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The right haircut makes you feel great, the right barber can inspire you. Roy Stubbs, Owner of Clipper Over Comb Barbershop, has worked extremely hard to pursue his passion for barbering. Clipper Over Comb is located at 5 E. Bayaud Ave, in the Baker neighborhood of Denver. Stubbs moved to Denver from Nebraska in 2016 because there were more heads of hair to cut here, but he honed his barbering skills in the military, where he served in the army.  

“I cut a bunch of heads while I was in the military. And then after the military, I got a little bit better, and I decided to make it a trade. And that’s where I became a barber,” says Stubbs.  “It was one of the easiest routes in order to open a business to start.”

Stubbs has visited many barbershops throughout his life. He said he specifically remembers one barber who consistently cut his hair well and influenced him to buy his first clippers. “I had a kid who’s really good at a very young age, cut my hair, and he’s super good. So, I bought some clippers just for play.”

Through his own personal experience, Stubbs learned that many barbers struggled to cut his hair because it was curly. He said that growing up in Nebraska, many of the barbers that he would go to either did not have time to learn to cut curly hair or they refused to learn on the spot.

“So that was another inspiration for me to actually become a barber. I had to like depend on trying to find somebody that knew how to cut ethnic hair,” Stubbs said. “I went to school with quite a few black folks, and they taught me how to cut and how to perfect the craft for ethnic hair.”

Stubbs worked for a shop that went out of business right before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. He began to consider opening his own shop, but the pandemic caused him to hold out longer due to the uncertainty that came with it.  Then he decided to go after his dream!

“I found a small enough barbershop that I could add more chairs, but I can also take care of by myself,” said Stubbs.

Roy signed the lease to his shop in March of 2020 and Clipper Over Comb Barbershop opened in August.  Opening his shop during the pandemic did have some downsides. Mandated closures and safety concerns were at the forefront. They opened when they could and were sure to accommodate their customers.

“Right away, we had all kinds of support really, from everybody in the neighborhood,” he said.   “I try to go out of my way for my clients and my clients have definitely went out of their way for me too.”

The neighborhood supported Stubbs by immediately scheduling appointments and visiting his barbershop frequently. Stubbs returned the favor by always accommodating his customer’s needs. He wanted to make each client feel comfortable in his shop. “Welcoming the LGBTQ community and all the BLMs and all that, you know, trying to make it a very unity in the community type project.”

Stubbs found that it was much easier to work during such a difficult time because of the amazing customers that frequented his shop. “I don’t have any clients that aren’t family,” said Stubbs. “We talk about the most deep, craziest stuff that you could really even think of.”

Stubbs explained that barbers talk about whatever makes their clients comfortable. He said that there tends to be a barber creed for when they discuss more sensitive subjects.

“Barber talk, I think could range from anything with your basic weather, sports, you know, down to those intimate, like real deep conversations, you know, mental health and physical health and all that. So that’s where barber talk really covers a lot of the grounds,” he said. “I’ve sat there and cried with a client about his daughter’s freakin’ quinceanera, you know how sweet it was. And we were like in tears. Now’s the moment I was like, shoot, I’m tight with my clients.”

Stubbs has worked hard to make Clipper Over Comb Barbershop more than just a place to receive a haircut.

“A lot of people open up barber shops to make a ton of money. But for me, I always looked at it as an opportunity to solidify the passion that the people are trying to have, instead of making it more complicated.”

Stubbs takes great joy in helping his barbers accomplish their goals in life. Whether it be improving their barbering skills or starting a family and buying a house.

“So that’s what I like is seeing my barbers succeed, grow and not only with their skills but outside in their life, whether it be, buying a house or buying a car or starting a relationship and a family. And all that stuff is awesome to be able to support.  His passion for his clients and the community has driven him to inspire people from all walks of life, especially young men who need to talk to someone.

“There is three big influencers in a man’s life, his father, his coaches, and his barber.”

The right haircut makes you feel great,

Pulling open the large glass doors that stood in front of me, my partner and I were greeted with a rush of warm air leading into a sunlit room. We were met with a sweet floral scent that naturally wafted through the air into a hallway of orchids just around the corner. Looking for a new way to spend your Valentine’s Day? Walkthrough a greenhouse of rare color combinations at the Denver Botanic Gardens and stop to smell the orchids with your family, friends, or that special someone this February 14th.

