Posts Tagged ‘ rules ’
I was so nervous before our first meeting. There would be speaking in front of a group. This group was comprised of some of the most remarkable women I’ve met in my three years in Duncan. They were all superstars. I didn’t want to be in charge, to tell them what the rules were and the lofty achievements I expected from them as participants. I wanted it to be a collective effort, a shared experience.
They were so gracious and supportive, reclining on the cosy couches of Affinity Guesthouse, sipping their Teafarm tea and praising the bizarre food I’d brought them. Green tea cookies, baked an hour before. Sprouted wheat bread — “manna bread,” as Vanessa called it. Garlic scape jelly that Cindy had made and given me. Cheese made from yogurt, a byproduct of the whey extraction necessary to make the fermented sodas that they bravely drank. The kombucha in a pickle jar. The menu theme was “things I learned to make in 2010.” Not-so-subtle inspiration for our year ahead.
I lurched through the notes I’d made, explaining what I thought the group could be, the commitment I was proposing, the guidelines that I thought would keep us on track. Heather K. nodded encouragingly, Maeve backed me up on the “women only” rule. The two requirements for our group were: 1. commit to learning a new practical skill as a group once a month in 2011, and 2.) commit to sharing your experience through your art, whatever that may be. I’d invited writers/bloggers, two photographers, an audio artist, jewellery makers, print makers, and numerous Jane-of-all-trades, or “dabblers” as Vanessa self-identified.
We brainstormed the skills we’d always wanted to learn: how to milk a cow, how to make bread from a sourdough starter, how to shoot a gun. How to back up a trailer. We used up all the poster-sized sheets of paper I’d brought, taping them to the large windows along the North wall. Who knew there were this many skills to learn? Most of us are in our 30s: what have we been doing with our lives?
Then we voted with markers, “x”ing or checking or smiley-facing 10 skills each. I felt powerful, selecting what I would do over the next year. Literally choosing, with every smiley face.
By this point we had become a group. I didn’t want to interrupt the conversations that had started. Many of these women had heard of one another. Some knew each other, but mostly superficially. In our introductions we’d shared our names, what kind of art we did, and any practical skills we had. It was an inventory of superpowers, and we were a powerful bunch.
Eventually I read out the skills that had received the most votes. These were our top 10 skills, and would be our priorities for the months ahead:
- make, distill and use essential oils
- make fermented sodas and other fermented drinks (kombucha)
- make yogurt
- milk a cow/goat/water buffalo
- cheese making & wine appreciation
- sew from a pattern
- identify wild, edible plants and mushrooms
- use sourdough starter to make bread
- make ice cream, without an ice cream maker
- make soap
We also had four “runner up” skills that would be our back-ups, in case we couldn’t find a cheesemaker teacher or get together enough sewing machines:
- build a cob oven
- make paper
- kill a chicken & process it
With five vegetarians in the group and only four votes being cast in favour of learning the skill, the chicken workshop was relegated to the bottom of the list.
Some of us then volunteered to organize a workshop: our February meeting now depends on who confirms a workshop first.
At some point in the discussion the name “Renaissance Women” was suggested, which was generally adopted despite my inability to spell it without help. I promised to set up a group emailing list to facilitate private group communication and a Facebook Page to share our experiences with our friends.
And so: whew. I made it through our first meeting thanks to two cups of herbal tea, a cookie that Katie had brought, and a piece of Heather K.’s amazing olive oil, rosemary and chocolate cake to calm my anxiety. Now that the ship had launched, I could relax on deck and get to know my fellow passengers. And I would have to start writing again.Continue Reading »
The criteria we’ve gradually come up with (mostly over drinks at the Craig Street Brew Pub) are:
- female: because when a group of women come together, it’s interesting and unusual. Men change the dynamic. And the skills we want to learn will likely be different from what men want to learn. Or maybe not. But let’s stick with girls-only for now.
- communicators/artists: because we want this project to impact more than just the participants. Participants will commit to sharing their experience each month through a blog, photos, artistic creation, or audio/video piece.
- around 30 years old: because we share similar limitations and life-skills, although some of us are married, have kids, are self-employed, and have other uniquenesses to keep things interesting.
- sorta strangers: because this isn’t just the usual bunch of friends getting together. To ensure a diversity of experiences, we want a diversity of participants. We are “acquaintances” to begin with.