A few months ago, I read an article on The New York Times’ Web site that described the resurgence in what they called “the needle arts.” The writer said that young people—men and women—were learning to sew, quilt, knit and even embroidering. I thought, “Well, good for them—catching up with what Women of the ELCA has known for decades.”
Then I wondered: How can our organization use this renewed interest in needle arts to get more women involved in our groups? If there are women who want to learn these skills, which many of us have been practicing for years, shouldn’t we find a way to connect?
Here’s an idea: Organize “skills swaps.” Put up a bulletin board or a sign-up sheet or something in the church and ask members who want to learn a skill and members who have skills to put up notices.
Imagine something like “Want to learn to knit? I’ll teach you if you show me how to program my cell phone.” Or maybe “Expert scrapbooker willing to share her design secrets in exchange for help with scanning and storing photos on her computer.” Or maybe, “I love to bake cookies! I’ll teach you to bake if you teach me how to get on Facebook.” Or “Teach me beading, and I’ll help you start your own blog.”
If it were my mom’s posting, it would read “Teach me to use my GPS app, and I can help you set up a budget and think about a savings plan for your retirement.” My mom is good at financial stuff. Not so good at computer-based technology.
These could be one-time meetings or ongoing, whatever seems appropriate for learning that particular skill and whatever the parties agree to exchange.
The idea is to build relationships and learn new things. And it doesn’t cost any money. Maybe groups will form to keep connections going based on their skill interest, even if they only meet online or once or twice a year for coffee.
What do you think? Would you be willing to try this in your congregation? Do the women in your congregational unit have skills they’d enjoy sharing?
Kate Elliott is the past editor of Gather magazine. This blog first ran in June 2010, but its ideas are relevant today.