In this article I will show you how to transform the way your community learns and cooperates, through learning how to organize a skillshare.
Sharing skills is a revolutionary act that empowers people with access to practical knowledge and a sense of purposeful belonging. There are many ways to educate yourself, and many ways to teach; however, not all ways are accessible to all people. Though the concept of sharing our skills is ancient and indigenous to all humans, as we are a social and intellectual species, organizing community skillshares has become an activity that few know how to execute in today’s social environments. Fortunately, with technology and logistics, we now have many more tools to connect us than we ever did in the past! Check out this fascinating history of communication from cave drawings to the web.
Skillshares make learning fun, affordable, and accessible — and sharing skills freely with your community is a productive, healthy way to join the cultural revolution. This article will explain what skillshares are, how to organize, host and facilitate them, and answer questions about how to get others involved.
What is a Skillshare?
A Skillshare is an event where people gather to share their skills. This event can be focused on one specific topic, with a plan, organized contributors, a schedule, activities, supplies, and more; or it can be an open gathering of people who simply want to share what they know “how to do” with each other. Skillshares can be hosted online, through local businesses, at libraries, in churches, schools, private homes, public parks, and many other places.
Why share our skills?
Skillsharing is inspired by the “Great Re-skilling” idea by Rob Hopkins. Listed as number 8 of “12 Steps to Transition” in The Transition Handbook, skillshares aim to:
- Bring people together, relaxing and learning new skills
- Build networks and move our community towards self-reliance and resilience
- Create a fundamental sense of ‘can do’ and feelings of positivity, creativity and empowerment
- Establish and nurture links between old and young as skills are passed
- Organize practical and useful events
- Work with existing groups in order to share and draw on local skills.
Culture shifting is a massive, sometimes-impossible-to-perceive task. But in bite-sized-pieces, it is much more approachable. Sharing skills, knowledge and relationships within your community are simple acts that you can accomplish relatively easily, and create a big impact.
How can I share my skills with others?
The key to sharing information is in clear communication. Some people are so good at sharing their skills and communicating their message clearly, that they’ve turned it into their career.
If you have the desire to share a skill, but aren’t sure where to start, this is a list of suggestions:
- Talk to your friends and family about the things you know how to do… ask if they want to learn it.
- Post on social media! Ask what people want to learn, and/or offer what you do!
- Visit platforms like www.skillshare.com where you can earn income sharing online classes.
- Host a skillshare in your home, or organize a local skillshare meetup.
- Just meet up with a friend to practice sharing what you know.
How do I host/organize a skillshare event?
There are many ways to share your skills, host events, and strengthen your community. If organizing and hosting events comes naturally to you, then do it the way you know best! But for those who need guidance or visual aid, here is a checklist I follow, and a fun infographic (below) that I made to simplify the message.
- Determine the SKILL.
Figure out which skill you want to share, and/or which one you want to learn. Write it down in brief detail. Some examples are gardening, woodworking, baking bread, hanging picture frames, social media marketing, making short youtube videos with your phone, and almost anything you can think of doing!
Tip: Make a master list of all the skills (one of the skills you have, and one of the skills you want to learn). Start with the most accessible one.
2. Include other HUMANS.
Find at least one friend who wants to learn this skill you want to share. Or find one person who can share with you the skill you want to learn. Connect with them, and ask them to work through the rest of the steps with you.
Tip: Remember, shifting culture is more about our human connection and empowerment than the specific skills we choose to share.
3. Draft your LISTS.
Write down what you need to do this project or share this knowledge. Will the process involve any material supplies? Tools? Technology? What are the costs associated with anything you need? Per attendee? Who are the people you might need to ask for help? Helpers? Mentors? Hosts? What kind of facilities does the skillsharing require? A kitchen? A big table? Airflow? Internet access? How much time will this take?
Tip: Add 1–2 hours for socialization and Q+A.
4. Secure a VENUE.
Find a location to host the live skillshare event — if you can’t host at home! Consult your lists, the facilities and equipment needed, and find a relevant space. Consider the quantity of people who might be interested.
Tip: Libraries, schools, churches, bookstores, businesses and/or even restaurants will sometimes host community events or meetings, often for free.
5. Create your EVENT.
Set a date with a few of the most dedicated people interested, clear it with the venue, and create a facebook group, a meet-up event and/or an event online somewhere. Establish this date on any relevant calendars.
Tip: Use beautiful pictures, and/or video, if you have it!
6. SHARE everywhere.
Post on social media, and in online groups. Make fliers and hang in local community bulletin spaces (with consent). Tell your friends about it, in person. Ask your more “popular” friends to tell their networks about it.
Tip: Facebook events and outreach works great but it doesn’t reach everyone. They don’t reach the most marginalized people, so don’t underestimate the value of good old-fashioned posters around the neighborhood.
More Helpful Tips
- Plan the event a month in advance, or more, depending on the skill.
- Ask others for help. Don’t try to do it all alone.
- On the day of the event, give yourself an extra 1–2 hours to prepare.
- Don’t be disappointed if only a few show up! It’s great practice! And even if you only get 2–3 people, do the skillsharing anyway. You might be amazed at how much you can learn with just a few people.
- Do take notes, pictures and video of the event so you can use them to promote the next skillshare.
- Check out this ecological design process (GOBRADIME) to help you with your strategy in setting up skillshares, as well as building community.
How do I start (and keep) talking about skillsharing with my community?
When it comes to sharing our skills, relationships are the place to start. We build our rapport, eventually earn trust, and move into deeper exchanges. Relationships are best built through honest communication and real life interactions. Skillsharing can facilitate all of this and more.
- Bring skillsharing up in conversation. It’s a really fun and interesting topic. Some of your friends may already know about it, and others might be really curious. In my experience, everyone wants to know more, and many people are ready to try it! Brainstorm what you each might be willing to teach or show each other.
- Post about it! Ask your social media audience, in a variety of different ways, what they might want to learn from you or or share with you.
- When you notice someone seeking help with a skill, chime in! If it’s something you can share, make that offer. If not, then connect them with someone who does, and/or suggest they organize a skillshare.
- Join or create a Facebook skilllshare group in your local area, like a local-based garden group or a book club. Here’s an example from my home area: Susquehanna SkillShare. Invite your local friends, share it on your page, chat about it, and/or tag it occasionally in (relevant only) threads.
- Start a local group. Use www.meetup.com or some other online group facilitation site/app.
- Create events in collaboration with your local community spaces.
Skillshares make learning fun, accessible, and relationship-based. They also help us to create the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible — a true shift in a culture addled by the stories of separation and scarcity.
Through skillshares in my area, I’ve learned how to:
- Make elderberry syrup and sprout elder cuttings
- Build a compost bin from wood pallets
- Ferment my own kombucha
- Trim hedges, bushes and small trees
- Create an infographic with Canva
- Make my own day planner and calendar
- Create a crowdfunding video, and much more!
Through skillshares, I’ve also become much more intimately connected to my friends and neighbors. I’ve found the people in my community who share my interests, both online and in person. I’ve become more aware of the way our socio-economic landscape impacts us all, and I feel empowered to make some improvements. It is a simple act, with a tangible impact.
With this knowledge, and a few of the tools mentioned here, I hope you can start to share your skills, learn new things, build stronger communities, and throw your weight into the cultural shifting too!
About the Author
Kendra Marie Hoffman is the founder and curator of Susquehanna SkillShare, a space where Central PA locals can connect with each other, to share their knowledge, talents and skills.
Find out more about her work via her Facebook page, and the community group she founded and co-moderates, the Susquehanna Gift Circle.
Receive occasional letters and gifts from Kendra here.