Denver’s Amazing Mobility Race



Hosted by the Denver Streets Partnership, the Amazing Mobility Race got politicians to stop talking about transportation and actually go into the city and experience public transit.

..The Denver Mobility Race “was about instilling a sense of transportation urgency in people interested in leading the city.” Kevin Beaty, Denverite 

Beginning in the scantily served and sometimes inaccessible outskirts of Denver, candidates for City Council and Mayor raced to The Alliance Center  in Downtown Denver using any mode other than a car. Teams get points for social posts and number of modes used and speed.




WalkDenver board member and Majestic Collaborations, Inc. VP Molly North volunteered as a scorekeeper along with Allison Conwell, consumer advocate at CoPirg. They were able to experience the thrills of the race from behind the scenes.




When the first team comprised of candidates for City Council District 1 arrived at The Alliance Center, Molly was ready and waiting to hear how it went and gather their thoughts about navigating the city. Scott Durrah said “we should have free transit for kids until age 18.” David Sabados reported that “it would have been difficult in a wheelchair” and Sabrina D’Agosta noted various “issues with infrastructure and wayfinding.”




When Team 2 arrived, Molly was able to get their impressions as well. Candidate at-large Lynne Langdon “hadn’t traveled with a wheelchair and dog before, learned a lot.” Patrick Thibault, candidate for City Council District 8, regularly uses multi-modal [transportation], but noted the lack of connected bike lanes. After arriving at The Alliance Center, Chris Hinds, candidate for City Council District 10, said “people should have freedom to get from A to B safely”




Kayln Rose Heffernan, who is leading Denver’s first disabled artist / activist campaign for Mayor, arrived with Team 3. She reported that the race was “just like every other day” for her. Penfield Tate III, also on the Mayoral Team 3 realized that “the sidewalks are in bad shape.” Additional teammate and candidate for City Council District 9 Jonathan P. Woodley reported being very comfortable with the transportation race, saying “I use these transportation options often,” but he also acknowledged that using alternative transportation options “could be uncomfortable for people who are not used to them.”




Aaaand here are the results!

  • In 3rd place with 24 points: Chris Hinds, Patrick Thibault, and Lynne Langdon
  • In 2nd place with 31 points: Penfield Tate III, Kayln Rose Heffernan, and Jonathon P Woodley.
  • In 1st place with 41 points: David Sabados, Scott Durrah, and Sabrina D’Agosta




After the race was over, teams convened to discuss what they learned during the process of navigating the city without a car.

All-in-all, the Amazing Mobility Race was a fun way to get candidates to experience public transit, and to start important conversations about the issues facing Denver residents and the state of public transportation in Denver. It’s imperative that all citizens to be able to travel safely and effectively in their cities on a daily basis.

Regardless if they gain the privilege to represent Denver’s residents, we know these candidates will continue to be leaders in our community. And we are grateful that they took campaign time to learn more about the transportation system – a system that touches all of our daily lives. We look forward to seeing how they use these lessons learned!

Chicano Power 1969: Fire in the Streets & War of the Flowers


Last month, Su Teatro Cultural and Performing Arts Center fed hearts, souls, and minds with an incredible show Chicano Power 1969: Fire in the Streets & War of the Flowers. Created and produced by Anthony J. Garcia and Daniel Valdez, this world premiere was Su Teatro’s highest grossing show in history.

Many who experienced Chicano Power 1969 say that this production is Denver’s Selma, and after seeing the show ourselves, we were struck by how very true that statement is.

Powerful stories were brought to life on stage through seamless collaboration among talented performers, musicians, behind the scenes technicians, producers, and event staff. Congratulations to everyone who came together to expose these heart-wrenching, but important historical events to our modern consciousness. 




Synopsis from Su Teatro’s Website:

  • Fire in the Streets: 9th Avenue from Elati to Galapago was covered in smoke so thick you couldn’t see in front of you. On March 19,1969, the students at West High School walked out to protest racism and marginalization in the schools, they were met with tear gas, arrests and police batons.
  • War of the Flowers: On February 15, 1969, Lupe Briseño and four striking women chained themselves to the gates of the Kitayama Carnation plant in a non-violent protest. Immediately, Weld County sheriffs arrived. Deputy D.B. Ruiz flanked by two deputies turned on a tear gas machine and sprayed a snow-white layer of gas over the women who instantly fell to the ground; coughing and weeping. 50 years later, the War of the Flowers: “Lupe’s story” will be told.



