2015 Workshop Descriptions

Organized alphabetically. * = small materials fee.

AcroYoga is a fun and funky blend of yoga and partner acrobatics (circus stuff). I have been practicing AcroYoga for about a year and a half, and would be happy to share some of what I’ve learned. First off, AcroYoga is for everyone! Whether you would prefer to “base” (support a flier in the air), “fly” (be suspended by a base) or, most importantly, “spot” (be a safety net), this an activity that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and levels of experience. This workshop will walk you through the basic principles and foundational “poses” in AcroYoga, while emphasizing safety, communication, and fun. I find AcroYoga tremendously empowering, and hope you will, too!! Sonya B

An Introduction to Self-Empathy
This workshop will introduce participants to a model that helps them better perceive their own emotions and preferences, and to own them as their own rather than things imposed upon them by others. I have used this model, coupled with meditative practices, to help me do a range of internal work so that I can remain centered, even in challenging situations. The model is a hybrid developed from Marshall Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication system and Alyce and Cliff Barry’s Clean Talk system. There will be some explanation of the model itself, but much of the workshop will involve participants exploring how to apply the model to themselves using role play and meditative exercises. Eric G

Argentine Tango: A stress-free Intro
Darcy H

Bartending & Bitters *
For this class I’ll be showing you how to mix cocktails. Specifically how to balance flavors, aromas and textures. I’ll be showing how to make a few classic cocktails as well as how to develop your own variations. I’ll also be showing you how to make your own cocktail bitters thru infusion and tea making techniques. Bitters are an essential component in a good cocktail. I’ll be talking about the history of cocktails as well as the history of bitters and how cocktail culture came to be. Sean S

Basic Bicycle Maintenance
Have a bicycle? Want to know how to maintain it and fix common problems? In this workshop we will cover the skills you need to fix common problems and keep your bike properly adjusted. Based on the interest of the group, we can learn and practice: Changing a flat tire; fixing a broken spoke; adjusting brakes; adjusting derailleurs; changing and maintaining chains. Bring your bike and tools to practice if you want. Basic tools for sharing and a demo bike will be provided. Evan S

Beginner Didgeridoo
Do you didgeridoo, or want to? It’s an incredibly simple instrument with endless possibilities. Practice making a basic drone sound, different tones, vocals, toots and circular breathing. Tim D

Beginning Jitterbug
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).åÊ 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

Bike Inner Tubes Creativity Lab *
Ever wanted to so something with you old bike tubes but don’t know what? Have a bunch sitting around but never got to the project? Well now is the time to make it happen! I have been working with bike tubes for over 5 years to make all sorts of things from knife sheaths to jewelry. This will be a lab like space where people can begin on the spot experimentation to create new items from bike inner tubes. There will also be space for people to share their own ideas uses for bike inner tubes. Beginning ideas: Cases/sheaths for camping silverware, knives, wallets, card cases, pencil satchels. Jewelry: necklaces, bracelets, earrings, chair seating woven from tubes. Adj M

Birth and Adoption Stories
Recently had a baby? Interested in having a baby? Adopted a new member of the family? This will be an art and story workshop for sharing in a safe, non-judgmental space. We will use visualization, multi-media art, and storytelling to deepen our own understanding of our birth or adoption processes, early family life, and the identity shifts that come with parenting. Participants will create a piece of artwork and then may choose to share with the group. We will work together to create an atmosphere of safety, acceptance, and inclusion. Best to leave children in the trusted hands of someone else for this adult-only workshop. Joan W

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. Adam F & Alison N

Breadmaking *
We should bake bread together. Basic bread will be covered but I’m considering slightly more advanced bread as well. Possibly sourdough or vegan versions of fancier (yeasted) breads. Emily N

Brewing Your Own Kombucha *
Like the benefits of kombucha but don’t want to pay the high sticker price at the store? Find out how you can make your own kombucha at home from inexpensive ingredients. Plus, with some basic experience and time for the kombucha scoby to work it’s magic, you can make your own unique flavors using secondary conditioning processes or adding fun things like chia seeds and fruit juices. Workshop will include a short demo on the initial brewing process as well as a discussion and a take-home handout for folks to get started. Depending on interest, scobies could also be had at the workshop for those who think they’ll brew! Robin M