The orchid showcase takes viewers through the Orangery and tells how greenhouses such as this protect plants from the colder seasons in Colorado. “At first they were freestanding wooden shelters raised in the winter and taken down in summer, and they relied on open fires for heat.” The Orangery is used for revolving plant displays and to protect the citrus collection from cold temperatures.”

The hallway turned into an array of colors from reds and pinks to yellows and blues of orchids. Winter jackets were removed in the warm room and cameras clicked to capture their own perspective of the detailed petals. Many stopped to appreciate color combinations, others read the posted quotes relating to how orchids have been discussed and described by poets through time.

American poet Sam Hamill said, “Just as I wonder whether it’s going to die, the orchid blossoms and I can’t explain why it moves my heart, why such pleasure comes from one small bud on a long spindly stem, one blood-red gold flower opening at mid-summer, tiny, perfect in its hour.” I debated how much windowsill room I have to house my new orchid collection.

For the plant lover in your life add a new twist for showing your special someone how much you care. Orchids are a great way to add elegance, sweet scents, and vibrant color to any room in your home. After taking your own stroll through the showcase of orchids, buy your own at a local grocery store or plant nursery. Surprise your loved ones with their own orchid to remember the time spent together at the Denver Botanic Gardens.

Tickets are $15 for non-members and a time slot must be chosen for entry times through the website. Once you enter the gardens, you’re welcome to stay until close. They even have an upcoming free entry day on February 17th. Consider stopping and smelling the orchids for Valentines Day’s this year. With so many colors to choose from, follow the guide below to give the perfect shade to the perfect person for the perfect reason.

Pulling open the large glass doors that

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve and surge, reinforcements are preparing to deploy at Regis University’s Loretto Heights School of Nursing. Come May, approximately 300 new nurses will graduate and enter the health care world.

For Regis nursing student Angie Truong, who graduates in the class of 2022, COVID-19 hasn’t swayed her career plans. Nursing was a “last-minute decision” for Truong as she neared the end of high school. She said she knew she wanted to work with people in the medical field, and nursing seemed like the perfect choice.  

“I thought, ‘You know, this sounds like something I really want to do,’” Truong said. “Despite all that’s happened, nursing is still something I’m really looking forward to after graduation.” 

A calling is a calling

Despite the ever-daunting numbers of breakthrough cases, emerging variants and crippling weight on the shoulders of American hospitals, students aren’t shaken, Dean Catherine Witt of the School of Nursing said. In fact, the pandemic lit a fire under a lot of Regis’ nurses-in-training.

“I think for the most part, it really inspired people to say, ‘Hey, I can make a difference in the world. I really do want to get out there and take care of these patients,’” Witt said. “I think there are some students that are really excited to work in hospitals, says Witt. “And others I think there are so many options in nursing that students are really considering, well what do I really want to do?.”

Not every hospital was able to take students during the initial outbreak, so Regis prioritized getting the nursing school seniors their clinical experiences, as much as possible.  There were simulations, Witt said, where a student had a virtual patient.  They made treatment plans for them, then reviewed those tactics with faculty.

The traditional classroom settings were moved online in an effort to limit contact so the labs and clinicals could be done in person with peers and instructors present.

In the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, there was anxiety among nurses about the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE), unsureness about how contagious COVID-19 was, and not enough understanding of best treatment strategies, Witt said.

The uncertainty has eased with the development of vaccines and the broadening of information on what doctors and nurses were dealing with. Students have seen a steady increase in survival rates among COVID-19 patients, and in turn, have watched as the world’s health professionals have learned and adapted on the fly to the changing landscape of a pandemic world.

“It’s been an opportunity to learn how to take care of severe respiratory diseases like this, the best ways to treat patients, the best ways to care for them, and we’ve seen survival rates increase as we’ve learned,” says Witt. “So it’s been a tremendous learning experience for all of health care, including our students. They’ve seen that change over the two years.”

Facing reality

Regis University student nurses are aware that burnout rates among experienced health care workers in the U.S. are soaring.

Dr. Victor Dzau, president of the National Academy of Medicine, said in a recent webinar by the U.S. News and World Report that since the start of the pandemic, 60 to 75 percent of clinicians are reporting symptoms of depression, exhaustion, PTSD and sleep disorders.

