by Charis Boke, Epic Skill Swap co-founder
Wow. Can you believe it? The workshops are lined up, the registration form is up for signups, the schedule is in the works, we’re rounding up a group of volunteers to help co-ordinate food for the weekend (is this you? Please email us!)…Skill Swap is coming up faster than I woulda thought possible!
In fact, it seems like a lot of stuff moves too fast for me to keep track of these days. The sun comes up, I get out of bed, I stretch, I eat, I go to work, I email and coordinate and plan and write papers and read things and fix my bike and let the raindrops fall into my mouth on the walk home and all of a sudden, the sun is down again and I’m back in bed (having, of course, eaten several more times). Is this just a matter of getting older? Time seems to squish down, and I seem to have less of it than I planned on having. (I’m the turtle, and the world and time is the road, going by too fast…)
This is one of the reasons the Epic Skill Swap was born. There are so many people to learn from in all of our lives, and so many things each of us want to know–to know how to do or make, or how to think about, or to have information about. We *knew* that many of our friends are skilled and talented, and figured the same must be true across a larger group of folks. But how to find the time to learn from a friend who lives two states away? How to figure out which friendly stranger might be able to instruct me in a thing I didn’t know I wanted to learn until I started it?
As a result of these musings on time–not enough of it–and talents–so many of them!–a bunch of us decided, early in 2012, that we should make a space for people to share both things. Time and talent together, with side benefits of crowd-sourced and shared food and music and conversation for a weekend. Thus, Skill Swap.
And in the interest of keeping the conversation going about why Skill Swap matters, why we want to make time for it, and why it could be a great way for others to spend some time, some of us have put together some thoughts. Jamie and Jasmine are both on the organizing committee this year and shared their thoughts with me (Charis) for the blog this time; other folks’ reflections on why they care about Skill Swap will be up in a few days. This little bloggy missive is about taking the time to sit back and reflect on our actions and motivations. Without reflection, action isn’t as fun, powerful, and thorough.
Jasmine says that “It is inspiring to gather with a group of talented interesting folks to share our skills and strengths. In many conversations with my friends I find myself both admiring their many talents and wishing to learn from then. Skill swap provides a structure for me to pick people’s brains, play together and take home some new ideas to explore. It’s a great way to gather with friends and to meet new folks who are all totally incredible, and a summer camp setting, what could be better than a summer camp setting?!?!”
And Jamie shared the following:
“We have become a society that has learned that the meeting of our needs is generally something we should outsource to professionals. When our cars or plumbing need fixing, we have people we can pay to do that. When we want to be entertained, we go see a movie or buy a CD, instead of making our own music or fun at home. When we want to learn something new, we pay for a class. The result is that many facets of our lives are now defined by acts of consumption to an extent that would be unfamiliar to our great grandparents.
While it’s great on some levels to have the luxury of paying someone to fulfill a need or want without the time consuming distraction of having to make it happen ourselves, I believe the extent to which we rely on professional services has a disempowering effect, as many of us have forgotten that we actually have the ability to meet some of our own needs in a more efficient way – or at least that we have the ability to learn how. For me, Epic Skill Swap has the potential to counter some of this. First of all, it’s an opportunity to learn new practical skills that allow us to do more for ourselves. But more importantly, because we all play a part in making it happen, it shows us that we are not helpless in the absence of professional assistance. We can make our own educational opportunities, our own social spaces, our own communities…and at the same time, we make a weekend of great entertainment for ourselves.”
These two describe different aspects of the importance of Skill Swap and things like it in their lives…and one thing that I personally love about Skill Swap (a longer bit soon, I promise!) is that we can have a bunch of different visions for why it matters and what it does co-existing in the same fun, playful, learning space.