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That's what she said

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Cha Cha Spinrad, volunteer and co-op advocate in her ‘natural habitat of Boulder’


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Cha Cha Spinrad relaxes fireside in Arapaho National Forest near Grand Lake in July 2015 after day five of a nine-day bicycle loop that began in Boulder (photo courtesy Cha Cha Spinrad)

Cha Cha Spinrad relaxes fireside in Arapaho National Forest near Grand Lake in July 2015 after day five of a nine-day bicycle loop that began in Boulder.

After graduating from the University of Colorado with a mechanical engineering degree in 2009, Lauren “Cha Cha” Spinrad traveled for a year. She backpacked through Chili, went on a bike-and-wine tour in Argentina, and lived among macaws in a Bolivian jungle—constructing a feeding cage for pumas and building trails.

An informal social media campaign launched by her friends in February 2010 boomeranged her back to Boulder. The Facebook group’s name? “Restore the Wild Cha to her Natural Habitat in Boulder.” (And, in case you’re curious about her name “Cha Cha,” it was the first thing she learned how to say as a young child and the moniker was used by her family to grab her attention. The nickname Cha Cha Spinrad is what will appear on the Boulder City Council ballot).

Spinrad, 28, has been living in Boulder for a decade—with brief intervals of travel here and there that have also included birthright heritage tours in Israel, working on a farm in Italy and taking jobs at music festivals on the East Coast.

She’s settled back in Boulder and lives in a co-op in the eastern part of the city.

Spinrad believes she would bring a unique voice to the City Council chambers: She’s under the age of 30, earns less than $30,000 a year as an early childhood educator, identifies as queer and lives in co-op housing.

The co-op culture coincides with her affordable housing values, she says. Eliminating occupancy limits is a change that she has advocated for and is high on her platform.

“I first wanted to live in a co-op because of the community it brings,” Spinrad says. “I realize that there’s a lot of value living in this type of community.”

Her co-op, for example, does a “radical movie night.” During a recent one, they screened “Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret,” which touched off a discussion on veganism. On another night, the co-op hosts an open mic and poetry night where people can sing, perform their poetry or present any of their art forms.

While Boulder may be her “natural habitat” as her friends say, Spinrad said she believes the city could be more inclusive. For example, she says, there’s opportunity for more queer-friendly bars and spaces and police officers could receive better training when it comes to issues of race and class.

“I’m not afraid to speak my mind,” Spinrad says.

Spinrad works for Homestar Child Development Center, educating children who are 2.5 to 5 years in age. Several years ago, she caught the “baby bug,” but knew that having a child at the time wasn’t a good fit for her free-spirited nature so she instead opted to work with young children. She says she aims to focus her messages around empathy and self-expression when teaching.

Spinrad also has several volunteer interests in Boulder. She works for Boulder Food Rescue, picking up food from grocery stores and biking it to sites that distribute it to those in need. (She bikes almost every where she goes). Among Spinrad’s other volunteering credentials include providing free childcare though the Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence and teaching English to Spanish-speaking immigrants through Intercambio De Comunidades.

“She volunteers all of her free time,” says Nina Holtz, a friend of the candidate who is volunteering on Spinrad’s campaign. “She really lives her moral beliefs.”

Holtz says that Spinrad represents a demographic that is not well-represented on council.

“She’s a pre-school teacher, she’s earning low pay, she’s queer and she believes in non-traditional families,” Holtz says. “She’s different, more radical and I think that’s a cool perspective to bring to the group.”

When Spinrad has some down time, she says that she likes to head for the hills.

“I really like biking and hiking,” she says. “That’s how I decompress. If I’ve been working hard for a couple of months, I’ll pack up a tent and sleeping bag and head up to the mountains to camp for a couple days.”

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