Dzau said that roughly 20 percent of health care workers have quit the field since the pandemic started. The 4 out of 5 who have stayed claim that worker shortages have affected their ability to treat patients’ needs safely and properly. Two years in, and with the emergence of the Omicron variant putting pressure on hospitals again, the future remains daunting.

“I think it’s given us the opportunity to really talk about resiliency, and how to use reflection, how to (practice) self-care,” says Witt. Nurses are not always good at taking care of themselves, so for faculty and students, we’ve had to really think about that. ‘What do we need to do to take care of ourselves, so that we can take care of our patients?”

Despite the challenges, Susan Dalbey, associate professor of nursing at Regis, said people still want to be nurses, and interest in the program hasn’t waned. 

“Absolutely. There has been no drop off, and in fact, we’ve increased numbers slightly, which was our plan prior to the pandemic. Our target numbers are still there. Our program is relatively competitive, and so we always have more applicants than we have spaces, and that has not changed,” Dalbey said.

So how is morale?

There were a few students who opted to step away and mentally reset, or in some cases, protect or take care of their families or children, Dalbey said. But, she added, the overwhelming majority who started in the program to become a nurse have not reconsidered.

Like the rest of the world, almost three years into the pandemic, students are much more accustomed to switching to a remote format at a moment’s notice, and being flexible with the program on a day-to-day basis. They “now know what they’re dealing with”, Dalbey said, and students like Angie Truong have taken each change in stride.

“Considering the circumstances, I would say my experience has been one of the luckier ones,” Truong said. “Most of my experience has been in person for clinicals, so I have been able to go to hospitals and get those experiences. But I know for a lot of people, especially at other nursing schools, their clinicals have been online or their hours have been cut short.”

Truong admits the pandemic altered her thinking about working on the front lines. She sees how hospitals are short-staffed, nurses are suffering and overworked without being compensated properly. It’s a tough sell.

“And so it’s made me kind of, right now, reconsider working in the hospital just because of the working conditions. I still want to be a nurse and help patients, but I think considering the circumstances, it’s made it hard for me to think about going to bedside nursing. So I’ve been looking at other alternatives, just until things calm down and we figure out how to deal with the pandemic. I’m back and forth,” Truong said.

Lessons learned

“Going through this pandemic, I think I’ve realized that even if something as detrimental as this is going on, you know, things still do go on. We’ll find a way to move past it. And with nursing, you kind of have to be adaptable with everything,” Truong said. “I don’t think COVID-19 is going away anytime soon, so it’s just a matter of being flexible and adaptable.”

“Change is constant in nursing. So these students having to have this change at the last minute, they’ve really become very dynamic and very resilient with all of this, says Dalbey. “I think they’re going to be a lot more relaxed, calm, OK with change, as opposed to what people usually are. They became accustomed to it, and I see them really thriving with change.”

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve

The National Western Stock Show is in its second week after COVID-19 canceled the show last year. The Stock Show is your one-stop for anything western. It’s full of local and regional vendors, art, livestock shows, rodeos and surprises.

In Murdoch’s Junior Barn, there was a sign for Peachy Farms. The sign said farm animal rescue, therapy animals, classes, and petting zoos. Turns out, Peachy Farms, which is located in Parker shows llamas and alpacas. It had an unusual beginning. It started in 2018 when owner Katrina Wright’s former employer called and said she needed to come pick up her alpacas stat. “She gave me a call and told me I needed to come get the alpacas right now, or she was going to leave them in the field to die,” Wright said.

Wright sprang into action and tried to find a suitable home for these alpacas but realized that few places were willing to take them. “There are not very many people that work with them. And then we ended up making my aunt and uncle’s horse property, a place for them to land.”

When Wright was involved in a 4-H club she noticed animals could be very therapeutic. “They took our 4-H animals into nursing homes occasionally, mostly during the holidays for the seniors, and I decided that I wanted to do that with the alpacas.”  It did take some time to start, as the alpacas were completely un-handleable when they first arrived. Now friendly, the alpacas go to nursing homes, libraries, and schools. “Within about a year of having the alpacas and the therapy program, we were doing about 40 to 45 nursing homes a year,” Wright said.

