BACK to BASICS September 12, noon-3 • West Central Park
Back to Basics: Do-It-Yourself Skills for a Simpler Time will be happening on Saturday, September 12 from noon til 3 at West Central Park, corner of Harrison & Division, in West Olympia. The challenges of an unstable climate, a contracting economy, and the risks associated with access to oil mean that we are facing a changing world. Back to Basics is a brief introduction to both skills from the past and newer skills that will be needed for future local self-reliance.
Weavers and spinners, candle and sauerkraut makers, grain grinders and do-it-yourself pinch pots, stove and fire builders will be there to give hands-on opportunities along with knot tying and folks willing to fix a flat tire or to demonstrate bike maintenance. The Pine Hearts will provide alternative bluegrass music.
The event is free. Sponsored by Transition Olympia. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
PEDAL-POWERED GRAIN GRINDING The hand mill using two flat stones to grind grain into flour is one of the most primitive utensils in the world. The hand crank grain mill was certainly a great improvement, but grinding grain is much, much easier if you are using your feet rather than your arms. Try taking turns pedaling a bike which is hooked up to a grain grinder which turns whole wheat into flour. (Sarah Vautaux)
KNOT TYING Knowledge of knots has been useful for hundreds of years, not only for boating and fishing but for many outdoor activities and it’s also also useful for emergencies. Try your hand at some of the basic knots and pick up a diagram to take home so you can practice. (Mark Bock)
COOKING ON A ROCKET STOVE Rocket stoves are low tech, ultra efficient, clean burning, low cost, easy to build and use minimal resources. The technology, which was originally designed for third world countries running out of fuel, can also be applied to heating space or heating water. Find out how to make your own simple rocket cook stove with discarded tin cans. (Gita Moulton)
FERMENTATION Aside from the health benefits of the probiotics in fermented foods, interest in fermentation, one of the oldest forms of food preservation, is growing today as a way to prolong the life of food and preserve its quality without refrigerating or adding chemicals. Making sauerkraut and kimchee will be demonstrated. Maybe there will be samples. (Joanne Lee)
NATURAL BUILDING There is a movement away from conventional resource intensive building with wood to strawbale and cob construction using local renewable resources. Joseph Becker has been experimenting on his own and will bring his Rumpelstiltskin machine and make some “Insulating earth” or “light clay straw”. It’s fun to watch. (Joseph Becker)
MAKING FIRE Knowing how to start a fire without matches is an essential survival skill. You never know when you’ll find yourself in a situation where you’ll need a fire, but you don’t have matches. And whether or not you ever need to call upon this skill, it’s just really cool to know you can do it. Watch a quick and simple demonstration on how easy it is to do using just a piece of flint or quartz and a piece of carbon steel and then try it for yourself. (Glen Buschmann and Janet Partlow)
CANDLE MAKING How many of us are prepared with candles for light when there is a power outage from windstorms or other emergencies? Having a supply is easy if you have old crayons or candle stubs on hand. And even if you don’t, it’s easy to make your own with local beeswax. Here’s you chance to see how it’s done and give it a try. (Scott Bishop)
PINCH POTS A pinch pot is a simple form of hand-made pottery produced from ancient times to the present. Simple clay vessels such as bowls and cups can be formed and shaped by hand using thumb and forefinger, a basic pot making method that’ s good for beginners. Jen has found clay locally where the banks of Totten Inlet have been undercut exposing lower layers of soil at low tide. Try making one. She might even fire it for you if you ask. (Jen Olson)
TOOL SHARPENING Tool sharpening can be an intimidating skill to master but it’s also an important one to learn.. You simply can’t do many jobs with a dull tool, and you can perform any cutting task much better and more easily with a sharp one. Watching Rama can give you an idea of how to start with maybe a kitchen knife before tackling the pruners or a hatchet. (Rama Lash)
WEAVING ON A FRAME LOOM Weaving is one of the oldest surviving crafts. Long before looms were invented to make cloth or rugs, the concept of Interlacing fibers was applied to using branches to create fences for protection or twigs to make baskets. Working on a simple frame loom, which you can easily make for yourself, is a good way to explore the concept of weaving or maybe make a handbag or placemat. (Barb Scavezze)
WATERLESS TOILETS There are many good reasons to think about waterless toilets, especially now as we continue with our drought, but primarily, they conserve water. They also manage waste on site or they can convert the waste into fertilizer and they don’t require a septic system. Many models, like the one Pat will show you, are available commercially, but you can also build your own. (Pat Holm)
BIKE REPAIR Economic instability, ever-increasing climate change and the environmental risks associated with oil extraction are three of the many reasons why riding a bike is an excellent reliable alternative to driving. But it won’t be reliable unless your bike is in good working order. If you bring your flat tires or other minor adjustments or problems, Tim and Michael will help you fix them and give you good tips on tune up and maintenance. (Tim Russell and Michael Loski)
SPINNING WITH A DROP SPINDLE There is evidence that drop spindles were used to spin fiber as far back as 5000 BCE and were the primary spinning tool used to spin all the threads for Egyptian mummy wrappings and even the ropes for ships for almost 9000 years. It’s a little trickier to learn to use, but a $6 drop spindle will give you yarn just as good as you can get with a spinning wheel, Try your hand at it and maybe pick up a spindle for further practice at home. (Shannon Rae Pritchard)
SEED SAVING All domestic crops were once from wild seed which Stone Age farmers saved to protect their food supply from unfavorable climate conditions or invading tribes. Today, it’s important to protect the seeds that perform best on your own land with your own unique growing conditions. but also to protect them from corporate control over what we grow. It’s not difficult. Ask Tanner. (Tanner Milliren)