2014 Workshop Descriptions

* denotes small materials fee

Adhesives!: Learn all about how to stick what to what! You’ll learn the basic principles behind types of household adhesives, and why and how they work for different materials.  You’ll get some hands-on experience with a few of the major players, and go home knowing how to glue your whole world back together (Well, most of it.)  You might even go home with an adorable craft project. Carrie C

Aquaponics: Learn to build and maintain a small scale aquaponics system. The term “Aquaponics” comes from the integration of Aquaculture and Hydroponics. Aquaculture is raising fish in a re-circulating system and hydroponics is the growing of plants without the use of soil. Aquaponics is the raising of fish and plants together. The fish waste becomes plant fertilizer and the water is filtered by the plants for the fish. Beth F

Backyard chickens!: Have you been thinking about a little flock of chickens in your back yard? Want to know a bit more about what’s involved with chicken keeping? As a new and enamored keeper of chickens, I’ll tell you about some of the basics of chicken keeping. Food, shelter, basic care, and related. Zoe G

Basic Accounting: This class can apply to both individuals and small businesses.  This explanation of accounting basics will introduce you to some basic accounting principles, accounting concepts, and accounting terminology. Some of the basic accounting terms that you will learn include revenues, expenses, assets, liabilities, income statement, balance sheet, and statement of cash flows.  The class will be based on the desires of the group. Jasmine W

Basic Bicycle Maintenance:Learn some quick and easy maintenance and repairs you can do at the roadside or at home with a few simple tools! This workshop will focus on basic preventative maintenance and common emergency repairs (e.g. flat tires, broken spokes). Participants are encouraged to bring their own bicycles. Fred L

Basic Cheese Making –Mozzarella and Ricotta*: We’ll make mozzarella from fresh milk and then ricotta from the leftover whey and a little more milk. Materials fee for supplies and then we can split the cheese up! Christine T

Basic Drawing: Basic drawing skills including contour line drawing, shading and sketching techniques will be introduced. We will work on observational skill development and eye-hand coordination while drawing from natural objects set up in a still-life. No previous experience needed.  Anyone can learn to draw! John N

Basic Herbal Medicine Making*: Starting with a plant walk, we’ll spend this extended class talking about the wonderous world of plants and our relationships with them. We’ll check out wild medicinal weeds that grow in our backyards, as well as talking nourishing herbs, infusions, basic tincturing and salves. Basically, we’ll get herbally empowered to heal ourselves and our loved ones. Charis B

Blues Dancing Basics: Learn the basics of the sultry conversation that is blues dancing. We’ll get you moving to the beat, explore the fundamentals of connection, and introduce the pulse. We might even try to host a late-night dance party so you can bust out your moves 😉 Alison N and Adam F

Bowhunting Basics:Many people seek a stronger connection to the source of their food, and for those who eat meat there’s no connection more primal than the hunt. Bowhunting in particular requires the hunter to develop a deep connection to land and quarry and a broad array of mental and physical skills that allow them to blend into their landscape. This workshop will offer an introduction to subsistence bowhunting, first by going over basic handcrafted bowhunting equipment, the types and colors of clothing useful to help hunters conceal themselves while remaining comfortable and warm, and pointers on using topography and wind to best advantage. The workshop will also cover basic fieldcraft – the art of moving through terrain quietly while paying attention to the presence of other animals that might alert quarry to your presence – as well as animal tracking, trailing, and the reading of sign. This workshop is not a substitute for a hunter education course, and will not involve shooting any bows or arrows. Eric G

Brazing – playing with molten metal: Brazing is kind of like welding, but instead of melting the pieces of metal you want to join, you melt another metal (like bronze) and use it as a glue. In this way, it’s more like soldering, but at much higher temperatures. We’ll talk about some brazing basics, safety considerations, advantages/disadvantages as compared to welding, and do some brazing on a small scale with a very manageable torch. This is a good workshop for anyone who thinks they’re afraid of using a torch. Jamie P

Breadmaking: Scared of yeast? Not sure what rising is? We’ll go over simple bread making tips, techniques and end up making a loaf or two! Emily N

Energy Conservation: Building Science for Community Members: So you want to live more sustainably and you don’t know what’s worth spending your time on. You live in a house and you want to know why new windows aren’t necessarily the answer. You care about your world but you want to know more about your relationship with energy and what life changes can make a difference. Understanding more about your personal relationship with Energy can help you to answer these questions yourself. In this session, I hope to discuss how your house works, ways you can make a difference, and what might be able to happen when you get an energy audit. I’d like to put that information into the general context of our energy use as a nation, a brief energy history, some (potential) energy futures, and indubitably the three methods of heat transfer & building science. Demos to include IR Camera, Blower Door, several other pieces of fun equipment. Brian L