Katrina and her alpacas enjoy spending time wherever they are welcome. “We took our brown alpaca, who was at the show this weekend, to a senior center in Parker. We went into the room of an elderly woman, and she was like, oh my goodness, a camel!”  She had bad Alzheimer’s and although confused about the type of animal, alpaca therapy left a lasting memory.  “About three or four weeks later, I get a call from her family, and she said, can we hire you to come out because it’s all we can get her to talk about. It’s finally something that she remembered for more than four hours.”

Wright often meets people that have Alzheimer’s. “I had a senior woman who used to race miniature horses, draft horses and drive them in horse and buggy. But she did not even remember her name. When we went into the room, she was telling the nurses how she had this miniature horse when she was little, and his name, and what she did with him,” she said.  Wright enjoys having the ability to bring back people’s memories through her animal therapy. “They remember us; they remember stories from the past that they don’t normally remember,” Wright said. “It’s incredible.”

Wright has made her animal therapy enjoyable for all ages by training her alpaca, Marshmallow, to lay down. “We were at a library one day; I just pulled his head down to the ground for a little girl to pet him, and he laid down for her. And so, I just kept repeating, and I asked him to lay down, and now he lays down most of the time,” Wright said.  According to Wright it’s great for small children or those in wheelchairs.  “It allows kids to warm up a lot easier to the animals; it makes them less intimidating,”

“Marshmallow is really special to us. He was another one that came to us, the same grouping; Marshmallow was one of our starter animals. And when he came to us, he was very, very sick. More nights than not, the first two weeks we had him, I was out in the barn with him, sleeping with him, doing IV fluids, getting up and helping him eat, getting him water. So Marshmallow and I have a bond that is pretty incredible. I will say that he is like my puppy dog. He is such a good boy,” said Wright.

Wright said, “We noticed that [in schools] a lot of the kids read better when they can read to llamas and alpacas.” She also notes that alpacas’ thick fleece improves their therapy sessions. “They are sensory animals, because of how deep someone can put their hands into their fleece.”  

Wright dedicates her time and effort to providing animal therapy to anyone that needs it. However, at one point, she needed her alpacas’ help. “My biggest thing is, I have severe PTSD, and the animals saved me from myself, and if it wasn’t for them, I don’t know where we’d be.” She said she wants her animals to be a bright spot in the world. “I’m not saying all people are evil, but a lot of people are not nice. They’re not genuine. With the animals, you get what you see. They’re sweet, they’re understanding, they’ll listen, and that’s something that I feel like everybody should have access to. No matter what.”

Katrina and her alpacas went through competition at the stock show on the 8th and the 9th. “Our kids that showed, I know that my five-to-seven-year old’s, took grand and reserve in the obstacle course.”. Peachy Farms was represented well as they also received prizes for third, fourth, sixth, and seventh throughout the weekend. 

Colorado’s most infamous western tradition can inspire people and create memories that will last for years. The National Western Stock Show goes through January 23rd. It is somewhere you can learn new things and meet new people. You never know what someone’s story or background might be. 


The National Western Stock Show is in

When we decided to go to Costa Rica on a weeklong vacation we joked that with so much Covid going around we could get stuck.  In our hypothetical world, it was not the worst place to be stranded.  Beautiful beaches, warm weather, lovely people.  Pura Vida.  And then it happened and now it’s not so funny.  Getting into the country from our home in Denver was easy but getting out was not.  A positive Covid test, and then another, and now the government tells me I can’t leave until January 23.

We didn’t know for sure if we would make the trip until 9 p.m. the night before our departure.  I scrambled to take one last covid test.  Finally found one at an urgent care. After a third negative outcome we took the risk.  We are vaccinated and boosted so why worry?  On our arrival in Liberia, we had to fill out our details on an app.  We gave our passport information and our vaccine status, identified the name of our hotel and showed proof of a return trip.  If someone wasn’t vaccinated, they needed to show proof of travel insurance.  We then received a QR code, and after an arduous three hours in immigration we were freed into the country.  We commented on how travel was more of a pain these days but were convinced the most challenging part of the journey was behind us.  

I realize this is a first world problem.  Not everyone is able to travel.  We had a wonderful week in Tamarindo.  We basked in the sun and surf and visited a volcano.  We saw monkeys and glorious sunsets. Early in our trip, I had a day where I was under the weather.  It happens every time I’m in a hot climate and go in and out from the heat to the air conditioning.  For 24 hours I had a bit of a cold.  In the before times this wouldn’t have even given me pause.  But since Covid every sniffle, every cough, makes me reach for my forehead to see if I have a fever.  There was no temperature, no aches and pains, no sore throat, no worries. Until I tested positive on my way out the door and was told I could not leave.