The history behind the events recreated in the production really struck a personal chord with Kowal, who was honored to write This is My West Side for Su Teatro’s Chicano Power 1969: Fire in the Streets & War of the Flowers.

During the his pre-writing research, he noted a clear similarity between this Civil Rights story and the Selma Bus Boycotts; both events are such strong and important pieces of history and should never be overlooked or forgotten. The clip below shows Kowal at his home studio, strumming through the creative process with a rough cut of This is My West Side



Kowal also wrote Meet Me At The Arches (lyrics and chords) 

and The Hammer Came Down (lyrics and chords) 

for Su Teatro’s record-breaking production Chicano Power 1969 (lyrics and chords) 




Kowal’s soulful contribution for Su Teatro wasn’t his first song-writing rodeo. His music has been commissioned by several organizations, including New Belgium Brewing Co, and The Moth story hour. Additionally, Kowal performs regularly with his band, The Reals. Check out the links below for some of his past work.

If you’d like to collaborate with Kowal, send us an email!

2018 Replay

It is clear from our name – Majestic Collaborations –  that we have always valued collaborations. Initiating, executing, and following up on collaborations is at the heart and soul of Majestic Collaborations, Inc. We are mindful of the quality of each relationship and project we dive into, and highly cherish our ability to work across multiple fields and arenas. When looking back at 2018, we can’t really say it was “The Year of the Collaboration.” Because collaboration is our baseline behavior. For Matthew, Molly, and Ali, 2018 was the year of Conversion and Transformation.


  1. We took our efforts to the next level right away with the implementation and release of the Denver Music StrategyWe initiated a three-year contract with Denver Arts and Venues during the inaugural year of the Denver Music Advancement Fund. 




  1. Emergency Preparedness – We worked together with Denver Arts and Venues, Performing Arts Readiness and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to launch the Arts & Cultural network for Emergency Preparedness



par logoDenverArtsAndVenues

  1. Tactical Urbanism – Using tactical urbanism as a strategic tool, Molly North and transportation engineering collaborators encouraged neighborhood drivers to “Slow the Funk Down!” as a tribute to funk luminary Bootsy Collins.




  1. Kowal attended 2018’s Event Safety Alliance Summit “Designing for Safety: Planning, Creativity, and the Art of Problem Solving,” which explored intentional design and safety/operational plans, training, event structures, and careers.
    • Kowal spent several days networking, workshopping, and participating in positive collaborations with key players concerning everything that could possibly go wrong with crowds and events.
    • Good design fortifies communities, large and small. Emergency Preparedness can be a way to engage with crowds at festivals and other large events.
    • Hands-on skill sharing events can be helpful in training people to be prepared in all types of emergency situations.
    • Many of our goals for 2019 center around the actualization of a viral Event Safety movement that boosts awareness about event safety.
    • Stay tuned!


  • In a video filmed for A2RU, Kowal discussed immersive experiences, Majestic Collaborations, emergency preparedness, and the importance of recognizing the history of land and its people. This is a great summary of what we feel is important here at Majestic Collaborations, Inc.


6. Music Cities Convention

  • Majestic Collaborations and Kowal were pleased to support Sound Diplomacy’s Lafayette Music Cities Convention.
  • Our participation helped to tend the application for a 2020 Music Cities conference in Denver.
  • On the very same note, NoCo’s very own community music association, The Music District, hosted Surround Sound Bash, an event that also sparks awareness and advocacy for local music economies.


music cities banner


7. Civic Center Conservancy Event Greening and Power Upgrades

  • In September, Kowal used his knowledge of music festival temporary electricity to aid in running 90% of Civic Center Eats’ (CCE) food trucks on grid power instead of gasoline powered generators.
  • This feat was the result of the combined efforts of four different teams & some seriously practical skill sharing.



8. McNichols Civic Center Building



9. The Reals and Matthew Ché Kowal are grateful to have been able to share their music for another year, performing for several great community events and local philanthropic causes and organizations:




More information on all these collaborations – scroll below!