 Fermentation:Come ferment!  It is EASY, fun, tastes good, and is good for you! Learn some skills and theory while having a taste of some “finished” ferments and help me make a batch.  Get some tips about which veggies are easy and which ones get mushy (for me).  And veggies are just a little corner of what is possible… I have been experimenting with Tempeh, miso, and kefir!  Anything is possible. I would love to have other people bring their experiences and ferments to share! Hank A

First Aid and First Aid Kits: workshop description pending! Ben W and Drew C

 Food Preservation: A crash course in home food preservation! We’ll go over waterbath canning, drying, and pickling and fermentation and discuss what works best for what. To make sure no one dies of botulism, we’ll go over food safety and troubleshooting basics. Come learn how to save your summer bounty! Mollie P

Harmonica: Most people have harmonicas and have tried to play them, but gotten frustrated. This workshop is an on-ramp so that you can look at the harmonica with less befuddlement and a clearer direction. I don’t have extra harmonicas, so bring your C diatonic 10 hole harp (it’s the most common kind). Ari E

How to Organize A Skill Swap (or any other festival): Putting on an event like Skill Swap is a lot of work, but it’s not an impossible task. It turns out that, like making yogurt, fixing your bike and learning to cut hair, starting a festival is a thing that normal people can do. We’ve learned a lot lessons through this process – some the easy way, some the hard way, and we want to share them with anyone who thinks they might want to start their own skill swap, music festival, knitting convention, etc. We’ll talk about things like site selection, insurance/liability concerns, logistics of feeding large numbers of people, how to make sure you cover your expenses without turning a profit, inter-organizer communication and group dynamics, and anything else you’d like to know about how to turn an idea into an event. Get the tools and ideas that you and a bunch of your closest friends would need to make an Epic Skill Swap in your area. Propagate! ESS Organizers

 Improve your travel photos!: This workshop will teach you a few basic steps that you can use to take photos that capture the beauty of sites and people that you encounter on your travels to lands far away or around your neighborhood. Rather than focusing on particular dials or settings, this workshop will show you ways to look at a scene and choose how to approach it. Every scene has an infinity of images available within it, but we can dramatically improve our chances of composing a “successful” image if we position our cameras and choose zoom in ways that align with what we are hoping to show. The process we’ll follow will work with any camera — from an smart-phone to a DSL with a full kit of lenses — so join us with whatever camera you have! A camera with a zoom lens will give you a few more options to experiment with, so bring one along if you have it as we’ll follow the introductory discussion with a photo walk around the camp. Adam F

Intro to Islam: You probably learned about the five pillars of Muslim practice in school (prayer, fasting, charity, pilgrimage, and testament of faith – in case you needed a refresher). This session will go a little further. What do Muslims believe? What is the difference between the Sunni and Shi’a? Where do the Sufis fit in? What is the deal with head scarfs, two female witnesses and four wives?? Why are some Muslims calling for the implementation of shari’a and what is it anyway? I’ll cover the basics, including these questions, but please also bring your own. Nothing is off limits. Trust me, I’ve heard them all and usually in weird places like the grocery store checkout line. Jaye S

Intro to Jitterbug (East Coast Swing):Learn the basic six-count step for this style of dance and some simple, but really fun, break moves (or more complicated ones if everyone in the class is an experienced dancer).  I have 50s rock and roll tunes recorded and with have a small P. A. system.  Live musicians are welcome to substitute for the recorded music.  This style of swing dancing works well with a variety of styles of music as long as they have a strong 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8 beat, and yes it is a six-count basic step to an eight count beat. Wayne C

Intro to Kayaking:Come learn basic canoe and kayak skills. Learn strokes, balance, a wet exit, and roll a kayak. We bring the kayaks; you bring the bathing suits! Seth K

Juggling!: Have you always wanted to juggle? Here is your chance. We’ll do a basic three ball cascade pattern as well as a two ball pattern (two balls + two hands = you’ll be able to juggle four by the end of the session!). Three reasons to learn to juggle: it is a great form of meditation for people like me who can’t sit still, it is a fantastic way to make friends in places where you don’t speak the language, it is endlessly useful when unexpected situations involving crying children arrive. We’ll make our own balls at the start of the session – if you want to get an advanced start you can make yours before you come! Equipment fee: $3/person (might end up being cheaper depending on our numbers and it is free if you come with your balls). Jaye S

