Essential Workers Start To Lose Respect

Customers are no longer grateful.

Sophia LaBriola

A few months after the pandemic started to become more normalized in our lives, the term essential workers started to fade away. Not only because so much was going on this year, but because people started to care less. There was an obvious shift in people’s behavior towards essential workers because they started to lose their patience and kindness. I had this conversation with a barista named James from a coffee shop in my neighborhood, and he had noticed the same shift in behavior in the food and beverage industry. We connected over being essential workers and started to share our stories during the time. We talked about the term essential and how appreciated we felt in the beginning and how now it is different. When the pandemic first started, some businesses were offering essential workers free coffee drinks every morning. Workers started showing up every morning for a regular cup of Joe to start their day in the front lines. After a few months of the same offer, James said they started to come in large groups and demand their free coffee with extra syrups and shots of espresso. Of course, he made the drinks with no complaints and handed them off to the workers, but deep down felt like people were starting to lose their appreciation for just a simple cup of coffee in the morning. I could understand where James was coming from because the customers at Cafe Jordano, where I work, started to demand more than what they were offered. It’s upsetting when you go out and risk your life for customers and they treat you poorly because of their bad mood or expectations.

“It’s upsetting when you go out and risk your life for customers and they treat you poorly because of their bad mood or expectations.”

Since Cafe Jordano is very small, we only have one phone line answering all of our take out orders. This made it hard to work fast because dealing with customers that cannot make up their mind really slows the process down. All of these small factors are ones that customers just coming in to pick up their food, don’t see. They lose their patience with the workers when we we are only trying our best to give the best customer service to everyone. I cannot speak for every customer, because the majority of them showed so much support during hard times. Since others were not as grateful, it made serving the community a hassle instead of a pleasure. I do not think customers understand behind the scenes of coffee shops and restaurants before the pandemic and certainly now. We depended on their tips to make a livable wage. We depended on their business to keep us afloat. It is our job as essential workers to maintain a smile under our masks and keep doing our job no matter how we are treated. Essential workers are all under pressure from our community to maintain quality service and friendly faces, but it can be hard when customers do not understand what we’re going through to get their order ready. So please, be kind to essential workers during this hard time!

about the author

Sophia LaBriola / 22


Hello! I am a student at MSU Denver studying Communication Design. I am a first generation college student and Colorado native. I am thankful for the opportunity to experience higher education because it has changed my life so much. Outside of school, I enjoy taking long walks, traveling, photography, riding my bike and spending quality time with loved ones.

Bouldering Blues

Getting stoned and getting sends in Morrison.

Maxwell Ries

The Quarantine shut down all the climbing gyms in Denver along with almost everything else. People flooded out of the gyms and into the crags and boulder fields around Denver. Suddenly more people were climbing outside more than ever before, and it put a lot stress on the nearby areas.  

It was not just climbers though, hiker’s, mountain bikers and basically everyone was eager to get out of the house and find a cure for their boredom. Weekend warriors were suddenly weeklong warriors. The climbing areas around Morrison were hit particularly hard. Several boulders on Mt. Glennon were vandalized with spray paint. Climbing holds within the Black Hole cave were deliberately destroyed with a tool and chisel. 

“Weekend warriors were suddenly weeklong warriors.”

While everyone agrees the graffiti was just high school kids being kids, there is still debate about who destroyed the holds in the cave. Locals from around the area have finally gained approval from the Jeffco Parks board to remove the graffiti on several of the boulders on Mt. Glennon.  

Despite this, the climbing community around Denver has remained open and friendly. You can still go to any crag or boulder field around Denver and strike up a conversation with whoever happens to be there.   

about the author

MAxwell Ries /


I have been climbing in Morrison since I moved to Colorado. I have met some of my best climbing partners there and have gotten to know several of the locals. As I have become more familiar with the area I have also seen it change significantly. Preserving these areas for future climbers is important and watching these areas be destroyed and vandalized breaks my heart.

Living On The Road

What it is like to live on the road full time.

Larissa Hill

Tiny homes are not the only alternative way to live in 2020. There are people across the United States who are tired of working 9-5 corporate jobs and they are choosing to live and travel full time in a van. Living in a van allows people to move a round, they are not forced to stay in one place. A young couple known as Bound for Nowhere chose this lifestyle. In 2016 they quit their jobs, sold everything they owned and have been working and traveling full time ever since. In order to pay for their expenses both MAK and Owen work as freelance artists when they are on the road. One of the perks of living in a van is that you don’t have to pay rent. Since Bound for Nowhere does not have to pay for rent they do not have to work full time, they can work whenever they want to.