Campaign Planning 101
You want to change things. But, you’re here, so you know you can’t do it alone. How can you organize a group of people to reach a goal? This workshop will provide an overview of basic campaign planning, including developing conceptual frameworks, effective actions, and the communication procedures to support development. Although derived from grassroots political organizing, this model can be adapted in a variety of settings for an equally diverse variety of goals. Matt L

Choices in Childbirth
Empower yourself and your friends with your knowledge, stories and feelings about one of the most important events of your life. Do you know YOUR birth story? What was most memorable about your labor and birthing? How do you envision your future pregnancy/labor/delivery? If there are doulas/midwives/ob-gyns who’d like to help facilitate this conversation, that would be great. I can offer some insight and resources based on my own DIY “Unassisted/Undisturbed” labor and childbirth. Emily K

Clogging Percussive Foot
Percussive foot sounds you can take with you anywhere; at a dance if you are out you can entertain yourself and be a part of the musical experience; it’s fun easy to learn but takes a while to master; even if you have two left feet it’s possible; It will be a foundational workshop to prepare the ground work for the participant to take it and make it their own; I have danced with a professional clogging team based out of Ithaca – Heart and Soul Cloggers – and have ‘played my feet’ ever since; it’s a tradition passed down from the roots of American life in rural Appalachia; it’s danced to old time music but fits nicely with reels as well; even some rock and roll music works; it’s fun and given the time is a life time of enjoyment. Eugene L

Clothing Repair and Alteration
Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Repair. Reinvent! Your clothes have more life in them than you give them credit for. Learn how to patch, mend, darn, repair, and alter your garments to give them more life, or new lives alt0gether! These are great skills to help you maintain or update your clothes instead of giving or throwing them away. We’ll cover some basic techniques based on what garments people have brought to fix or alter. We can do socks, pant hems and rips, general patches, and pretty much anything else you’ve got that needs repair or reinvention. We’ll also have a discussion about good ways to reuse or recycle fabric that’s too beat up to put on your body. Eliza W

Commonsense Privacy in a Digital Age
We live in an age where we are frequently asked to choose between privacy and convenience. For this skill swap session, I’ll be going through simple concepts to better guard your privacy in the digital age. Why should you use multiple email addresses? What’s “incognito mode” in your browser and how can you best use it? Why use different browsers for different purposes? How do tracking cookies work? I’ll also be covering examples both online and in the real world of how our data gets moved around, aggregated and connected, and how it’s actually used. I won’t be wearing a tinfoil hat. I won’t be covering government surveillance, Snowden and the NSA. What I will be covering is how to better think about your privacy online. By the end of the session, you’ll have the knowledge to allow you to make to make informed and realistic choices about how you share your information online and in the real world. Iarla O

Conceivable Futures
For many of us, the decision of whether or not to have children has been influenced by the threats of a changing climate. We wonder if the world will support new life, or sustain it for our child’s lifetime. This painful cost of the climate crisis is a largely private one, and one that we grapple with alongside many other hopes and fears. Have you ever wanted to talk about it with other people? We are organizing to turn personal struggle into political power, and to call wider attention to this piece of the crisis. Be a part of the Rhode Island Conceivable Future House-Party: we are tackling the question “How is climate change affecting your reproductive and/or child-rearing decisions – whether to have children, how to raise them if you do, and what to do if you don’t?” Parents, non-parents, kids welcome. Perhaps you haven’t considered this yet, but would like to hear more. In addition to sharing our thoughts with each other, participants will have the opportunity to testify in writing, audio, video, or photo about their personal experience. We are gathering testimonies (on an accessible website) to build moral power and solidarity, and using them to demand an end to all US fossil fuel subsidies. Eventually we envision an entire network of Americans sharing their stories. Meghan K & Josephine F

