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Photograph by Dana Romanoff

5280’s 10 Best Longreads of 2018

These are the longform stories that resonated with readers in 2018.

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Skiing & Booze: Does Colorado Have A Drinking Problem?

By Tracy Ross | December 2018 

Illustration by Owen Freeman

Centennial Staters love their après-ski almost as much as they love skiing itself. But has the thrill of the party surpassed the joy of the adventure? Inside the culture of drinking that permeates our great outdoors.

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Running for Alex: How Tom Sullivan Turned Tragedy Into a Political Crusade

By Robert Sanchez | September 2018

Tom Sullivan meeting a potential voter while campaigning. Photograph by Dana Romanoff

What do you do six years after your eldest child is murdered in one of the worst mass shootings in American history? If you’re Tom Sullivan, you channel your anger and sorrow into an unlikely campaign for political office.

Update: The 62-year-old former postal worker was voted into office in the 2018 midterms, and will represent Colorado’s House District 37. 

On the Front Line: Embedded With American Female Combat Soldiers in Afghanistan

By Kasey Cordell | November 2018 

Specialist Mariana Duran-Montoya. Photograph by Morgan Rachel Levy

This past spring, the U.S. Army sent a gender-integrated howitzer crew to a war zone for one of the first times. We embedded with the Fort Carson unit on its historic mission in Afghanistan.

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Why Are Achievement Gaps So Wide at Denver Public Schools?

By Spencer Campbell | November 2018 

Photo courtesy of PeopleImages / Getty Images

The achievement gap between white and minority students in Denver Public Schools is one of the worst in the country. Despite the district’s efforts, we can’t seem to narrow that chasm. These students’ stories might explain why.

Small-Town Injustice: The Aftermath of a Police Officer’s Murder Conviction in Rocky Ford

By Robert Sanchez | October 2018 

Photograph by Theo Stroomer

When a Rocky Ford police officer was convicted of murder after shooting a young man in 2014, residents of the Eastern Plains town might have believed that the criminal justice system had worked to protect the community. So why does the Rocky Ford Police Department seem more powerful—and less accountable—than ever?

Meet the Man Remaking Cherry Creek

By Spencer Campbell | April 2018

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Photo courtesy of Ehren Joseph

Developer Matt Joblon is imposing his ambitious vision on the city’s toniest shopping district. Will its famously change-adverse residents welcome the results?

How Denver’s Disability Activists Transformed the City

By Natasha Gardner | July 2018

Members of the Gang of 19 protesting inaccessible RTD buses on July 1978 in Denver. Photo courtesy of the Denver Post via Getty Images

Forty years ago, disability activists stopped traffic at the corner of Broadway and Colfax Avenue and changed the way the United States works. But that wasn’t the start—or the end—of their civil rights fight.

Danger in the Forest

By Tracy Ross | January 2018

Illustration by Owen Freeman

Coloradans and out-of-state visitors use the Centennial State’s public lands to camp, hike, bike, ski, snowboard, and snowshoe—and to simply revel in the majestic beauty. But what happens when the perils of the wilderness go beyond the forces of nature?

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The Long and Winding Case of Homaidan al-Turki

By Chris Outcalt | August 2018 

Illustration by Peter Strain

Twelve years ago, a Saudi Arabian man living in Colorado named Homaidan al-Turki, whom federal authorities had long suspected of having ties to terrorism, was sentenced to life in prison on multiple counts of unlawful sexual contact. To this day, al-Turki has maintained that he’s innocent and was instead the target of post-9/11 anti-Muslim sentiment. What if he’s right?

A Modest Proposal

By Kelly Bastone | February 2018

Photo by David Clifford

The High Lonesome Ranch in western Colorado is big enough to be a national park, but its owners, led by Paul Vahldiek Jr., don’t take their cues from the government. Instead, they’ve developed a unique approach to land management that could revolutionize the conservation movement for both private and public open spaces.

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