Welcome to the Earthskills Gathering 2019

Dear Earthskills Gathering participants

This email contains final info and links to any additional support (there might be some repetition ... ) you may need in making the Earthskills Gathering a meaningful, successful event for us all. If you have any further queries, please don't hesitate to email us

Please note that we will be setting up on site at our event venue from about 10am on Thursday 19 September, so connection thereafter will be intermittent.

More event information can also be found on the Gathering Q&A page of our website

The Blue Hippo Tipi Village (maps link here) will be open to public participants from 4pm on Friday 20 September. Please arrange your arrival carefully to ensure enough time to be set up (if camping) and settled for our opening ceremony at around 6.30pm. (Capetonians remember: Friday afternoon traffic can be hectic – plan well ahead!) On arrival, campers may drive into the Tipi Village area to unload their camping gear (as quickly as possible). Once set up, all cars must be parked in the adjacent open space where indicated, so as to not interfere with the flow of activities within the Tipi Village. Only campervans or vehicles with rooftop tents in action may remain in the Tipi Village area during the event. 
NB: Blue Hippo main access gate code: 0801#

Registration and indemnity forms
As soon as possible after arrival, please come to our info table so that we can register your booking and so that you can complete a short registration/indemnity form. 

Accommodation and work spaces
There will be a map in the communal kitchen area and near the info table indicating camping areas and our facilitator's accommodation / workshop spaces, for ease of use when it comes to attending demos and workshops, as well as our youth programme. Our skills workshops (see schedule below) will take place alongside the facilitators' accommodation spaces, or inside as appropriate due to needs or weather, creating the feeling of a temporary 'artisanal village' through which you may freely wander. Please respect the facilitators' need for privacy and relaxation when workshops are not taking place.
Opening ceremony – Friday
Our organisation's co-founder, Rein Buyze, and our Khoi skills facilitator, Chief Stephen Fritz, will be holding an opening/welcome ceremony from about 6.30/7pm. During this time, Rein will also introduce our skills facilitators and volunteers, to be followed by a drumming performance by the children of Ocean View. Thereafter, we invite you to join us for an informal evening of music and connection round the fire.
Two communal meals (vegetarian) are included in our exchange (or one meal for limited access/two-day participants), and these will be prepared on Saturday and Sunday evening by Loretha Kennedy of FreeRangeFoods in JBay. All other meals are self-catering, so please bring along what you need. The communal kitchen offers refrigeration space (our collective storage needs are unclear so fridge space can't be guaranteed!), a gas cooker, kettle, toaster and microwave, and there are outdoor fires and braais that can be utilized for your personal cooking needs as required. Please note, however, that restrictions may need to be placed on when the main kitchen is used to allow Loretha plenty of time and space to prepare our volunteer and communal meals. Please respect her needs and assist her in meeting ours where possible ;-).

Yoga offering
One of our event volunteers, Amanda Ramcharitar, is a qualified and experienced yoga teacher with a deep personal interest in supporting our organisation and event ethos. She has kindly offered to lead those who are interested in a morning yoga/meditation practice, which will take place in the beautiful hall behind the communal kitchen/dining area. Please see the schedule below for times, and be sure to pack your mat if you wish to participate in these FREE sessions.  
Registration for workshops
Registration for the day’s sessions will take place between 8.30am and 9.30am (following our free yoga class) each morning. Registration for repeat workshops in a particular skill is possible at the end of each workshop, and each facilitator will have a form for you to fill in should you wish to attend further sessions in a skill. There are only four repeat space available in each workshop, to offer plenty of variety and exposure to different skills. 

A general note on participation: Rather than experiencing any stress over which workshops to attend or available spaces in the ones you 'want', we'd like to invite you to slow down and immerse yourself in the broader practice of earth skills during this event. This means that ALL available skills offer value towards a low-impact, self-sufficient lifestyle, and this event has been developed to offer exposure to a range of skills, without attachment or a drive towards quick mastery and outcome. Please resist disappointment if your hoped-for workshops are full and, instead, simply open yourself to experiencing another. Remember, too, that all 10 of our facilitators will be offering a short demo of their skills, so you will have plenty of opportunity to see them all in action, with a view to continuing the journey back home or at future events. With thanks for your understanding in this.  

