Free your dependence at Freeskool

By Jeff Rome

Freeskool is back. Take advantage of it.
Hosting events such as crafts night, discussion on race and education, and a free swap, Prescott’s Freeskool gives the community a chance to learn and share with each other.
What would you want to learn? What would you like to teach the world? According to their wiki page “the types of classes one might encounter in a free skool are limitless, or limited only by the imagination of the groups involved.”

Prescott’s Freeskool is one of 46 active Freeskools throughout North America, and the only one in Arizona.

    Dena Cohen-Copeland, a Prescott College graduate, just organized the first month of Freeskool classes after almost a year’s absence of the organization. “Freeskool stopped because of a lack of attendance and support for organizing,” stated Cohen-Copeland.

This lack of attendance is an ongoing challenge. At Saturday’s Freeskool event, the free swap, when a Raven Review reporter showed up with an alphabet jacket and a gold-painted wine bottle to swap out, Cohen-Copeland was the only other one there. “This is kind of how Freeskool has been going,” said Cohen-Copeland.

    The free swap took place in the middle of a dirt yard with three resident dogs barking at passersby. Car parts littered the lawn. Classes and events are held in different locations all the time, wherever a host is willing to lend space.

Hard copies of Freeskool’s schedule can be found at Prescott College, Pangaea Bakery, Wild Iris, and New Frontiers. They also make announcements on Facebook and at community lunches on Wednesdays at Prescott College.

The lack of attendance has been discouraging. “I’m trying to be patient and keep the energy up. I put a lot … into this last month, but not many people showed up. I had big dreams for it, so I don’t want to lose heart in it yet,” said Cohen-Copeland.

She hopes to create more of a crossover between Freeskool and like-minded projects such as Occupy, Soup for the Revolution, and GMO-free Prescott. She decided to bring Freeskool back after talking with some local Occupiers. She sees it as a way to draw people away from reliance on businesses, and towards self-reliance.

She believes the crossover between these groups will “happen naturally as folks in those circles all get to know each other. The crossover into other communities is what I think will be more difficult. I plan on having Freeskool materials with me more often, so that when I’m in new spaces I can talk with people and give them something to remind them about Freeskool,” said Cohen-Copeland.

The free swap served both as an option to minimize possessions without adding to the dump, and as a way to add possessions without spending a dime. Five other people soon showed up, and the swap pile soon became adorned with a number of what college kids call “scores,” or desirable—and free or cheap—commodities. Swap goodies included a coffee maker, Patagonia thermal layer, portable toilet, sleeping bag, and a pink Christmas tree.

Cohen-Copeland hopes that by the time she leaves in May, Freeskool will have grown enough so that it will continue through the summer, yet again in new hands.

Visit their blog at freeskoolprescott.blogspot.com, or their wiki site at http://freeskoolsproject.wikispaces.com.

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