Contact Improvisation: How to Be Pretty OK at Falling Down, Social Dancing, Self Defense, and Love Making
Too often, we mistake our bodies for brain-bearing meat-chariots that were perhaps interesting for horsing around in when we were kids, but which, as adults, are valuable only to our lovers, our dance-partners (if we dance) and to us, insomuch as they are quiet and obsequious and not falling apart. Well, we propose a class in which this mentarchal worldview might be softened and the abundance inherent to a more egalitarian regard for human faculties might be enjoyed. We will lend ear to our own bodies and to each others’ bodies, and we will hear their thoughts and feelings spoken in their own language, and we will find in them companions as exciting as are those mind-melding pet dragons insanely lucky children are given in some fantasy novels. Contact Improvisation is a model for communication between bodies, other bodies, universal physical forces (gravity features prominently), and conscious minds both internal and external. Practitioners testify that clear communications between these things lead to unimagined wonders. It is an infinite game that advertises exploration and winds up delivering community, sense-pleasure, and broad and surprising competences in addition, sort of on accident. You do not have to make anything up. You do not have to be able-bodied. You merely make decisions that reflect as much as possible of what you can hear when you listen closely, and which you expect will help you to hear whatever might happen next better. It is widely regarded as fun. It can look like many things, and many of these are silly. We expect we could have a fine time teaching it; we invite you to consider enjoying it. Scott S

Crochet a Granny Square
No previous fiber experience required. In about an hour we can get anyone to make a granny square. Who knows, if enough people make them we could go for an Epic Skill Swap blanket. I can bring lots of yarn form old projects, but if people have their own they’d like to bring and use that’d be great! Miranda A

Curry Powders & Pastes
I’ve been cooking Indian (and more recently, Thai) curries for years and would like to share my experience in a hands-on workshop. Curries are a highly personalized art; every family in India has their own blend. In Thailand most people buy premade curry pastes but the ones you can get here are not quite as awesome as you can find in Thailand and besides — it’s fun to make them yourself and there is some customization you can do as well. I’ll bring dry and fresh ingredients and some processing tools; everyone will get a chance to mix their own Indian curry powder. We’ll work on a collaborative Thai curry paste — or two, if someone else can bring another Thai-style mortar & pestle (granite, not ceramic). Everyone will leave with a little jar of curry powder and a little jar of curry paste, and some recipes for using them at home. If you have small jars (baby food or small spice containers) to spare, please bring your own. I will provide some as well. If you can bring teaspoon and tablespoon measures as well, that would be awesome! Finally, all these raw ingredients do cost money so anything you want to pitch in would be much appreciated. Alasdair P-Q

Ferments, including hard cider
I had a great time discussing fermentation last year and would like to do it again; I think it would be great fun to have other folks discuss their interests, successes, and failures in fermentation. We certainly can make some fermented vegetables and learn basic ideas. I will also try to wrangle a friend into coming and talking about his method for making hard cider, which seems to turn really good really often. Hank A

Flash Fiction
Flash fiction is short fiction–usually 100-500 words. It is both challenging and liberating to write, because of this length: you need to be able to say something meaningful in that short a space. We’ll run this like a “regular” writing workshop–people will come, we’ll do some exercises to get creative juices flowing, and we’ll write fiction with some prompts I provide. We’ll then workshop our short pieces with each other. Meghan K 

Genealogy! Is it possible for you to be your own cousin?
This workshop will look at starting your family genealogy. We will look at simple family interview skills, understanding your relationship to other members of your extended family, government, public and Internet resources, finding historical records, as well as computer programs. Orin N

Growing oyster mushrooms on coffee grounds *
Come and learn a bit about the wild and interesting world of culinary mushroom cultivation! How do mushrooms grow? What makes them such interesting and biologically important organisms? How can you easily produce them for yourself at home? This workshop will teach you how to make with a small oyster mushroom-growing kit using spent coffee grounds. Participants will be asked for a small fee of $4-6 to cover the costs (depending on # of participants), and all supplies will be provided for you to head home with your very own ready-to-grow kit! Gabriella D-C 

Hammock Sitting
Learning challenging, fun, thought-provoking, joy-inducing skills from your brilliant friends may well be a great way to spend a few hours or a weekend, but did you know you can be challenged, have fun, provoke thought and induce joy within yourself and amongst your friends simply by sitting under in a hammock? This theory was rigorously tested in several impromptu sessions at Skill Swap 2014 and demand has only grown since then. Neither a hammock nor previous experience is necessary, though helpful. Spare trees may be useful as well, if packable. All ages welcome. Rachel G 

