Looking through the activities of my daily life, it is almost unbelievable how many gadgets and gizmos I rely on to function. From the alarm that sounds at 4:30 AM to get me to market, to the little smart phone that keeps my business in order and connects me almost magically to the network of human beings invested in my wares and offerings. Many of these items do what they do without my awareness of how they do it; they were made somewhere I’ve never been and the process of their manufacture, for all I know, is done by a room full of wizards.
This sense of groundlessness associated with key tools in daily life is even more prominent in urban environments. An accelerated evolution of technology, centralizing of powers, profits, and production, and the inconceivably complex system of capital we use to hold it all together exacerbates society’s addiction to convenience. With 80 percent of the population living in cities, humans are more vulnerable than ever before and that nagging feeling of discontent has spurred some into action.
It is the idea behind Folk or Homesteading Schools to reintroduce us to the wisdoms and craftsmanship of our ancestors. There was a time, not so long ago, that a community of individuals had to work together to survive, dividing up tasks and trades to cover all bases. Creative expression was rooted in purpose; beautiful handmade tools, clothes, and comforts were of the highest quality and held within them the intention of the caring hands that manifest them into being. Modern day Folk Schools have a difficult line to toe between being centers for educating those who will reestablish personal resiliency in our communities and simply being a place for nostalgia, another distraction from the difficult times we face.
One Folk School making prosperous strides in restoring empowerment in human communities is doing so in a challenging setting. The Homestead Atlanta was founded 2 and half years ago by Kimberly Coburn in the enormous International city of Atlanta, Georgia. Coburn saw in her own life and in the lives of those around her the ways that individuals had been forced to cede control over their own existence. The immense diversity in cultures, life experiences, and perspectives further divided and separated communities and avenues for sharing were difficult to come by. Through The Homestead Atlanta’s partnership with Georgia Organics, Coburn has facilitated hundreds of workshops all over the city in an attempt to open that avenue of community and communication and restore a sense of resilience among the people of Atlanta.
The Classes include, but are not limited to, everything from Blacksmithing and Fermentation, to Ecological Landscaping and Leathercraft. The Homestead Atlanta utilizes donated space throughout the city for its workshops and this facilitates a connecting thread between neighborhoods. These classes have drawn everyone in from apartment dwellers and suburbanites to rural property owners with hundreds of acres. The classes also feature a work trade option and a sliding scale in hopes of including anyone eager and willing to learn. One of the biggest goals of The Homestead Atlanta is to generate more teachers and doers. It is not feasible to believe that one organization could educate or reach every individual. It is the goal of Coburn to give tools to those who are ready and willing to learn and share their skills, adding to the list of spirited creators that will be available to take care of themselves and others in times of need.
Wrassling the challenges faced by those in the city with traditional wisdoms and modern day sustainability innovation is no easy feat, but is incredibly rewarding and important. With all of the different lifestyles, expressions, cultures, and heritages; Atlanta houses a powerful store of information, creativity, and potential. The Homestead Atlanta has a long road ahead and they are on the right track. With their workshops, modern day resilience meet ups, and community outreach, they are inspiring people to use their hands and minds, hearts and communities, to bring power back into their lives. In the modern world, it cannot simply be about preserving the history of a handmade lifestyle. It must also demonstrate the relevance of making and creating, of caring for one another through work and mastery, and it must be made accessible to anyone who is ready and willing to take action.
Do you live in Atlanta and feel like you’ve got the ambition enough to change this world one skill at a time? Sign up for a class today and or join the conversation. We’ve all got something to share and resiliency multiplies with each new empowered voice.
Photo Credits: Homestead Atlanta Photo By @smlennox; Indigo Dyes Photo By @ladyflashback; Blacksmithing Photo By @christophertmartin
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