John Hand has a theory: for any problem a person might have, someone in their local community has a solution. To that end, he founded Colorado Free University, continuing a tradition that began with the Denver Free University of the 1970s and early '80s. Whereas the Denver Free University was created as a political move to make education more accessible, the Colorado incarnation sets its sights on simple personal betterment, becoming more of a learning network than a school. All of its teachers are independent contractors culled from the local community, and together they helm skill-based and enrichment classes for adults, spanning a range of artistic, humanitarian, and business disciplines.
Students can receive training in foreign languages or ASL, business or marketing, acting or visual arts, woodworking or floral design. The school's facilities also accommodate CompuSkills computer-training classes, which progress from basic sessions in computer operation to advanced sessions in photoshopping a ghost out of a family portrait. The campus's 89-seat John Hand Theater, meanwhile, hosts intimate performances from local Firehouse Theater Company and Spotlight Theatre Company.
Chef Penni Royston credits nature’s bounty, specifically colorful fruits and veggies, as the inspiration for Nature’s Table Cooking School. A certified Natural Foods Chef, Penni ousts processed junk from recipes and instead uses healthy foods preferred by any serious crafter of edible art. During her classes, chef Penni rounds up a rainbow of ingredients to craft raw dishes, gluten-free fare, or vegan soup and pizza made from scratch. She shifts between demonstration and student participation as she teaches, sending each pupil home with a recipe and a packet of nutritional info so they can calculate how many graves they’ll have to dig in the backyard to burn off the calories.