How to cook meat *
Cooking meat can be intimidating, but there are some general guidelines and simple techniques that will help you be a confident and successful carnivore. This hands-on class will explore: different techniques for cooking meat, such as roasting, broiling, pan-searing, braising, and grilling, and how to decide which technique to use for a given cut of meat; how to flavor meat before and after cooking using spice rubs, marinades, sauces, and gravies, and how to match flavors to types of meat; how to make stock from leftover bones and how to work with unusual parts of the animal (organs, fats, etc.); how to source good quality locally-raised meats. Ethan H-W

Hula Hooping
Maybe you hula hooped as a child. Maybe your child likes to hula hoop. Maybe you have always wanted to learn… this is the workshop for you! Kitty MacGettigean of the Boston Hoop Troop will bring some music and a stack of different sized hoops- all you need to bring is yourself! Take a break and come play. Kitty will be on hand to teach beginner basics as well as tricks of all sorts to those already comfortable with waist hooping. Just want to grab a hoop and rock out in the sunlight doing your own thing? That’s cool too! Relaxation and smile generation is the primary take away of this workshop. Kat B

Islam & Muslims 101
Hour long introduction to Islam and Muslims: beliefs, practices, demographics, Sunni/Shi’a explanation, and a chance to ask any and every question you’d like and I’ll stick around for an extra hour because it seems there are usually more questions than can be fit. Jaye S

Javanese Folk Songs
First of all, please do not confuse Javanese with Japanese 🙂 Java is an island and a tribe among thousands of islands and hundreds of tribes in Indonesia. Learning how to sing Javanese songs, which have different melodies and waves might enrich the experience in this Epic Skill Swap! Lien F

Knife Sharpening with Mugs and Belts
Sharp knives are safer, more satisfying, and more efficient than dull ones. But if you’ve ever watched a TV infomercial, you’ll know that it’s impossible to sharpen knives without a whole DRAWER full of expensive sharpening paraphernalia! And who’s got the time? Struggle no more! With the Easter Method, you can replace all of your fancy sharpening gear with a ceramic mug and a leather belt. We’ll sharpen plain-edged (not serrated) knives using standard ceramic mugs like you’d find in any kitchen, and we’ll refine the edges with leather belts like many of us wear. People often ask me to sharpen their knives when I’m visiting their kitchens, and it’s really convenient to be able to do it without special tools. You can do it too! Bring: – your non-serrated knives that need sharpening (kitchen, pocket, etc.)- leather belts if you have them (preferably at least 1.5″ wide)- a ceramic coffee mug (although the kitchen should have some). Hollis E

Knot Tying
It seems like we’re always trying to attach things to other things with pieces of line: Canoes on cars. Boats to moorings. Cats to small sleds.  This knot tying workshop will help you do all these things and more with a simple piece of line. This is an introductory level workshop. Jay O

Making Lip & Hand Balms
Break free from the fetters of the lip-balm industrial complex…I’ve been making a simple 2-ingredient lip balm and a 3-ingredient hand balm for years now. This is super easy. They can be made in large batches and stored/ re-melted to refill lip balm tubes or whatever containers you like to carry around in your pocket. The cost of materials is as close to free as you can hope to get. They can be scented with aromatic oils. I’ll show you how it’s done, and we’ll make a couple big batches so people can take home samples. Jamie P 

Making Yogurt
Making thick, creamy and yummy yogurt for your breakfasting pleasure is a simple process that doesn’t require anything more than milk, a bit of old yogurt, a few ball jars, a pot, a stove, and a blanket. In this workshop, we will walk through the steps of the process, sample homemade yogurt, and strain yogurt to make even thicker Greek yogurt. Heather W & Meg K

Massage for Everyone
Everyone can benefit from regular, intentional touch, and this hands-on workshop will cover anatomy, teach skills and build participants’ confidence in their ability to relieve the ache and augue. Special attention will be paid to common problem spots, including upper and lower back, hips, and headache points. Volunteers for demos will be helpful! Marvin W

