2019 Schedule and Workshops

Here is the draft schedule for Epic Skill Swap 2019, June 7–9. Workshop descriptions are listed below the schedule in alphabetical order.

Note that we have open spaces for folks to lead workshops who weren’t involved in the initial workshop selection process. Please bring your last-minute workshops, or email us at epicskillswap@gmail.com with your ideas.

Aikido

with Adam F.

Aikido “the art of peace” is a Japanese martial and movement art that can teach us how to engage and blend with conflict in ways that preserve our own safety without adding violence. Techniques involve learning how to feel and connect with the energy of an “attacker” and move in a centered and balanced way to dissapate and redirect the incoming energy into a mutually safe resolution. Teaching our bodies to maintain a balance and grounding in the midst of challenging situations can also prepare us to deal verbal and other conflict situations in ways that ensure mutal safety and successful resolution. This workshop will introduce some initial ways of connecting — with ourselves and our balance, with the ground we stand on, and with another person. We’ll also learn how to safely fall in a controlled way without risk of injury.

Basic auto body repair

with Alison A.

So you’ve got a rusty spot on your car. First, you may ignore it. Then, you may intend to do something about. Finally, it may grow to a hole and then you know it’s bad. What to do? In this workshop, we’ll cover the basics of removing rust, using body filler to repair holes, and painting. If you want us to practice on your car, please plan to chip in towards material costs.

Basic Bread Making

with Katura H.

We’ll each make a loaf of simple bread. Along the way you will learn how yeast works, how to knead, shape a loaf, when it’s ready to bake, how to tell when it’s done and what to look for in each stage. I will talk about using different flours, how gluten works and tricks for making different types of bread.

Bending Wood With Steam

with Coby U.

In this workshop participants will learn how to use a steam chamber to turn wood into coat hooks, water bottle holders, fish nets, or decorative sculptural items. Wood is a rigid material, right? Wrong; wood is a shape shifter. Naturally, as humidity and temperature changes throughout the year, you may have noticed your doors fit differently or maybe a drawer is particularly sticky in the summer. Steam Bending takes advantage of this unique property of wood, its organic cell structure. By heating up wood or steaming it, we can mold a straight board into some remarkably intricate shapes.

Book Discussion: My Grandmother’s Hands

with Eric G.

This workshop will be a little different in that the skill being offered is critical self reflection and it is being taught through discussion of the book My Grandmother’s Hands, by Resmaa Menakem. I invite everyone to read the book before coming to the workshop. During the workshop, I will offer a brief overview of the physiology of our flight/fight/freeze response (aka trauma response), and use that as a jumping off point to discuss the book. Menakem makes the point that much racist and oppressive behavior has its roots in people’s trauma responses, which makes for a very different interpretation of today’s political scene and invites very different approaches to activism. You can find MGH in most bookstores.

Book Discussion: White Fragility

with Mary P.

Book title: White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism. By Robin DiAngelo”In 2011, DiAngelo coined the term “white fragility” to describe the disbelieving defensiveness that white people exhibit when their ideas about race and racism are challenged—and particularly when they feel implicated in white supremacy. Why, she wondered, did her feedback prompt such resistance, as if the mention of racism were more offensive than the fact or practice of it?” -The New YorkerCome discuss this topic! Reading the book beforehand is helpful, but not necessary. I’ll have at least one copy on hand to pass around. Happy to facilitate the discussion, and open to co-facilitation.

Business and Life Coaching

a one-on-one workshop with Hollis E.

Last year I offered to do one-on-one business/life coaching sessions with Skill Swappers, but then we had a baby and ended up not making it to Skill Swap. Let’s try again!Examples of things you might want to work on:Got an idea for a business? Let’s talk about how to make it a reality.Having trouble getting moving on a project? Let’s figure out what you need to do first and what will keep you moving along once you’ve started.Trying to build or break a habit? There are things you can do to build triggers and guardrails into your life, identify potential pitfalls, and make sure that you’re actually cementing the habit you want.Got an issue at work that seems intractable? Let’s see what we can do to get things moving again.Lots of other possibilities, too. If this is interesting to you, let’s talk! We’ll set up times for meeting once we’re all at ESS together, so that we can work around other workshops people want to teach or attend.

