How to Build Community by Sharing Your Skills

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Utne visionary Alexis Pauline Gumbs offers tips for making the most out of your neighbors’ talents and your own in the latest issue of make/shift. Gumbs wrote about a massive skills-swapping session held at the Allied Media Conference last year where women came together and taught each other about herban foraging, social networking, quilting, and more.

“We have diverse, deep, and surprising skills that we have developed out of necessity, creativity, and passion,” Gumbs writes. “This truth is underpublicized on purpose. What use would capitalism be if we stopped thinking that we had to outsource…and dug with deep faith into the undervalued richness of our diverse communities?”

Why not round up a group of people in your own community and see what you can learn? We think Gumbs’ skill (the meta skill) of how to skills-share, is a great primer. Here are her suggestions:

  • Decide who the audience or community is.
  • Ask folks within your chosen community about the skills they have.
  • Secure an accessible space that feels safe (a community center? a bookstore? someone’s backyard?).
  • Invite everyone.
  • Make sure there is food; we recommend a potluck.
  • Think of creative ways to share the skill with other members of your local and affinity community (a blog? a zine? a section in a magazine?).
  • Ask for feedback.
  • Repeat with another skill!

Source: make/shift(article not available online)

make/shift is a 2010 Utne Independent Press Award nominee in the category of spiritual coverage.

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