Smile Politely

Learning to share, sharing to learn

In a town where so much teaching and learning is passed along in a formal setting, from accredited teacher to subservient student, sometimes less-formally qualified teachers aren’t given the opportunity to pass along valuable skills.

And that’s where the Community Connections group at the Independent Media Center saw an opportunity. They’re devoting this month to their Super Summer Skillshare program, which is happening every Saturday in August. “Everybody’s got stuff that they know or are good at, whether it’s a basic skill or area that they have knowledge about,” said Community Connections member Chris Ritzo. “[Skillshare is] in the spirit of sharing, not really needing to have degrees [to teach].”

Skillshare has had two successful sessions already, and they’re building as the month goes along. “We did repetitive strain injuries [in week one], and last week was basic sound recording,” Ritzo shared, “and this week we have three Skillshares happening concurrently [from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.]. One is on sound system operation at the IMC, so if you’re in a band or if you are a promoter and you want to have shows, typically the first thing you do is be trained by our shows staff here, and Rory Durkin is going to do a live sound workshop, how to work the board. Then, Jacob Barton is going to do one on alternative instrument tunings. The third one, Joe Grohens is going to do something on the Alexander Technique, which is a relaxation technique.” Full descriptions of the Skillshares, both for this week and in coming weeks, are available on their page on the IMC website.

Focusing their efforts on a one-month window will allow them to accumulate momentum for future skillshares. “I think the idea is to get a successful run in August and build off that,” Ritzo explained. To culminate the effort, on Saturday, August 29, there will be an all-day Skillshare extravaganza, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. “There are lots of different workshops and it’s the weekend of the Sweetcorn Festival, so it will be a good place for people to just come in and chill out for a while, learn something new,” Ritzo noted.

“[There will be sessions on] how to make beer, how to do worm composting, another soundsystem training, the folks from COUCH will have a couple of workshops, there’s going to be a ‘zine-making workshop, there’ll be a comic-making workshop, so a lot of variety.” The full schedule is available on the Skillshare page.

Ritzo, a recent Master’s graduate in Library Science who’s also involved with the Tech Group and the Library at the IMC, became involved with the Community Connections group for several reasons. “The Community Connections Group is focused on letting people know what’s going on at the IMC, planning and holding events, and making it a welcoming place for the community.”

In addition to external outreach, Community Connections would also like to help the IMC working groups get to know each other better. They’ve already held an open house, which they hope to make a quarterly event, and plan to hold regular potluck events.

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