Activist hopes music brings harmony

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Betty Harris wants her fellow Littletonites to make beautiful music together amid all the recent controversy, but she just needs a place to make it happen.

Harris has long been an active Democrat and recently became involved with Citizens for Rational Development, a local activist group fighting high-density development throughout the city. Local business groups have stood on the other side of the fence, attending public meetings in support of such projects.

Everyone is polite for the most part, although a man had to be removed from the Littleton Center by police May 13 after he became agitated during a planning-board meeting.

“There are too many barriers between us,” said Harris. “We need to find ways to come together over common interests, like art and music. We tend to be clannish anyway when we don’t know other people, and we’ve been taught to be afraid of people we don’t know. I figure a stranger is only a stranger for about 30 seconds.”

So Harris started thinking about ways that everyone could just get along in a neutral, nonpolitical way. She was inspired by Denver’s “Keys to the City” program that placed decoratively painted pianos along the 16th Street Mall for anyone to play. She acquired a used piano and hauled it to the mall at Woodlawn Shopping Center. She debuted it at the Arapahoe County Democrats Pancake Breakfast May 18, whereupon a sing-along quickly commenced.

“Somebody has to take some responsibility to change the culture on your corner, at least,” she said.

But she hit a snag when other merchants in the mall complained it was too loud and might attract homeless people, and the owners of the strip mall said it had to go.

“So now we’ve got to figure out what to do with the piano,” she said.

She’d like to put it somewhere the whole community can access it, but also where it can help attract traffic to local merchants. She’s welcoming ideas at 720-560-3806 or betty@bettyaharris.com.

Harris also recently organized a group of amateur artists who paint together once a month, and “What a Yarn,” knitters who gather at the library.

“We have an absolutely marvelous time with each other,” she said. “We’ve built much stronger relationships. People that we just knew are now really good friends.”