On a day trip to Arenal volcano, we met a man named Conner from New York who came to Costa Rica for an electronic music festival.  On the day before it was supposed to begin, the concert was abruptly  cancelled due to covid concerns.  All of his friends changed their plans and he was alone on vacation.  He was understandably disappointed. I suggested he make the best of it.  There were lots of people to meet and fun places to go.  Don’t feel sorry for yourself, I told him.  Now I find myself trying to take my own advice and make the best of a difficult situation.

While I quarantine I’m staying in a sprawling hacienda like hotel along a highway in Liberia. It has a western feel with a stagecoach in the front and a pool in the back. Breakfast is included for $47.75 a night. It seems to be a popular place for local families to get together. I hear only Spanish. It’s a far cry from the pricey Airbnb resort in Tamarindo which was geared toward tourists from America and Canada. I am settled in and look outside my room to the most beautiful pink, white and red ginger. It’s a peaceful place to write and rest.

While I try to stay positive (no pun intended) in quarantine, I question the point of keeping me in Costa Rica for eight days when I have no symptoms and had my sniffles almost a week ago.  It feels like overreach.  I have done what I’m supposed to do.  I got vaccinated and boosted yet I still got Covid.  Omicron is rampant back home.  Some of my friends say they just want to get it and get over with it.  Being stranded is in the back of everyone’s mind who travels. My girlfriend in Mexico says she’s hearing stories similar to mine among tourists who are getting stuck there.  In our third year of Covid shouldn’t we be able to get away, and know we can get back home?  

When we decided to go to Costa

While producing for NBC News at the Marshall Fire I met some people I can’t get out of my mind.

The first was Dave Hayes, the Louisville police chief who was soldiering on and serving the community even though his home burned to the ground.

The others were Dawn and Joel Paluch, who also lost their Louisville home, and with it, their entire family history.  Photographs, an art collection, a grand piano. Treasures passed down from generation to generation.

For all of them I could see the shock and disbelief caused by the tragedy.  Imagine losing everything in an instant.  Everything!  No longer having underwear, shoes or a pot and pan.      

As we spoke, I could see their eyes moving from the present to the past to the future and shaking it off when the thoughts got too hard to bear.  They would cry and laugh.  Grief stricken but grateful and resolved.  

The other thing I felt covering this wildfire (and hurricanes and tornados and every catastrophe Mother Nature sends our way), is the heart of people.  From first responders to those who arrive in the aftermath, to those in the community who organize fundraisers and giving. You can give here.

As we pour our hearts out for these neighbors, remember to give them hugs and help with errands.  Listen to them when they need to process or think aloud.  Invite them over for a meal now and then so things can feel normal.  Nothing is normal about their lives right now.  Your kindness helps them move forward.    

Dave, Dawn and Joel, and thousands of others, have a long journey ahead and they need our community arms around them.  Having people to lean on helps divide sorrows.  Let’s lift the spirits of those who lost so much from the fire and be part of the foundation as they build their new lives.     

While producing for NBC News at the

Restaurants in North Denver neighborhoods served the community more than food in 2021. They inspired the community with their resilience. Despite closures, staffing problems and pivoting to takeout and outdoor dining, restaurants have adapted and are now looking forward to 2022.

The Blazing ChickenShack II had an easier time than many adapting. “We were open all during COVID,” said co-owner Leola Gant. “Even when they were shutting down the restaurants, we managed to stay open. It was the takeout because that’s mainly what we were doing anyway.”.

The Blazing ChickenShack II, found in Park Hill, is home to authentic soul food. Leola Gant owns it with Rhonda Banks, and Gail and Ray Moore. They say that their current location allows them to interact with their customers intimately. They serve many repeat customers, allowing them to build relationships. Gant says, “once you walk in our door, you are family.”

The Blazing ChickenShack II says they began the year slow, but picked back up as COVID became more manageable. “We’ve been lucky, we’ve been blessed.” In 2022 The Blazing ChickenShack II wants to keep the doors open and continue supporting the community that does so much for them. “Everything seems to be going well. The customers still love us.”

