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I Love Reskilling

This post was originally published on the Transition Netwok Social Reporting Blog. You can read the original here.

I love reskilling. Throughout my time in Transition it has always been the thing that I have gravitated towards. Part of the joy of it is that it can be part of pretty much any other aspect of Transition - food, energy, building etc they all have their relevant skills. Having said this we did have a specific Reskilling group in Transition Norwich, you can read about some of our exploits on the This Low Carbon Life blog here and here. One of the things that we did was to try and come up with a comprehensive (might as well be ambitious!) list of all of the possible skills that a Transition future might require, it was a very interesting exercise and you can check out what we came up with on the Transition Norwich website, under the resources section.

So why do I love reskilling so much?

Resilience
Firstly because it makes our communities more resilient. Bringing the skills needed for our society back into our local area means that we are not relying on far flung people to keep things going for us. For example in Transition UWS our Greener Homes Project relies on Energy Saving Scotland to process the questionairres we fill out for people and to send them a report with suggestions. However, they are very unreliable. They still haven't got a report out to some of the very first people we visited over 3 months ago. This is obviously rather a big issue in our project. Thankfully we anticipated it early on and came up with our own complimentary behavioural questionnaire and advice that we use at the time of the visit to give as much advice and support to people as we can at the time, so they are not just waiting for a generic report. Bringing these skills into our community and then passing them on to those we visit makes us much more resilient. It also leads nicely to my next point...

Empowerment
Having the skills to do things yourself puts you back in control. Once we have explained to people how their heating works and what their energy bills mean they are then back in control of their own energy usage, rather than at the mercy of energy companies. And this holds true for so much in our society. I have started to get into herbal medicine in the last few years and part of what draws me to it is that I can control exactly what I put in my medicine. The eucalyptus balm I made this week only had 5 ingredients - none of them a synthetic chemical.

Once you have these skills you are so much more powerful, nobody can tell you what to do because you can do it yourself. This also works on a community scale, if it has the skills within it then it can decide its own future.

Socials
Sharing skills is also an awesome way to make friends. Either through teaching each other or just sharing your learning experiences. I went to an All About Herbs workshop run by Urban Roots earlier in the year and I have stayed in touch with a few of the other people who were there and we have met a few times to go foraging and herbal remedy making, sharing more skills and keeping each other enthusiastic.

The Southside Stitch Up that I have written about before is a great example of a skill sharing social, where people can chat and socialise while upcycling all kinds of things.

It's cheaper
If you can do it yourself then you don't need to pay someone else to do it. This is also a great way of reducing your dependence on money, especially if the whole community gets in on it then you can exchange your skills and what you produce.

Its Fun!
Making things, learning skills and sharing them is a fantastic antidote to our societies ills. Simmering herb infused oils and beeswax, watching your parsnip wine bubbling away, weaving a rag rug... it makes me happy!

Skill share
When I wrote this blog at the weekend I didnt realise that we were actually supposed to be sharing a skill in the blog. So just as a wee add on I'll direct you to my instructions for making a wallet out of a juice carton, found here.

Photos: My boiler controls, our haul from a days foraging and some of my preserves and wine.