Kitchen Efficiency – Food from scratch for people who think they don’t have time to make food from scratch: So, you want to be a good hippie and bake your own bread and grow your own sprouts and all that other fun stuff that you swear you’d do if only you had the time. But you have a busy lifestyle and don’t think your schedule can support time-consuming food projects. Actually, it’s easier than you probably think. It requires some efficient kitchen processes and in some cases some infrastructure investment that will pay for itself in the long run. To demonstrate this point, in 1 hour we will mill fresh flour, make a bread dough, cook a flat bread in a skillet, roast coffee, talk about how I’ve been growing massive quantities of sprouts in my kitchen (and take a tour of the semi-automated sprouting apparatus that makes it possible). And as a bonus, let’s make a batch of homemade black bean falafel, because all of the above should leave us with about ten minutes to spare. This workshop will move quickly, and might end up spanning the narrow cusp between how-to demonstration and bizarre performance art. Jamie P

Knot Tying: With all the problems in the world – war, hunger, climate catastrophe – our political system remains tied in knots. This workshop will help you make strong, lasting connections that can be easily taken apart with the right knowledge. Simple knots for everyday applications: we won’t string you along. Jay O

Lucid Dreaming: Want to learn how to realize you’re dreaming and possibly even control your dreams? I want to introduce you to the most freeing state you’ll ever experience. I would give the basic steps involved in learning this skill and clear up common misconceptions. Everyone would have a chance to share their dream experiences: the good, the bad, the bizarre. Emily B

Making Bitters *:Bitters are one of the many things that can make a cocktail go from good to amazing. In this class you will learn a bit of the history of bitters and different ways to make them through infusion techniques. I’ll have some ingredients and equipment when the class takes place but feel free to bring your ideas too. Sean S

Making Condiments!*: Do away with those overpriced bottles full of unpronounceable ingredients and come learn how to make your own condiments — to share with the whole Swap or take home with you! It’s easy, inexpensive, and delicious. Workshop will be tailored based on participants’ condiment interests: we can learn a core salad dressing recipe and experiment with some variations, cook up a sweet mustard, have fun with emulsification and fresh mayo, roast fiery peppers for hot sauce, make a mellow hummus, go nuts (yep, pun intended) with peanut sauce, talk salsa or pesto . . . so many options for making your meals more awesome! $2 ingredients fee. Dana D-Y

 Mapmaking:Learn how to make a map with your computer or at least get started!  How to find the (free) tool you need and the (free) data you want (and possibly a tutorial to help you get the tool and the data together). We will mostly look at internet tools and data sources, though we will touch on QGIS which is an open source Geographic Information System (!). Bring questions and/or the idea of maps you wish you had – I got the data off of my GPS, now what?  I want a map of my land that has soil data, aerial imagery, and elevation…?  We won’t be able to figure out everyone’s maps in one hour but we can probably find solutions to some of life’s persistent questions. Hank A

 Massage Therapy: Get comfortable doing something that’s only slightly less than universally appreciated. Basic techniques for working more than five minutes at a time, giving maximally interesting pressure, and feeling sure that you’ve at least got a very tasteful guess as to what you’re doing. Discussions to touch on both verbal communication skills for use with your partner and the sort of nonverbal-communication sensitivity necessary for hearing what the body’s trying to tell you both. Scott S

Mchaka: Mchakamchaka is a tradition from Tanzania of communal running/singing. The running keeps the rhythm. The songs are simple, joyous, and lend themselves to tons of fun harmonies. Ari E

Packbasket Making Demonstration: In lieu of an actual workshop (because that would take the whole weekend!) this demonstration will show you the different steps of packbasket making from start to finish. Come learn about different basket making materials and where to get them, how to do the basic weave, and how to finish off a rim. We can scheme about a date for an actual workshop for anybody who’s interested! Marina G

Quaker Meeting for Worship: With a short introduction we’ll have a workshop of Quaker Meeting. We will gather, center, and focus our attention on that small voice of truth that speaks from our hearts when we quiet the mind and body. If moved by the spirit to speak, we’ll share what rises from within out loud. Jay O

