Saturday, January 05, 2008

John Temple, publisher of the Rocky Mountain News, writes today about his paper’s coverage of the Iowa Caucus and his plans for covering the Colorado legislature.
http://www.rockymountainnews.com/news/2008/jan/05/temple-a-new-era-in-reporting-at-rocky/

I responded with this:


Why is the Iowa Caucus worth a full time reporter, yet you give no coverage of what's being done here for our Colorado Caucus? Just doesn't make sense to me.

I went to a packed meeting room this morning at Sante Fe & 8th, filled with enthusiastic volunteers every bit as interesting as the folks in Iowa. Meetings like this will be held over and over again from now until February 5. Why aren't they worth covering?

Does it have to be on the nightly TV news for you to consider it worth a reporters time? Maybe it would be a national TV news story if our local papers were covering it like the Iowa papers cover the Iowa Caucus.

Why aren't you assigning a reporter to tell the story of how our Colorado delegates get selected to the national convention this year? Because of TV, do you think your readers are more interested in Iowa than what is going on right here in Colorado? If so, you have an insultingly low opinion of your readers.
On this date in: 1759 - George Washington marries Martha Dandridge Custis who’s wealth and management ability enabled him to play a key role in the founding of the United States. 1914 - Ford Motor Company announces an eight-hour workday and a minimum wage of $5 for a day's labor. Henry Ford wanted his employees to be able to buy one of his cars and to have time to enjoy it with their family. 1943 – Death of George Washington Carver, American educator (b. 1860) who encouraged independence through individual initiative and hard work. He would have hated the idea of a Neighborhood Czar.

The Mayor wants neighborhood organizations, churches, and other volunteer groups to come up with plans for getting sidewalks shoveled by the poor and disabled who can’t do it themselves, can’t afford to hire help, and who won’t ask neighbors and family for help. Can you smell a Snow Tax or a Neighborhood Tax in the air?
http://www.rockymountainnews.com/news/2008/jan/05/city-looking-at-volunteers-to-help-with-snow/
Here’s my tongue-in-cheek comment to the article about this in today’s paper:

I ask my Libertarian friends who want almost no government, what about snow removal? Aren't we better off centralizing it, turning it over to the government and allowing them to tax us? And if we expect the government to clear the roads, why not the sidewalks and private parking lots?

We need to recognize the fact that volunteer neighborhood organizations, churches, and neighbors have disappeared, that the disabled and elderly would rather not have to develop good relationships with their neighbors and family, and that functions that were once done by volunteers now need to be done by government employees.

To get the poor and disabled in Denver to show up for their Feb 5 precinct caucus, why don't we promote this as a resolution in Denver: "Denver government should hire people in each neighborhood to develop and execute a Neighborhood Snow Removal Plan that includes sidewalks. The people hired should be called Neighborhood Czars, and their budgets should be made part of the annual city budgeting process."

This could be an effective way to get people thinking in a more cooperative way about using the government to provide a higher level of care for all citizens, to enable the poor and disabled to not only get shelter when they are "homeless" but to also stay in homes which they can no longer care for, to be independent, and to not have the burden good relations with family and friends and asking for help.

The Neighborhood Czar program would provide a good foundation for the replacement of neighbors and family with dependable government help, and it could be expanded eventually to include house painting and maintenance, lawn care, gardening, shopping and other help that will provide the help the disabled and elderly need to enjoy their golden years, while living independent and free of meddling family and neighbors.

I suggest we call the program "Shelter: First, Last, and Always."

Friday, January 04, 2008

It's the birthday of the inventor of calculus, the mathematician and physicist Sir Isaac Newton, born in Woolsthorpe, England (1643). He solved many mysteries of physics involving light, optics, gravity, and motion. Newton always gave credit to his scientific predecessors for his achievements, and he wrote in his journal, "If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants."

It's also the birthday of one of the Grimm brothers, Jacob Grimm, born in Hanau, Germany (1785), who, with his younger brother Wilhelm, collected over 200 German folk tales of the early 19th century and published them as Grimm's Fairy Tales (1812), including "Sleeping Beauty," "Little Red Riding Hood," and "Snow White."

