Posts Tagged With: sustainabilty

Midwest Renewable Energy Fair

Each year just outside of Stevens Point, WI is a massive renewable energy fair.  The name is kind of misleading as it’s not entirely about renewable energy or even mostly about it.  If I could rename it I would call it the Midwest Sustainable Living Festival or the Midwest Moving-Past-Greenwashing-Into-Real-Solutions Extravaganza.  There are hundreds of exhibitors, hour long workshops on everything from solar panels to humanure to herbalism to building, great food, live music, awesome locally brewed beer at the beer tent, and an excellent vibe from everyone there. The four work studys and two board members went up to represent the Folk School and truly had a blast.  We brought with us a timberframe booth we made and a shaving horse for giving trunnel (wooden peg) making demonstrations.  I had such a fantastic weekend.

Since we had a booth at the fair we all took turns hanging out there, handing out catalogs, and talking with all the neat people that stopped to chat with us.  When we weren’t at the table we got to go to however many workshops we wanted! I went to a bunch including: Building Interfaith Environmental Coalitions, Ultimate Downsizing (living in small homes off grid), Using Local Herbs (herbalism/wild foraging), Pedal Power (using bikes to teach about electricity), and a couple others I am blanking on right now.  I learned tons and the instructors were all very inspirational.

When I first decided to move to Wisconsin I was nervous about what kinds of people I would be meeting. I definitely believe we are running out of oil and that our dependency is greater than ever—being at the Fair gave me hope for the future.  As we drove the couple of hours North for the Fair we passed thousands of acres of industrial agriculture but also wilderness areas,  beautiful rivers, and plenty of small farms.  Part of my reasoning for becoming a Driftless Folk School work/study was to learn more skills for homesteading, farming, and living sustainably and not only am I feeling fulfilled through my host farm and the school but also by the opportunities it is giving me—like going to the fair.

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Obligatory Introduction Post

My name is Annie B. and I am a 23 year old college graduate doing what many of my peers are doing in this economic climate—traveling, doing internships and work-trades for little or no money, and blogging about it!   Growing up in Massachusetts, spending summers at camp all around the Northeast, and going to college in North Carolina has all contributed to my current state of wandering and I couldn’t be happier with all the experiences I’ve had. After graduating from college with a degree in Outdoor Leadership Studies I stayed on campus as a Resident Director where my duties mostly included planning under attended events for my residents and writing up or lecturing loud underage drinkers.  I then moved to California for a year-long position as a Community Intern for the Woolman Semester—a radical semester program for high school juniors, seniors and gap year students based on peace, sustainablility, and social justice.  As an intern I wore many hats including: “grown-up”, gardener, vegetarian chef, trip leader, nanny, camp specialist, chaperone, etc. and loved them all. Now my wanderlust has pulled me to Southwestern Wisconsin where I am a work/study for the Driftless Folk School.

Driftless Folk School is a community based program focused on sharing knowledge, skills, and passion related to sustainable living.  The school has no physical location and classes are held at various homes, schools, farms, and homesteads around Viroqua and Vernon County. Classes are signed up for individually so that a person can take as many as they want throughout the year. Local experts and enthusiasts are hired to teach skills like pickling, natural building, chicken butchering, cheesemaking, blacksmithing, etc.  As a work/study I live with a host family on their farm outside of town where I work for room and board and a couple hours per week for the Folk School itself for a small stipend and free Folk School classes.  The folks I am living with out at Turtle Hollow are absolutely fantastic and I feel so lucky to have this opportunity!

My goal for this blog is to make it appealing to family and friends as well as those interested in Driftless Folk School, folk schools in general, or farm/rural life.  I feel I should mention that each work/study lives a very different life depending on what their host farm is like so it would be impossible to represent each experience in my blog. I’ll just keep to what I know! To follow will surely be photos, recipes, anecdotes, class reviews, and whatever else spills out of my brain. Enjoy!

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