For those of you who have been to skills gatherings you know that they are so much different than just attending a class. In a class you focus on one subject with a teacher imparting their knowledge to you. A "gathering" is as the word implies; a meeting of people from all walks of life, from all backgrounds and interests. Sure there are classes happening, but you are also able to wander around and see many other things going on.
I started the "Traditional Ways Gathering" with a friend of mine many years back, and it has been such a great success that we wanted to offer more opportunities during other season of the year. Hence came this spring gathering.
"What is the gathering?"
This is a gathering of teachers and learners interested in the old ways, sustainable living, self-sufficiency, outdoor skills, do-it-yourself topics, wilderness survival, and the like. It is a multi-day workshop where everyone involved gets to experience a multitude of different skills and knowledge that help us live better lives in tune with the reality of our natural world. As a symposium, instead of each being a stand-alone class, it is a compilation of classes and social events. Very exciting and inspiring to be a part of!
"Can you explain why you are offering this gathering?"
There are many reason why people are interested in these skills, from wanting to be more self-reliant to wanting to connect more to nature or to ancestral roots.
Perhaps it would be helpful to explain why we are not offering these as separate classes, but rather in a symposium format. For one, we are located in a beautiful if not remote location near Lake Superior. By offering several classes at once over the same weekend we attract people with varied interests, both as students and as instructors. Second, it's really fun energy to be around. Lot's going on, and everyone is sharing what they made or did during the day.
"Why are traditional skills still important?"
Because they make our lives better. People who have lost their skills and means to make a living from their own hands and mind lose their self-respect and sense of purpose. We need purpose, even if it means "doing things the hard way" occasionally to remind ourselves and to appreciate what we have.
Technological advances are happening every day, most of which are not necessary. Do we really need another way to open a can? To have our cars park for us? To turn on our lights and control our indoor environment without having to think about it? These advances mostly happen so that a few people can grow wealthy and we as "consumers" in turn help to "grow the economy." But as Edward Abbey said "Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell." Many practitioners of the traditional arts believe that what is needed is balance, not growth.
"Are you saying that technology is bad?"
Not at all. As humans we are all about technology. Whether the technology be two sticks rubbed together to make fire, or the computer used to type this article, it is all technology. The delineation between "good" and "bad", if it can be made, may be between technology that connects us to life or separates us from it. A question could be asked when using any type of technology; "Is this thing that I'm doing/using helping or hurting me, my family, society?" Ultimately each of us has to answer this question for ourselves.
Anything else you think is important?
Our ancestors had a different outlook on the world precisely because they had an different interaction with it. Some say "good riddance" to the old ways, but that is throwing the baby out with the bath water. Many of the old ways are still valuable, and in practice are more fulfilling and fun than you can imagine. Practicing the traditional skills requires us to interact with the world directly, to think, and to do, which in turn gifts us with a deeper understanding of the world and our place in it.
If you are interested in learning more, or signing up go to the gathering web page.