Join me today for the IDEA Café and the Denver Grassroots Rally, RSVP on links to the left or just show up. Then stick around if you want for Denver’s original Socrates Café, which follows at 6 pm; no RSVP, but you can’t find out more at www.philosopher.org

The Rocky Mountain News has a news article about the Colorado Caucus, sort of. Calls Colorado political leaders junkies. Obvious that the News would rather just have us all consume advertising and propaganda, then go into the voting booth to vote for whoever they have endorsed. The article is buried in the News Online edition, you can’t find it unless you know to look for it, no a sign of it on their front page.
http://www.rockymountainnews.com/news/2008/jan/04/colo-political-junkies-look-ahead-to-states-feb/

At least the News has an article on the Colorado Caucus. Nothing in the Denver Post that I can see. How can the papers ignore what could be such a big Colorado story? One reporter told me it’s because they have cut so far back on reporters, there is just not time to cover local politics adequately.

Seems like a void that some competitor needs to fill. Good local government demands that we have a daily newspaper that takes Denver politics seriously, we don’t seem to have one now.

Will the newspaper to fill that void be the Denver Daily News? They’ve agreed to sponsor Ben Franklin’s Birthday at North High School January 17, along with the Villager Newspapers, the Colorado Statesman newspaper, and Blacktie. Net proceeds will benefit www.LibertyDay.org. You can find out more and get tickets on the link to the top left on this page. Let me know if you’d like group rates, or if you’d like to have a display table for your candidate or cause.

Here’s a fun way to follow the Presidential campaign:
Who’s followers are buying the most political buttons?
http://www.usabuttonpoll.com/

Thursday, January 03, 2008

We'll be celebrating Ben Franklin's 302nd birthday on January 17. Thanks to my friend Chris Lowell, who will be celebrating it with us here in Denver as Ben Franklin (see his www.BenFranklinLive.org) for the correction.
On this date in: 1496 - Leonardo da Vinci unsuccessfully tests a flying machine. 1825 - Rensselaer School, the first engineering college in the U.S. is opened in Troy, New York. It is now known as Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. 1870 - The construction of the Brooklyn Bridge begins. 1888 - Marvin C. Stone patents the drinking straw.
1899 - The first known use of the word automobile, in an editorial in The New York Times. 1957 - Hamilton Watch Company introduces the first electric watch. 1977 - Apple Computer is incorporated.

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I just made this news release. Can you join us January 17?

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 3, 2008

Contact: John Wren
Cell (720)495-4949

PRESIDENTIAL STRAW POLL TO BE HELD AT BEN FRANKLIN’S 301st BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION—BEN TO ANNOUNCE HIS CANDIDACY.

JohnWren.com presents An Evening with Ben Franklin, Thursday, January 17, 7:30 p.m. at North High School, 2960 N. Speer Blvd. in Denver. Tickets are $15 online from www.blacktie-colorado.com/rsvp Event Code: BenFranklin, with $5 rebated to referring groups, or $30 at the door. Groups and those interested in an exhibit table and/or an ad in the program should call John Wren at (303)861-1447.

In the first half of the evening, Ben Franklin (Chris Lowell, www.BenFranklinLive.com) will flesh out Ben’s life in an engaging, accessible way, giving general audiences an intimate look at what made our most revered Founding Father tick. Chris’s energy and wealth of knowledge make Ben’s role in our history come alive in this wonderful 45 minute program.

Before and after the event and at intermission, Liberty Day Kids will distribute free copies of the US Constitution and ask people questions about the Constitution. Net proceeds from the event will benefit Liberty Day. Net proceeds will benefit Liberty Day (www.LibertyDay.org)

In the second half, each Presidential candidate (or their stand-in) will have 2 minutes to present, as will Ben Franklin. Questions from the audience will then be entertained, as the straw-poll election is conducted. The top vote getter (other than Ben) will be video taped with Ben Franklin and the video posted on You Tube.

An Evening with Ben Franklin is being sponsored by the Optimists, Villager Newspapers, the Denver Daily News, and the Colorado Statesman Newspaper. Other sponsors will be listed in the program for the event. All sponsors will have a table in the lobby of the North High School Auditorium. For sponsorship and other advertising opportunities, contact John Wren at (720)495-4949 or JohnSWren@aol.com.

