09 Oct Transition Asheville Skill Share Fair Celebrates 5 Years of Being Official
By Dylan Ryals-Hamilton
On August 20th 2016 Transition Asheville, NC celebrated its 5th anniversary as an officially recognized Transition Initiative (entering as the 88th initiative in the U.S. in 2011). To celebrate, a Transition Asheville Skill Share Fair was held at a local charter school, the Francine Delany New School for Children. A total of fifteen generous teachers shared their skills in conflict resolution, home energy efficiency, making herbal medicine, humanure composting, cob and natural building, naalbinding (an ancient Viking technique predating knitting and crochet), backyard chickens, and leatherworking, to name a few. Most of the teachers attended classes offered by others in turn, and everybody learned a thing or two about how community can truly thrive when we are willing to give of ourselves freely on occasion.
An opening circle helped orient the participants to the workings of the day. One or two event organizers and volunteers were present at all times to welcome newcomers. Special attention was made to thank the teachers with applause as a first order of business. Classes broke out with a bang and the energy was high. Thanks to the generosity of the Francine Delany School and its director, Buffy Fowler, the event was held on a small but beautiful campus featuring lovely gardens and a nature trail that was perfect for plant walks. There was ample indoor as well as outdoor covered space so that even a heavy afternoon rain didn’t spoil the fun. The rain let up again 30 minutes before the final session ended, leaving just enough time for a cob-making demo and a quick “medicinal weeds-walk”. At the closing circle, instructors were thanked and applauded again. Insights and inspirations from the day were shared. One participant remarked that he felt excited to be able to teach his granddaughter how to make a fire with a bow and drill. Community announcements were made, including one couple’s invitation seeking co-creators for a new ecovillage. One young man thanked the organizers for making the event “so affordable” (aka free) and passed his hat around to reimburse us for our few minor material expenses. To finish, a simple but effective closing energizer was shared, and spirits were still high. Many people seemed reluctant to leave, staying to chat and making cleanup a breeze!
Sharing and learning skills for resilience is wonderful, and it feels great to participate in both giving and receiving one’s time and attention. What felt even more powerful to me as an organizer and facilitator however, were all the new relationships being made, as well as old ones being reignited or maintained. The conversations between classes, at lunch, and afterwards were warm and rich. People exchanged contact information and began the makings of plans for new endeavors. Teachers who were professionals by varying degrees gained new followers and expanded their networks. Two young women and one older man had their first experience teaching in a safe and welcoming space. Many of the participants had not ever been to a Transition Asheville event before. The most important lesson that I learned was simply being reminded once again of the power of human connection. When we open ourselves up and make ourselves vulnerable and available to others, even to strangers, a special kind of magic occurs which cannot be measured in numbers of classes taught or participants reached. It couldn’t possibly be measured by dollars raised. It can only be felt, deep inside our heart and soul.