As you know, I’m teaching an intro to creative writing class at the first-ever Somerville Skillshare, and this week we launched a Kickstarter campaign to keep the event 100% free. We’re hoping to raise two grand for space rental, class materials, and publicity expenses (which feels totally do-able—fingers crossed!) Many of us teachers are offering private lessons for a pledge of $125, and mine consists of a two-hour session of writing coaching (which I’d ideally format as two one-hour in-person meetings plus reading time, although Skype or Google Hangout would work as well. You certainly don’t have to live in the Boston area to take advantage of this!)
I especially want to see us meet our fundraising goal because the primary organizer, John Massie, has been working with superhuman dedication to pull this thing together. In case you’re still wondering what the heck a Skillshare is, I want to share an email John sent out to friends and family today:
As most of you know, I’m from Somerville. One thing that’s always impressed me about this city is its diversity and the number of creative people who live here, from artists to hobbyists to crafters to just…funky individuals with weird stuff going on. It’s one of the many things that gives this city its character, and something that I’ve always loved about this place (and probably one of the reasons I ended up back here after graduating college a few years ago).
So last summer, I heard about this thing that’s happened in a few cities called a “Skillshare.” It’s basically a day where a random assortment of people from a given community gather in one location to hang out and teach each other interesting stuff. I thought to myself, “it would pretty darn cool if something like this could happen in Somerville.” And if it can happen in Brooklyn and Seattle, why not Somerville, a 75,000 strong community chock full of artists and creative types? I bounced the idea of a few people (i.e. my Dad, my brother, and my roommates) and got some encouraging responses.
So on a muggy August day I walked into the Somerville Armory (a community education space and performance hall located near Davis Square) knocked on a few doors until I met the Director (an awesome lady named Lea), and pitched the idea. She thought it sounded interesting. Twenty minutes later, I walked out, feeling both excited and slightly foolish, because I had just written a check for many hundreds of dollars to book the entire building for a random day in March, 2014. I was committed.
Fast forward six months. Since that day–and many email blasts, excited conversations, new friends, headbangs against the wall, late night pizza deliveries, daydreams at work, tantrums about HTML, “oh shit!” moments, group meetings and furious notetakings later—this idea is actually happening.
In fact, it’s just not happening, it is happenin’. We’ve got 8 talented, committed organizers (Danielle, Spencer, Paula, Camille, K.Adam, Isaac, Sarah, Courtney, and Melissa! Y’all rock.), a fancy-pants WordPress website, nearly 40 local teachers lined up to teach nearly 40 free classeson everything from bookbinding to salsa dancing to stock investing, 3 local food sponsors (Flatbread, Slumbrew and Taza Chocolate), 10+ volunteers lined up from One Brick, a few articles written about us in some local publications like Somerville Beat (and more on the way!), a modest-but-growing Facebook platform, some unique, original content about some of Somerville’s most interesting residents, and even a short video put together by one of the organizers that features nothing but original footage of our teachers. It’s been a wild ride, and a ton of fun, and we’re completely making it up as we go (which has perhaps been the most rewarding part). And we have absolutely no idea if anyone is going to show up to the event.
Here’s the conclusion to this story. Somerville Skillshare is happening in less than three weeks, on March 2nd, 2014, at the Somerville Armory. And I’d like to ask for your help making it happen.
So if you can chip in a few bucks, we’ll all be incredibly grateful. I hope to see you at the Armory on March 2nd! My class is on at 1pm in the yoga studio (fittingly enough, haha).