Have great skills?

The DIY Skillshare drops eclectic range of knowledge, for free

ARRR, SCHOOL ME<br>Brooke Haley (left) and Shyla Black host the DIY Skillshare: Pros will share skills ranging from computer operating system conversion to clitoral stimulation—all under the pirate flag.

Brooke Haley (left) and Shyla Black host the DIY Skillshare: Pros will share skills ranging from computer operating system conversion to clitoral stimulation—all under the pirate flag.

Photo By Tom Angel

At the second annual DIY Skillshare, members of Chico community have a chance to learn valuable skills from one another. The do-it-yourself educational event is not quite like school, not quite a presentation, not quite a panel discussion. A skillshare is a little different.

“A skillshare is a program created to bring community together in an open-format learning environment,” said Brooke Haley, who, along with fellow community member Shyla Black, is coordinating the event. The two have collaborated before on protests such as those following the police slaying of Lavell Proctor in early June of this year and last year’s anti neo-Nazi demonstrations; and were separately involved in last year’s DIY Skillshare.

The easiest definition of a skillshare is literally a sharing of skills among equals. The emphasis is on knowledgeable people sharing and not teaching, which is associated with formal educational institutions where classroom setups assume that the teacher has all the knowledge. This is more like a round table discussion where people can learn together from members’ experience.

“Through the skillshare we aim to share the knowledge each of us has gained throughout our lives,” Haley said. “We believe that no one should be left out when it comes to education and skill.”

The skills shared at this year’s workshop are a varied bunch, with topics like firearms maintenance and responsibilities, installation of the powerful and free open-source Linux operating system for personal computers, and how to better perform oral sex—the most titillating topic of the day. There will also be a discussion of propositions 73-78 on the Nov. 8 ballot, an informative talk about emergency contraception, and a visiting group from San Francisco will present the Grand Jury Roadshow.

The Roadshow is a traveling project designed to educate activists on their rights and the tactics used in the federal government’s trend to turn grand juries into tools to break up activist groups. Haley said that the Roadshow is an important addition to the skillshare this year because grand jury investigations have effectively fragmented many activist groups and coalitions in Chico over the last two years. A grand jury investigating, among other things, the attempted arson of a Chico McDonald’s restaurant allegedly by the Animal Liberation Front, failed to turn up any evidence of substance, which led to a perjury investigation into prominent local activist Harjit Gill. Reportedly, the FBI used irregularities in other activists’ grand jury testimonies to pressure them into testifying against Gill. One Chico activist reportedly testified against Gill in exchange for immunity from charges of false testimony in front of the grand jury.

The aim of the Roadshow is to prevent situations like what happened to Gill. It’s thought that, by educating activists on what tricks federal investigators employ against dissenting groups, the FBI won’t be able to pull another fast one on Chico protestors.

Political issues surround all the topics presented at the skillshare, if not overtly, then subtly like the workshops dealing with sexual issues, even the one about giving head. Clitoral stimulation is how females achieve orgasm and most men do not know how to do it well. Cunnilingus is a safer-sex alternative to intercourse, and it wouldn’t hurt anyone to get a pointer or two on how to be a better lover. The workshop on emergency contraception (EC) seeks to clear up misconceptions of the politicized birth control technique.

“It’s an important thing for everyone to know about, not just women,” said Jessica O’Donnell, the presenter for EC issues. “There’s a lot of misconceptions about it, it’s safe and actually it will prevent a lot of abortions.”

The DIY Skillshare is free and open to the public.