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STU CRAIR FOUNDED Digital Workshop Center in 2006 with a simple idea: to help people build useful skills, not just get degrees.

This great business delivers technical education: web design, graphic design, business administration, and so on. Their much-needed content is supported by training that’s always live, which means more personal attention to students in the room.

What tweaked my interest recently was an announcement that they’ve developed a partnership with Homeless Gear to provide technical training – for free – to people in their Hand Up program.

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GREAT FOOD IS EXPENSIVE these days, and can be totally out of reach for the struggling and homeless.

That’s why I was honored to speak with Mallory Andrews recently, the new executive director of FoCo Cafe here in our choice city.

You might have heard of the donation-based restaurant model. It’s a simple concept: eat what you want, and pay according to your ability and what you believe is fair.

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MESH FORT COLLINS is a great new community for entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs in the region.  You might know that it took over the space formerly occupied by Galvanize at 242 Linden Street.

Mesh is an expansion of an idea that’s seen success in Japan as Future Venture Capital Ltd.  FVC Americas was established last year to become the hub in northern Colorado for startups with great potential.

I’ve been following the local startup scene for several years, so it’s exciting to hear that Mesh is not just serving the high tech market.  They’re helping businesses in all industries, even those who aren’t getting all the press these days.

After all, there are great new companies in all corners of the economy.

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communityCOMMUNITIES HAVE SPRUNG TO THE TOP of my mind this week.

Each of us has communities that we participate in and contribute to.  Social groups.  Family.  Work.  Spiritual support.  And other friendships.

This is much more important than we usually recognize.

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ARIANA FRIEDLANDER IS A MISFIT.

In fact, she’s made a business out of it!

I met Ariana a few years ago, and was inspired by her energy and creativity.  But it’s always been a bit of a struggle for me to describe what she does.

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BLUE FEDERAL CREDIT UNION is a 65 year old newbie.

OK, I’d better explain.

This great company recently re-branded after the merger of Warren Federal Credit Union and Community Financial Credit Union, creating a name which evokes their background in serving military personnel.  It also captures their culture of optimistically building toward a future of unlimited possibilities.

It makes for a cool logo, too – bonus!

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neliaNELIA HARPER IS A LOCAL ARTIST with some considerable talent.  We’ve known each other for several years, so I was interested to explore what’s happening in her journey of discovery and building her new business.

It’s common to think that artists are inherently flaky or ungrounded.  But I find this not to be true.

For myself, I think that artistry is just another aspect of a wonderful life.  For me, it’s music.

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THE CRAFT BEER SCENE in Northern Colorado is pretty crowded. But Horse & Dragon Brewing stands out from the crowd because of their character.

Carol and Tim Cochran started this business in 2014, based on a long passion for craft beer and a desire to make their home in Fort Collins after living in other states and countries.

And the beer’s pretty good – of course I’ve had to do plenty of research for this story.  But there’s a lot of great brewers in the area.

It’s the culture of this company which makes it special.

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KobysGRETCHEN HOLLAND HAS A DREAM.  And it’s not really about recovering a favorite childhood treat from growing up in Maryland eating snowballs.

It’s really about helping kids with disabilities to have real work over the summer, to do great work and serve customers.

And if you can achieve that while delivering something refreshing on a hot day, how fantastic!

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SOMETIMES COMPANIES CAN STRUGGLE with connecting up with the right kind of volunteering opportunities.

It’s not a matter of finding people in need – there are an overwhelming number of worthy organizations out there who need our help and support.

I was excited to find out that our very own City of Fort Collins has a Volunteer Services Program.  So I sat down with Charlotte Boney this week to find out more.

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