Today's blog post was written by Crosshatch Co-Director Brad Kik.
Just yesterday, I learned that the Spivey's Corner Hollerin' Contest was cancelled for 2016. Hollerin' was a way of communicating with neighbors (and sometimes animals) before the telephone. Think Tarzan's yell and you've got it. Ok, some of you kids might need it... feel free to put this on a loop. You can watch some actual hollerin' here.
But now, at least in 2016, there aren't enough holler-ers to make a hollerin' contest work. And without the contest, there may not be enough interest in hollerin' to get new folks to take it up. Folks, we could be seeing the beginning of the end of the holler.
Now, the upcoming Skill Swap isn't specific to romanticized old-timey skills, but I think that what we're doing here is like a cousin to that Hollerin' Contest. Because look, if learning how to do something was only a matter of learning how to do it, then heck, you've got YouTube and some books for that.
Instead, something interesting and important happens when you're at a Skill Swap. It's where you learn how what-you-know intersects and overlaps with what-your-neighbor-knows, and how those things live inside what-your-community-knows. When we start piecing that together, we can start answering bigger questions, like, "how do we feed ourselves while caring for our woods, wildlife and water?" or, "how can we make a living without making life miserable for someone on the other side of the globe?" These are actually very complicated and difficult questions when you set out to answer them yourself, as opposed to when our captains of politics, industry, and entertainment assure us that all answers shall be provided.
In other words, these kinds of local gatherings—Skill Swaps, Hollerin' Contests, Twilight Tours, roundtables, work bees, group sings, kitchen table problem solving—can be a response to the madness of our national politics. And should be. They are a powerful way to put our hope back in our own hands.
(Oh, and as a side effect, they are also a whole lot of fun. As a small extra bonus, you actually learn something too.)
The next Skill Swap is this Thursday, July 7, at Earthwork Farm in Lake City. We're keeping registration open until the end of the day today, but if you're reading this on Wednesday, we can probably work something out. If you're reading this on Friday, we'll hope to see you next year.
And by the way, maybe next year we should figure out how to teach some hollerin'. Drop us a line if you know someone.