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Howard Drossman at a previouis Story Project (by Vince Coleman)

You have to think that Sharon Friedman would be proud and pleased that her creation, The Story Project, is being relaunched.

Friedman, who died Dec. 25, 2022, was celebrated Jan. 27 with a gathering at SunWater Spa in Manitou Springs that included, appropriately enough, stories from her family and friends. Among her many accomplishments: helping open the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, serving on the first gay and lesbian funding panel for the Gill Foundation and working as associate publisher of various local publications for 30 years.

The Story Project began in 2011 with monthly events at Marmalade at Smokebrush under the Colorado Avenue Bridge. The Smokebrush Foundation for the Arts presented the hundreds of gatherings, which featured speakers sharing their thoughts and memories about various subjects.

Our community has great stories!
— Kat Tudor

Episodes aired on KRCC radio and the Pikes Peak Library District’s cable channel for anyone who couldn’t be part of the live audience. The sessions ended in 2019 and organizers started planning to restart them in 2020 — but we all know what happened then. Now, the time is right for a reboot, they say, as a way to honor Friedman.

“Her health was degenerating, but we had her blessing to partner with PPLD,” Smokebrush founder Kat Tudor says.

Dustin Booth, the former Manitou Art Center manager who now oversees PPLD’s Knights of Columbus Hall in Downtown Colorado Springs, suggested the partnership with Smokebrush and is very excited about the debut on March 10. He’s also co-producing the event, which will focus on Pikes Peak.

“Our community has great stories,” Tudor says.

The first presenters are: Larry Cesspooch, a traditional Ute storyteller; Tudor; Andrew Rudin, who has led outdoor trips and worked with troubled youths; and Cyndi Parr, program director and co-founder of Dragon Theatre Productions. The hosts will be Don Goede, entrepreneur and SunWater Spa co-founder, and Jeremiah Walter, PPLD’s internal communications specialist.

Sara Hope at a previous Story Project (by Vince Coleman)

Cesspooch, whose name means “Whitebelly” in the Ute language, uses film, music and indigenous artifacts to tell his stories. He grew up in northeastern Utah, on the Uintah and Ouray Ute Reservation, and served in the Vietnam War.

Rudin grew up in the Allegheny Mountains of western Pennsylvania and received a degree in outdoor recreation. He lives in a cabin he built near Cripple Creek and in Manitou.

Tudor is a visionary who brings creative arts and healing arts together with classes, collaborations and community projects through SunWater Spa, the SunMountain Center and the Smokebrush Foundation for the Arts.

Parr has a degree in theater from UCCS and ensures that everyone who auditions earns a role in Dragon Theatre Productions performances. She has spent the past 25 years as an actor, writer, director, puppeteer and magician in more than 300 productions.

“Two [presenters] we chose and the other two through public submissions,” Goede says.

This gathering and future ones will take place at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 20 W. Pikes Peak Ave., and will air on PPLD’s cable channel. The next event is scheduled for Friday, June 9, and the organizers are seeking presenters. An application will be available on the library district’s website:

“Don and Kat brainstormed the current idea, and more info on the next theme will be coming soon,” Booth says. Podcasts are a possibility, he adds.

The Story Project

7-9 p.m. Friday, March 10, Knights of Columbus Hall, 20 W. Pikes Peak Ave., Admission is free

Admission is free for Story Project events and all ages are welcome; the building has a maximum capacity of 195 people. Attendees may park in Penrose Library’s lower parking lot (enter from West Pikes Peak Avenue), and enter the Knights of Columbus Hall in the northwest corner of the parking lot.

More information at

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