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Posted on Wed, Jul 7, 2010 : 5:34 a.m.

2nd annual Ann Arbor Reskilling Festival: from bicycle maintenance to de-mystifying natural death care

By Corinna Borden

Borden - Reskilling header
Corinna will be teaching one of the backyard chicken classes for the festival as a volunteer.

Basic Homebrewing: Making your own beer that is local, tasty, and cheap (intermediate class offered as well), Chickentainment: All About Back Yard Chickens, Basic Bicycle Maintenance, and De-Mystifying Natural Death Care: Home Funeral and Green Burial are just a few of the wide array of educational sessions being offered this year at the Ann Arbor Reskilling Festival. Hosted by the Rudolph Steiner School and Transition Ann Arbor, second annual festival is July 17 from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. (registration begins at 9:30 a.m.) and is a free event (material fees may apply for some sessions).

In addition to those sessions above, the festival will include:

• Composting: Turning Refuse into Gold
• Making Toys from old clothes
• Wild Salad
• Primitive Wilderness: Living Skills
• Winter harvests
• Knot tying
• Not all Energy Audits are Created Equal
• Meet Many of Your Transportation Needs by Bicycle
• Quilts ($1 for materials)
• How to Host or Attend a Crop Mob
• Permaculture for Michigan: from Consumers to Producers
• Introduction to food preservation methods
• Beekeeping 101 - Small Scale Backyard and Rooftop Hives
• Crocheting for Charity
• Serving Natural Shaved Ice
• Low cost/No-cost Playing things for Adults and Kids
• Natural Detergent Made in your Kitchen
• Making milk into Butter, Crème Fraiche, and Mozzarella
• Cook Renewably with a Sun Oven
• 350 Cookbook: Recipes for Neighborhood Resilience

All of these classes will vie for your time and attention on July 17. Presenters include Emily Springfield and Holly White of Preserving Traditions, Shannon Brines of Brines Farm, Deb Heed of the Clean Energy Coalition, and Lisa Perschke of Recycle Ann Arbor, members from (a group dedicated to having CO2 be 350 parts per million in the atmosphere, we are currently at 390), and me.

I sat down recently with Laura Smith, a member of the Transition Ann Arbor group and one of the organizers of the Ann Arbor Reskilling Festival to learn the motivation behind offering such a wealth of classes to the community.

“It was from the UK model, we are adopting what they are already doing,” Smith shares. The Transition Ann Arbor vision is to get people to meet each other, “feel the excitement of being together and learning new things, we really want to focus on the fun.”

With so many groups in Ann Arbor focusing on local and self-sufficient food, transportation, and energy paradigms - I asked Smith what distinguishes the Transition Towns Movement from the other groups in town. She smiles, and notes that “there are a lot a big serious issues that are pushing us” to do the Reskilling Festival, but that last year they did not talk about them. “What distinguishes Transition in some ways is the assumption of energy descent.”

Energy descent? Let us listen to Smith’s response.

Smith feels Transition work is “targeted toward our culture. It is a transition for those people who are already on this very high energy use paradigm, however good we think we are doing we are still using dramatically more energy than others.”

As I type at my computer, with the air conditioning running, listening to the dishwasher run downstairs, surrounded by my digital camera, cell phone, and video phone I think I know of what Smith speaks.

Whether you are curious to learn more about the Transition Towns Movement, the Reskilling Festival offers a wide range of workshops to titillate your imagination and perhaps jump-start a new space of self-sufficiency in your life. They are looking for volunteers on Doodle and if you have any questions you can contact Rebecca Streng.

Corinna volunteers with the Westside Farmers Market and wrote a book about many things.



Thu, Jul 8, 2010 : 7:06 p.m.

Thanks for the nice coverage on this wonderful (and free!) community event.

Jennifer Shikes Haines

Wed, Jul 7, 2010 : 5:50 a.m.

Thanks for bringing attention to this, Corinna - both years I've had conflicts, but it's such a great opportunity to learn lost skills that can sustain us into the future.