Free Culture: Community Collaboration at Do-It-Ourselves Fest

[Editor’s note: the following is an essay written by independent HN contributor and Do-It-Ourselves workshopper Amanda Huckins.]

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Between its first workshop on Thursday, Aug. 13 at 5 p.m. and its last music set on Sunday, Aug. 16 at 11:30 p.m., Do-It-Ourselves Fest aims to disrupt the narrative about education, work experience, validation and professionalism that drives parents to continually ask their adult children if “this is gonna look good on a resume.”

D.I.O Fest is the community event that says “No. It’s not.” Because that’s not the point.

What is the point? Expertise? Margot Erlandson, a founder of the Fest and organizer of this year’s iteration, says that the goal is to convey “the fundamental way that communities share resources so that nobody has to be an expert at everything. It’s the primary way that people within a community can benefit from each other without money.”

And that concept is a radical one to float into the sea of popular economic wisdom. The folks who keep the lights on (and the calendar full) at SP CE Commons, host site of D.I.O. Fest ‘15, are in agreement with Erlandson. They hope the event will drive home the point that ‘the dollar’ is valueless in and of itself. How? By demonstrating that it’s practical knowledge to collaborate with the ground on growing food — not money — that can keep us fed. It’s that community discussion about consent and conflict resolution — not a bigger budget for policing — can increase personal and neighborhood safety.

Let’s repeat the phrase: “people within a community can benefit from each other without money.” It’s a simple idea that challenges assumptions about the material cost of education, the effects of which are painfully familiar to many residents of this university town.  

What Do-It-Ourselves Fest and the larger free culture movement in Lincoln and the U.S. can do is remind us all of our most significant asset: each other. A glance at the free-to-attend workshop and music schedule will convey, in heartening depth, the wealth of creative knowledge present in Lincoln. Though the impressive list of volunteer educators and performers provides only a snapshot of our city’s life-sustaining know-how — of just a portion of this town’s artists, growers, culture-shifters and the like — it points to a bigger picture of grassroots that reach deep and wide in Nebraska.  

In-kind support for the Fest has come from a number of businesses and individuals. As much as the organizers would love to be able to barter as payment for event expenses, that’s not quite realistic (yet!), so if you would like to lend monetary support in any amount, visit the D.I.O. Fest GoFundMe campaign page. If extra time is what you can spare, sign up as volunteer Fest staff. Email with any questions.

View the complete schedule of workshops and live music below. It begins tonight at 5 p.m. at SP CE Commons (RSVP here).

Thursday, Aug. 13

5:00PM – Workshop: Zine-Making with Ashley Martin
6:00PM – Workshop: Conflict Resolution with Diane Amdor
7:00PM – Workshop: Basic Musical Instrument Repair with Ian Egenberger
7:30PM – Workshop: 4-Track Recording with Israel Cilio
8:00PM – Workshop: Shadow Puppetry with Nick Svoboda
9:00PM – Workshop: Cymatics with Lyndon Peter Lincoln
10:00PM – End of Day

Friday, Aug. 14

5:00PM – Workshop: Wild Edibles / Foraging with Dustin Rymph
6:00PM – Workshop: Group Therapy Comic-Making with Lara McCoy-Rolofson
7:00PM – Workshop: Photo Transfer Project with Shannon Claire
8:30PM – Workshop: Self Defense / Beginner Kickboxing with Lyndon Peter Lincoln
9:30PM – Workshop: Audio Engineering for Live Music with Lee Lohrberg
10:30PM – Music: Fruit Fight (Omaha)
11:00PM – Music: Commander Kilroy
11:30PM – Music: King Thumper
12:00AM – End of Day

Saturday, Aug. 15

8:30AM – Workshop: Greenhouses and Solar Energy with Jason Friedmutter
9:30AM – Workshop: Intro to Yoga @ Home with Ruth Kohtz
11:00AM – Discussion: Body Positivity with Jessica Lane
12:00PM – Music: Jacoby
12:30PM – Music: Abbie Lewis
1:00PM – Workshop: Destined Music with John Freidel
2:00PM – Workshop: Sewing and Mending with Rachel Tomlinson Dick
3:00PM – Workshop: Art Miniatures with Leaves Brown
4:00PM – Workshop: Tell Your Own Story: Preserving your Culture through Multimedia
5:00PM – Music: CJ Mills (Omaha)
5:30PM – Music: Miniature Horse
6:00PM – Music: Big Red Rejects
6:30PM – Workshop: Herb Spiral / Permaculture with Lacey Losh
7:00PM – Workshop: Animal Husbandry with Lyric Orem
7:30PM – Panel Discussion: DIY Music Labels with Israel Cilio
8:30PM – Workshop: Know-Yr-Rights with Reid Murdoch
9:30PM – Music: Churls
10:30PM – Music: Sun Day
11:00PM – Music: Multidimensional Cowboy
11:30PM – Music: Producers of the Word
12:00AM – End of Day

Sunday, Aug. 16

9:00AM – Workshop: Building an Herbal First Aid Kit with Alex Svoboda
10:00AM – Meditation in the Tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh
11:30AM – Discussion: Sex Positivity with Jessica Lane
12:30PM – Workshop: Letter Press with Amanda Huckins
1:30PM – Workshop: Screen Printing with Jon Ferguson and Bridget Brice
3:30PM – Music: Population Control
4:00PM – Music: Crustaceanation
4:30PM – Workshop: Fermentation 101 with Mallory Finch
5:30PM – Workshop: Build-Yr-Own Tarot Deck with Sara Wingett
6:00PM – Workshop: Non-Monetary Economics with Andira Losh
7:00PM – Workshop: DIY Herbal Body Care with Mallory Finch
8:00PM – Workshop: Consent with Lindsey Hand
9:00PM – Music: Nathan Ma & The Rosettes (Omaha)
9:30PM – Music: Pretty Healthy (Omaha)
10:00PM – Music: Izzy Dominguez
10:30PM – Music: Little Ripple (Omaha)
11:00PM – Music: Fuiste (ATL)
11:30PM – Music: This Machine Kills Vibes
12:00AM – End of Day