Always Learning SLC Returns 

Volunteer group teaches dumpster diving and other life skills

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Bradley DeHerrera and Sage Paterson - RACHEL PIPER
  • Rachel Piper
  • Bradley DeHerrera and Sage Paterson

After a year and a half hiatus, Salt Lake City's Free Skool, Always Learning in Salt Lake City, is back up and running. Like many other Free Skools, Always Learning is run entirely by volunteers, who aim to share life skills and build community involvement. Many of the group's events are held at the Boing! House (608 S. 500 East), Salt Lake City's anarchist hangout, near Liberty Park. Always Learning members Bradley DeHerrera and Sage Paterson (pictured) talked to City Weekly about Salt Lake City's FreeSkool. Visit AlwaysLearningSLC.wordpress.com for a schedule of their events and classes.

What does Always Learning in Salt Lake City teach people?
It's organizing people so that we can all work together and learn from each other and share our skills and talents with each other. There are so many cool things that people are doing in the city, and this is a way that people can work together and share what we know. We get events that people are interested in on our calendar so we can get more people to attend these events. The structure is decisively non-hierarchical and outside of the monetary system. It's completely based on personal motivation to learn things you like with people you enjoy spending time with. The barriers are a lot lower with us than it is with public schools. Unless you're being rude, you're welcome.

Why did Always Learning take a hiatus?
Everybody that is involved in the calendar is involved in different things. The three main organizers back then ... life just took them in different directions. Organizing this type of Free Skool is a lot of work and energy, so it just sizzled out. But this October just seemed like a good time to see who was willing to help get it back up and running. This is really a fresh group of people working on Always Learning now, so we have revamped the blog a little and have tried to keep the calendar up to date.

How can a Free Skool work financially?
The only money that's exchanged is in the printing of the physical calendar itself. In the past, we have asked for donations at classes but right now we have just been paying for it ourselves until we decide what to do. All the classes and everything else are donated by the teachers. Really, the cost right now isn't very significant, so we aren't too worried about costs right now, but we have a few ideas on how to cover the cost if we need.

What's Always Learning's relationship with the Boing! House?
There's no real connection. People who live here are involved in it so a lot of the classes just end up happening at the Boing! House. The house isn't really bottom-lining it or organizing it; it's just other people who live here are also associated with the skool so a lot of the events just naturally take place.

How do some of your more bizarre events, like dumpster diving, go over?
The dumpster-diving expedition has been one of our longest-running events. The people involved in the calendar have been avid dumpster divers for many years, so we thought, "we might as well put this on the calendar, it's a cool experience." You can find hundreds of pounds of food—really good, edible food—when you do it. Food is wasted all the time and for no reason; a lot of bakeries will just throw out perfectly good food at the end of the day. We usually get a fair amount of people, and sometimes we have to divide into two groups because we have so many.

Have you drawn any inspiration from other Free Skools around the country?
We have a little bit, yeah. I mean, there's a lot of them out there. There seems to be a rekindled interest in these types of Skools, so we've been checking them out online sometimes. If we're traveling to another city there are usually houses like Boing! that have connections to local Free Skools, so I'll look at their calendars. There's one in Taos, N.M., that runs like a summer camp, which is really interesting.

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