“They also have the freedom to live and travel wherever and whenever they like.”

This has allowed BFN to travel and see most of the United States. If you would like to learn more about living on the road, please check out and follow MAK and Owens journey.

about the author

larissa hill /



My name is Larissa Hill. I am pursuing a BFA in Communication Design at Metropolitan State University of Denver. When I am not busy with school, I enjoy learning about alternative lifestyles. In the near future, I would like to live in a tiny house or a van, so that I can travel full time.

Where the F*** are all the Magicians?

How niche performers are managing uncertainty.

Sarah Smalley

Claire Voyant by Dave Wood

This year, the pandemic shut down the live music industry. Fans were refunded for canceled world tours, and artists apologized, sharing hopeful messages of returning to stages in the Fall. But what happened to entertainers with niche talents? What was the fate of the industry for sideshows, magicians, and circuses? Some found ways to host safe and socially distant events, and others had to make dramatic career changes and shift focus to entirely new jobs.

Claire Voyant, a mentalist magician performing under the title Mistress of Mentalism, was performing at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park when things began to go south for the live events industry. When the tourist economy in Estes Park crashed in March, Claire and her assistant, Jenna, found themselves without work for months and had extremely limited access to assistance due to work and contract technicalities. The fear of losing the show became a reality, and the two were unable to return to Estes Park. This meant not only losing a job, but losing a creative space that the two felt passionate about.

Luckily, later in the year, some venues began to reopen with strict social distancing and safety rules. In October, Claire performed in the Oriental Theater’s Carnivale de Sensuale, a comedic burlesque show that the Oriental hosts a few times each year. There were 90 tickets available to this show. The Oriental’s typical capacity is about 550. 

Claire Voyant (left) and Jenna Stone (center) in the Oriental Theater’s Carnivale de Sensuale by Dave Wood

Opportunities like this are obviously few and far between, so Jenna and Claire are always looking for other ways to stay creative and connect with their community. 

The two decided this was the time to pursue other creative endeavors while they hoped for an eventual return to The Stanley. Claire started up her own small business, Foot Clothes, selling sideshow, circus, and magic themed socks. Owning a sock company selling unique and quality socks is something Claire had always wanted to do, and she took her time away from the stage as an opportunity to pursue this dream project. Claire and Jenna have also begun selling ghostly antiques under the name Something Wicked Antiques at Wheat Ridge’s Brass Armadillo antique mall. 

say yes first and figure it out later.

In uncertain times like these, Claire’s advice for performers wanting to go further in their career becomes especially relevant. “Make friends, be professional,” she says. Making friends and maintaining community ties is more important now than ever before. Her next piece of advice, “say yes first and figure it out later,” also speaks to the importance of taking risks and trying new things. 

about the author

Sarah / 22


Hi!  I’m Sarah. I’ve been studying Communication Design at MSU Denver since 2018. When I’m not staring at a computer screen, I love seeing live music or going outside to hike or climb. I have several friends in the music and events industry, and I want to use Zeromile to highlight their experiences and bring awareness to what’s going on in the industry.

Connecting The New

Our world changed and so did we.

Maria Pardo

As human beings, we create habits and routines that we like to follow. Change is always hard to adapt to and we are reluctant at first. When everything around was put to a stop, like going to work or sitting in a classroom filled with students, it was hard to accept those changes. Life has its way of keeping us on edge and this year did turn our lives upside down. What we were so used to doing we no longer could do, which affected us all in a great way. As time went on, we became creative in how we spent our time at home all day, every day for months. Not being able to leave my house was very challenging. At first I saw it as vacation because I was tired of the hectic lifestyle I live working full time and being a full-time student. 

‘As weeks went by I realized nothing was getting better, it was becoming worse.”

It hit me that leaving the house was not an option and I needed to create and learn new ways to keep my sanity. I probably binged watched all the series on Netflix, Hulu, and HBO, while also becoming an experts on Facetime, Zoom, and Teams. Learning to live in this new environment was not easy but it was something we had to do to keep ourselves healthy.  Birthdays were being celebrated on Zoom calls first with the family and then with friends. Phone calls were made daily to check up on our loved ones. That is something that I should have done more often than before. Families that had the opportunity to be in the same house had the chance to get to know one another again. And those that were separated created greater bonds by taking the time to make a phone call. Friendships either got stronger or they completely broke off. During these crazy times, even though its hard, we got closer to the people we needed to get closer too while also drifting away from those that didn’t need to be part of our lives after all. We have evolved and even though it’s been a challenge, I am taking it one day at a time. 

about the author

Maria Pardo / 27


Hi my name is Maria Pardo I am a student at Metropolitan State University pursuing a degree in Communication Design. I’m from Cali, Colombia but I’ve lived for more than 20 years in the United States. I enjoy spending time with family and friends and love to watch chick flicks. When I think about what today looks like it’s so different from what I ever imaged. This change has not been easy to adapt to but as time goes by it gets easier.

