October 2020

ArtbyRizzo: On A Mission to Empower the Community

Jeresneyka Rose. Her name itself is intriguing, isn’t it? For Jeresneyka’s entire life, she’s known art. In elementary school she won numerous awards for her raw talent. Friends saw her doodles and often asked for custom birthday cards to draw a Disney character. The Boys and Girls Club was her solace. It was a place she and her friends could go to be together, tap their creativity and stay out of trouble.

She started her professional art journey in 2014 when she picked up a paintbrush and painted her first original canvas—her first ever as an adult. By 2018, ArtbyRizzo was a legally-registered business. Like most entrepreneurs, Jeresneyka worked hard to figure out a lot on her own and was in a good place. In 2020, Jeresneyka registered for a class with the Pikes Peak SBDC taught by senior consultant Cory Arcarese.

“I thought I knew the basics and did everything correctly. Boy, was I wrong,” said Jeresneyka. “It’s so hard to find accurate information, especially on the internet. Cory made things super clear and easy to understand. She took the time to talk to each of us and make sure we were all set up in the best way to make our businesses profitable and successful.”

“I would 10 out of 10 recommend every business owner take a strategic planning class at the SBDC. As long as you’re learning, you’re growing, and I can definitely say my business knowledge has grown.”

With her business restructured as an LLC in 2020, ArtbyRizzo was an established brand that represents Jeresneyka as an artist: her beliefs, ethics, and a mission to create unique and colorful visual art to represent expressions and experiences aiming to engage and empower the community. The challenges extended beyond merely running her business. She faced adversity in a conservative Colorado Springs. But every “no” fuels her to create a “yes.”

“I get overwhelmed. I get sad. I feel disappointment. I doubt myself. I’m human. I just don’t quit,” said Jeresneyka. A true entrepreneur, she continues to move forward with a mission to bring light and voice to hard topics and what her heart believes is right.

Jeresneyka’s short-term goals are to continue to support the community in a positive way. Long-term goals include opening an arts-based community center like the Boys and Girls Club she was once a part of and provide the oppotunity for youth and adults to take part in all forms of art, from dance to painting. The plan to provide for all with an arts-based community center keeps her motivated.

“I want the community to feel empowered and represented through my work. I want the community to feel inspired. I want the community to feel seen. I want the community to feel supported…it’s all about the experiences for me…the connections…that is how I thrive…that is what fills my cup,” said Jeresneyka.

“ArtbyRizzo supports community popup events, exhibitions, private paint parties and more. Support for ArtbyRizzo is more than a purchase; clients support a mission to create art that represents a population that isn’t often featured in local galleries and museums,” said Jeresneyka. “By supporting ArtbyRizzo, you’re supporting a mission to help others know they can create a life as they want it.”

Learn more about Jeresneyka’s original paintings, illustrations, prints, apparel and stickers at ArtbyRizzo.com and on Facebook.


PikeRide launched in June of 2018 as a program of Downtown Ventures, the charitable nonprofit arm of Downtown Partnership in Colorado Springs . In 2019, PikeRide transitioned to a full fleet of electric-assist bikes. As of January 2020, PikeRide transitioned to operating under its own 501c3 and now operates more than 35 stations and over 250 bikes. The bikes are super simple and easy to use. 

One simply opens an app to start a ride, hops on, and rides! They’re built exactly like a regular bike, with e-assist in place to make it a more relaxing experience. PikeRide has always been extremely active in the downtown Colorado Springs community.

Riley Bratzler is the community outreach manager for PikeRide. “We (PikeRide) received a grant from Better Bike Share Partnership and Peak for Bikes and with that grant we were able to do PikeRide School with Springs Rescue Mission (a homeless shelter/community resource). Residents of the Mission have a short class on bike etiquette, how to use and etc. – we really want to get them mobile and autonomous. Low cost membership is also provided for those experiencing financial hardship.”

This was critical to provide as an asset to the community as COVID became prevalent earlier this year. 

Jolie Nesmith, Executive Director of PikeRide, commented on how COVID impacted them. “We are more than a bike share program. So we ask ourselves – how do we serve our community? Especially with COVID. We have so many people that can’t leave especially during our lockdown. Thankfully Governor Polis decided that recreation and physical activity was still important. We understood that we weren’t just serving our community physically – but also with their mental health.

After receiving the PPP loan mid March, PikeRide decided to give everyone in the community free 30 minute rides. Knowing people may be stuck and needed a way to get around and be safe, this provided an avenue for anyone to use the bikes not just for recreation but for necessity. At the same time they started a “Adopt a Bike” program. This provided free membership and bikes to healthcare works at UC Health and Penrose Hospitals.

“We’ve had 150% increase in our ridership over the last 6 months. We are a local nonprofit who didn’t close our doors and have been able to continue to serve our community,” Nesmith proudly states.