Card Magic

with Ben W.

Amaze your friends! Annoy your family! Learn honest-to-goodness magic! We’ll go over some of the basic moves of card magic – the double lift, slip force, and false cut, upon which many tricks are based. We can also learn a couple of flourishes like one-handed cuts and ribbon spreads too. Figure out how to do some classic tricks or invent your own!Ideal if you can bring a newer deck of Bicycle cards, but I’ll have some decks for people to use too.

Carving Kitchen Tools in Swedish Slöjd Style

with Hollis E.

I’ve been having a lot of fun this spring learning to make kitchen tools (spatulas, butter knives, etc.) in a style of carving called slöjd. Slöjd is a way of woodworking and thinking that’s apparently taught in public schools throughout the Nordic countries, and it focuses on practical self-sufficiency. Need something? Find a way to make it. I’ve been making things out of interesting pieces of wood from my firewood stack.Slöjd uses a number of prescribed knife grips and techniques in order to safely and precisely make things. We’ll learn and practice some of the major knife grips and will then start working on shaping simple kitchen tools (like a spatula, set of chopsticks, spoon, oatmeal spurtle, butter knife, jam spreader, etc.). The goal is that each person should be able to take home a complete (or nearly complete) tool to use in their kitchen.I’ll provide wood for you to use in carving; if you’re interested in carving green wood or wood that you’ve brought from home, let’s talk in advance to make sure it’ll be suitable for learning.What you’ll need: a really sharp non-folding carving knife. I’m a big fan of the Morakniv 106, which costs about $20. It’s helpful to have a blade that’s about 3″ long. Folding knives are not suitable for safety reasons. If you’re interested in buying a knife and you’d like help choosing it, shoot me an email (lastname at firstnamelastname dot com) and I’d be happy to help!What you’ll learn: Basic Swedish carving grips, their safe use, and what might lead you to use different ones at different times.How to use a knife to rough out the shape of a tool, profile it, plane the surfaces, chamfer or round the edges, and carve simple decoration if desired.How to read the grain on a piece of wood and select it for strength and beauty given the type of tool you’re making.Some basics about working with green wood vs dried wood.How to finish and preserve wood that’s going to be used with food.Basic knife care and sharpening. (I’ve taught knife sharpening workshops in the past and am happy to provide one-on-one instruction for knife sharpening if desired.)Safety safety safety safety!Examples: I’ll post some of the things I’ve been playing with in the ESS Facebook group. I’ve been really enjoying the way slöjd involves making practical things fairly quickly and without worrying too much about perfection. I hope you’ll join me!

Cooking healthful, vegetarian, easy Indian dish

with Avinash R.

This is a hands-on cooking workshop where you will learn how to cook two healthful, vegan/vegetarian Indian dishes. We will cook the following:Two entrees of daal (lentils) from stratchSide-dish i.e., papad, pakora (onion fritters)ChutneyRiceThe dish takes about 1 hour in a pressure cooker. There will be a plating demo at the end. You will get atleast two servings of the dish we make to take home!

This workshop has small materials fee for participants. Please contact the ESS organizing team if the materials fee would be a hardship for you.

Dealing with Lyme Disease

with Hannah P.

Lyme Disease is the fastest-growing vector-borne disease in the US. In New England, it’s considered by some to have reached epidemic proportions. We’ll cover topics like:protecting yourself from ticksmyths about common symptomshow and when to get testedhow to find a good doctor If anyone has specific questions about Lyme and lets me know ahead, I’ll plan to address them in the workshop.Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. I am a long-term Lyme patient who’s done a lot of research.

Exercise in 15 minutes a day

with Jasmine W.