Whittier Café, founded in the Whittier neighborhood, is Denver’s only African espresso bar. Whittier Café not only creates quality pastries and coffee drinks but takes immense pride in supporting their community too.

In 2021, they were most proud of relearning how to show up for the community. Owner, Millete Birhanemaskel, said, “From planting a sign garden with recycled protest signs, to live streaming patio-only events, to Wi-Fi passwords that highlight current social issues (i.e., #TigrayGenocide), it has been a challenge, but we are adapting.”

Whittier Café typically, holds Ethiopian coffee ceremonies every Sunday but COVID-19 put a hold on this. According to Millete, “our biggest struggle has been canceling our signature offering – the East African coffee ceremony. That is a weekly ritual that we’ve been unable to perform because of the deep community, connectedness required for the hour-long ceremony.”

With 2022 right around the corner, Whittier Café hopes to figure out how to restart that in a COVID-friendly way. Birhanemaskel said, “we look forward to continuing to be a voice for oppressed peoples and communities in 2022.”

Himalayan Spice, which opened in June of this year on Tennyson Street in Berkeley, says they are beginning to see regular customers and many new visitors. Himalayan Spice has faced some challenges this year. Ganesh Bhattarai said, “we have lots of to-go [orders] compared to the dine-in, but we are still pretty busy around dinner time.” They hope to expand their dine-in options for 2022. 

The restaurant, which replaced Biju’s Little Curry Shop, started a bit slow while they waited for their liquor license, but now they are hitting their stride with signature dishes like chicken tikka and fish curry. A new year may bring new challenges, but Bhattarai says, “We are going to keep improving customer service and continue making good, quality food.” 

Restaurant owners have had to make quick changes to maintain enough revenue to stay open. Creative, out-of-the-box thinking was needed to keep employees and patrons safe. They have implemented ways to attract customers, even when dining-in was not possible.

Gathering at local restaurants helps to improve North Denver’s economic advancement. Many people that work at local restaurants live in the same community. By visiting these restaurants, you are helping your local community flourish. Let’s wish all our restaurant neighbors a happy 2022.

Restaurants in North Denver neighborhoods served the

I like this quote by Nelson Mandela.  “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”  

For me fundraising was impossible, a source of endless angst.  To have a hand out for money was way outside of my comfort zone.  And now I know why.  It’s hard.  Asking for people to support your idea, to believe in something as much as you do, takes a lot of persuasion.  

Asking people to support community journalism, when the world is full of things that need attention, is a big lift.  But over this last month I’ve been overwhelmed by those who have backed this idea that an online home for information, inspiration and interaction can help build community.  

When I first started this, I was inspired by this little bucket.  At a girls weekend a couple years ago, my friend Nancy came up with an activity. We wrote what was on our bucket list on tongue depressors and put them in our containers.  This was the inspiration for our name.

As an avid photographer, I snapped this photo of two young women sitting outside at Bacon Social Club with a phone, sharing their news.  This was my imagery for a site that could be a benefit to neighbors in all parts of North Denver. Journalism by walking around.

My friend, Wendy, recognized how important this was to me and she set the intention in stone.  She reminded me to follow my dream and painted a little bucket to represent Bucket List Community Café.  She picked up on the energy I had for this project and inspiration became art. 

Then Colorado Community Media picked up on the enthusiasm and invited us to join 25 other Colorado community newsrooms in pursuit of resources to continue growing.  It gave us a boost.  And suddenly it seems possible.  With your help and generous contributions we are proving that community journalism can be community inspired and community supported.  

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”  And we’re doing it.  Together.

I like this quote by Nelson Mandela.  “It

As 2021 turns into 2022 it’s a time to reflect on all we’ve accomplished and what goals we have for the year ahead.  These last couple of years have been challenging for all of us, but it has also been a time of growth and opportunity.  We have pushed through difficulty and come out on the other side stronger for what we have been through together.  We should all be proud of how far we’ve come.  Here is what Bucket List Community Café has accomplished in the last year.  

We tripled our audience since 2020.  

We produced a video and redesigned our website.

We hosted an event to support community journalism with our friends at the Denver North Star.  

We raised money and proved that community news can be community supported.

We mentored students at CU Boulder and CU Denver.

We obtained a trademark.

We gained recognition in North Denver and in Colorado’s journalism ecosystem.

We sent out a monthly newsletter.  

We promoted small businesses and collaborated with non-profits.

