top of page

52 Tuesdays: Oracio Guardado

I can’t help but be captivated by BuCu West business-support specialist Oracio Guardado. He beams with pride over the transformation of his community in Denver’s Westwood neighborhood, along the Morrison Corridor. He walks me through streets filled with colorful buildings covered with murals and art. He points out the specialties of each restaurant and shop, ending with Cultura Chocolate, a sustainable, Latina-owned chocolate company. “Westwood always had this stereotype of a really bad and dangerous neighborhood. I thought there was a lot more to it and that there had been a lot of positive changes. I wanted to shed light on the good here. That’s important for growth and for the people who live here,” says Oracio.

Oracio, 32, grew up in Westwood and came to his position at BuCu West by way of his Instagram page. He began documenting Westwood’s local events, businesses and mouth-watering foods. “There is something about being here in Westwood, the people, the vibe. It’s home and I love it,” says Oracio.

Photo of Oracio Guardado outside of a mural painted building in his Westwood neighborhood along the Morrison Corridor.

“It’s my Job to form relationships with businesses along the Morrison Corridor and try to connect them with anything they need--whether it’s legal, financial, grants--and help them find ways to make the outside of their businesses look nice, through art, murals and connecting them with the artists,” says Oracio. “Seventy-nine pct. of the Westwood community is Hispanic, and the mural art reflects that.”

As many up-and-coming neighborhoods face gentrification, Oracio and his organization plan to purchase properties facing demolition for condominiums. They will renovate the buildings and sell them back to the community. He says, “That way those shops that have been around, can stay around and they don’t have to ever worry about losing their leases. It’s going to be theirs.”

Oracio wants the youth of Westwood to carry on with the neighborhood’s traditions. Every Wednesday and Friday, he works with Southwest Denver Coalition and hosts art classes for students. “We try to inspire and help them tie their work to the community. We put their art on display so they can feel that sense of pride.”

The owner of Kahlo’s, a local restaurant, was inspired by the change and cultural celebration of the neighborhood. “He started expanding and making vegan foods. He was adapting himself and was receptive to the new generation coming in,” says Oracio.

Oracio and his organization plan to make Westwood a destination spot. He says, “People can come see art, local venders, and be part of the community. I want to be part of that growth and change.”


bottom of page