Since December I have been doing a 15 minute workout almost every day. I do them through MommaStrong, a wonderful low cost service designed for moms and moms to be. Many of the lessons I’ve learned are applicable to anyone who wants to be more fit in an encouraging body positive environment. I’ll talk about why I love it, we’ll do a workout together, and then we’ll debrief how to stay motivated. I’ve never been good at keeping any habit and I’m going on 100 days! Yoga mat recommended (though we won’t be doing yoga).

Flamenco Dancing

with Sarah S.

Flamenco dance is an orally transmitted art form from Southern Spain, developed over the centuries by the Roma-Gitano people and other marginalized groups. While it can take a lifetime of study to master, flamenco dance offers some potent life lessons that can be gleaned in an afternoon. In this workshop, we will focus on flamenco teachings that can be deployed in our everyday lives. Topics will include badass posture, cabeza feroz, how to support each other with jaleos and palmas, and how to call a letra.If you have shoes with a hard, chunky heel, bring them so we can make good stomping noises!

Food Preservation — Canning Basics

with Jane D.

Learn how to preserve fresh produce through the boiling-water bath process. It’s a great way to preserve tomatoes, pickled veggies, fruit, condiments, and jams/jellies. We will do the complete process from prepping the produce, filling jars, using the canner, and waiting for the finished product to cool.

Gluten-free baking

with Marisa K.

I can eat gluten, but I also like to feed people who can’t. My approach to gluten-free baking is to find recipes that don’t call for wheat flour (or spelt, rye, etc.) in the first place. In this workshop, we’ll make delicious recipes that happen to be gluten-free, such as maple-almond thumbprint cookies, flourless chocolate cake, and custard. We’ll make a couple of things and I’ll being recipes for more. Some recipes are also dairy and/or egg-free. Requested donation of $2-3 to cover ingredients.

This workshop has small materials fee for participants. Please contact the ESS organizing team if the materials fee would be a hardship for you.

How to Be A Psychic

with Julie Ann O.

Even if you don’t posess super human abilities to forecast the future, you can develop your intuitive muscles. Building your skill set as a psychic is all about honing your powers of empathy, curiosity, somatic connection with yourself, and PLAY. We’ll experiment with telling our own fortunes and then each others. Then we’ll see if any of our predictions come true! (Sorry, no lottery predictions in this workshop.)

Human Evolutionary Thinking for Empathy

with Ari E.

When I hear about problems—everything from huge social or environmental problems to interpersonal disputes—I like search for the root causes. More often than not, the answer I arrive at is that our brains just aren’t evolved for what they’re being presented with. Yessiree, one day, about 10,000 years ago we decided to change the world around us way faster than our brains could keep up with. Refined sugars? Cities? Extractive capitalism? Global trade? Hzuwhaaaah?!? What happened to my Paleolithic foraging group? Our brains are not cool with this, and deal with it in some weird ways.In this workshop, we’ll geek out a lot about evolution. We’ll use evolutionary thinking to gain empathy for others—they’re just muddling through and coping with their maladaptions differently than us! We’ll play Evolutionary Therapist to find solutions to global, personal, and interpersonal problems that support our evolutionary limitations. We’ll also complicate/dismantle some conventional narratives about evolution, which have led to things like social Darwinism and eugenics, which are badbadbad.

Intro to meditation

with Ben W.

This workshop will serve as an introduction to meditation — going over how to sit comfortably, what to do with your breath, and how to work with your mind. The technique learned can be used as a part of a daily practice and some advice and resources on how to incorporate meditation into daily life will be given. I’ll also give a brief introduction to the history of Buddhist meditation. The technique we’ll cover is shamatha meditation, an extremely simple, traditional meditation technique that translates literally as “peaceful abiding.”

Itty Bitty Baskets

with Christine T.

Using waxed linen and cut ash or brich bark we will make tiny baskets. Think amulet pouches or little quivers for your local fairy population. We will learn twining, weaving and some basic finishing techniques. When the basket is finished it can be embellished with beads (bring your own or I will have a very small stash) All of these basket techniques translate to larger baskets, just the materials are full sized.Special thanks to my sister Jane who not only taught me this a long time ago, but has loaned me her stash of waxed linen and instructions!

