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Sustainability Skill Share

This annual spring event brings people together to learn practical skills in hands-on classes focused on housing, clothing, and feeding ourselves in a world without fossil fuels. In addition to dozens of classes taking place over two days, we will also have a social aspect: camping, meals, a documentary screening, and perhaps music. This event will happen June 1–2, 2019 in Cooksville, Wisconsin. This will be the pilot year of what we hope will be an annual festival of classes related to sustainability, DIY, hands-on, and individual or community self-sufficiency. We thank you for your patience and feedback as we work out the kinks in this first year.

Classes

Some classes are an hour and others can take up the whole weekend. The list of classes below have been confirmed and may expand.

Materials fees are charged to cover the cost of, well, materials for the course. Every course with a fee will provide you something to take home with you. These fees are payable to the instructor at the time of the class.

All classes are capped at a certain number of seats, so the only way to guarantee yourself a space is to register as soon as possible. Some classes may allow day-of registration, but it is at the discretion of the instructor and often may be limited due to availability of class materials. We will shut down open registrations a week before the event, but we anticipate many courses will be sold out before then. If a course is sold out, please email us with your desired class title to be put on a waiting list.

Some Classes Have Approaching Deadlines

Prices on the below classes reflect early-bird (through Apr. 30), regular (May 1–21), and late (after May 22) pricing: early/regular/late. Note that some classes have sign-up deadlines, as listed below. ALSO: if you have a strong reason to take a class but are unable to afford the fee. Contact us, as scholarships are available on a limited basis.

Register Now!

All participants must fill out a liability waiver. It can be done on-site or ahead of time at the following link: Liability Waiver.

All-Weekend Courses (June 1, 2)

Batch Box Rocket Stove Construction, $168 early/$224 regular/$280 late
This course will focus on the principles of batchbox rocket stoves and their applications.  A hybrid of a batchrocket (see Peter Van den Berg’s site for more information http://batchrocket.eu ) and a Russian bell stove will be largely constructed over the two day course.  The stove will be used for auxiliary heating in the walapini on site and will employ lots of thermal mass to act as a heat storage battery that will buffer the temperature inside from drastic overnight cooling.  The course will cover many aspects of stove design including material sourcing techniques, brick laying, cob mixing, chimney installation, rocket stoves and building codes, principles of clean combustion and more. Instructor: Jim Schalles, Tall Grass Vernacular.
Sat. 9:00 a.m.–Sun. 5:00 p.m.: Institute Greenhouse, $168/$224/$280

Saturday A.M. Classes (June 1)

Backyard Permaculture, $36 early/$48 regular/$60 late (+$5 materials fee)
Learn how to integrate small scale changes to your home and garden to make a more sustainable landscape without breaking the bank. Bring along photos or a diagram of your property, and go home with your own designs for a sustainable yard! Instructor: Hawthorn McCracken
Sat. 9:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.: Backyard Permaculture — Institute Patio, $36/$48/$60

Mushroom Inoculation and Growing, $12 early/$16 regular/$20 late per class (+$30 or $15 materials fee)
Attendees are invited to assist and learn the process for inoculating hardwood logs with shittake spawn and woodchips with winecap spawn. Materials fee covers a log for you to bring home. Instructor: Rae West
Sat. 9:00–10:00 a.m.: Inoculating Logs with Shiitake Spawn — Institute Workshop, $12/$16/$20
Sat. 10:00–11:00 a.m.: Inoculating Woodchips with Winecap Spawn — Institute Workshop, $12/$16/$20

Saturday P.M. Classes (June 1)

Urban Permaculture, $18 early/$24 regular/$30 late
Visit a working permaculture yard in nearby Stoughton. You’ll see garden spaces, fruit trees, and other installations that have been here for a decade. We’ll discuss how to implement permaculture principles in a smaller, urban space. Instructor: Robert Roeven, Terra Simpla. Note: meet in parking lot for 10-min drive to Stoughton.
Sat. 1:00–2:30 p.m.: Urban Permaculture — Roeven Property, $30

Sunday A.M. Classes (June 2)

Tackling Invasive Plants, $36 early/$48 regular/$60 late
REGISTRATION DEADLINE: MAY 28, 11:59 P.M.

