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Who?       What?       When?       Where?       Why?

Who's behind Cal-Folk?

Jenn & Jon Hooten dreamed up this idea, with their daughter Nelle in mind. We're Midwesterners by birth and Californians by choice. And we've worked most of our adult lives working at colleges and universities, so we know how to gather a community of brilliant teachers and eager learners around the educational campfire.

Several years ago we left the city and returned to our roots in search of a simpler, quieter, more sustainable life. We knew we liked this little town of Los Alamos, and we love the community we found here.


We're passionate about the power and possibilities of community. If our household had a mission, it would include something about hospitality, open doors, and sharing a meal and conversation around our big outdoor farm table. 

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What is a folk school, exactly? 
California Folk School (Cal-Folk for short) is brand new, but it has roots in a 150-year tradition of folk (a.k.a. "peoples") education. Folk schools came to the U.S. from Denmark in the early 1900s and spread across the East Coast and Midwest. Very few of these schools made it west of the Mississippi River
 — much less the Mojave into California. One notable exception was the Atterdag Folk School in the new California settlement of Solvang in the early 20th century. This "school for life" in the Danish tradition ran from 1911 to 1957 (see a short history of Folk Schools here).

Drawing on this tradition, Cal-Folk is building a community of teaching and learning through classes and community events centered on traditional arts, crafts and cooking. While we have to charge a fee to pay instructors and cover other costs, the goal is to include anyone interested in learning from or joining this community, whether or not you can pay the fee. Bartering is a live option!

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When do we offer classes?  

We plan to organize classes throughout the year, usually on the weekends. Check the class list to see what's currently open.

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Where is this happening? 

Cal-Folk is based in Los Alamos (California, not New Mexico), with classes offered at various sites in Santa Barbara County (mostly in the Los Alamos and Santa Ynez Valleys).

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Why are y'all doing this?   

We were sitting on the back porch one night, enjoying a fire and bottle of wine, talking about the kind of world we want our new daughter to grow up in. We described a community of good food and music, of creative artists and skilled craftspeople, of simple and sustainable living, of giving and receiving. We wanted to put ourselves in the role of learners—often—to cultivate our own curiosity and humility.


We know that people like you want this for yourself and your families too. So we're creating that world—for our daughter, for you, for all of us.

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