This workshop has small materials fee for participants. Please contact the ESS organizing team if the materials fee would be a hardship for you.

Knitting 101

with Kirill S.

In this workshop we’ll learn to get started with knitting. Knitting is a fun (though not entirely economical) hobby, and whether you are interested in making sweaters, socks, slippers, hats, or simply yarn-bombing your nearby telephone pole, this workshop will have you on your way.

Make Maple Syrup and Maple Candy

with Wayne C.

I will bring some sap that has been boiled to nearly syrup. We will finish boiling it to syrup, using a hydrometer to determine when it is just the right density to be syrup.We will observe the increase in the boiling temperature as the density of the liquid increases. Then, we will continue boiling some of it until it is dense enough to make maple candy. We will have syrup and maple candy to sample and to share with others.

Non Violent Communication

with Scott C.

In this workshop we will be trying out techniques and exercises to upgrade our speech patterns. We will examine the words we use to express ourselves and show how some simple linguistic reframing can improve the quality of our lives.We will show a way to come to peace with inner conflicts, such as wether to go to the gym or binge netflix. By reframing these conflicts in a positive way we can end the war with ourselves. Once we end the war with ourselves we can easily end our wars with others.We will also learn how to express our needs to others effectively, framing them so they are opportunistic requests and not guilt-inducing demands.After doing this work on our own inner and outward talk, we examine how we can more skillfully hear others when they use violent communication. We can learn to listen to their words non-violently, and discover the deeper message of them expressing their needs. In this way we can manifest compassion for everyone regardless of their speech patterns.

Paddling

with Jadrian M.

There are so many different ways to enjoy being in or near the water, and being comfortable in a paddle-powered boat opens up even more possibilities! Knowing just a couple simple techniques can make all the difference in paddling a kayak or canoe. We’ll practice a couple strokes on land, then load into boats in pairs to practice on the water. If there’s interest, we can also try out an assisted canoe rescue. You should be prepared to get wet and probably fall in the water, so a bathing suit is a must. We’ll use the camp’s boats, paddles, and life jackets.

Partner Dance Connection

with Sarah K.

This workshop is about common ways to connect, lead and follow in partner dance. We’ll do activities/exercises/games to play with the ideas of compression, extension, open, closed, rotation, Newton’s second law of following, arm tension, direction, and force. We’ll also talk about some ideas for being gentle and safe with your partner and yourself such as hand connection, leading as invitation, arm tension, compromised and safe arm positions, and spin technique. My partner dance background is mainly in swing (lindyhop, west coast swing, 6 count) but this workshop should be useful for anyone who likes connecting with and dancing with other people.

Poison Ivy Identification

with Heather H.

There’s lot of poison ivy around Skill Swap. We’ll take a wee walk down the path and identify a bunch of plants that have 3 leaves, noticing the similarities and differences between them. By the end of the walk, you’ll be able to tell whether a plant with 3 leaves is poison ivy or not. We’ll also discuss how poison ivy spreads, how you catch it, and what within a few hours of being near/in poison ivy. Here’s hoping you never get poison ivy again. This session will last about 20 minutes and can be repeated several times within a workshop slot.

Reading financial documents

with Annie W.

I am a worker-owner at Real Pickles Cooperative. One of the hardest things for people to learn when they become worker-owners is how to look at financial documents for a business and understand what they’re saying. Have you joined a board and had a similar challenging learning curve? Have you wondered about Annual Reports from your favorite non-profit and what they’re trying to tell you with all of their charts and graphs? Have you always wondered why it’s called a bottom line and what a bottom line even is? I’ll bring some legos. We’ll learn some stuff together. If we’ve got time at the end, we’ll talk about how to use democratic management practices to run a business, but I’m betting we won’t have time for that…so maybe we’ll just make some structures with our legos when we’re done using them for visual math. We will also briefly discuss my distaste for pie charts and why other modes of visual interpretation work better.If you have financial docs from your org/non-profit/business that you want to share, bring them along!

