Reskilling can ensure we have more of what we truly need to get through difficult times, but it can also remind us of how resourceful, creative and generous we really are.
Our families and communities can more creatively navigate uncertainty and change when we hold certain kinds of knowledge and certain kinds of skills. This includes the down-to-earth, practical know-how of all place-based people, including our ancestors: growing and harvesting food, medicine and fibre plants; cooking and preserving with the seasons; making useful and beautiful everyday objects; and mending or repurposing what breaks down.
But I think reskilling also includes those subtle and soulful skills that revive our capacity for wonder and remind us of our belonging in the world. Listening closely, catching our dreams, telling good stories, dancing and drawing, conversing with wildness, sharing and gifting – these, too, embody the kind of craftsmanship and care without which life seems hollowed out and dry.
In industrialized societies, so much of this knowledge and skill has been outsourced to specialists or relegated to the margins. The process of reviving and sharing it – whatever little bit of it we feel most drawn to and inspired by – can be so empowering and joyful. At its heart, perhaps reskilling is a process of reconnecting: with ourselves and our inborn gifts, with the grounded wisdom of our ancestors, with each other, and with the landscapes and watersheds that give us life.
The resources offered here are biased towards the kinds of skills I've been exploring in the past twenty years – gardening organically, tending the wild, cooking and preserving, making medicines, weaving with wool and willow, dreaming and storytelling. I don't know how to build a house, heal with my hands or play an instrument, but I love knowing people in my community who do. I hope you'll find something of interest here, if only a desire to learn more from someone in your region.
Through engagement with materials and ideas, craft develops creativity, inventiveness, problem-solving and practical intelligence. Making also fosters well-being. We know that many people fall into a pattern of over-consumption that leaves them not much happier. This has serious implications for the environment and people’s well-being. So can we step off the treadmill and make something by hand, something that we can treasure forever? What would you make?