Becky Hensley opened the Share Denver community craft center in Denver's Park Hill neighborhood to provide a place for learning and camaraderie. The mural was painted by Zshanna Kristoff, Nick Kema and Chuckie Martinez. (Brent Lewis, The Denver Post)

Meet the hippest home ec teacher ever: Share Denver’s Becky Hensley

Cannabist: Where does the craft passion come from?

BH: I say this all the time, but I don’t think I’m an amazing crafter. I mean, I can embroider, I can crochet, I can knit. I think I’m just good at getting people together. That’s what Denver Craft Ninjas was all about – there was obviously always a project, but a lot of people just came to hang out. A lot of times for me, the best part of a class is when we get past the lesson and we’re just drinking wine and talking shit. I was never a crafty kid either — my mom tried to teach me how to crochet and I told her she didn’t even know what she was doing. I ultimately figured it out on my own later on. 

Cannabist: Are official “cannabis and crafting” nights a possibility?

BH: Here’s the thing: If you smoke pot and you take a class here, great. We have a sweet backyard and to me, it’s just like going out for a cigarette. We usually serve alcohol during classes — we don’t have a license to sell obviously, but it’s BYO — and that can include pot.

Cannabist: When did you get high for the first time?

BH: It’s funny, I was just back home in Wyoming for a visit and went to lunch with the girl who got me high for the first time. She was one of the cool girls — you know, wore vintage band T-shirts, made necklaces, hung out with all the boys, snuck down to Denver for shows. We were 16 and she asked me if I wanted to go smoke pot. It was in her ’80s two-door Toyota coupe and might have been out of a kazoo with a screen we stole out of a sink. I don’t think I got high my first time, which is so cliché! So I obviously had to do it again. And again. Back then, because it was illegal, it felt risky. It felt clandestine. I kind of wonder if kids will feel that anymore now. 

Meet the hippest home ec teacher ever: Share Denver’s Becky Hensley
One of the crafting spaces at Share Denver.
(Brent Lewis, The Denver Post / click to enlarge)

Cannabist: How does marijuana play a role in your day to day?

BH: When I was younger I realllly liked to smoke pot, and then I kind of took a break. I think it’s because I’m a very neurotic person and I overthink things to a really ridiculous degree. I’m a worrier and I really thought that pot made it worse as I grew older, so I stopped smoking weed altogether. But then it became legal in Denver! It was like, A) now there’s this opportunity to not smoke schwag — that’s what the kids call it these days, right? And B) to be able to try all of these new things that weren’t accessible to me when I was buying a quarter (illegally) from some dude in an alley in high school. So there’s this great freedom in being able to purchase pot legally and have such a great choice in what you’re smoking. These days, I just smoke after hours … like I said, I’m a worrier. If I smoked pot at work, I would definitely have a panic attack. I like the smoothness of my vape pen … preferably on the couch with my boyfriend, watching a movie.

Cannabist: Do you think the vibe is different in Denver since legalization?

BH: It’s always been a part of Colorado culture — everywhere, even. But when it became legal on a medical level here, it was a good foray — not only for my own understanding of how it could work, but to slowly integrate it into our community officially. There are so many people who are sick, and what a great thing to have this plant that truly makes them feel better. And that’s just one thing that breaks down barriers toward acceptance.

Cannabist: Do you worry about negative stereotypes ever?

BH: That’s actually why I’m excited to be talking about this with you! I thought about it, “Do I want to be speaking openly about this?” But at the same time, I want to contribute to demystifying and destigmatizing the stoner stereotype.  Going home after work and smoking a joint or drinking a glass of wine, I just don’t see the difference and I don’t know why anyone else does anymore. People who smoke pot have families, responsibilities, great careers, creative passions — but there’s always been this shadow of darkness on it. And the bong-huffing, bikini-clad girls blowing smoke into Instagram videos — that doesn’t help, but hey, more power to them. There’s a place for everyone, but I think it’s becoming seen as more dignified and sophisticated with legalization. 

Cannabist: What’s your take on the craft scene in Denver? Do you think it’s becoming overly trendy?

BH: Too trendy? Nah. I mean, is it a thing? Yeah, it is. But is there too much of it? No way. There’s space for all of us. Even if we’re doing similar things, we’re doing it differently. And if you think about it, people have been crafting and creating for forever. This isn’t new, it’s just experiencing a renaissance. And renaissances are awesome!

Cannabist: You’ve been in Denver now for almost a decade. What are the best and worst changes you’ve seen over the years?

BH: The only things that suck are that Denver is getting more expensive and not as accessible to artists and creatives. I think, as much as Denver invests in the arts, those arts come from somewhere … and typically it’s not rich people. It’s young, struggling, adventurous makers and doers that come here to be a part of the creative scene. But the downside is that there are no places for them to live or work. I think it’s an issue in a lot of places, places traditionally occupied by this contingent, like San Francisco, and Denver is at a fork in the road. The best thing is the community! Change is inevitable, and it’s how graciously communities absorb change that make them most resilient and viable. Denver is gracious. And I love Denver’s craft scene: the makers, creators, artisans and aspiring crafters. They’re such a welcoming community who has accepted me. And I’m a huge weirdo, so that’s saying a lot.

Cannabist: Is it Denver forever for you?

BH: Yeah, I think so. I’ve found my home here in such a weird and roundabout way. And now that I have this business here and such a great community supporting me, I’m pretty committed to letting Denver continue to inspire me. I have lots of places that feel like home, but I’m where I’m supposed to be. But hey, who knows.

Cannabist: What’s next?

BH: March is National Craft Month! We’re have a crazy full schedule ahead, but we couldn’t imagine not having an official celebration bringing together all of our amazing teachers and our lovely community to kick it off proper. There will be “make & take” craft projects, adult refreshments and the opportunity to talk to our talented network of teachers to help pick the right class for you.

Celebrate National Craft Month at Share Denver’s Teacher Meet & Greet on Sunday, March 8 (1-4 p.m.).

Follow Share Denver on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and Becky Hensley @NePlusUltra.

Read more Shop Sesh interviews with artists and entrepreneurs from Colorado and beyond