Regenerative Design Institute – ReSkilling Series

For a few years I taught my soap making class in the ReSkilling Series at the garden “campus” of the Regenerative Design Institute, the permaculture-inspired organization at Commonweal Garden, in Bolinas, California.


Regenerative Design Institute (RDI) is a non-profit educational organization with the vision that all people can live in a mutually enhancing relationship with the earth. We envision a world in which people, inspired by nature, create and maintain healthy and abundant livelihoods that enhance fertility and biodiversity on the planet. We envision humans as a positive, healing presence on Earth, creating more abundance on the planet than would be possible without them. More at

What is Re-Skilling? Reclaiming the Art of Local Craftsmanship

Our ancestors, perhaps only a few generations back, were able to make what they needed for daily life or trade for what they needed with a skilled neighbor.

In this modern culture, most of us have lost the skills of basic craftsmanship. As we transition away from global consumerism and towards localized, earth-friendly economies, we need to reclaim these skills for ourselves and for our community.

Many of us have already started to re-skill around food — growing fresh vegetables in the backyard or cultivating a plot at a local community garden. This self-sustaining practice is deeply satisfying, and in the Bay Area there is a vibrant local economy around food that supports local farmers, garden teachers, restaurants, and burgeoning new vegetable landscaping businesses.

The Re-Skilling Series

The Re-Skilling Series at RDI was inspired by our greater community’s interest in learning more craftsmanship skills. Beyond growing our own vegetables, we can start re-skilling around food preservation, clothing, personal care products, furniture, and other needs of daily life.

Re-skilling requires that we connect more deeply to the natural world. It involves cultivating (or foraging) plants for basketry, building materials, medicine, general body care, dyes, food and clothing. It invites us into a closer relationship with domestic and wild animals, and asks that we pay more attention to the changing of the seasons and the cycles of the natural world. It also fosters a deeper gratitude for all that nature continues to provide us.

Re-skilling is happening all over the world — especially within communities engaged in the Transition Town movement. Now is the time to reclaim these basic skills of local craftsmanship! We believe that joy of reclaiming these skills will increase our self-sufficiency and meet the growing needs for a local, regenerative economy.

We invite you to join us in re-skilling in one or more of the following areas. This is just a start – more topics and more workshops are coming soon!

  • Soap Making
  • Fiber Arts: from sheep to shawl — spinning, weaving, knitting, felting, using natural dyes
  • Woodworking: rustic furniture making, basic building skills, timber framing
  • Basketry: cultivation and foraging techniques, traditional basket weaving and bark bucket techniques using local materials
  • Herbal Healing & Body Care: basic medicine making techniques, herbal first aid, lotions and soaps, plant spirit medicine
  • Dairy Arts: making cheese, yogurt and keifer
  • Growing Food & Soil: composting, seed saving, worm bins, basic techniques for growing hearty vegetables
  • Mushroom Cultivation: growing basics for medicinal and gourmet varieties

2012 Class Schedule at RDI

March 4, 2012 up at RDI – That’s a Sunday. 9:30-5pm.

Late Autumn 2012 up at RDI

2011 Class Schedule at RDI

May 2011 at my studio in Oakland (RDI’s first off-site class ever!)

November 2011 up at RDI

2010 Class Schedule at RDI

I was thrilled to be a Guest Instructor for the first time in August 2010 at the Regenerative Design Institute in Bolinas, California where I taught my wonderful, hands-on soap making class.


Here are some fun photos of the site of the RDI ReSkilling soap making class.