JohnWren.com is the Internet home of John S. Wren, MBA+. Wren is a business consultant and adult educator. His education activities include: seminars and workshops on business topics; a free open meeting once a week for people who are starting a new career, a project or a new business (see http://ideacafe.meetup.com/1); and business peer advisory groups called Franklin Circles. For a video of Wren’s 299th Franklin Birthday celebration held 1/17/05 at Thomas Jefferson High School, see www.JohnWren.com.

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Happy New Year!

Dick Wadhams and Pat Waak on Jay Leno?
See my email to the Tonight Show below.

From Garriosn Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac:

It was on this day in 1897 that the author Stephen Crane (books by this author) (1871) survived the sinking of a boat headed for Cuba and he wrote about the experience in his short story "The Open Boat" (1898), which was one of the first works of fiction based on actual reportage.

It's the birthday of Isaac Asimov, (books by this author) born in Petrovichi, Russia (1920), who started a book whenever he wanted to learn about a topic that he didn't fully understand, and so he published books about outer space, nuclear physics, organic chemistry, history, astronomy, Greek mythology, and religion.

It's the birthday of war novelist Leonard B. Scott, (books by this author) born in Bremerhaven, Germany (1948), who was awarded the Purple Heart and the Silver Star in Vietnam. He was working a desk job at the Pentagon in Washington in the early '80s, when he heard the opening ceremonies of the Vietnam Memorial on the Mall, and said, "The dam just broke. Seeing my old comrades squelched my fears of attempting to write; I had to tell our story of the war and how it really was." His books include Charlie Mike (1985), The Last Run (1987), and The Hill (1989).
It's the birthday of writer William Scott, (books by this author) born in Janesville, Wisconsin (1914) author of The Plowhand (1957), Red Sunrise (1958), and the poetry collection On My Knees in the Field (1977), who wrote late at night after working all day on his small, 80-acre farm in southern Wisconsin.

Have a book you’d like to publish? Consider the exploding new technique of on-demand publishing. Unlike vanity publishing, in which aspiring authors pay to have their books run on traditional presses, on-demand publishing doesn't have to cost writers a cent.

What will the writer's union do if Leno's ratings are higher tonight and in the weeks ahead?

Jay Leno and David Letterman return to TV tonight, Leno without writers and the normal celebrity guests; tonight Leno's guest will be GOP Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, Letterman's will be Robin Williams.

I just sent this email to the Jay Leno show:

"I'm posting to my blog www.JohnWren.com this morning the following suggestion along with my comment, "what will the writer's union do if Jay Leno gets higher ratings tonight and in the weeks ahead. Leno has a great opportunity to make his show "grassroots" TV, which I think would have much more appeal to more views that the celebrity small talk that is the normal fare.

Here are my guest suggestions:

Colorado has a caucus similar to Iowa's February 5. I suggest you invite the chairs of our state GOP and Dems, there was a good article about them and the February 5 caucus recently in the Rocky Mountain News http://www.rockymountainnews.com/news/2007/dec/29/states-votes-gaining-respect/

I recently left the Denver GOP and became a Democrat, both the state chairs know me, and I'd be willing to be on the show if you can't find a Democrat who will cross the picket line.

Also, Chris Lowell does a fantastic character impersonation of Ben Franklin, who's 301st birthday will be January 17. More about him at www.benfranklinlive.com He just got back from Paris, France where he was hired for a celebration of an historical event that involved Franklin.

Finally, why don't you have something you could call "Hometown Talent Search" in major cities across the US. Winners could appear on your show each night. If you'd like my help, please email me at JohnSWren@aol.com or call me at (303)861-1447.

Monday, December 31, 2007

Goodbye 2007, Hello 2008!

On this day in: 1879 - Thomas Edison demonstrates incandescent lighting to the public for the first time. 1891 – The immigration depot is opened on Ellis Island, New York. 1904 - The first New Year's Eve celebration is held in Times Square New York. 1929 - Guy Lombardo performs Auld Lang Syne for the first time.

Most of the feedback I've gotten from my change of party has been positive,
but I just got this email from a friend(?):

John,

While I appreciate your energy, I simply cannot take time to be part of (pardon me if I am frank), reckless and non-productive enterprises. This is an election year and you are off the map so I have no time for you or your followers. I think you actually registered as a Dem. Why should I give any time at all to you? Now you are the enemy so "Get a life with the Dems and have a great time!".