One Click Away

How technology helps bridge the gap in a long distance relationship.

Parker Wiese

This world has improved how we can talk and connect with the people we care about, from people who live a few miles away to people on the other side of the country. Long distances seem much, much shorter. I’ve always heard from my older relatives about how much work they had to put in to keeping in touch and how difficult it is to do so. These connections used to be done by letters, then phones, and now we have texting, social media, video calls, etc.

“It’s hard, but it’s so much easier than it used to be”

These allow for a quick and easy response from those we love. Keeping these communities alive is a core necessity for the human spirit. These new technologies make it so much easier to create that community of two in a long-distance relationship. Though it’s still difficult, talking to your partner with a touch of a button helps fill the void. Video calls are a crucial part of my partner and I’s plan to keep our relationship alive. We use this service every day to catch up, deal with problems, go on dates, watch moves, etc. Whenever I’m feeling alone or insecure, I know I can reach out to her. Seeing her face makes all my worries and fears go away, and I know she feels the same. We’ve been doing video call dates, which is entirely new to me, but it’s surprisingly fun. We put together little activities and games for us to play while we drink wine. Though it’ll never be the same as being in person, these little bits of normalcy make the experience of long-distance a little more bearable. Long-distance will never be easy, but the tools we have today allow us to keep our little two-person community alive.

about the author

Parker / 23


My name is Parker Wiese and I’m from Denver, CO. I hope to move to the west coast for most of my twenties to experience a new place and culture. My goal is to become a graphic designer for a magazine or a clothing brand out there.

Admit One

What is happening to film festivals in the age of Netflix and COVID-19.

Alex Klein

At the time of our ever-increasing involvement with digital technology and personal devices, it is more important than ever to experience real human connections. One of the popular ways to keep in touch with friends is to go to the movie theater. As mundane as it seems, with COVID on the rise, even that act became a luxury.

While streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and Disney+ provide most of our film-related entertainment these days and were not get affected by the virus, the film industry still heavily relies on movie-goers. Because of COVID, even big studios felt the decrease in profits. Small organizations, like local theaters and film centers, got hit the hardest.

Many local film centers across the country get most of their profits from the annual independent film festivals. They operate as non-profits and can’t afford to skip a year, as these events take about a week each year provide the biggest exposure to the organizations. Film festivals aim to introduce audiences to emerging filmmakers, attract new members, and please their already existing donors. Offering grand opportunities for the public to see works of the filmmakers from around the globe, film festivals are places of gathering of like-minded people, where a lot of networking takes place.

This year, every organization is trying to adjust to new challenges. Some famous festivals like Cannes, Venice, TIFF, and Tribeca united for a new Youtube-driven festival, while some local festivals like the one in Telluride, which takes place over the Labor Day weekend, had to close its doors, hopefully temporarily.

Denver Film Festival, which starts at the end of October each year, had to re-format its practice too, to adjust to the new realities of 2020. This year it took place virtually with film viewings limited to those who were present in Colorado.

“Even though watching films online is fun, the experience of the film festival cannot be complete without the physical components of the live conversations, virtual reality room, discussion panels, and of course, parties!”

Despite the unexpected challenges, we are happy to see that Denver Film was still able to pull it off in 2020. Even though it is not in the same format, most of the organization’s goals were still achieved. Hopefully, Denver Film will open its doors once again when it will be safe, and we will have a grand time.

Denver Film still offers a few options for cinephiles while waiting to restore its normal operations. Film on the Rocks in the Red Rocks Amphitheater temporarily became a drive-in experience that is open to the public from August through October, while its website has new showings all year long. Check out their website for the latest Independent Film releases and keep an eye for the next Film Festival in 2021!

about the author

Alex / 29


I am a 3D Modeler, Graphic Designer and film enthusiast from overseas.

Performing Through a Screen

Although live theatrical events are postponed, it does not stop Dixie Krystals.