Rock climbing –Building Top-Rope Anchors and Other Cool Stuff:Have you ever wanted to go climbing outdoors but couldn’t because your ‘friend who always sets up the ropes’ was unavailable? Well fret no more! In this workshop you will be introduced to the wonderful world of building top rope anchor systems! You will be able to learn the basic concepts and practice building an anchor on real cliffs at Camp Wilmot. You don’t need any prior experience with climbing or knot-tying to learn about the wonderful world of top rope anchors and other cool stuff (like z pulley systems). Adj M

SAM Splints*: Discover how to use one of the most innovative, lightweight and versatile tools in the pre-hospital care. Used by emergency medical providers, wilderness medicine geeks, military medics and even NASA, the SAM splint can be used to splint or reinforce any part of the body in injury. In this focused session, we will explore splinting techniques for forearm, wrist, hand, fingers, ankle, legs, and knees. We will also focus on using the SAM splint as a cervical collar for vertebral neck injuries. This is a hands-on workshop where we will be practicing on eachother, so wear loose-fitting clothes. Cost: $11 for the cost of the splint. Ben W

Soapmaking*: We’ll learn how to make vegetarian soap out of different types of oils and beeswax. Small materials fee will apply. Bring essential oils if you’ve got one that you particularly fancy! Meghan K

Spanish for…everyone!: Speaking another language– even a few words– can turn an interaction based in alienation, racism and fear into one of communication, empathy, and at the very least, smiles and laughter! Depending on the group, we can do basic conversations, Spanish for activists, or anything else you dream up.

 Starting a Business:This workshop is my experience founding a not-for-profit, a sole proprietorship, and a cooperative, all along the service themes of carpentry, construction, and deconstruction.  There will be elements of planning, legal, accounting, personnel, advertising, media, largely focused on the desires and ambitions of the participants.  I will present my experiences, with the hopes of encouraging others to find their way and take the plunge.  Erich K

 Swimming Clinic: Haven’t been in the water in years? Can you do the doggie-paddle and nothing else? Can you do the front crawl, but always breathe to the right and veer radically to the left? Come to a swimming clinic where we will discuss good swimming technique, and each person will get individualized pointers from a swimming enthusiast/maven.Elizabeth Y

Talking About Money: Do you feel overwhelmed when you think about money?  Do you try to avoid talking about it?  This workshop will give space to talk about money and its role in meeting our dreams and visions.  We will come from a place of abundance and discuss how this important resource can serve us.  The conversation will be guided by the participants desires, but some possible topics include: habits of mind around finances, tracking, budgeting (that feels good, rather than restrictive), debt strategies, investing, resources for keeping track of finances.  Jasmine loves to talk about money, and hopes to bring that spirit to others so we can all share our strategies. Jasmine W

Theory of Relativity: Einstein’s Ideas Come To The Epic Skill Swap! We will try to understand some aspects of the theory without mathematics, no knowledge of physics required either. Slowing time down; why you can travel into the future, but you can’t go back to the past. Why it is more accurate to say that we exist in spacetime rather than in space and time. Play with a model of the warping of spacetime by mass. Experiment with a straight line on a curved surface. Wayne C

 Tiny House Living – A Primer: I’ll bring my house (if done, currently in framing), but we’ll at least cover the basics of planning for the building and living in a tiny house. Drew C

Vermiculture: Vermiculture, also known as worm composting, is a cheap & easy way to turn your food scraps into extremely nutritious soil. Especially for those living in urban areas or apartments where outdoor or curbside composting is not an option. Sonja

Whittling/Mindfulness:Ever wondered how to meditate? Ever wanted to make fantastic things out of wood? This session introduces both. Why meditation and whittling? There’s nothing special about this combination, but mindfulness is a practice for every activity and carving things with knives is a great place to use it! Join us and discover true awareness. Bring a pocket knife if you have one. Jason S

Wild Edible and Medicinal Plants: Learning to find and use wild edible and medicinal plants is one of many tools that can offer us a greater connection to our food and to nature, the ultimate source of all nutrition. This workshop will offer a tour of the many wild edible and medicinal plants that grace the land on which Epic Skill Swap 2014 is taking place. We’ll learn the nutritional and medicinal value of some common plants, such as dandelion and plantain, and those who are interested can taste test these powerful plants hand-to-mouth. We’ll also talk about how a plant’s taste can offer clues to the medicinal actions it can have. Eric G

Yoga: A nice body stretch and wake up to get ready for a lot of new skills. Bring your mat if you have one! Christine T