TAKE ME OFF ANY OF YOUR LISTS! YOUR HAVE JOINED THE ENEMY SO I DON'T WANT ANY PART OF YOUR CRAZY RANTS!

M


So I emailed this back just now:

Hi M,

Your frank, open feedback is invaluable. Thank you.

It may be that what I'm doing is way off base, we'll see. In our free marketing economy, the marketplace renders the final decision.

The work I'm doing to try and encourage more grassroots civic participation and business entrepreneurship seems to be helping people.

It was people like you, good Republicans I offended with my change of registration, who I had in mind when I posted this on my blog last week:



On December 5, the deadline for affiliating with a party to be able to vote in the February 5 precinct caucus, I became a Democrat. A friend says I’m BAD, a Born Again Democrat. Some of my friends are asking why.

I started my political life as a Democrat. When I cast my first vote for President in 1968, it was for Hubert Humphrey. My friend was disappointed I didn’t support Eugene McCarthy.

A few years later when I owned a small business, Richard Nixon sent me what seemed to be a personal letter. This was before the wide spread use of word processors, so I wasn’t hard to fool.

Nixon’s letter got me thinking about politics, so when my business failed and I retreated to graduate business school at the University of Denver, I was easy pickings for cute girls at the College Republican’s table at registration.

This was during Watergate, so it was easy to rise to the top of College Republicans. Soon I was State Chair, meeting with Dwight Hamilton, Bob Tonsing, and the Colorado Republican’s Executive Committee each month. I helped Karl Rove give seminars around the country teaching about how to appeal to young voters. I appeared on a Republican National Committee TV special called “Republicans Are People, Too.” At that year’s National Convention here in Colorado, Karl and I met Dick Wadhams (then 18-years old, now Colorado GOP Chair).

Since then, I’ve been a Republican precinct committee person, district captain, and volunteer for various Republican candidates and organizations. In 2002 I was part of Save the Caucus which defeated Amendment 29 which would have killed our wonderful Colorado grassroots political system.

Over the years, everyone who I’ve respected, from Karl Rove to Phil Perington (past Colorado Democrat State Chair who was driving force behind the Save the Caucus effort) have said that it is important to affiliate with one of the major parties, but which one was a matter of personal taste.

Democrats are slightly biased towards justice, Republicans towards freedom, but they are both for freedom and justice. The 2-party system that has served us so well over the years is just a tool for encouraging good debate between the best and the brightest each party can put forth for each office. It’s like sports; I cheer for my team, but I’d be insane to believe my team was God’s choice, too.

David Fogel (past Denver County Dem Chair who helped with Save the Caucus) and Republican leaders I’ve spoken with privately have said that what makes the most sense politically is to join the majority party in your county if you are interested in helping improve local government. Pat Waak and Dennis Gallagher seemed open to the idea of me changing. So that’s what I’m doing. After 30 years, I’m a Democrat again.

Why now? The final blows were: 1) A note I got from a Denver Republican volunteer telling me that if I was prolife, they wouldn’t help me as a precinct committee person, making concrete the underlying current in the Denver GOP; 2) I was sensitive to this issue ever since I’d had no cooperation from a former Republican district captain because of the same issue; and 3) Finally, when Denver GOP leaders were so forceful about their support of pro-death candidate Rudi Giuliani. It became clear it was time for me to leave.

Besides, my beautiful finance Mary is a Democrat! She has shown me the light! We hope to both be volunteers at the Convention here next summer. Who knows, maybe we’ll decide to get married then. But that may be too soon. We’ve only known each other for 42 years; you don’t want to rush into these things!


M, to the extent that you and I share what I see as the foundational principles of the GOP, it seems to me I can be much more helpful in advancing those principles in Denver right now as a Democrat. If I can be helpful to you or the people you serve, please let me know.

If we don't agree on those foundational principles, we were enemies before, and you are just confirming for me the wisdom of my decision.

But I've been given instructions to love my enemy, so whether we are friends or not, I sincerely wish you a very happy & prosperous 2008!

