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Whatcom SkillShare Faire

How to survive the apocalypse

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A local couple I know are convinced an apocalyptic event will happen during their lifetime—and they want to be prepared when it comes. To that end, they’ve learned such skills as how to butcher and skin rabbits and start fires without matches, and occasionally make a test run and load up their truck with everything they think they’ll need to make a quick escape from the city.

I’m not as convinced the world as we know it is coming to an end anytime soon, but I agree with my friends that it’s a good idea to learn a variety of life skills that could not only help me and my loved ones survive the apocalypse, but also enrich our current existence.

Enter the Whatcom SkillShare Faire. The second annual event is being put on by Transition Whatcom Sept. 21-22 at Ferndale’s Hovander Homestead Park, and it appears to be the place to go to find out more about living a self-reliant life.

“The Whatcom SkillShare Faire is a fun festival about teaching and learning all kinds of useful, handy and practical skills,” organizers say on the event’s website. “Years ago, lots of people knew how to repair and sharpen tools, make a braided rug, raise chickens, make soap, build a fence, make simple toys and much more. The goal of the SkillShare Faire is to help revive those skills, showcase some new ones, and provide a place where all of us can come learn from people more experienced in these crafts and trades.”

“Survival Skills” is, in fact, one of the themes of the weekend, and the list of workshops focusing on it is still growing. “Fire by Friction,” “Traditional Bows & Arrows,” “Wilderness First Aid,” “ID and Cook Wild Edibles,” “Building and Using a Solar Oven,” and “Using Wild Fibers for Rope, Baskets and Mats” are some of the options, and attendees will also find skill shares on everything from gardening in the winter to making rocket stoves, building and using sun dials, and witching water.

Food is a focus in many of the skill shares, and those who’d like to know more about raising livestock and fermenting and brewing everything from beer to sauerkraut to wine will not be disappointed.

Other groupings include “Fiber Arts” (weaving, knitting, wool-combing, etc.) and “Home Skills” (sock-darning, cross stitch, beekeeping, animal husbandry, crochet, sewing, cake decorating and so on). But some skill shares exist on their own, such as “Electrical Repair,” “Dignity through the End of Life,” “Making Jewelry,” “The Art of Telling a Good Story” and “Irish Step-Dancing.”

In short, there’s going to be something for everyone, and the skills you’ll walk away with should help enrich your life in some new and interesting way. Those who show up are also encouraged to bring items to swap and barter such as seeds, recipes, household items, produce and preserves.

A full list of skills that will be shared can be found at the event’s website, so it might behoove you to go there and take note of what’s happening, and when, so that you can be have some idea of what you’d like to learn more about when you show up at Hovander Homestead Park. If the apocalypse happens before Saturday, however, you’re on your own.

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