Welcome Home

An interview with first time home buyer, Lauren Felts Chen

Imagine this scenario, you have a total of three days to buy a home in one of the hottest markets out there, and—just to throw in an extra curveball—you’re 7 months pregnant.

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That’s the real-life, first time home buying story of former nomad Lauren Felts Chen.

Lauren is a certified nutritionist, author, wife, mother, and now Boulderite. She runs the successful and evergrowing online resource—The Holy Kale—which acts as an educational platform for health practitioners and just your average health enthusiast. Formerly from Los Angeles, Lauren launched The Holy Kale in 2011 when she was living in Austin, Texas. From there, she moved to Taos, New Mexico then Chicago, moving along with her husband, Austin Chen, while he completed medical residency and fellowships.

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When Austin landed a dream opportunity to join BoulderCentre for Orthopedics as an orthopedic surgeon, they both knew Boulder was the perfect town to set roots in, and they needed to find a home to grow into. One that they could call their own.

As first time home buyers, Lauren has some advice for others, “You have to partner with the right real estate agent. One that fits your needs, gives you confidence and will work with you to find the right home, not just any home.”

Fortunately for Lauren and Austin, they were introduced to Firuzeh Saidi by a family friend. With no concept of the home buying process, it was the perfect fit to work with an experienced realtor with lots of connections, wisdom, and their best interest always on the forefront.

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Connections became key with the pressing three-day timeline. Due to Firuzeh’s local contacts, they were pre-approved for a loan within one day. That way once they found their dream home—with their must-haves like a backyard for their dog, lots of light to bask in the sun, and four bedrooms for their growing family—they could act.

Once they did find the perfect abode in southwest Longmont with 360 views of nature, trails for hiking and biking, and downtown Boulder only 15 minutes away, they put in an offer the same day it came on the market. Despite a tempting counter-offer, the home would ultimately become the Chens.

Lauren and Austin moved into their home in October of 2017, a couple months before Bodhi was born and on Austin’s birthday. One of Austins greatest gift of all being a house to make into a home, a year of home insurance, and not one but two birthday cakes all from Firuzeh.

Lauren reflects with me over the phone about the tiring yet the exciting experience of buying a home since it’s been more than a year later.

“Firuzeh says that she will not sell you a home that she cannot resell which I thought was really comforting. I love that she wanted us to be in a home that not only met our needs now but was also a shrewd investment for the future.”

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Month of Modern

The 2018 Haertling House Tour is a Wrap

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Saturday, October 13, tour day arrived under sunny skies and a glorious 67-degree forecast. Ticket sales were brisk the entire day and people were excited to see the impressive mix of homes.

An enormous thank you to each homeowner who graciously opened their home to the public. It is due to their generosity that the tour was a smashing success. Month of Modern also thanks all the volunteers who helped in so many ways – we could not have done it without you and appreciate your contributing valuable time and energy to our community!

After the tour, Month of Modern commenced with a special group of invited guests at the home of Firuzeh Saidi (Volsky House). Len Segal spoke briefly, defining the historical context of Modern architectural design in Boulder while praising Charles Haertling for being at the forefront of experimental, imaginative invention.

This year’s home tour proceeds will benefit CU Art MuseumHistoric Boulder and CU Boulder’s AIAS chapter.

Homes on the tour:

Barrett House

Wheat House

Jourgensen House

Leaneagh House

Knudsen House

Matheson House

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Kids at the Dairy Fundraiser

The Dairy Arts Center has been a landmark art haven in Boulder County since 1992. Known as a ‘cooperative workspace for local artists’ the 42,000 square foot facility houses all forms of artistic expression—all under one roof.

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Beyond all of the art mediums The Dairy supports, the center also encourages artists and art enthusiasts of all ages. The Dairy is a place where childhood memories are born. Whether it’s the first time seeing the Nutcracker, a youth workshop involving clay or paint, and even music lessons, these are experiences found in most people’s childhoods. Although for other kiddos—these are just dreams. Which is why the life-changing arts education program Kids at The Dairy was created by Beth Smith in 2014 to support underprivileged and at-risk kids who are not exposed to these cherished experiences that also support a well-rounded education.

(Did you know students who study art are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement and three times more likely to be awarded for school attendance?)

Kids at the Dairy provides no-cost access to arts education experience for Title I students. Not only closing the achievement gap but also making access to the arts more available to students who may have not otherwise had the chance.   

Since the program's creation, 1,952 Title l youth have been involved through 39 different programs in collaboration with 19 local artists from varied artistic backgrounds.  

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Beyond support from The Dairy and local artists, the community has played a significant role in keeping this program alive. Community members like Firuzeh Saidi have joined the cause since its fruition to promote awareness and support of such a crucial program. We sat down with Saidi at her third annual fundraising event hosted at The Dairy, which raised over $______ for the 2018/19 year, to paint a picture of what Kids at the Dairy has successfully achieved over the last four years, and what the future holds.

Can you tell us how Kids at the Dairy first got started?

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Kids at the Dairy was initially started by Beth Smith who was the Development Director at The Dairy Arts Center for the Arts about five years ago. Bill Obermeier—who was the Executive Director at the time and a very good friend of mine—introduced me to the program. I always enjoy being at the Dairy and have been doing talkbacks at the BOE when they show Iranian movies for many years.


Since the beginning in 2014, you’ve been passionately involved. What sparked your initiative to start the fundraiser for Kids at the Dairy?

I am passionate about education, especially for underprivileged children. I have worked and helped out on many programs in our community including some programs through our Rotary club. I thought Kids at the Diary fills a considerable gap which exists in the lives of kindergartners who go to title 1 schools. What better way to educate young children but with art, dance, and music?

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What have you learned since getting involved with the program?

I have learned that the experience this program offers is one of the best learning experiences for these children with long-lasting effects.


Is there an achievement or contribution that you are most proud of?

I am just proud that I am bringing more awareness to my friends in the community who are not familiar with this program, or who have not even attended the Dairy Center to know what it all has to offer.


Can you tell us your favorite example of the way you’ve seen this program’s work make a difference?

Pictures…seeing the kids so happy and curious while they are attending the program speaks for itself.

Besides involving 367 at-risk youth in the 2018/2019 year, what do you hope to succeed through this program? What's your end goal?

I never have an end goal because I feel our goals tend to evolve from year to year. One year it may be to engage more schools to participate, another year, it may involve recruiting more local artists in our community to be involved with the program.

How has this changed you?

My involvement has made me more committed to the children in our community. They are the future of our community and the more we invest in them the more we strengthen and make our city a richer place to live.

Why art?

Art is the easiest mean of educating our children. It is a non-competitive and enjoyable way to learn, express, and develop one’s personality.


Lastly, we now know why the community should get involved, but how can the Front Range community get involved?

I think the more the Front Range community embraces and engages in our art institute and the programs like this that are offered to the children—the more the community will benefit as a whole.

Learn more or donate to Kids at the Dairy at TheDairy.org.

kelly ernst