This conversation bubbled up again recently on facebook and I thought it would be great to bring it up again here.
I’ve always had a problem with these schools. I’ve never had that kind of money… well actually I did once. My grandmother passed away and left me $20,000 for college. Instead, I spent it on my Urban Scout project where I tried to use the money to leverage my own self-learning. In retrospect, I wish I had just spent the money on a school and learned in a community setting. The thing you are paying for in school is the “set up” for learning. A good program has all the things you need to make the learning come quickly and easily. Trying to build this kind of thing from the ground up was insanely hard for me and I felt like I ended up failing and wasting time re-inventing the wheel.
However, in that time I gained both an appreciation for these schools (for creating great environments for learning), and a bitter disdain for them for being so inaccessible.
If I believed in “rights” (Rights are something bestowed upon you from The State) I would say that ancestral knowledge, human knowledge, is a basic human “right.” It should be accessible to everyone.
This website was one of the things I created with the money from my Grandmother’s passing. I figured it would be a way to “unlock” the knowledge of rewilding as well as connect people who live close to each other. That is still the dream of this website.
I also began running free skill shares in Portland, to teach these skills to people. We are still doing them. They are now sponsored by Portland Parks and we get 30-50 people showing up.
And still… On top of that… I created a tuition-based school.
When I was 16 I ran away from home and saved up money from bagging groceries for 8 months to go to a week-long Tom Brown Jr course in New Jersey. I wish I hadn’t felt that I needed to work for those 8 months and spend all that time preparing for just 5 days of learning. But it was worth it to me. I would do it all over again.
So… schools are worth it to some people.
When people complain about the cost of the schools, it’s hard for me to sympathize sometimes because in my mind I’m like, “If you want something bad enough, you’ll make it happen.” I did. But then I also didn’t. Because I also hate the monetary cost now that I’m broke again, and all the advanced 10 month programs are hella expensive. So instead, I created this thing. I created the space to share skills and meet more folks, and I still go to the closest (and most affordable) ancestral skills gathering to Portland (Echoes in Time) which I am now one of the key organizers.
So I think for some people, it’s worth it. For others, it isn’t. For the people who it isn’t, I offer this site and instructions on how to host your own skill share.
Also: A lot of our “clients” at Rewild Portland are not “rewilders.” They don’t want to be part of a rewilding community. They just want to take a class on basket weaving for example. They have no critique of ancestral skills of being a basic human right. They are just used to schools being places to learn and have no problem paying money for education.
There is a lot more to say: how schools create artificial communities (that can lead to real communities), how they create an artificial need ancestral skills educators (so that people can have the profession of ancestral skills teacher and go deeper into each skill), and other things.
But this is enough to chew on for a moment. Anyone have any thoughts?
What are the advantages and disadvantages of ancestral skills “schools”?
What are things we can do, or you have done, on your own or with others to create learning environments and learning communities outside of the tuition-based school?