Warm Cookies of the Revolution engages community members in crucial civic issues by creating innovative and fun arts and cultural programs. We are a Civic Health Club, making the questions "What do we want?" and "How do we get there?" necessary, participatory, just, and fun.
When you go to a gym to exercise, you expect to see results. A Civic Health Club works the same for our community's civic muscles: we have to exercise them if we want results. We explore issues of racial justice, immigration, taxes, and more with carnivals, pro-wrestling, low-riders, music, comedy.
Our founding Executive Director, Evan Weissman, created Warm Cookies of the Revolution, the world's first Civic Health Club in 2012 after more than a decade of making theater at Buntport Theater Company and even longer as an activist for community change. The need in our community was and is, clear: Civic life is boring and a spectator sport. Look at a newspaper advertising sports, comedy, music, and other events. There are links and times and locations listed because the assumption is that you want to attend and participate. For civic issues, however (taxes, housing, schools, immigration, neighborhood development, etc) we are routinely "updated" on processes and decisions made by other people. Sports stadiums and concerts are full. City council meetings are rarely packed with excitement! This is poor civic health.
In eight years, Warm Cookies of the Revolution has taken on what it means to be an active citizen and how to engage others in that responsibility while creating high quality, original programs.
-We created the Tax Day Carnival because the national day of mourning should be a day of celebration of putting our morals into practice.
-Civic Stitch 'n Bitch merges civic issues with crafting.
-We asked the Stupid Civic Question: Where does my poop go when I flush and the answer was, obviously, magic. So we brought in a magician but also our city wastewater department.
-The People Vs ___ puts on trial moral and cultural notions we take for granted.
-The Stompin' Ground Games were a neighborhood Olympics exploring the history and current issues facing residents of different neighborhoods using the best arts and culture they have to offer. This was a proactive, positive, and honest way to explore gentrification and displacement facing so many people in our cities.
-This Machine Has a Soul was a 2 year participatory budgeting project led by residents and using crazy artist built machines and an installation.
We have created over 200 unique programs and hosted multiple events per month, including hands-on activities at the Denver Art Museum's Final Friday, become Cultural Partners with the City of Denver, been regular collaborators with the Denver Public Library and the Colorado History Museum, and we have also engaged, educated, and performed for residents on a ridiculous amount of issues, with an embarrassing amount of artists and community organizations....and we've served a record-setting amount of cookies and milk.
We engage people who are not typical civic decision-makers: 70% are women, 67% are under age 45 (with 40% between the ages of 25-34), 69% are in the low or middle income tax brackets. After our programs, 72% of participants take some kind of civic action (contacted an elected official, volunteered, attended a community meeting, wrote a letter to the editor).
Some recent awards for Evan and Warm Cookies: Roddenberry Fellowship, Livingston Fellowship, Governor's Award for Creative Leadership, Parr-Widener Award for Civic Leadership, 5280 Disrupter, ArtPlace America's National Creative Placemaking Award, Innovate for Good, Arts in Society, Imagine 2020, Creative-in-Residence at the Denver Art Museum, and we have been invited for talks and workshops in many other cities and states. We think our approach is needed and we take our role as artist-civic educators seriously and not!
S. NARANJO (a fourteen-year-old student, in a letter to a teacher)
"That night at the Intergenerational Show and Tell Mixtape on LGBTQ Life at Warm Cookies was a real experience. I was always afraid of who I am and always looked down on myself. After that moment, with such amazing people, I've learned that it's okay, no labels have to be put on who I love and that's okay..."
"Drug deals and unruly behavior were a regular occurrence on my block. My house was burglarized and I felt defeated. I had been thinking that perhaps I needed to leave my wonderful little house by the park, where I saw so much potential...The Bring Your Government program where I met my councilman, Paul Lopez, was the spark that began the long path of getting to know my neighborhood and community organizations. I decided to stay and create change by using my voice and energy, and finding like-minded others who share my vision."
"I met housing expert Heidi at the Civic Stitch & Bitch event. Given my job as a social worker at a pediatric clinic, I am particularly interested in issues around low-income housing and homelessness...Multiple clients had informed me that they were prohibited from contributing to their rent prices beyond the amount awarded them in their Section 8 vouchers. Heidi did some research for me, showing that this practice was, in fact, not legal. Her collaboration and assistance were much appreciated, as was Warm Cookies' organization of the event!"
-Participant in THIS MACHINE HAS A SOUL! Participatory Budgeting project
"We really had the voices that don't go to community meetings. We actually have people who live in the neighborhood and care about it. Versus a local government process, and I've been in those meetings, they already know what they wanna fund. They've got their five things picked out, and they just need to figure out how to pay for it. Versus the PB project, I think we went further".