Anniston Craddock

The treacherous Corona Virus has swept its way through America, taking with it the freedom of going out, communicating in person, and the sense of normalcy along with it. Due to all live events being canceled, the performing arts industry has been struck especially hard by this virus. The need for an audience and in person collaboration is essential to theatre events in order to create a groundbreaking experience. The question remains, how do performers transition to an online space and still be successful? This sense of doubt didn’t stop Dixie Krystals, an influential Drag Queen of the Denver community, from being extremely successful during these challenging times. Dixie has been performing in drag for over 22 years in both New York City and Denver. She has experienced performing in many different locations, but this is the first time she ever had to perform within the comfort of her own home, replacing the energy and joy from a wonderful audience with a still dead video camera propped on a tripod.She admits this time was challenging, but it granted her with numerous opportunities that weren’t there before. Dixie took this opportunity to fully transition online and get involved more with social media. She has hosted numerous online shows and events, along with starting her popular podcast, Spillin’ the Tea with Dixie.

“There is so much to share and for me it’s really nice to just sit and talk. It’s like I’m just sitting and talking to some of my friends and everyone is just listening in… It’s been a really fun process and I just kind of roll with the punches.”

–Dixie Krystal

says Dixie. Dixie Krystal enjoys giving her audience an authentic experience when they tune in to see her perform. She tries to keep it as real as possible, instead of putting on a fake persona. She focuses on live vocals and deep conversations with her friends and the audience. Most individuals trying to transition in this space fall short due to a lack of connection with their audience. If anything, this opportunity has allowed Dixie to shine and connect with her audience on a deeper level. With Dixie’s positive personality, you will leave her show feeling happy and abs hurting from all the laughter. She has successfully brought joy back into the internet. If you have not yet seen a drag show, I highly recommend checking Dixie out on social media or following her podcast on Apple Podcasts.

about the author

Anniston Craddock / 21


I am a designer at Metropolitan State University of Denver. I believe design can inspire change. It forges motivation and enthusiasm throughout society within minutes after observing a single concept. This kind of power should not be taken lightly, but instead be treated as a tool to prompt a cynical nation to take action and make a difference. The idea of change drives me to become a designer. I want my designs to spark change in the world and persuade a call to action. Over the past few years, my design experience has been derived of artwork expressing my emotions as a visual release. By utilizing the ability of incorporating emotion into a composition and removing individuality from the concept, I’m able to reach further and produce work that speaks to a larger audience and play off their emotions instead of my own. I am incredibly influenced by Jenny Holzer’s work and her ability to force society to recognize and respond to her ideas on a grand scale. Holzer questions ideals through the delivery of words in large public spaces. This forces the audience to acknowledge her work that could never be ignored. Her inspiration drives my motivation to create work that touches peoples hearts and could make a difference, even if that difference is small. I am excited for the adventures ahead and I hope my passion continues to inspire change in others.

What Is A Death Doula

A conversation with Jenny Kress.

Jay Hoppe

The term doula is becoming a more common part of our vernacular with the rise of home births. A doula is a trained companion to assist in health related experiences, such as childbirth, miscarriage, abortion, stillbirth and death. In an interview with Jenny Kress, a death doula, she explains her personal experiences with death and what lead her to embark on this new path.

Can you explain what a death doula is and what being a death doula means to you?

A death doula provides advice, information, emotional support, and physical comfort to the dying at end-of-life. Every death doula’s story, background, and expertise is different but the passion for service and death education is an underlying theme. I embrace the role by helping the family and the dying navigating what we know while still embracing the unknown. I want to alleviate as much fear as possible, provide comfort and support, and to help them be seen as a dying person.

What inspired this new venture and how does your practice differ from what many might consider to be the role of a doula?

In February of 2019, I watched an Academy Award nominated short documentary called “End Game” which took you inside the world of palliative care and also introduced the viewer to the case of a woman who was dying of cancer inside a hospital. It highlighted the hard decisions that families have to make for their loved ones as well as the decisions you have to face yourself as a dying person. I finished that documentary and felt the overwhelming calling to help people at end-of-life. To help them be seen, to advocate for them, and to make them comfortable. I’ve dealt with a lot of death in my personal life and have developed a personal relationship with it. My spiritual practice allows me to embrace it with much less fear than what our culture tries to force upon us. As an emerging field, I believe that all doulas shape their practice to incorporate their strengths into compassionate care. After a decade long career in hospitality (sharing the Latin root word “hospes” with hospital & hospice, meaning “host”) and coinciding life & death events, I merge the two to create space for the dying & their loved ones to be intentional in their final days. To sit in peace and have time to reflect on a life well-lived. To fill the space with love, lightness, and hopefully a bit of laughter.

“I want alleviate as much fear as possible, provide comfort and support, and to help them be seen as a dying person.”

