Skill-sharing Open Mike: an entertaining approach to re-skilling

by Bernard Brennan, Transition Greater New Haven (CT, USA)

Our invitation read:

Skill Sharing for Transition / Practical Open Mike
This will be an opportunity for folks to share skills and projects they are working on as part of their adaptation to hard times and a future of reduced energy resources.  Each person will take 5 or 10 minutes to demonstrate and tell about their project....Try to bring some physical object that is part of what you are doing.

It was a great success!

We chose the term "skill-sharing" over Transition's "re-skilling" because we found it to be both clearer and more positive.

We had no set schedule -- people just stepped-up from the audience to go next. It was an eclectic collection of skills. We learned about backyard grain production and grinding, home brewing (raspberry honey mead wine), cooking without fuel (solar oven), making things last (information from a book of the same title), suburban chickens, homemade nuclear power and communications (solar powered CB & ham radios), making old blankets into beautiful new creations, herbal torches (wax-dipped mallow stalks), winter food gardening, feral foods (foraging and preservation), fire making, and unplugged entertainment (yes, we even played pictionary!). There were lots of questions and lively engagement. All present thought we should repeat and expand the event.

The open mike event also served to launch our skill-sharing workshops. These are planned as regular free events where volunteers teach some skill the participants are interested in. We already have a sizable group of volunteers who are willing to lead workshops and a collaborative list of skills we wish to learn. This idea is taking off! 

As a member and ally of a local time bank (http://sharehaven.org), our transition initiative also offers to "pay" workshop leaders. This is a win-win situation: it incentivizes teaching while involving more people in the time bank (or a least circulating more "share hours"). These tools of transition complement each other well.

With events like these, and our conscious attempts at "crowd sourcing" (asking the community to collaboratively provide content -- Wikipedia is an example), this movement is beginning to take on a welcomed life of its own in our backyard.  

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Photos by Maria Tupper (see album) / Bernard Brennan (see album)

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