John


The Denver Post has a “news” article in today’s paper about some of the political implications of the crazy compensation plan adopted by Denver Public Schools that was used as justification a yet another tax increase by Mayor J-Hic. To see the article, go to http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_7845650

Here is the comment I just posted in response to the biased article:

"(Denver) Republicans will favor it without thinking about it."

Yes, I certainly agree with this, it's one of the reasons I'm now a Democrat. Time after time, there has been no opposition to these kind of harebrained schemes by the Denver GOP.

"Denver's ProComp plan was a grassroots effort"

This is simply NOT true. It is an elitist plan that used propaganda to put on grassroots sheepskins as it went to the voters for yet another tax increase.

So how well is it working? It's been in place for over a year. Has recruitment of new teachers for Denver Public Schools been improved? Has retention of GOOD teachers improved? What do the teachers now think of the plan? How can a news article not address these critical issues?

I opposed ProComp because it forced another tax-increase on voters, using the gimmick of an incentive plan that was overcomplicated and that could only increase the very, very negative effect of CSAP, teaching to the test rather than truly educating students.


Happy New Year! I'll see you back here in 2008!

John

Sunday, December 30, 2007

A brief history of the Iowa caucus

1800s: Iowa political leaders adopted a caucus system even before the region became a state in 1846. The state's first caucuses were held in mid-spring, in the middle of the national presidential nominating schedule.

1916: Iowa held its first and only primary election. Only 25 percent of registered voters showed up. Iowa reverted back to its caucus system.

1972: Iowa's Democratic Party moved its caucus date forward, positioning the caucus ahead of the New Hampshire primary and making it the first nominating event in the nation. Sen. Edward Muskie of Maine, the front-runner, beat Sen. George McGovern of South Dakota by less of a margin than expected. McGovern went on to become the Democratic presidential nominee.

1976: A little-known Democratic governor from Georgia, Jimmy Carter, campaigned heavily in the state and wound up coming in second to "uncommitted." That almost-win positioned Carter to later take the Democratic nomination. Republicans moved up their primary to make the Iowa caucuses a bipartisan national event. President Gerald Ford narrowly beat Gov. Ronald Reagan of California. Ford later won the Republican nomination, but lost the presidency to Carter.

1980: Carter was the incumbent president, and he beat Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts. Ronald Reagan, meanwhile, did not focus heavily on Iowa. But his GOP competition, George H.W. Bush, did, and won the GOP contest. Reagan ultimately beat Carter. By this time, the media began relying on results in Iowa as an indicator of how the race would turn out.

1984: Reagan, the incumbent president, was unopposed. On the Democratic side, it was a wide open race, with Sen. Gary Hart of Colorado, former Vice President Walter Mondale, Rev. Jesse Jackson and Sen. John Glenn of Ohio facing off. Mondale, who won the Iowa caucuses, was ultimately the Democratic nominee. Reagan defeated him in the general election.

1988: An open race in Iowa and one that ultimately had no bearing on who both parties' nominees would be. On the Republican side, Sen. Bob Dole of Kansas beat televangelist Pat Robertson and then-Vice President George Bush in the caucuses, but Bush ultimately became the nominee. He also ultimately beat Democratic nominee Gov. Michael Dukakis of Massachusetts, who came in third to Rep. Richard Gephardt of Missouri in the caucuses.

1992: Incumbent President George Bush was unopposed among Republicans, and any competitiveness in Iowa was rendered moot by the candidacy of Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa, a beloved figure in the state. With him running, few other Democrats even bothered to compete. Bill Clinton went on to win the presidency.

1996: Democrat Clinton was the incumbent, and unopposed. Among Republicans, Bob Dole beat Pat Buchanan. Clinton beat Dole later that year in the general election.

2000: Iowa winners Al Gore and George W. Bush went on to win their party's nomination. Bush, the Republican, won the general election.

2004: Despite a surge in popularity from Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, Democrat John Kerry, who'd previously lagged in polls, won the caucuses. John Edwards came in second. Kerry went on to win the nomination. On the Republican end, Bush was unopposed, and went on to win a second term.

Source: Iowa Democratic Party, Iowa Republican Party, Drake University
(If you just looked at my video to the left, it talks about last Thursday’s posting here. I’ll change the welcoming video to date-neutral soon! John)

On this date:

James Gadsden, U.S. Minister to Mexico, and General Antonio López de Santa Anna, President of Mexico, signed the Gadsden Purchase in Mexico City on December 30, 1853. The treaty settled the dispute over the exact location of the Mexican border west of El Paso, Texas, giving the U.S. claim to approximately 29,000 square miles of land in what is now southern New Mexico and Arizona, for the price of $10,000,000.

U.S. Secretary of War Jefferson Davis had sent Gadsden to negotiate with Santa Anna for this tract of land which many people, including Davis, believed to be strategic for the construction of the southern transcontinental railroad. Many supporters of a southern Pacific railroad route came to believe that a transcontinental route which stretched through the Gadsden Purchase territory would greatly advantage southern states should hostilities break out with the north.

The first transcontinental railroad was, however, constructed along a more northerly route by the "big four" of western railroad construction—Collis P. Huntington, Leland Stanford, Mark Hopkins, and Charles Crocker. A southern transcontinental route through territory acquired by the Gadsen Purchase was not a reality until 1881 when the tracks of the "big four's" Southern Pacific met those of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe in the Territory of New Mexico.

It's the birthday of the man who introduced us to Coca-Cola, Asa Griggs Candler, born in Villa Rica, Georgia (1851). He grew up during the Civil War and wanted to be a doctor, but his family was so poor that he could only receive an elementary school education before becoming a pharmacist's apprentice. But Candler proved to be business savvy, slowly building his own drugstore empire, and in 1886 he bought sole rights to John Pemberton's original formula of Coca-Cola and formed the Coca-Cola Company in 1890. Candler understood the importance of advertising. He used calendars, billboards, and posters to keep the Coca-Cola trademark prominent in the public's mind. After selling the patent in 1919, he went on to serve as Atlanta's mayor and funded a teaching hospital for Emory University's Medical School.
It's the birthday of musician and songwriter Bo Diddley, born Ellas Bates in McComb, Mississippi (1928). His big break came in 1955, when he recorded "Uncle John" and "Who Do You Love?" for Chess Records in Chicago, and these two songs became the foundation for early rock 'n' roll. He once said, "I opened the door for a lot of people, and they just ran through and left me holding the knob."


From today’s New York Times: Innovative Minds Don’t Think Alike When experts have to slow down and go back to basics to bring an outsider up to speed it forces them to look at their world differently and, as a result, they come up with new solutions to old problems.

Two ways to create this effect and get new solutions: 1) bring in an experienced consultant, not to tell you what to do but to listen and ask questions or 2) join a business peer support group. To find out more about the Franklin Circle for entrepreneurs, business owners, and creative managers I’m now forming, email me at JohnSWren@aol.com.

I just posted this on the Made to Stick website. Do you think I’ll get one of the free books?

Morris Massey was a popular teacher at the University of Colorado who made the concept of a "significant emotional experience" stick in one lesson, which I’ve borrowed many times.

Massey taught that "who we are now is where we were when" that our values were formed by the age of 5. These values change with a "significant emotional experience." What's that? To explain, Massey told this story:

"I was Dean of the business school at the University of Colorado when we build a new business school building. It was beautiful, with wood paneled halls on the main floor. Students at CU had developed a habit of bringing bicycles into class, and it was quickly clear that 1) the bikes were ruining our wood paneling and 2) students ignored the “No bikes” signs and verbal warnings . So I decided to create a significant emotional experience.

“When classes were changing, and the hall packed with students, I tore a bike away from a student and stomped out the spokes of both wheels with the hiking boots I was wearing. As you can imagine, seeing and hearing this happen gave me the full attention of all the students who packed the hallway around us. I picked up the bike and gave it back to the student as I said in a very loud voice, ‘If you don’t respect my property, I’m not going to respect yours. Don’t bring your bike in here, it tears up my beautiful new home.’ This immediately stopped the bike problem.”

I very often tell this story in training workshops to make my point about the importance of emotion in change, the story seems to make the point very sticky.

John S. Wren, MBA+
Business Consultant & Adult Educator
www.JohnWren.com
(303)861-1447

If you still have one of the 100 books, would you please send it to:
John Wren
960 Grant St. #727
Denver, CO 80203

Thanks for the very Good Work you are doing!