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. Sponsored by Portland Parks City Nature, it takes place in Portland-area parks, moving to new and different neighborhoods each month. 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


How to Register for the Free Skills Series

The best way to make sure you RSVP 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:


2022 Free Skills Series Themes

January: Friction Fire

Saturday, January 22
10 am–12 pm @ St. Francis Park, SE Portland
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 is becoming an increasing concern. We’ll also cover what you need to know before, after, and while tending fire.


Jan: Cordage & Knots

Sunday, January 23
10 am–2 pm @ Green Anchors, N. Portland
2–4 pm @ St. Francis Park, SE Portland

Making rope and string was once an essential skill for everyone. With industrialization came machines that make these materials in large quantities, and most of us no longer think about the energy and effort involved. In this class you will learn how to spin cord with your own two hands, as well as using a drop spindle. We’ll also teach some useful knots, how to save cordage instead of cutting it, and we’ll cover some of the many plant fibers that are useful for making rope.


February: Basic Wound Care

Saturday, February 26
10 am–12 pm @ Washington High School Dog Park, SE Portland
2–4 pm @ Green Anchors, N. Portland

Many people do not know how to care for minor wounds like cuts and burns. While more in-depth wounds require more in-depth training, this class will cover some of the more basic and most common ailments. Mostly we will be discussing first aid but will also cover how to care for these wounds as they heal, to prevent infection and further injury.


February: Tin Stoves

Sunday, February 27
10 am–12 pm @ Washington High School Dog Park, SE Portland
2–4 pm @ Green Anchors, N. Portland

Tin can rocket stoves are quick to make, easy to carry, an efficient use of energy, and less likely to catch fire. We will demonstrate how to build these out of readily available materials for camping, outdoor kitchens, or emergency preparedness. We will also cover all the fire safety needs for working with rocket stoves.


March: Bicycle Care

Saturday,

Postponed

Bicycles are more and more common as gas prices soar and people look for healthy alternatives. The most basic bicycle care besides oiling a chain is fixing a flat tire by changing the inner tube. In this class we will demonstrate how to do this and help attendees learn to change the tubes on their own bikes.


March: Safety Outdoors

Sunday

Postponed

Whether you are out in the wilderness or simply strolling in the city, it is important to be aware of the hazards in your environment. In this class we will discuss techniques that you can use to keep yourself safe, aware, and protected.


April: Hygiene Outdoors

Saturday, April 23
10 am–12 pm @ Washington High School Dog Park, SE Portland
2–4 pm @ Green Anchors, N. Portland

Staying clean outside—for example, knowing how to defecate and urinate in hygienic ways—is important to maintain health when spending extended periods of time outdoors. Without access to running water, soap, toilet paper, toilets, or showers, there are alternative ways to keep yourself clean. In this class we will cover a range of topics that can ease people’s minds and keep them smelling fresh and feeling good.


April: Roadkill Laws

Sunday, April 24
10 am–12 pm @ Washington High School Dog Park, SE Portland
2–4 pm @ Green Anchors, N. Portland

Picking up roadkill in many states is now legal. However, there are still many regulations around this process. In this class we will cover the uses of roadkill, the hazards of picking it up, what to do once you have picked it up, and how to make the most of it. Join us for an informative talk that will answer all these questions and more. We will also demonstrate how to process small game (squirrel).


May: Shelter

Saturday, May 28
10 am–12 pm @ Washington High School Dog Park, SE Portland
2–4 pm @ Green Anchors, N. Portland

Shelter is the primary element of survival. Without proper shelter from the elements, a person can die within minutes. This class will go over all the design principles and shelters so that you know how to properly make one. We will also focus on how to make tarp shelters, and how to repair tents and tarps.


May: Sandals & Foot Care

Sunday, May 29
10 am–12 pm @ Washington High School Dog Park, SE Portland
2–4 pm @ Green Anchors, N. Portland

The oldest pair of footwear that has been found was located in a cave right here in Oregon, dating back some 12,000 years. In this class we will talk about the importance of foot care: how to maintain healthy, strong feet. After outlining some tips and tricks, we will make simple sandals from leather and paracord.


June: Knife & Axe Care

Saturday, June 11
2–4 pm @ Green Anchors

Knowing how to maintain a sharp, clean blade is an important skill for anyone engaged in outdoor skills or living, and yet this simple skill often gets overlooked. Join us for a class on sharpening and caring for your knives and axe heads. Bring your favorite knife, axe, and sharpening tools, and learn from folks who use these tools on a daily basis. Knife blades must be 3.5 inches or under to meet Park’s city ordinance.


July: Chinuk Wawa with Eric Bernando (Tentative)

Saturday, July 30
2–4 pm @ Green Anchors

Join Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde member Eric Bernando for a lesson in Chinook history and Chinuk Wawa. Learn a little bit of the original Lingua Franca of the Pacific Northwest and understand its historical and contemporary context. Walk away with resources for how to continue to learn more and deepen your connection to place through this language.


August: Archery

Saturday, August 27
2–4 pm @ Green Anchors

Join us at the archery range to shoot some arrows with a bow and launch a couple of darts with an atlatl. We’ll talk about the range of human projectile technology and give attendees a chance to try them out. Please bring your own bows and arrows if you have them. We will be able to provide a few for those who do not have them.


September: Acorn Processing & Oak Savanna Restoration

Saturday, September 24
2–4 pm @ Green Anchors

Join us for a class on how to eat acorns and care for the remaining oak ecosystems of the Willamette Valley and beyond. We’ll take you step by step, cooking-show style, through how to make acorns edible and cook them. Always a favorite class with our youngest fans, who love grinding acorns! Enjoy some of our acorn meal and treats.


October: Tree Nuts

Saturday, October 29
2–4 pm @ Green Anchors

There are many nut trees in the Portland area that people can harvest from. We’ll cover the basics of nuts, and then focus on a few varieties and how to harvest them. Specifically we’ll talk about black walnuts, English walnuts, hazelnuts, bay nuts, ginko nuts, and American chestnuts.


November: Basic Ivy Basket

Saturday, November 19
2–4 pm @ Green Anchors

Invasive species get a bad rap, but these plants have many amazing qualities that humans and other beings can benefit from. Our organization is well known for our work in creating new relationships with invasives, particularly through basketry. Come pull some ivy and learn how to weave a quick little basket. No experience necessary! This is a great one to work on with children.


December: Solstice Traditions

Saturday, December 17
2–4 pm @ Green Anchors

Cultures all around the northern hemisphere practice various traditions tied to the winter solstice. In this class we will touch on some of these traditions and how they have changed over the years. Come celebrate this shortest day, and think about how we can rewild traditions that have become mundane or commercialized by civilization.