Mchakamchaka is a tradition from Tanzania of communal jogging/singing. The footsteps keep the rhythm. The songs are simple, joyous, and lend themselves to lots of fun harmonies. The jogging isn’t strenuous, since we go at a pace that allows us to have air in our lungs to sing. Ari E

Music Theory for Beginners
Anyone who is interested in learning how to read music and understand some of the basic concepts of music notation is welcome. We will learn about key signatures, note values, rests, measures, and meter… as well as whatever you all might be interested in. Derick L

Programming 101
Get a fast and furious introduction to programming. We’ll use JavaScript in a browser to learn how to pull data from a website and visualize it. Maybe an animated map of gay marriage legalization by date and state? If you’re not sure why you’d want to learn programming, here’s a short and humorous TEDx video by Lisa Williams: Do I Really Need to Learn How to Program? I’d recommend bringing a laptop — learning to write code is a hands-on process. Noah M

Quaker Meeting

Replacing the plastic stuff in your life!
Ever wondered about BPA in plastic water bottles, or phthalates and other unpronouncable chemicals in the plastic that encloses our food and body care products? Ever felt overwhelmed by news about plastic soup in the North Pacific or the desire to reduce your plastic footprint? Come get the scoop about plastics, and even more importantly, talk about fun and easy ways to avoid disposable plastic. We’ll focus on the positive, like thrift store and homemade reusable things that are not only better for our health and the environment, but also fun and affordable. There will be examples of handmade projects, we can do a demo of how to make beeswax cloths to replace saran wrap, and we can brainstorm alternatives together – bring examples of ways you’re already avoiding single-use, disposable plastics! Marina G 

Silk Screening with Stencils
This is the most accessible style of silk-screening because you don’t need chemicals or a darkroom to create your screen–just an x-acto knife and something (paper, vinyl, or thin plastic) to make your stencil out of. In this workshop, you’ll be able to create your own design, cut your own stencil and then use my blank screens and ink to print something. Bring a smooth cotton t-shirt, dish towel, apron, etc. to print on. Heather W

Slackline Rigging and Walking
Slacklining is a simple sport that you can do alone or with friends. It’s a great practice of balance and core strength. Yeah, you can buy a slackline kit with a fancy and complicated ratchet winch, but you can also get slacking with just a few pieces of climbing webbing and hardware. We’ll make a simple human-powered tension system, talk materials and safety, and then practice falling off – I mean, gracefully balancing on! – the line. Dana D-W

Song Swap—Rounds
In my family, we grew up singing rounds. I love to sing rounds, teach rounds and learn rounds. I have a bunch of great rounds to share. Others are welcome to co-teach, bring their own rounds to share, or just come to learn! Meg K 

Learn tools to write a song and come away with your own tune! We’ll discuss how to get around “writer’s block,” how to talk back to your inner critic/editor, and how to create delicious metaphors and word combinations. Explore different song forms. Learn how to “steal” from your favorite artists. Bring your instrument (or just your voice), a notebook with plenty of paper, and a voice recorder (iPhone or android is fine) is recommended. These skills are also great for poets and other writers. John L

I believe the universe is made of stories. At least mine is. Stories are how we understand the world, each other and ourselves. I’d like to take a look at what stories themselves are made of, and how we can make and share our own. This will include looking at some of the classic scholarship on stories (Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Joseph Campbell, etc.) as well as a workshop on story creation. We can look at both written short stories and oral stories in a Moth/Extempo type format. Justin S

Bryan B

The World of Fountain Pens
Learn all about fountain pens, how they work, and why they are a great choice for your writing needs! We will be cleaning, filling and using many different varieties of pens. Compare nibs, filling mechanisms, and of course, inks!! This year I will be putting together starter kits: for less than 10$, you can leave with your very own beginner fountain pen and everything you need to refill it – including the ink! I will be bringing postcards and stamps again, so remember to bring some addresses so that you can use your new pens to send ESS greetings to your loved ones! Leah F 

Urban Planning 101
Urban design, smart growth, livable cities, new and old urbanism… Learn all about the shaping of the physical places we inhabit. Featuring topics such as zoning, the ingredients of a good public space, how to make a place walk- and bike-friendly, why American suburbs / inner cities / strip malls look like they do, neighborhood revitalization and gentrification (eek?), and much more. Katie G