Event Safety Alliance Summit 2018


Event Safety Alliance Summit 2018

Matthew Ché Kowal was honored to be sponsored by Performing Arts Readiness and The Mellon Foundation to attend the Event Safety Alliance Summit Nov 28 – Nov 30, 2018 in Lititz, Pennsylvania.

This year’s event, “Designing for Safety: Planning, Creativity, and the Art of Problem Solving,” explored intentional design and safety/operational plans, training, event structures, and careers. This year’s summit was a comprehensive and inclusive survey of all aspects of event emergency preparedness, comprised of over 20 presentations by the very best folks in the industry.


Majestic Collaborations, Inc. and Kowal would like to thank PAR, The Mellon Foundation, Denver Arts and Venues, and Create Denver for affording us the opportunity to attend this important event.

At the summit, Kowal spent several days networking, workshopping, and participating in positive collaborations with key players concerning everything that could possibly go wrong with crowds and events. While he wasn’t able to experience every single presentation, since some took place simultaneously, he was able to attend many important workshops, forums, and activities concerning the importance of preparation for the worst and making secure and sound emergency decisions for each and every community.

The first session set an excellent context for the the Event Safety Alliance Summit. Dominic Housiaux presented “Designing for Safety,” which would have been a great topic for a 99% Invisible Podcast! We love this podcast because they dive deeply into design concepts, providing robust knowledge about diverse design of all kinds. Their website also supplies visuals and resources to deepen learning about each topic. We would recommend starting with Fire and Rain, as well as A Year in the Dark.

“Simulation as a Tool for Improving Outcomes” was introduced by Emma Parkinson, course director of Emergency Planning and Crowded Places at Coventry University in Bath, UK. She presented scenarios, as bomb threats or snowstorms, highlighting her concept of finding creative ways to manufacture “injects,” or creative twists that allow event producers and staff to envision scenarios outside the natural realm of thought. We learned that creating “injects” to solve complex scenarios can result in enhanced mental plasticity! Very cool. Parkinons’s presentation reminded us of the experience of one of our collaborators at Majestic Collaborations who was in attendance at the Boston Marathon in 2013, when there were a series of bombs at the finish line. She fortunately was not at the finish line, but a friend of hers was. She had run the race three months pregnant, and was in the medic tent when the first bomb went off. The bombing could have been one of the “far-fetched” scenarios we postulated at the Summit, but the Boston Marathon bombing wasn’t just theoretical. It was real and effected real people. This is a real-life reminder that scenarios are incredibly important when planning for event safety.


“Advanced Safety Management: Exceptional Circumstances” presented by Virginia Schmitt and Ed Klima gave each team simulated evacuations, taking many factors into account, such as injuries, people with disabilities, exceptional mobility, unique extenuating circumstances, performers on stage, and more. We divided into teams comprised of roles: Team Leader, 911 Celler, and Evacuation Assists, with the goal of protecting lives. We had to identify risks, possible emergencies associated, and create a process for evacuation using Rock Lititz Safety and Evacuation Plans. Each table became a team assigned to 4 hour segments of the remaining conference to be the reliance team and take responsibility for the evacuation, which had twists and challenges of evacuees that needed assists, The team that covered the drill gave a debrief on stage to discuss the learnings. A good rule of thumb is to build skills before you drill. In this case, we were given several announcements starting from the first minutes of the conference about the evacuation plans and building features – exits, etc.

Eric Stuart’s “Crowd Management: What’s Throng with this Situation?” covered crowd safety and human psychology. Stuart is a recognized leader in crowd management theory and practice; his message contradicts the popular conception that the natural response of crowds in the face of disaster is to panic. Stuart believes that all it takes is simple messaging before an event takes place so that everyone in attendance can have a safe experience: “Messaging is absolutely crucial but it’s got to be tailored. It’s got to be focused to the people we’re trying to address.” Mass panic is a reality that we have to anticipate at any public gathering. Awareness and knowledge of best practices in emergency preparedness is a must! Oftentimes, controlling a crowd after a chaotic event can be like “putting toothpaste back in the tube.”