Invasive plants are a pervasive problem across Wisconsin, impacting our natural areas and even human health. At this workshop, learn how to identify, map, and manage invasive plants as we work to remove invasive plants from a local property. We’ll cover identification of both common and new invasive plants in the area and provide identification resources. Mapping tools and tips will help you learn how to approach mapping invasive plants to help develop a management plan. We’ll also discuss different management techniques and species-specific management options. Instructor: Anne Pearce, UW Extension First Detector Network.
Sun. 9:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.: Commons Oak Grove, $36/$48/$60

Sunday P.M. Classes (June 2)

Introduction to Sharpening Knives and Tools, $24 early/$32 regular/$40 late
Learn to sharpen your knives, chisels, and scissors by hand on a variety of stones and mediums. Throw away those cheap, store-bought guides and jigs, come explore the world of sharpness, leaving with knives sharper than you’ve ever had and the knowledge to put a fine edge on them whenever you like with the just the skill in your hands. We’ll cover regrinding, straightening, honing and stropping, and cleaning and restoring an abused blade. We’ll also discuss blade types and edge geometry as well as hand methods in comparison with sharpening “tools” and grinders. Bring your own knives to sharpen. Instructor: Todd Fleming, Fox Wedge Woodworking
Sun. 1:00–3:00 p.m.: Sharpening — Location TBD, $24/$32/$40

Introduction to Wild Foods, $48 early/$64 regular/$80 late
Through a plant walk to identify edible plants, we’ll talk about seasonal availability and taste some wild foods. Instructor: Melody Karklin Knudson. Note: meets at parking lot and then drives 5 min to wildlife area.
Sun. 1:00–5:00 p.m.: Wild Foods — Badfish Creek Wildlife Area, $48/$64/$80

Meals

Meals at the event will be catered by Wendigo, a family-owned restaurant in nearby Stoughton., Wisconsin. Wendigo is well-known in the area for partnering with local farmers to get their produce and proteins with which they make incredibly tasty food. We’re excited to be working with them on this event, but you can get a sneak peek of what you’re in for ahead of time: https://www.wendigostoughton.com/

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are available Friday dinner through Sunday lunch on site. Omnivore and vegetarian/vegan options will be available, but do let us know about any specific needs or allergies in the comments when you register. Meals can be purchased individually but a discount is offered for the whole day or weekend. We encourage you to purchase your meals ahead of time as a courtesy to the Wendigo staff, and a limited amount of day-of meals may be purchased (subject to availability and a slightly increased price).

You are asked to bring your own reusable plate or bowl, utensils, and napkin as we are a low-waste event (washing stations will be available). Thank you for helping us keep things sustainable.

Breakfast: $10 (Vegetarian/Vegan)
Lunch: $12 (Ominvore, V/V)
Dinner: $15 (O, V/V)
Three Square Meals: $32
Whole Weekend: $60

Camping and Lodging

Coming soon, but in short, tent camping spots will be available on a green lawn in Cooksville. The Cooksville Farmhouse Inn will have a shared farmhouse available for up to eight people for Friday and Saturday night. Air BnB may have local beds available and hotels in nearby Stoughton and Evansville are also available.

Portable restrooms will be available as well as a limited number of indoor bathrooms.

Other Considerations

The Elements

We scheduled this during a particularly nice time of year: mosquitoes should be minimal (no promises), temperatures average 71°F high and 51°F low. But historical records are between 100°F and 31°F with over 3″ of rain, so check the forecast, bring weather-appropriate clothing, and keep an eye on your email, our twitter, and this webpage for weather-related updates or changes.

Communication

Cell signal is weak in Cooksville except for US Cellular customers. WiFi is available at the institute, across the street from the commons.

Rain Policy

We will cross our fingers for good weather, but it could rain. We will only cancel if the rain is prohibitive (i.e., misting may or may not lead to cancellation, but a downpour will, depending on the class). If you have a workshop that can be moved indoors, it will be held at the “alternate” location listed in the course description and on the map. If a class must be held outside (i.e., it has no alternative location), we will try to shift it to the other weekend day, if the weather is better. If the class is moved and you cannot attend, you will receive a 70 percent refund or 90 percent credit towards another class at the skill share or an upcoming workshop. If we cancel the class, you will receive an 80 percent refund or 100 percent credit towards another class at the skill share or an upcoming workshop.

Accessibility

Unfortunately, our events are not all handicap accessible. Sometimes this is due to the outdoor nature of the classes. Other times it is due to the nature of the village, which was built in the 1850s, before this was a major consideration. Classes that are wheelchair accessible are marked as such, but feel free to send an email and ask about specific classes or parts of the event (info@lowtechinstitute.org).

Volunteer

We’re looking for volunteers for the event. Volunteers will get a discounted entrance fee. Some tasks can be completed before the event. Contact lowtechinstitute@gmail.com to be added to the volunteer list.

Similar Events

And if you’re already excited about the skill share, check out our friends at similar events around the Midwest.

Wisconsin Permaculture Convergence, held most falls.
Hand Camp, Avon, MN, Sept. 20–22.
Traditional Ways, Bad River Reservation, WI, Aug. 11–17.

(If you’re involved with or run an event and would like to be added to the list, please contact us.)

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