Guests gathered to learn and share skills on 214 Charles Street in Ann Arbor for the Do It Yourself Fest Oct. 6, in conjunction with A2 Free Skool.
The Ann Arbor Free Skool began as a grassroots non-hierarchical collective working to create free classes, workshops and skill shares. The school’s mission is to provide a free and accessible way to learn and exchange ideas.
The group is decentralized, which means it moves around to the backyards of whoever is available to host. The location is rooted in the minds of the people who organize the various events and classes held.
Upon arrival, guests could choose between various informal classes in a decorated backyard.
One could join the picnic table in the process of making soap, relax on the veranda and drink warm tea while listening about the different types of edible plants or even learn some basic self-defense moves on the lawn. You could also shop at the shed-turned “free store” or chat with a friend while the acoustic band jammed out on the porch-turned-stage.
In this stew of resourceful and imaginative lessons and activities, the courses are taught by people who are excited to share their knowledge.
The hostess for the day was Hanah Zinn, who believes whole-heartedly in the value of holding such a resourceful event.
“The Free Skool gives people a platform to share skills and learn from others in an informal environment,” Zinn said. “This type of peer-to-peer interaction is important to truly have a hands-on relationship with the community.”
The classes are casual to encourage a more open conduit for harnessing skills—not based on credibility or an arbitrary learning scale.
“In our digital age,” Zinn said, “It’s becoming more and more rare to interact face-to-face, hand-to-hand and voice-to-voice, with skills to enjoy and an enriching social circle.”
The DIY Fest held other engaging activities later on in the day such as learning how to properly have a jam session, engaging in a religious discussion and having a lesson in tai chi.
There were also more knowledge-based lessons, like fertility awareness, how to quit smoking and primitive survival.
The Fest’s array of classes represents the Free Skool’s belief in appropriate technology. This means when putting on an event, the organizers look around at what they already have in terms of skill sets and necessities before jumping in the car and high-tailing to the nearest Walmart.
They call up their friends and see what they can contribute, scope out the dumpsters, collect from trades and slowly put together whatever they need with the resources available. In this way, the school is also creating a deeper sense of community.
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