“Exhausted, Under Pressure, and Out of Time” and Dr. Reil and Dominic Housiaux covered the effect of stress on health and decision making, bringing up the cumulative effects of stress on the body, or allostatic load. Stress can wreak havoc on the body. Self awareness is imperative when managing stress on any level. Some basic questions to ask ourselves daily are:  Am I exercising for more than 45 minutes a day? Am I drinking enough water and getting enough natural sunlight? How am I managing my stressors on the job? Am I getting more than 6 hours of sleep every night? Sleep is so important for a healthy body and mind, as emphasized by Dr. Marlene Reil: “We dream for a reason, not just to set goals and fantasize about the future, but to process information. If you’re not sleeping, you’re not processing.”


Steven Adelman’s take home message in “Your Day in Court: The Challenge of Personal Responsibility,” aka “Fun Times in Judge Robes,” was that understanding your “duty care” is critical. It’s difficult to know the extent to which payouts for damages have been awarded; it seems like court settlements are always reached without disclosing the amount. Adelman directed us through an exercise that explored a court case involving a sledding hill, and the flip/flopping a jury would go through in assigning blame.


Resilient Teams” by Dr. Marlene Reil and Dominic Housiaux of Lankey & LImey Ltd demonstrated how resilient teams can still be built even under stress. Dr. Reil and Housiaux took us back to the previous presentation concerning allostatic load, giving us the take home message of understanding uncertainty is important to manage the stress of teams. When exposed to stressors for an extended amount of time, people experience an 83% greater risk of physical and psychological effects, including cardiac arrest, depression, and burn out, as well as a reduction in both cognition and productivity.

“Who’s in Charge Here?” Tami Richter, Jen Stiles, Donald Cooper, and Chris Jones presented on the art of explaining safety concerns. Fire marshals and other public safety officials serving as the Authority Having Jurisdiction at events have to explain their safety-concerns to the well-meaning creative misfits who essentially ran away to join the circus. Not an easy task! Show people, in turn, wonder why Authority Having Jurisdictions always seem to say “No” to their most fun ideas. In this session, we peeked over the fence to see how the other half lives and to see things from a different point of view.

“Alas, the best weather app still does not  someone a meteorologist make.” (from Event Safety Alliance’s Facebook). Dr. Kevin Kloesel’s “Sunny with a Chance of Lightning” concerned weather safety, and explained the differences between professional meteorology and the fancy graphics and pretty colors of mobile phone apps. Big takeaway here is the benefit of employing a on-call meteorologist for your outdoor event and venues. Whether as a subscription or a one-off, it probably costs less than you think.

Tim Roberts’s “Annoying Acronyms: Event Safety Management Plans” was all about event safety management. The crux of this course was understanding the all the AHJs in your event’s sphere. We employed a table exercise that had us planning for a community event in an unnamed town square which included a city and county building. Many of us have planned such events and the exercise became a familiar memory game where we came up with the long list of government offices involved in setting up community events. It was everything from liquor to parade permits. Agencies such as Homeland Security and even the FAA (thinking of using a drone?) would be on the list for most festivals. It can be complicated to employ harm-reduction strategies, such as testing for recreational drugs, to large festivals when you consider state and federal jurisdictions. The take home message here would be summed up by the old saying: Prior Preparation and Planning Prevents Poor Performance!

“Tami Richter and Jen Stiles’s Mud Baths and Mosh Pits:” Festival/Outdoor Safety Group covered the reality and safety concerns concerning “mud baths” and “mosh pits.” We Majestic Collaborators have experienced these more than once while Kowal curated and directed Tour de Fat. There were many presenting professionals and event production personnel in attendance, and they were able to share a wide spectrum of experiences candidly. While some organizations had tried to actively shut down moshing, others remarked the history of the dancing included claiming that Rock & Roll dancers would dislocate hips and should be banned. One festival producer commented that knowing that there was enough room for a mosh pit was an indicator that the crowd was not too dense. Others shared practices of making it easy for patrons to “over-the-wall” of Mojo Barrier if they needed a break from the dance pits. Resoundingly we heard how closed-circuit cameras and staff training for security are essential elements of managing the expanding high-contact dancing, especially at EDM events.

