By Jennifer K. Bauer
With the sight of empty store shelves during the pandemic still fresh in many people’s minds, the idea of becoming more self-sufficient has new appeal.
For more than a decade, the Flora School Education Center in Flora, Ore., has specialized in sharing the skills people once depended on for survival. Artisans and crafters usually gather the first Saturday in June to demonstrate disappearing arts like blacksmithing and spinning at the remote historic schoolhouse. This year they’ll share their knowledge in multiple livestream videos online.
“It’s going to be interesting, getting everybody online, dealing with different levels of technological prowess. I’ve had to do numerous videos on how to do a live feed,” said Nathan Thompson, a Walla Walla blacksmith and board member for the nonprofit center.
Narration of the demonstrations will start at 9:45 a.m. on the Facebook page FSEC Virtual School Days 2020. Demonstrations start at 10. Multiple demonstrations will be livestreamed on the page at once throughout the day. People are welcome to ask the demonstrators questions during the live feeds. For viewers who do not have a Facebook account, Thompson also plans to stream the videos on the school’s website at floraschool.org. Videos will remain on the pages for people to watch anytime, he said.
Pioneer demonstrations include blacksmith work (colonial hinges, beginning knife making, fireplace set), roasting coffee, care of alpacas, sewing (treadle, long-arm quilting), Dutch oven cooking, seed bombs, herb collecting and use, leather work (cutting laces, crimping vamps), harnessing a team and stained glass. Presenters will be livecasting from as far away as San Diego and as close as Pomeroy. Robert Ridinger, of Pomeroy, is scheduled to give a two-hour presentation on stained glass at 11 a.m.
“The cool thing is that we’ve actually gotten new people this year because we’re allowing them to stay at their own place,” Thompson said.
The format will allow herbalist David Spurlock to take people into his Walla Walla backyard at 10 a.m. for Foraging for Wild Edibles. At 1 p.m., he’ll show viewers how to prepare the plants discovered on the walk.
“I’ll cook them in the kitchen or maybe I’ll just make an open fire and cook it outside,” Spurlock said. “We’ll basically be eating the weeds.”
Flora School Days usually attracts around 170 people, Thompson said. The group will accept donations on its website to pay instructors, with a percentage going to each presenter’s hometown food bank. Usually a percentage goes to support restoration of the historic schoolhouse. This year, “it’s more important we reach out a helping hand and help those food banks that are needing it.”
IF YOU STREAM
WHAT: Flora School Education Center Virtual School Days 2020, livestream demonstrations of pioneer skills.
WHEN: 9:45 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. June 6.
WHERE: On Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/3113938948658192
OF NOTE: In order to watch the videos on Facebook, people first need to click the tab asking to join the group. For those who don’t have a Facebook account, the group plans to stream the videos at floraschool.org.