The Denver Community Fridge Project

The people behind the project

Eli Zain, Denver Community Fridge Project founder

Sandra Belat photoEli Zain (they/them/theirs) is a local scholar and activist, originally from Southern California. Eli is a second year master's student in the Humanities and Social Sciences program with an emphasis in social justice. Eli moved to Denver over a year ago, and since then has been dedicated to changing the social conditions of people who have been displaced in Denver due to gentrification. Starting in their position as a graduate assistant at CU Denver's Women and Gender center, Eli has started a multitude of community projects and actions such as the community fridge project and the campaign to defund Auraria campus police. In the midst of a global pandemic and a lack of community resources, Eli started the community fridge project (inspired by Black Lives Matter activists across the nation starting networks of mutual aid) in hopes of providing a sustainable way for community members to look out for one another. Community fridges are maintained and stocked by local volunteers, and are to be available 24/7 to remain accessible to people experiencing food and/or housing insecurity. Eli is also working in tandem with various student activists on a proposal to reallocate funds away from campus police and directly back into student support services. In hopes of inspiring a new generation of student activists, Eli is also an instructor of core composition within the English department and challenges the University status quo by assigning radical texts for their students to analyze and write on. Currently Eli is working on various projects through different avenues, all with the goal of justice in mind, in hopes of providing robust resources to our most underserved students and community members.

Artists

Jenn Guelich

Jenn Guelich pic

Jenn (they/she/he) is a 22 year old multi-media artist spanning from the abstract painting, to photography and digital/graphic design. Born and raised in Colorado, they have been have been creating since the early 2000’s and obtains inspiration from the ever changing colors of nature and the physical texture of the natural world. Jenn is currently in pursuit of obtaining an associate of Arts at Red Rocks Community Colleges with hopes of receiving a bachelors in the near future. Jenn is queer, gender fluid Latinx creator and hopes to develop more works to support and emphasize the importance of abolition and social justice. 

 

 
Cya Jonae

Cya Jonae picCya (she/her/hers) is an oil painter based out of Denver, Colorado. Cya is a creator at heart, who also writes and creates public art installations. She has participated in festivals around Denver, as well as partnering with The University of Denver to create installations throughout the city. Her creations are heavily influenced by music, pop-culture and the world around her. When she creates through this lens, she is intending to manifest that world into reality, as well as start conversations on how to make it a better place. In some of her creations, one can see thick and heavy applications of paint. The strokes of paint interact with the background and the foreground of the painting to connect them both, which symbolizes the past and the present working together to create something beautiful.

 

Ruth Rivera Ojeda

Ruth Rivera Ojeda picRuth Rivera Ojeda (they/them, she/hers) is a proud queer Dreamer and Mexican artist who aspires to serve their community by helping to bridge the language barriers within it. Next summer, they will be graduating with a major in Spanish, a minor in Human Services Mental Health Counseling, and a Translation certificate. Their colorful roots and upbringing in the US inspire her art which often celebrates the absurdity and beauty of life. 

 

 

 

Zachary Vultao

Zachary Vultao picZachary Vultao (he/him, they/them) is a traditional and digital artist based in Denver, Colorado. His mediums of choice are graphite, watercolor, and digital painting. He currently attends Arapahoe Community College for Graphic Design, Illustration, and Multimedia as well as Game Design and Development. Zach became a part of the Community Fridge project to be involved in something great, that would not only make an impact in the community as of the present, but also extend to help those into the future as well. Outside of creating, Zach enjoys horror movies, fantasy novels, and terrible reality television.

Food insecurity was an urgent social issue even before the COVID pandemic, but it's become even more pressing during this time of economic insecurity and social isolation. Many communities have installed fridges and dry goods pantries where folks can easily access free, nutritious food. The Women & Gender Center is proud to sponsor a community fridge project to support folks in the metro Denver area. We have commissioned local artists to decorate three fridges and are in the process of securing locations in publicly accessible sites around Denver. 

This project is being organized and led by Eli Zain (they/them/theirs), a Master's student in CU Denver's Master of Humanities / Master of Social Science program and a Graduate Assistant for the Women & Gender Center. To learn more about the project, you can email Eli at sandra.belat@ucdenver.edu.

To learn more about the Community Fridge Project, follow us on Instagram at @DenverCommunityFridge.