following the Degas exhibit, we headed upstairs to the “Animals in Art” exhibit that included pieces by Georgia O’ Keeffe, John James Audubon, Norman Rockwell, Deborah Butterfield and many others.
We also had an opportunity to explore some western and Regional art, where Bianca found her favorite piece, one by William Sanderson…
…and we found a very atypical piece by Jackson Pollock…
…and a more typical piece by Thomas Hart Benton.
After touring the museum, we couldn’t head back to the hotel without accomplishing one of the most important components of a tourist’s experience: buying souvenirs! As we drove back to the hotel, we made a quick pit stop to the Denver airport where we were able to see the Blue Mustang created by Luis Jimenez.
After a quick picture, we hopped into the van and shared our favorite art, new artists, and our perspectives on their art.
We were very excited to have made multiple new memories! And finally, it was time to go home to grab a late pizza dinner and rest for another busy day ahead.