william-white-34988-unsplash copy

In Friday’s “Do No Harm” presentation by Stephanie Jones and Dr. Brezinski, we learned about the importance of harm reduction at festivals. Musicians, producers, support staff – everyone involved becomes family while on tour. It’s a team effort to promote wellness, including diet, physical wellness and mental wellness, and sleep. After tours are over, it’s common to experience “post tour grief,” and we learned the importance of acknowledging and possibly seeking help for this. We broke into groups and discussed five strategies to help touring bands, event production companies, venues, and festivals, and we narrowed down key stressors such as alcohol, decompression after tour, depression, PTSD. We were shocked to learn that people involved in event production statistically have their first heart attack at 41 years old, which is only a few years away for us Majestic Collaborators! Dr. Brezinski, also a musician, was terrified when he himself had an early heart condition; as a result, he started an organization to promote self-awareness in the rock-and-roll world. Dr. Brezinski also discussed providing defibrillators to people on tour, and he told us about the benefits of the Stress Scan app to monitor pulse on the go. Added bonus: Kowal also had the honor of taking a CPR, AED, and first aid class from Dr. Brezinski.  


Engineering Trust by James Kern and Itzel Molina was one of our favorite keynotes. This power-couple covered a lot of ground with their shared knowledge. Molina is brilliant, bilingual, and a “Safety Culture Transformation Leader,” and Kern is the producer of corporate branding events for some of the most recognized brands at XISM. Our table exercise involved devising an “Attendee Safety Journey” that asked us to contemplate the messaging that patrons received before and during and after the event. Super smart! Especially informative was the optic on how to avoid the often-ignored airline safety announcement scenario. Kowal thought – “This is what I came for!” He and his partner devised a festival in Monterey, MX, built on a message climate/carbon reduction concept. We added a family-friendly message to the pre-sale communications, actionable commitments, and wearable ephemera (a black bracelet that symbolizes commitment to carbon reduction) that would take the message out into the world. We are still jazzed by the take-aways from this presentation.


Event Safety as an industry has come such a long way, and continues to strengthen and grow as it becomes more and more important to rally around event safety and how it can help us build systems for resilience. Good design fortifies communities, large and small. The importance of planning for the worst even while celebrating the best of event cannot be emphasized enough.

Lastly, a very special thanks to Richard Cadena, author of several books on portable and entertainment electrics. His 14 hour class and certificate program was chock full and well done!


Check out the Event Safety Summit’s full schedule here!



Howdy A2RU!!

Howdy A2RU, from Matthew Ché Kowal!


In this video filmed for A2RU, Kowal discusses immersive experiences, Majestic Collaborations, emergency preparedness, and the importance of recognizing the history of land and its people.

Scroll down for a synopsis of the video!



Immersive Experiences

One of Kowal’s first immersive experiences was his combined twelve years of involvement in New Belgium Brewing’s Tour de Fat, a festival comprised of “costumed artful parties in the park, with a potluck-vibe. TDF was truly an immersive, cooperative experience centered around bicycle advocacy. There was a car-to-bike trade at every event, a 1000 person dance contest to win a bike, and a “slow ride” emphasizing the bike’s inherent ability to make people slow down and appreciate life.

Majestic Collaborations

Majestic Collaborations was established in 2016 by Kowal and his wife, Molly. Majestic connects bands, brands, and agencies to their communities through community involved events, initiatives, and policy work. Some of our recent clients are the City of Denver Music Strategy, FACTOR Canada, and Sound Diplomacy. Currently, we are serving a Mellon Foundation grant to do Emergency Preparedness for performing arts organizations.

Emergency Preparedness

Emergency Preparedness can be a way to engage with crowds at festivals and other large events. Hands-on skill sharing events can be helpful in training people to be prepared in all types of emergency situations. This idea came to Kowal while he was at Standing Rock where he noticed a great similarity between emergency planning for large demonstrations and emergency planning for festivals.

Indigenous Recognition

Majestic Collaborations believes in the importance of recognizing the history of a land and its people. In Canada, event producers begin each public event with a call to recognize indigenous history. We hope this idea spreads! And, we’re looking at ways to help ground people and remind them that where they are standing now belongs also to the people of the past.



