March 23, 2012 • In web :: Features
Sharing Skills at School
Sharing and gaining skills doesn’t have to cost big bucks. Laura Shaw explains how to set-up your own feminist knowledge bartering collective.
Somewhere along the way, I missed out on some pretty useful life lessons, from sewing buttons, to fixing bike chains, to DIY hair care and styling, to properly stretching after sitting in front of the computer all day.
When I thought about all the things I wanted to learn, I realized I already knew my potential teachers: my friends. Everyone is an expert in something, or wants to be, and since most of us can’t afford to pay for cooking/coding/makeup lessons, I needed to find a way to assemble other like-minded ladies together so we could teach and learn from each other, without having to pay for it.
It was with these objectives that my friend Dayna Jones and I created The Ladies Rhythm and Movement Club (The LRMC), a women’s knowledge bartering group. The name is a reference to a women’s dance group from 1902 that are mentioned in Canadian author Carol Shields’ 1993 Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Stone Diaries.
What is knowledge bartering?
Knowledge bartering at The LRMC is a free exchange of informal lessons between participants who trade off teaching and learning. It’s founded on the idea that if I teach you something, my lesson is worth your knowledge about something else. The program could effectively run with only two people, trading off teaching and learning, but the more people get involved the more diverse workshops we’re able to offer. Someone who’s an expert cake decorator can teach others how, then at the next workshop she might learn how to repair a zipper or take a good photo without any money changing hands, except for the occasional production cost.
How do I start a knowledge bartering group?
Start small. We reached out to a dozen friends at first and once we got rolling, we easily scheduled one workshop every month. The more women learned about our group, the more they wanted to join and teach, and now we have a super-dedicated core group. It’s a fun way to kickstart a network of awesome, inspired women who want to effect a positive change in their community.