Free Skills Series

The Free Skills Series is a family-friendly monthly class exploring different skills through a rewilding lens. It is free and open to the public, and no previous experience is necessary to attend.

Our Free Skills Series has one core ethic behind it:

All people must have free and open access to creating resilience in their lives.

Contemporary life finds us completely dependent on a very fragile network of global connections and technologies. We have become disassociated from the land where we live: our food comes from hundreds and thousands of miles away, we spend countless hours indoors, interacting with screens in human-created virtual worlds instead of the natural other-than-human reality that surrounds us. This has many negative effects on our physical and mental health, as well as making us less prepared for the inevitable failure of these systems. Yet access to learning any other way often comes with a high price.

Rewild Portland urgently works against this trend. Since 2007 we have hosted our monthly Free Skills Series (our first program ever), which continues to be the backbone of our organization. Participants of all ages and levels of experience are introduced to various skills and knowledge. This is an inclusive space for people of all abilities and backgrounds to learn and share with each other. We are queer-friendly, straight-friendly, race-friendly, gender-friendly, age-friendly, family-friendly—just plain friendly! All of the skills we practice come with a set of ethical principles for environmental sustainability through reverence and regeneration. We do not charge for the Free Skills Series but gratefully accept donations from those who have the means. We suggest $10–$20 or whatever amount feels good to anyone able to donate.

These free classes work to build resilience on multiple levels. On the surface, they enhance each participant’s skills and knowledge, showing them how to get what they need from their own place rather than relying on global systems. Our participants learn, for example, how to find, identify, sustainably harvest, and prepare foods that grow all around them; how to start a fire without matches or lighters, but by rubbing sticks together harvested from the trees in their own neighborhood; how to increase their physical and mental health through connecting to nature using their body and senses; and how to make medicine from the plants that grow in their own backyard.

But while the Free Skills Series may seem at first glance like a skills class, it’s actually a community-building program. When someone attends the Free Skills Series, they are surrounding themselves with people who are seeking the same skills and the same connection to place. Here, people make friends and create communities together. This leads to participants teaching and learning from one another outside the context of the Free Skills Series, or even Rewild Portland. This is our ultimate goal: to create robust social connections that exist without need or input from us, that ultimately make the Free Skills Series obsolete. While skills are certainly important for resilience, these social connections are the most important and valuable aspect of our program.

So, what are you waiting for? Check out all our exciting themes for this coming year, and RSVP by clicking on the link below. All themes, dates, times, and locations are subject to change. Thank you.

Support the Free Skills Series

While we do not charge for these events, they are made possible through regular donations from individuals we call recurring supporters. Are you someone with an income who can give a little to make this program possible? Become a recurring supporter today! And thank you for making the Free Skills Series possible.

Become a Sustaining Donor

Business Sponsors

The Free Skills Series is in part made possible with our local business sponsors. We are always looking for business sponsorships for the Free Skills Series. You can read more about that here.

How to Register for the Free Skills Series

The best way to make sure you RSVP on time is through our e-newsletter! In order to be reminded to register, you must be subscribed and follow the link in the monthly e-mail. Sign up to our newsletter below and make sure that the confirmation does not go to your spam filter. We send one or two e-mails a month with all of our upcoming programs and a link to register for the next Free Skills Series.

You can also register right here on our website by following this link:

2023 Free Skills Series Themes

February: Fire-Starting Techniques: POSTPONED

Saturday, March 4
2–4 pm @ Green Anchors, N. Portland

Humans began to utilize fire potentially over a million years ago. Friction fire is a common method of starting a fire by “rubbing two sticks together.” At our free skills series we will demonstrate how this works, give people the opportunity to try it out, and help those who have some experience troubleshoot their own kits. We will also cover how to work with fire in a safe way. As the climate warms, fire has becoming an increasing concern. We’ll cover what you need to know before, after, and while tending fire.

