May 252013

A little over a year ago The Lummi Island Grange decided to offer a series of workshops on the general subject of rural life, community education being one of the Grange missions. We called it the Country Living Series, a name we borrowed from the Hood River Grange which runs a similar program.

Most of us have arrived at the island from a city setting and there are many things we never knew, used to know or had forgotten about. Rural life, especially life on an island, is markedly different from city life. One must be more self-reliant and self-sufficient. It’s important to learn how to do stuff or at least know who on the island has those skills.

In the lingo of The Transition Town Movement what we are doing is called “reskilling.” The intention is to learn to do things for ourselves and our neighbors. We have forgotten basic skills. I have written before about my grandparents farm in Virginia. It was a subsistence operation where they grew their own food, milled their lumber, built their house and outbuildings, slaughtered and butchered their animals, repaired their equipment and manufactured parts. There was even a barber chair in garage because they cut their own hair as well. People of that generation knew how to do stuff.

At the heart of reskilling is the idea of localization. That is, doing as much as we can for ourselves. Personally, I was thrilled to see Chris Immer’s recent Nextdoor post that he is milling lumber from Lummi Island trees and making it available for sale. If you are somewhat familiar with the island you will know that we do have people with specific skills and talents. We have people who know how to fell trees, catch fish, sail, weld, garden, sew, weave, heal, write, build boats, can and preserve, cook, throw a pot, carve, build, fix bikes and cars. There are more people that have fascinating hobbies and special musical talent. We have people who actually know what goes on inside computers. And people who can build musical instruments.

So, the whole idea of the Grange Country Living Series is to identify those people with special skills, talents and interests and try to cajole them into sharing their knowledge with the community at large.

We had a good first year and hope to do as well in the next twelve months. Here are the details:

25 workshops on 20 different subjects (5 workshops were repeated due to demand)

Over 200 people attended in total.

Highest individual attendance was 23. Lowest was 1.

Most of the workshops were presented by islanders but we did have help from the mainland for six         workshops.

Subjects (not in order of presentation):

potting soil and fertilizer,backyard chickens, pruning fruit trees, seed saving (2), chainsaw safety and maintenance (2), bread and cheese, neighbor electric vehicles, cheese making (2), rag rug construction (2), bread baking (2), how to make soap, keeping mason bees, herbal gifts, backyard beans and grains, end of life preparation, eating local, kim chi, how to buy a side of beef, making wine, using nettles.

I encourage you to volunteer to share your knowledge on any subject you deem important to share. You might find that only three or four people have an interest and that’s okay. It’s still paying it forward and helping to educate islanders to be more self-reliant and self-sufficient.

Call or email me with ideas: or 2130.


  One Response to “Grange Country Living Series Annual Report”

  1. Would love to see a class on pressure canning. I have one that hubby bought me and I have used it once mostly because it scares the c—- out of me and kind of because I don’t like mushy overcooked vegis.

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