What is the educational process of becoming a doula?

Death doulas come to this work in different ways. There are a few programs that could help with guidance but I cannot speak to that as it wasn’t my process. I worked one-on-one with my mentor, Jill Schock of Death Doula LA, for 6 months. Her guidance and expertise helped foster a growing skillset so that I may serve the dying efficiently and with ultimate care. I’ve also worked closely with funeral director Amber Carvaly to understand the ways in which doulas can concierge with the funeral homes for families, as well.

What and who is the demand of your practice for?

The demand is growing worldwide as the desire for more economical and environmentally conscious options becomes more prevalent. We can act as guides and educators to ensure that your final days and your disposition are as personal as the life that was lived. Clients range from folks who are interested in pre-planning in order to be prepared for unexpected circumstances, to folks who just received a terminal diagnosis and would like someone to advocate for their decisions to refuse potentially traumatic treatment. Whoever needs our support, that is where we go.

Is there a strong sense of community amongst doulas, i.e. networking, and the relationships you have forged as a death doula?

I’ve discovered that the sense of community amongst doulas is absolutely crucial. This work is sacred and speaks to a particular group of human beings and the more we are able to work together, the stronger our ideas and our practice become. I have developed relationships with people all over the country and while the practical knowledge of my mentorship was of utmost importance, the opportunity to work with other amazing deathcare workers has been the real gift.

To learn more about Jenny and her services, you can find information on her website or Instagram:


about the author

Jay Hoppe / 31


I’m a left handed Okie residing in Denver. I’ve been a student in the Communication Design Program at MSU Denver since 2017. I like bicycles, beards and bocce ball.

Digital Protest

The shift of social justice education to online spaces.

Eric tofsted

The internet has always been an equalizing force for education and information. Literally called the “Information Superhighway” at one point, we have encountered so many new developments in our society based on the levels of information we obtain and consume. From “google syndrome” to “echo chambers,” these changes in how society works can be placed on a broad spectrum of good and bad. While some social media groups like anti-vaxxers are spreading misinformation to create a cult of feel-good ignorance, there are progressive groups all over social media that are trying to do the opposite. These groups are using the powers of digital media creation to inform the public on a variety of deep academic topics ranging from race theory, to gender theory, to economics.

Especially popular on Instagram, these informative accounts create slideshows for all sorts of topics, typically conforming to a pastel-colored background and strong typography. Some high-quality examples consist of @soyouwanttotalkabout, @idontmind, and @impact. They have informational slideshows on crucial topics like critical thinking skills, journalistic sourcing, and daily current events. The more academically sound accounts have their info sources cited inside the slides. What makes these slideshows so profound is the ease to share them with all your followers. A share on someone’s highly visible Instagram story could lead to thousands more views and shares. These slideshows go viral based on the information alone. Not only is this providing college-level discourse and theory to people of all ages and economic backgrounds, but it is also proving to be a socialistic influence on the financial gatekeeping of higher education.

“Not only is this providing college-level discourse and theory to people of all ages and economic backgrounds, but it is also proving to be a socialistic influence on the financial gatekeeping of higher education.”

Unlike liberal academia, conservatives unfortunately have a ways to go in terms of aiding their arguments with academic thought and reasoning. Battling the “elitist” culture of the left with brash anti-intellectualism, it seems like the entirety of the right have cut their noses off to spite their faces, and continue to do so. Using anything in their power to “own the libs,” they have reduced their reasoning down to a basic nationalism coupled with a nostalgia for the days of yore. Their social media shares consist of poorly photoshopped fantasies, blatant lies, and opinions from the latest “intellectual” grifter. They have developed a pre-approved pool of talking heads that sufficiently “own the libs” for the rest of them. Their carefully edited videos of seemingly “destroying” liberal talking points have gone viral thanks to the Youtube algorithm, but in reality when they face any intellectual of their caliber or higher, they crumble like children.

Interestingly, I have never seen informative slideshows on the right as I do on the left. A part of me thinks that they probably don’t like reading as much. While conservatives lean into a president and a party that only focus on key issues like religious freedom/discrimination and abortion rights, they fail to grasp the dynamics of many issues that threaten the world today, like climate change and unchecked capitalism. Liberals, progressives, and even socialists are educating themselves with the knowledge they need to win the war of ideas. The protests we’ve seen on the streets have been game-changing for the direction of this country, and they have started because of the digital protests we’ve seen start on social media.

about the author

Eric / 32


Eric is a Denver-based designer who does a little bit of everything. He loves cats, video games, and being a weirdo.