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:

2024 Free Skills Series Themes

February: Fire-Starting Techniques

Saturday, February 17
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: Roadkill/ Animal Processing

New Date: July 20

Saturday, March 16
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 the benefits and uses of roadkill, what do you do once you have the roadkill, what you need to make the most of it, and the hazards of picking up roadkill. Join us for an informative talk that will answer all these questions and more: we will also demonstrate how to process small game (squirrels).

April: Foraging

Saturday, April 20
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.

May: Natural Building

Saturday, May 18
2–4 pm @ Green Anchors, N. Portland

Natural building allows for a deep connection to land through utilization of local materials and an attention to what building concerns there are on the land to be built upon. Beyond the sustainability implications of natural building, benefits come as well through the structure’s materials being healthier and less toxic to build with and live in. Come learn about different natural building types; we’ll be highlighting cob specifically as well as diving into pit-houses.

July: Roadkill/ Animal Processing

Saturday, July 20
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 the benefits and uses of roadkill, what do you do once you have the roadkill, what you need to make the most of it, and the hazards of picking up roadkill. Join us for an informative talk that will answer all these questions and more: we will also demonstrate how to process small game (squirrels).

August: Natural Dye

Saturday, August 17
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.

September: Animal Tracking

Saturday, September 14
2–4 pm @ Green Anchors, N. Portland

Come learn how to identify and follow animal tracks. Learn more about animal tracking opportunities in the Portland area and beyond. Take home a plaster mold of an animal track!

October: Cordage; Carding & Spinning

Saturday, October 19
2–4 pm @ Green Anchors, N. Portland

Making rope and saving 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 making rope and this is also something you’ll learn. 

November: Basket Weaving with Ivy

Saturday, November 16
2–4 pm @ Green Anchors, N. Portland

Invasive species get a bad rap, but there are many amazing qualities to these plants that we can benefit from. Rewild Portland is famous for our work in creating new relationships with invasives, with basketry in particular. 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: Seasonal Ceremonies & Rituals

Saturday, December 14
2–4 pm @ Green Anchors, N. Portland