Juelz Ramirez and Trenton Cotten interview Southeast residents for the Daily Dose.

Community advocate Juelz Ramirez has recently launched a documentary series focusing on Southeast Colorado Springs called Daily Dose 719. Each episode tackles a unique aspect of life and health equity, which the World Health Organization defines as “the absence of unfair and avoidable or remediable differences in health among population groups defined socially, economically, demographically or geographically,” in Southeast Colorado Springs. Daily Dose 719 is available on Facebook and YouTube.

How did Daily Dose 719 get started?

JR: I’ve been working with RISE Southeast and Solid Rock Community Development Corp. on The Equity Compass, it’s basically a pilot project through the Colorado Trust. It’s an initiative that helps communities use data and storytelling to create equity within their communities. We started working on this project over a year ago, and we finally got some funds for it for things like social media, videos and all of that. I was like, ‘Why don’t we do a series, and we can highlight a different social determinant of health in each of the episodes?’ It turned into a video series. The first was an introduction to health equity and what that is, and each episode from there is highlighting a different social determinant of health, as defined by El Paso County Public Health.

Will this be an ongoing project or just a single season of episodes?

JR: The goal is for it to be an ongoing thing. I’m realizing there is just so much and each episode it’s just like I’m barely skimming the surface. The goal is to be long-term. We have 12 episodes funded. We’re kind of playing catch-up right now. We’ve been shooting, and I’m working with Formative Productions, or Trenton Cotten, he is the videographer and editor on this. We’ve been working together. It’s been shooting one week, production the next week, and release. It’s been a pretty quick turnaround so far.

What topics will future episodes cover?

JR: I think the first week of January we’ll be putting out an episode about education, and then the next one after that will be criminal justice. Then we’ll be focusing on the environment, food access, health care and access to health care. We’re going to do a civic engagement episode around City Council election time, and then I think a spiritual and mental health episode, and an economics episode.

How did you connect with Trenton and Formative Productions?

JR: I’ve always had a passion for video and I’ve always had a camera with me, so it was almost 10 years ago we had initially connected. He had been putting out some videos and I was like, ‘I need to learn about videos!’ He helped me a little bit in the beginning learning some of the programs and stuff for editing. He had moved away to Washington and was doing the video work for University of Washington. He was doing their videography work and was even hired on by the XFL and started doing some video work for them and then COVID hit, so XFL cancelled and basically his contract was cancelled, and he ended up moving back to the Springs. I was like, ‘This is a unique opportunity, he could help me with my project finally.’ He grew up in Southeast and Widefield.

Has the COVID crisis influenced your decision to focus on health equity?

JR: I definitely think it has had somewhat of an effect on it. We had already been thinking about health equity long before COVID, and then COVID hit. Now COVID numbers are showing that Southeast is more impacted than the rest of our city. With the Black Lives Matter [movement], I think there is a big emphasis on the work of equity; so I definitely think it’s helped people have more of an interest in this stuff now, where before it might have just been like, ‘Oh yeah, it’s cool to learn about my community but...’ A lot of people haven’t thought about the fact that there are a lot of things impacting our health other than just our physical well-being.

What has the reception been like so far?

JR: I definitely think a lot of people are learning things about our city they didn’t know before, and that’s been a lot of the feedback I’ve heard so far. ‘Wow, I never knew that about Colorado Springs,’ or, ‘Wow, it’s cool to see our community being highlighted in this way.’ From the other perspective, it’s been getting a lot of attention from foundations that are reaching out and different organizations are reaching out, trying to support this effort just because they recognize the need. Just being able to teach people what equity is is a huge need right now. 

Heidi Beedle is a former soldier, educator, activist, and animal welfare worker. She received a Bachelor’s in English from UCCS. She has worked as a freelance writer covering LGBTQ issues, nuclear disasters, cattle mutilations, and social movements.