Reading the Stories Things have to Tell

with Eliza W.

I’m typing up this proposal on an ergonomic keyboard – it’s sleek and gray and a pure embodiment of 21st-century design. It’s also a tool which I use to write, and a machine where the act of pressing down the keys causes little letters to appear on the screen of my tablet. The shape an appearance of this keyboard owes a lot to older keyboards. We could probably argue that even Gutenburg played a part in it’s design. After being designed, this keyboard was manufactured, and finally it was sold to me. Every time I hit the keys (or spill my coffee on the hand rest) I change this keyboard a little bit. And it’s changed me too – next year I’ll look back and say “that’s the keyboard that brought me to Epic Skill Swap, to teach that sick workshop about matrial culture!”Everything humans have ever made has a story: A story of its design, of its making, and its use. The closer we look, the more of those stories we can discover. Join me to explore tha made world of camp Wilmot. We’ll build close looking skills by studying the camp itself – its chairs, its buildings, its driveway! – and we’ll think about what we can learn from the world we’ve made, and what it tells others about us.

Rekeying Residential Door Locks

with Delbert C.

In this workshop we will go over how to take apart and rekey (re-pin) some of the more common brands of residential door locks. People will get a chance to look at the inner parts of a lock and get a hands-on chance to re-pin their own lock.I will have the parts and tools to work with common lock brands as well as some sample locks for people to practice on. People are encouraged to bring their own locks they want to be rekeyed, and any keys to work with them.Note: this workshop will not cover lock picking, please bring locks with keys.

Relationships Off the Escalator: A Roundtable Conversation on Polyamory and Ethical Non-Monogamy

with Dana D.-Y. and friends

Doing relationships outside the norm can be extraordinarily freeing, secure, affirming, and growthful, whether those relationships are friendships, sweethearts, sexytimes buddies, or all of the above. It can also be extraordinarily hard, especially when you don’t have resources or role models, and when the cultural messages that say “there is only one right way to do relationships and you are not doing it!” get super loud. (These messages are usually yelling about the “relationship escalator,” which you can read more about here.)I am envisioning a roundable sort of workshop, where folks from the Skill Swap community who practice some form of ethical non-monogamy come and talk about their experience, share their tools and best practices, and answer questions. (If you are willing to be one of those people, please email/message me!) I am happy to talk about my experience as a solo poly person, and tools and frameworks I use, but I’m just one human, and we all do this differently. As Aggie Sez, solo poly author, puts it, “Love isn’t one-size-fits-all, so it’s good to know what your options are.”Folks of all ages, genders, orientations, etc. are welcome. I imagine this as mostly being geared toward poly or poly-curious folks, but monogamous folks are welcome also. Learning how to be better at relationships and navigate our stumbling blocks is good work for everyone. Bring your curiosity and compassion!

Stained Glass

with Jamie P.

I started playing around with stained glass last fall and discovered it’s actually a pretty accessible hobby to get into. The investment in tools and materials is limited, and it’s a pretty forgiving medium to work with. I’m not expert, but I’ve learned some basic things about making lighting fixtures and window panels. I’ll tell you what I know, demonstrate the basic process, and let you try it out.

Tai chi / Qigong

with Mellisa B.

Tai chi is a relaxing, moving meditation whose philisophical roots in China can be traced back 4,000 years. Many people turn to it for de-stressing and improving health. Did you know it’s also a martial art? Hidden in each posture, such as the elegant “white crane spreads its wings,” are martial applications — ways to meet and diffuse an opponent’s energy while maintaining and protecting your own center. Starting with some qigong — standing meditation, focusing on energy circulating through the body — we’ll build a connection to our own energetic center. Through some simple, fun, non-violent tai chi partner exercises, we’ll practice maintaining root and balance while responding to another person’s incoming energy — skills that come in handy in life.