Mai works as a print reporter and visual journalist. Her role for each story can be seen by clicking on a photo.


Longmont Local: Happy days ahead for new Longmont plant store

Happy Day Plants, a new indoor plant shop on Main Street, grows community through employment opportunities for individuals with special needs and ongoing plant education. The new store, selling home greenery and gifts at 501 Main Street, opened Nov. 6. The 2,000 square foot interior is filled with various potted plants, a work station with two large tables and a “Potting Bar '' where customers can re-pot their purchases. Happy Day Plants owner Jessica Birmingham, a long time carer and collecto

Yoga Pod to open new studio in Longmont early 2022

Nicole and Gerry Wienholt, founders of Yoga Pod Inc. and owners of the first studio in Boulder, relocated their home to Longmont a year ago and are bringing the yoga experience with them. The couple opened the Boulder studio in 2010 eventually growing to a multi-state franchise company six years later. The Wienholts decided they didn’t want to scale the company through franchising anymore, and only open Yoga Pod studios that they owned. While still operating the Boulder Yoga Pod, The Wienholts

The small farm in Downtown Longmont hopes to inspire more urban farming

In the window of the Main Street gift shop, The Cactus Coven is a 50 square foot farm with four chickens in a coop next to a garden. For the owner Morgan Alynn, the project proves her firm belief that anyone can farm, even if they don’t own land. “I think when people think ‘farm’ they think you need like several acres and I wanted to kind of show a living display that you can have a working farm in,” Alynn said. The mini-farm was added to the storefront at 439 Main St in March. Eventually, Aly

Marsha's Closet offers accessible gender-affirming items for trans and nonbinary folks

At the grand opening of Transgender Center of the Rockies’ Marsha’s Closet, a one-stop shop for gender-affirming clothes and products, shoppers left with more than garments. They gained community support and a safe space to express their gender. Marsha’s Closet launched June 11 at the Mile High Behavioral Healthcare in Sheridan. Clothing, wigs, makeup and gender-affirming products, including binders and packers, are offered for free. One of the program organizers, Ari Rosenblum, saw the need for accessible gender-affirming items as they started working as the Team Lead for NXT Queer Youth Program—a collaboration between MHBH’s Denver ELEMENT and Transgender Center of the Rockies. The pop-up shop is scheduled to run quarterly, and events will be posted on collaborating organizations’ social media.

Living between worlds: Asian adoptees with white families experience racism in isolation

For Asian intercountry adoptees in white families, subjugation to racism that their parents have never experienced is isolating. With a rise in attacks and harassment against people of Asian descent, culminating in the March Atlanta spa shootings, many adoptees are dealing with their fears and trauma alone. Discrimination toward Asians in the U.S has risen exponentially since the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Stop AAPI Hate, a program started last year to record hate incidents. In a national report released in February, Stop AAPI Hate received 503 responses detailing physical attacks, verbal harassment, shunning, spitting and other incidents in the first two months of 2021 alone. Last year 3,292 incidents were recorded.

AAPI grief delivers strongest threat to white supremacy: Unity

Grief and anger delivered a unified message at a candlelight vigil for the victims of last week’s Atlanta massage parlor shooting. The vigil, which doubled as a protest against anti-Asian hate, brought together AAPI and allies last night in Denver. The message was clear—marginalized groups must come together to dismantle white supremacy. When Cody Chang organized the vigil for the murdered victims at the three Asian-owned establishments, six of the eight being Asian women, he didn’t expect to s

Longmont Local: Fit Chick Express takes women's health beyond fitness

Fit Chick Express in Longmont pushes the boundaries of what a fitness center can be. Under one roof, women work out, go to the hair salon or spa, train their brain and build a network of friends. Angie Marone, owner of Fit Chick Express, refers to the company as an experience or a community rather than a gym. Though Fit Chick offers classes found in traditional fitness studio settings including kickboxing, power core classes and private training, Marone’s mission goes beyond physical health to

An inclusive recovery: Boulder County-area business organizations work to promote diversity as economy recovers

After nearly a year of hardship for Boulder County businesses amid the COVID-19 pandemic, business leadership groups are imagining what economic reconstruction will look like. As they slowly shift their gaze from pandemic relief to recovery, diversity and inclusion are key considerations. Last month, the Downtown Boulder Foundation, a branch of the Downtown Boulder Partnership, assembled the Community Advisory Board, an 11-member board of community members who will serve a one-year term, and ad

Digital divide: Pandemic exacerbates Internet gaps in Boulder County

An already-existing digital divide in Boulder County has widened during the COVID-19 pandemic, as jobs became remote and students moved online for the first time last year. But the pandemic also has pushed Internet and device accessibility to the forefront and accelerated a response. Peri Shaplow, chief marketing officer for Boulder-based MandaraRx Inc., a CBD product brand that does business as Mandara CBD, has worked from home since March. Most of the time, her internet connection works fine,