Slow the Funk Down! – A Tactical Urbanism Project

Slow the Funk Down! – A Tactical Urbanism Project 

Written by Molly North

Tactical urbanism is a strategic tool used to try out new or necessary infrastructure, usually related to prioritizing people in the transportation system. The intent is to install something temporarily, measure the impacts, adjust to make improvements, and eventually install it permanently.

For this project, I wanted to see if I could impact the speeds of vehicles on the street next to our house.

I drew on inspiration from tactical urbanism project in Boston, MA and a year-long study in St Paul, MN. Jonathan Fertig, a Boston resident who has installed many projects over the years, responded to the Mayor who blamed a bicyclist for getting hit and killed by a driver. Fertig installed eight 2-D cartoon characters in the buffers of protected bike lanes. The characters had speech bubbles that said things like “Look for bikes before opening your door (that’s what this buffer is for)” and a conversation between Marty and Matt Damon that goes “C’mon guys, you can pahk better!” “Marty, why don’t you just put in some bollards” “What, I suppose you think you are some sort of genius?” “Um, well, no. But I played one.” In St Paul, Nicole Morris, director of the HumanFIRST Laboratory at the University of Minnesota, measured the number of drivers stopping at crosswalks for pedestrians. Morris installed official-looking street signs around the city to indicate both the percent of drivers who stopped last week and the record. She intentionally used “human factors psychology” to try to influence people to change their behavior toward the behavior of the majority.

My collaborators and I decided to measure speeds on 44th Ave for five weeks (one weekday morning, one weekday mid-day, one weekday evening, and Saturday morning) and then post the percent of people observing the speed limit at the end of each week. In discussion with my adviser, I determined that Westbound drivers would see a human cutout holding a sign with the percentages; Eastbound drivers would see a black and white, campaign-style sign with the percentages. My hypothesis was that drivers in both directions will be influenced to obey the speed limit, but they will be more influenced by the sign being held by the human cutout.





I decided to add WalkDenver’s “Slow the Funk Down” campaign signs to the same side of the street as the human cutout. In discussion with my husband Matt Kowal, we decided Bootsy Collins would be the best artist to (literally) carry our message. Bootsy is the luminary of funk, one of America’s greatest musical styles. We are seeking to use the power of music and art to help make the neighborhood safer.






  • Week of October 29 – I measured speeds on 44th Avenue
  • November 3 – I asked Matt and two friends to help, and we created a Bootsy Collins cutout. We installed the two different signs at opposite ends of the block on 44th
  • Week of November 5 – Matt will measure speeds and we will see if there is a change!
  • Check back next week for an update!






Molly wrote this November 4th.

On the evening of the 4th, or perhaps Monday morning, Bootsy was tragically stolen from his corner outpost. However, his spirit lives on! Boosty’s message can be duplicated and replicated for the benefit of all the neighborhoods in our fair city.


Music Cities Convention Lafayette 2018

From Oct 11-12, Matthew Ché Kowal ventured to Lafayette LA for Music Cities Convention Lafayette.

At Music Cities Lafayette, Kowal noticed a high interest in the utility of emergency preparedness cross-training at festivals to help build resilience in cities.

Majestic Collaborations thinks that training for emergencies could go a long way in helping people respond with more finesse to emergency situations, while at the same time giving agency to city arts and culture institutions by allowing them to plan ahead instead of having authorities make top-down decisions in the event of an emergency.

Emergency preparedness cross-training could provide an answer to the question – How do we build resilience in cities facing climate-induced migration? Sharon Yazowski, the Director of the Levitt Foundation, delivered an excellent presentation about building programming themed towards inclusion and welcoming immigrants. She drew upon the great example that Dayton, OH is providing for the nation: Dayton was the first city in the US to earn the status of Certified Welcoming due to its inclusiveness and integration of immigrants.

In general, many at Music Cities Lafayette agreed that prescribed training would be very applicable to residents of the southern states; pre-planning for emergencies being naturally very important to people who live near the Gulf of Mexico. There was a consensus among convention delegates that we should be looking at long term, big picture goals of boosting the authority and agency of arts and culture institutions so that they can be prepared to make emergency decisions.

All of us at Majestic Collaborations can’t wait to see how this idea grows into practice as more and more artistic and cultural institutions are endowed with the training and knowledge to protect their artists and patrons.