Pike Ride has a map of their boundaries and stations on their website.

Website: pikeride.org
Social: @pikeride

Meet the Photographer

Gray Warrior

Gray Filter Photography

Photographer for PikeRide – Being a member of the Ponca Nation, Gray Warrior of Gray Filter Photography always wanted to do something great for his people. “I remember going to pow wows every weekend and being mesmerized by the movements of the dancers, the smell of frybread, and the laughter of my elders in the stands throughout the night. When COVID hit I knew there wouldn’t be any pow wows for a while. This hit me pretty hard knowing my people wouldn’t be able to celebrate and share their culture.”

This, he says, is one of the many reasons he became a photographer – to capture moments that others may never see. Having been in photography for a three years now, Warrior loves to see how photography and storytelling collide.
“Regardless of COVID or not, it’s photography that keeps me pushing forward even in uncertainty.”

His moto is explore the unknown, capture the moment, and create memories that last a lifetime. No matter what.

Website: grayfilterphotography.com
Social: @grayfilterphotography

Kinship Landing

A year ago, Brooke and Bobby Mikulas with partner Nate Grimm broke ground on a plot of land off South Nevada in downtown Colorado Springs. Before a pandemic was ever something that was spoken about, the team had a vision to build Kinship Landing which is a friendly boutique hotel that connects locals and travelers around city exploration and outdoor adventure.

“We have always wanted to provide an experience driven lodging concept without totally tanking your road-trip budget or weekend warrior budget,” says Bobby Mikulas. Their suites are a mix of luxury and practicality with freestanding tubs and overhead garage doors. All the details have been thought of thoroughly. They even hired a mill worker out of Denver who is curating their custom bunkrooms. Total there are 7 suites, 27 junior suites, 6 bunk rooms (total of 48 bunk room beds).

One of their goals is to connect people to the best in the city. “We want to welcome them, provide them with an amazing night sleep, but hold their hand to the best of the city.”

The hospitality industry took a horrendous hit in March with COVID.

“At the heart of Kinship is authentic community. We always say people make the place. When COVID hit, we took a step back and said ‘what is going on in the world?’ Is hospitality going to be a thing? But we have an end game in mind. This is a long term project for us whether COVID stays for one more month or ten more years. We did our research and dug in to see what is going on globally and locally and we found that hotels are a very safe place to be during a pandemic. No matter what, Kinship Landing is going to be an asset to this community and to people traveling here”

Bobby Mikulas goes on to discuss the tweaks they are making to ensure the safety of their patrons. He also discusses the importance of their value system. “The first filter we use before we make any decision is to ask if it exemplifies courage, trust, adventure, community and generosity. We run any decision through those values and when people get around a table to discuss travel those five values inevitably come up.”

Kinship Landing has been a project years in the making and Mikulas reflects on the most important postures they have taken.

“One of our core competencies as a team is to remain resilient and adaptable. The only way we have remained resilient over the last three years is because this is a community project. We are surrounded by a cloud of community members that take ownership.”

Kinship Landing is taking bookings currently opening December 2020.

Learn more:
Website: kinshiplanding.com
Socials: @kinshiplanding

Meet the Photographer

Chris Combs

Four Fires Creative

Chris Combs’ journey in photography started in 2017 when he founded Four Fires Creative in Colorado Springs. As a native, he’s seen the growing renaissance in the community through in art and culture. “The city seems to be in a process of reinvention, as an artist, this excites me,” he remarks. His heart has been in photography ever since his grandmother would give him her old Minolta 35mm and a couple rolls of film and point to the forest and surrounding campsites. As an adult, he found a rekindling of photography when he traveled to Uganda. In the midst of a pandemic, he left his day job to pursue photography full time. “It was a scary jump to make but I knew that this was the perfect time to capture stories. Photography is the one of the best ways for us to connect to our world – past, present and future.”

Saurabh Gupta

Saurabh is the CEO & Founder of Gyan-i Inc. with over 27 years of experience in information technology, with a focus on consulting for small business and nonprofit organizations. He has worked in the cybersecurity field directly for the last 17 years and is an expert in cybersecurity governance, risk, and compliance management. Saurabh sits on cyber advisory board committees of various nonprofits in the Denver metro area. He also plays the role of a virtual chief information security officer to different private foundations. Before founding Gyan-i, Saurabh served as the vice president of technology at the Daniels Fund. He has technical and hands-on expertise in effectively managing and running cybersecurity programs and incident response teams for various local entities. Saurabh has a master’s degree in Information Technology from the University of Denver and an undergraduate degree in Business Management from the University of Bangalore, India. Saurabh is a Certified Information Systems Security Professional and GIAC Critical Controls Certified practitioner.

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