For workshop times, please refer to our schedule below, and on the chalkboard during the event. If you are not sure where or when your workshop is taking place, please ask one of the organisers or volunteers, or consult the map near the info table or in the communal kitchen space. 
Info table
An info table will be placed in a central space within the Tipi Village. If you have any concerns, queries or special needs, please come to us here, or to Rein (bush skills) or Lucy directly.  
Demonstration slots
Demonstration slots have been allocated to each facilitator, giving you the opportunity to experience all crafts on offer during this year’s event. The demos will each be about 20 minutes long, and, for your interest, times have been allocated as follows (times may shift slightly, but will be on the chalkboard):
9am Right Mukore (woodcarving)
1pm: Rene Bahloo (cordage/net making)
5pm: Dael Lithgow (leathercraft)
7pm: Belinda Blignaut (wild clay)
9am: Handmade NPO (amaXhosa basket weaving)
1pm: Samuel Smith (forging)
5pm: Karen Platte (felting)
7pm: Stephen Fritz (medicinal plants)
9am: Handmade NPO (amaPondo mat making)
1pm: Rein Buyze (bush skills) + closing ceremony
About 20 volunteers (10 from Vulamasango and others in their private capacity) will be assisting us in various roles throughout the event. Each workshop facilitator will have a dedicated volunteer supporting the workshop sessions – a wonderful learning opportunity for our youth volunteers. 
Our youth programme (for children under 14) will run alongside the workshop sessions. Should your child wish to accompany you to a workshop rather than attend our youth programme, he/she is welcome to do so in support of your craft process. Please note that our facilitators are under no obligation to actively teach accompanying children, or offer them materials to work with, but they may choose to do so at their discretion. Please see below a visual introducing our Youth Programme facilitators.   
Attached is our current schedule for this event. Any changes will be clearly noted on our central chalkboard.

Evening entertainment
We are excited to be able to offer you a live music and story-telling experience on Saturday and Sunday evenings. Saturday will feature the Howz the Moon band, and Sunday Luyolo Lenga. Both music gigs will be supported by story-telling, in the African tradition, by the Balisa Nathi Story-telling Collective. Please join us in appreciating the skills that these makers, musicians and story-tellers will bring to our space. 

Market day (Monday)
While it is not our intention to offer commercial opportunities at this stage, we would like to support the work of our facilitators and encourage the continuation of learning by offering small handmade items, raw materials and/or gently used tools and books for sale on Monday morning. Should our facilitators decide to take up this opportunity (strictly optional), there may be some items to browse during this time. Any sales will be for cash only and proceeds will go directly to the facilitators 
Indaba – 23 September
We will be ending our time at the Tipi Village with an open feedback session and forum on the evening of Monday 23 September and on Heritage Day morning on Tuesday. During this time, we'll be looking at the earth-skills movement in Africa and examining its possibilities, and full-event participants are invited to join us if you feel called to do so. Please bring a contribution to the potjie and we will create a veg option and a meat option together that evening. Included in our exchange (full event participants only) is this extra night of camping (Monday 23 September) should you wish to join us. Tickets for the Indaba only are also available on Quicket, for those who would like to contribute to these sessions, but are unable to attend the Gathering.
If you are joining our Indaba sharing session, we will be closing our time together at around 10am on Tuesday 24 September, and packing up to leave by no later than 12 noon. If you are not attending our Indaba (or have only a Limited Access event ticket), departure should be by no later than 6pm on Monday 23 September, following our closing ceremony currently scheduled for around 1pm.

Please help us to ensure that the venue is left as it was found, and that every effort is made to leave workshop, kitchen and camping spaces in great condition. Please report any damage or unforeseen problems to Rein or Lucy as soon as possible during the event. 

Suggested pack-list (in no particular order)

  • Proof of booking

  • Personal camping gear (if applicable)

  • Camp chair for general use and participation in certain workshops (e.g felting)

  • Torches or lanterns

  • Plate, knife and fork per person

  • ‘Keep cup’ or mug for your morning brew (available from local barista Soa se Koffie; cash only)

  • Bags for personal rubbish and recycling removal

  • Swimming gear (a visit to the dam and foefie slide are a must)

  • Yoga mat/block for morning yoga (optional, no charge)

  • Blanket to sit on round the fire

  • All food for Friday night supper, breakfasts, lunches and snacks (Saturday and Sunday suppers are fully catered)

See you there!