The Story

I’ve always sought out opportunities to learn practical skills. Perhaps it’s because I “survived” Y2K and became acutely aware, as a young adult, that I had little to offer in a post-Apocalyptic world. When I’m hammering at the wall of the commune, rampaging hooligans bearing down behind me, what can I shout up to the turrets that will open the gate and let me in? “I know javascript!” Not likely.

This desire to be practically useful (and less helpless) inspired me to take a quilting class when I was 18, to learn to make mozzarella and ricotta after reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle in 2008, and to eagerly install the shower in my first home.

Then, in October 2010, I was invited to participate in a sauerkraut-making workshop hosted by Bootleg Betty. The instructor, Holly, helped me and four other newbies each make our own jar of sauerkraut. After the event I sped home, empowered and excited: I made two more jars of sauerkraut that night, and signed up for the next two workshops. It’s exhilarating to learn how to do something. Especially something that has always seemed remote and mysterious. We’re so used to buying our processed jars of sauerkraut and jam, to letting other people fix our vehicles or our health problems.

And it’s kind of sad to have to actively relearn the skills that our grandparents dismissed as “basic.”

Why (Re)Learn Basic Skills?

Can you change a tire? Do you know how to grow tomatoes from seed? Most North American adults are surprisingly inept, when it comes to basic skills. The Industrial Age took away our need to do things for ourselves. The Information Age assures us that our lost knowledge is only a YouTube search away, so why bother to learn it now. But today, post-recession, sales of home canning equipment are climbing. “Re-skilling” workshops are emerging in North American communities. We’ve started to notice that our grandparents are aging, and we better (re)learn the skills they’re teaching, before it’s too late.

After the sauerkraut workshop, I wanted more empowerment. I wanted to add more Apocalypse-proof skills to my resume. So I invited 14 other women to join me in a project: let’s learn a new skill every month for a year. We’ll meet in January 2011 to brainstorm what we want to learn. And by 2012, we’ll be that much more empowered, more capable, more confident and amazed at our own amazing-ness.

Two Years Later

Thank you to Sheila for nudging for an update …

It’s 2013 and we’re still going strong. We miss the occasional month, usually August or December due to life busy-ness, but we’ve grown closer and formed a pretty amazing core group in the past two years. We continue to challenge ourselves with our workshops, and seem to be exploring our artistic connections more this year. You can check out the schedule page to see our ever-growing list of accomplishments. We have a Facebook group page to share our experiences and art, which everyone is welcome to join. The random blog posts on this site will continue in 2013!

1 comment for “The Story

  1. May 18, 2012 at 3:02 PM

    Renaissance Women. Where is the group at now? Are you still doing this?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *