Boulder Beat’s best community-contributed content

Photo by Nina Strehl on Unsplash

Thursday, Dec. 28, 2023

I wasn’t the only one who made Boulder Beat great. From BBOP, the opinion panel, to the citizen journalist cohort, Beat readers did fantastic work covering things they cared about: elections, school lunches, sports facilities and more.

Here is my favorite community-contributed content from the past five years.

5.) “Spanish-speaking mothers demand healthier food from SVVSD” by Silvana Munro

When a group of parents couldn’t get school officials to meet with them or provide adequate resources, they hoped some public pressure would help. A year after this published, the moms were featured in CPR, still pushing the district to make healthier steps.

Written by my peer in the Community Foundation’s TRENDS Equity Reporting fellowship (who also provided Spanish translation for Boulder Beat‘s election content each year) this story was published in English and Spanish. This is the definition of community journalism.

4.) “Tennis is booming in Colorado. Can Boulder keep up?” by Michael Xu

I’d been hearing about the looming decline of tennis courts for some months, but it was a story I didn’t have time for. That’s what I told Michael when he emailed, asking for coverage. Then I asked him: Why don’t you write it?

Luckily, he agreed, joining my fledgling citizen journalism training (something I’d like to continue at Boulder Weekly). He produced this well-reported, interesting, timely and topical story.

This article shows what happens when you empower the community to tell their own stories: Better journalism, for everyone.

3.) “Pies, pancakes and love: Longtime owner of Boulder’s Walnut Cafe sells to employees” by Glenda Russell

When a beloved local institution like Walnut Cafe changes hands, it’s the kind of thing a news organization has to cover. But with my focus on Boulder City Council, I didn’t have the time to spare.

Thankfully, Glenda — another TRENDS reporting fellow — stepped in and produced this wonderful account that focused on the significance of Walnut to the local LGBTQ community. It’s a beautiful homage.

2.) “Xeric Gardening 101” by Stephanie Swartz

When I flipped through the homemade gardening booklet my friend Stephanie had made — categorized by type, color and size — I immediately wanted to publish it on Boulder Beat. It was an incredible resource, with detailed pictures accompanying each plant. I wasn’t sure how it would translate online, but I knew I had to have it.

Steph blew me away by building this searchable table. The pictures are still there, so you can see what they’ll look like. You can sort by size, by pollinator potential or pest resistance, by color.

What started as a labor of love became a true community resource — from a professional horticulturist, no less. Steph showed the power of tapping local experts for their knowledge and talent.

1.) “An Opinionated Guide to (Local) Election 2022” by BBOP writers and community members

I get overwhelmed by opinion content during election season. Dozens of letters and op-eds published over the course of weeks; it’s hard to keep up. I’ve always wanted just one, well-crafted opinion for and against each issue, neatly spelling out the pros and cons so I can decide for myself.

So that’s what I did. Well, I didn’t write them, but I asked my opinion panelists and other engaged residents to. What resulted was, in my humble opinion, one of the best local resources for elections that’s ever existed.

The feedback on the first op-ed guide (and this year’s slightly less comprehensive one) was incredible. From first-time voters to 30-year residents, I’m still hearing good things about election coverage.

All thanks and praise goes, of course, to the writers and editors themselves.

— Shay Castle can now be reached at


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