Finding a way: Boulder County restaurants embrace innovative strategies to survive COVID restrictions

When indoor dining was prohibited for the second time during the COVID-19 pandemic, Boulder County restaurants didn’t stew on the possible financial hardships to come. Restaurateurs created new paths to bring in customers. Boulder County restaurants are once again filled with vacant tables since Safer At Home restrictions tightened Nov. 20. It is among several

Boulder County, Front Range businesses weigh impact of paid family leave

Colorado voters passed the Paid Medical and Family Leave Initiative on the 2020 ballot, but business owners still have mixed feelings. While some have concerns around solvency and added expenses on already struggling businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, proponents argue that there could not be a better time to introduce paid leave. Suzie Brundage, a hospice social worker who works with families in Boulder County, had anxiety surrounding the election on Nov. 3. Even though the president-elec

Main St. rally displays local reaction to presidential election

In light of the announced president-elect Joe Biden, demonstrators in support and against the presidential election outcome made their voices heard in downtown Longmont this afternoon. Protestors have long been separated by Main St. and political beliefs. Shortly after the inauguration of President Trump in 2017, a collective known as Longmont Leads with Love began holding vigils near Sixth Avenue and Main St. every Saturday afternoon. Kathy Patridge, an organizer for the group, said that it’s

Boulder rental market adjusts to COVID realities

Although the Boulder rental market’s normal pattern of summertime leasing was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, industry experts say the market remains strong, with renters still wanting to live in the city. But units are sitting vacant longer, and leasing patterns have been more volatile, said Todd Ulrich, president of the Boulder-based property management firm Premesys Group LLC, which does business as PG Rentals. He also serves as board president for the Boulder Area Rental Housing Associ

Hospital prognosis: Boulder County-area hospitals weather COVID storm

Boulder County-area hospitals experienced lost revenue as a result of an early March executive order from Colorado Gov. Jared Polis that banned nonemergency medical procedures in the state in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. Additionally, the hospitals report still seeing fewer patients than usual, even after the order was lifted in April. Bill Munson, vice president and chief financial officer for Boulder Community Health, said that most of its medical departments have begun approa

Women tattoo artists make mark on industry in Boulder County

Morgan Alynn, owner of Thistle Witch Tattoo and The Cactus Coven gift shop in downtown Longmont, set out three years ago to create the tattoo shop she always wanted: a studio where her two grandfathers’ taxidermy fills the walls, plants hang from the ceiling, and knick-knacks and oddities furnish every corner. But above all else, she wanted to create a place where women, both clients and tattooers, felt safe. Alynn is one of several female tattoo artists in the Boulder Valley who experienced w

Jack’s Solar Garden celebrates opening

Jack’s Solar Garden LLC, a solar energy company, celebrated the opening of its five-acre, 1.2-megawatt solar panel and agriculture farm Friday near Longmont. Art, music and conversations about renewable energy occurred underneath the farm’s 8-foot-tall panels. The family-owned and operated company has been working on this project for several years. It’s owned by Byron Kominek and his parents, Eloise and Kurt Kominek. Byron Kominek said the company is named after his grandfather on his mother’s

Lost Wage Assistance payments expected to be sent before October

No fewer than 94,000 Colorado claimants for Lost Wage Assistance, a federal weekly $300 unemployment benefit boost, were expected to have their payments processed Friday, according to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. That number is expected to grow, said Jeff Fitzgerald, unemployment insurance director for the department. That adds to the 28,093 claimants who got assistance payments processed Thursday night, totaling $23.7 million.

‘Everybody feels it’: Mental-health challenges of working from home, pandemic confront Boulder County residents

Since John Tayer, Boulder Chamber CEO and president, began working remotely his dress attire has changed. While it still includes a button-up shirt and a tie, he has swapped dress slacks for comfortable shorts. Instead of going into the Chamber offices to work, his couch, or occasionally the dining table, is his office. But working from home isn’t as relaxing as it sounds. Tayer and other Boulder County professionals in high-stress jobs that are newly remote are learning how to balance family,

Black-owned firms in Boulder County seek inclusion

Aaron Clark, CEO and founder of Equity Solutions LLC, set out to find Black and African-American owned or managed businesses in the Boulder Valley. After compiling a still-growing list of 50 businesses, he said it’s time for local allies to put their money where their mouths are. In light of the Black Lives Matter movement, lists of Black-owned businesses for cities across the U.S. have popped up to encourage patronizing those establishments. Since June, a list of more than 400 businesses in an
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