March: Foraging

Saturday, March 25th
2–4 pm @ Green Anchors, N. Portland

In late winter and early spring, many edible greens begin to emerge, such as stinging nettle and dandelion. Let’s celebrate them by learning about their cultural histories, how to encourage their growth, what roles they play in ecology, how to process and prepare them, and of course, how to eat them and what nutritional value they bring. We’ll also cover the history of foraging ethics, why things are changing, and exciting ways to continue the life cycles of the plants we know and love.

April: Bone Tools

Saturday, April 29th
2–4 pm @ Green Anchors, N. Portland

The bone awl was once among the most important multi-purpose tools—something people would carry with them wherever they went. Bone is one of the hardest natural materials, but it breaks down over time and is eaten by animals. For this reason, stone receives more credit as a household tool of our “Stone Age” ancestors. Like most natural materials, bone is shaped through abrasion: scoring, scraping, snapping, splitting, and sanding. In this class you’ll learn about different bone tools and get some hands-on experience shaping them. 

May: Water Purification

2–4 pm @ Green Anchors, N. Portland

If you are lost in the wilderness, it may not seem like such a big deal to drink a bit of dirty water or even water that appears clean, but sadly, most natural water sources are grossly contaminated. Even rainwater all over the world has been found to be unsafe for human consumption. Needless to say, knowing how to purify your water without store-bought tools is an essential skill. In this class we will go over different water purification techniques with materials you can find in almost any environment. 

July: Plant Dyeing

Saturday, July 29th
2–4 pm @ Green Anchors, N. Portland

Using the dyes of leaves, roots, and flowers to color your cloth and yarn can be an amazing journey into botanical alchemy. Dyeing with plants means not only natural, non-toxic color, but also extra benefits for our well-being. Plant-dyed fabric can have different qualities like sun protection, antibacterial properties, or odor resistance. In addition to learning about natural coloring, we will also go over eco-printing, a form of natural dyeing where the colors and shapes of plant material are transferred to fabric via steaming or boiling.

August: Hand Felting

Saturday, August 26th
2–4 pm @ Green Anchors, N. Portland

Felt is a non-woven cloth made from animal fibers that have been pressed and matted together without stitching or weaving. This class will cover wet felting, which is the process of using water and friction to create felt. Historically, felt was an essential element for shelter, clothing, hats, saddles, and rugs. It requires little to no equipment. Learn the basics of this craft and make your own small felted bag!

September: Cordage with Invasive Species

Saturday, September 30th
2–4 pm @ Green Anchors, N. Portland

Making rope and string used to be an essential skill for everyone. With industrialization came machines that can make string and rope in such large quantities we no longer think about the energy and effort involved. In this class we will teach you how to spin cord with your own two hands, as well as how to use a drop spindle. We will also teach you useful knots, and how to save cordage instead of cutting it. Many plant fibers are useful for makinig rope and this is also something you’ll learn. 

October: Wilderness Navigation

Saturday, October 28th
2–4 pm @ Green Anchors, N. Portland

Human bodies and brains are well equipped for navigating unfamiliar terrain and mental mapping, but due to GPS and other technologies many of us are out of practice. In this class we will go over how to use a map and compass, how to orient yourself with the sun, how to find the North Star at night, and various other techniques for not getting lost in the woods. You will come out of this class confident and well equipped for practicing on your own.

November: Conflict Resolution

Saturday, November 18th
2–4 pm @ Green Anchors

Conflict with our peers is unavoidable, and most of the time a constructive part of working with others. In this class we will learn methods for resolving disputes in effective and beneficial ways. We will focus on nonviolent forms of communication with an emphasis on how to navigate neurodivergent relationships. This class will be taught by Sheila Henson, an incredible ADHD coach and Rewild Portland board member.

December: Storytelling/Mythmaking

Saturday, December 16th
2–4 pm @ Green Anchors

Storytelling, intertwined with the development of mythology, predates writing. It is fundamental to our perception of the world and how we relate to one another. Activate your imagination with us, and get cozy around a fire, as we talk about the importance of oral traditions and the passage of knowledge, and tell a story or two.