Skill Share at the End of Empire
I have a dream of hosting a skill share camping event here at The Wallow.
I’ve always been interested in primitive skills festivals, but they are so expensive! This dream started by thinking about how to make one affordable to everyone, and step one is holding it on my own land. I could host at least 50 campers here.
Primitive skills include things like fire making, foraging for wild food and medicinal plants, and creating and using stone tools. I imagine my event including primitive skills, but also a wide collection of practical and philosophical skills relevant to living right now in an uncertain world.
Years ago I read a (no longer available) post from John Michael Greer of the Archdruid Report where he suggested a personal program as a response to our declining culture. It amounted to giving up one thing, saving one thing, learning one thing, and from there I’m going on my own imaginings of this long ago half-remembered idea.
- Learn Something – this can be any new skill that interests you, entertains you, or serves you and your community. Another language, how to compost, card tricks.
- Leave Something – go ahead and practice leaving behind some of the harmful practices of our culture, which will make you more resilient when they are no longer available. In my own life this has included things like removing single-use paper items in my home. You might leave behind eating fast food, watching TV, or using Amazon..
- Save Something – think about what you want to still exist when our surrounding culture collapses, and work on preserving that thing. This could be local or dying knowledge of some kind, saving seeds, or learning to perform your favorite movie script as if you were an old school traveling bard.
And then, I’d add to the program Share Something. Right now, you already know things about how to live in a crumbling culture. You are already surviving. The people around you need you and your knowledge. It’s the right time to come together and share what we know.
I imagine this festival to include a wide variety of skills and ideas. From practical hands-on workshops, to round table discussions on social concepts, from skills that are relevant to current urban survival, to skills that will matter when industrial civilization fades – I’d like to bring it all together in one big skill share.
Some ideas I thought of that would be great on the schedule that people I currently know could already share:
- Cooking with cast iron, canning, preserving food
- Fire starting, primitive shelters
- Egalitarian relationships – positive parenting and polyamory
- Gardening or raising livestock for food
- Political organizing
- Dumpster diving
- Clothing repair and small machine repair
- Clothing swap
- Medicinal herbs, first aid
- Soap making, candle making
- Collective household living
- Daniel Quinn dramatic reading
- Impromptu cooking for groups
- Nonviolent communication
- Knitting for warmth and to keep your sanity
- Making friends with your neighbors
- Giving up plastic
- Zine making
- Nature observation
As you can see I’ve imagined some complicated topics and some that are very easy to pass on. Just facilitating a discussion on something that’s important to you is a valuable contribution.
Which brings me to step two on making this thing affordable:
It will be completely collaborative and participatory.
Every person who attends gives a class/workshop/discussion/demonstration, and that’s their “fee” for attending. The only required fee would be to split the cost of porto-potties, and I’m working on how to get out of that, too!
In addition to skill/knowledge sharing, I thought of a few more ways that people could participate, including leading a group ritual or spiritual observation, hosting a group meal, or offering the evening entertainment (fire spinning, musical performance).
Some of these options are more expensive (like providing a group meal or hosting a workshop that involves pricey materials), and some are free (like teaching composting or hosting a discussion). That way everyone can choose the type of participation that they can afford.
Can you picture it?
Camping together around the hills and valleys at The Wallow. Sharing what we know about making our way at the end of a destructive and dying empire. Coming together for meals. Gathering around the fire at night. Low cost. Participatory. Acknowledging the precariousness of our cultural situation but sharing together our hopefulness about our capabilities.
Do you want to help make this happen?
Here’s the catch: I need help. I can’t make this happen on my own, and I don’t want to try. I’m not even going to think about moving this idea forward unless I have a handful of people who want to make it happen with me.
Right now this is just a dream. I have a lot of dreams, and this can be one more.
For it to be a reality, I need a few other people to sit with me and dream it into being. Planning, organizing, spreading the word.
Are you in?
skill share at the end of empire