We expanded our reach to include all the areas of North Denver.

Here are our goals for the year ahead.

Continue to be North Denver’s home for information, inspiration and interaction.

Expand our team to include more writers and bring you more original content.

Expand our strategic communication team so we can reach you where you’re at.

Continue to innovate ways to be at the intersection of journalism and community.

Expand our mentorship program so more young journalists get real world experience.

Continue our outreach into BIPOC communities so that we represent all neighbors.

Look for a diversity of journalists so our stories represent all voices.

Continue to lean towards social justice and community building.  

Spend your generous contributions wisely to better serve North Denver.  

Come up with creative ways to collaborate with small businesses and non-profits.

Bucket List Community Cafe is #newsCOneeds and every penny raised up to $5000 will be matched by the Colorado Media Project until 12/31.  We believe community journalism should be community supported.  Please contribute as we come to the end of our campaign.  Blessings to you and your family for a healthy, happy new year full oof things you can check off your Bucket List.

As 2021 turns into 2022 it’s a

The holiday season brings warm, inviting feelings to many. Families travel and gather to enjoy each other’s company and create memories that will last a lifetime. In the neighborhoods of North Denver, families renew their holiday traditions through their tamales.

“It is very traditional to have tamales around Christmas. Generally, it’s me, my mom, and my sister and we make them from scratch. It’s very festive,” said Anne Trujillo, who is a Denver resident and anchor for Denver 7 news.

Being from Santa Fe, New Mexico, generations of Anne Trujillo’s family have made tamales around the holidays. “It is very much a family tradition. My mom’s generation made tamales, my grandparent’s generation, everybody. Around the holidays, tamales are seen as gifts. “They are so precious when you make them from scratch,” Trujillo said. 

Tamales are a classic Mesoamerican dish made up of masa, filling, and the corn husk wrapper. Masa is a starch-based dough that surrounds the filling and is typically made from ground corn. The filling usually contains pork or chicken that has been cooked or marinated in salsa. Tamales may also have veggies, beans, or cheese. Corn husks delicately enclose and keep the tamale together.

“It’s a very special, warm, family activity,” Trujillo said. “When it’s a recipe that’s been handed down, it really means something. It just warms your heart, and makes Christmas feel special because not everybody has those kinds of traditions.”

Pochitos Tortilla Factory, a family-owned tortilla and tamale heaven in Sunnyside, also has tamales for the holidays. Pochitos is a small building. It may look unsuspecting on the outside but on the inside the magic happens. As soon as you walk through the door you are hit by the smell of freshly made tamales and tortillas. You immediately notice their display of tortillas and a refrigerator full of salsas and tamales. 

Pochitos opened in August 1997 and owner Levi Luna says that he was inspired, to create and share his tamales, by his grandfather.

“When I was growing up, I would go on the route with him,” Luna said. He said that while he was on the route with his grandfather, he would see freshly made tortillas coming out of the oven. As he grew in the business, he became more interested in the production or tortillas and especially, tamales.


The tamales that are made at Pochitos receive a lot of praise in the community. One testimonial says, “Mexican restaurants in Denver should learn what a real tamale tastes like. These are almost as good as my Mom’s homemade tamales. They are delicious, as is the green Chile and tortillas. Can’t wait to go back for more but we bought enough to last a while.”

Luna is enormously proud of his tamales and when asked if there were any secrets to making a delicious tamale, he shared this advice. “Don’t rush,” Luna said when describing the nearly 20-hour process it takes to make Pochitos’ tamales.

He explained that they start by cooking the meat filling. During the process, flavorful juices from the meat infuse the masa with flavor. The tamales making process is so time consuming because part of the process is treating each tamale with care and attention to detail. 

Tamales are a staple in North Denver. They can bring people together over a meal. Some say that the most important ingredient in quality tamales is love. Luna said that tamales do have an impact on the culture in North Denver.

“I think that not only during the holidays, I just think in general. The Mexican culture is food. So, dinner time, when everybody has dinner together, everybody sits at the table and everybody, you know, finds pleasure in eating and spending time together.” 

Tamales are more than food; they are gifts and something people can bond over. There is nothing more important during the holidays than spending time with the people dearest to you. Anne Trujillo, Levi Luna and Pochitos Tortilla Factory are building and sharing their culture. 

The holiday season brings warm, inviting feelings