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Welcome to the Ontario Rural Skills Network

Greetings! I'm Jim and I wish you a warm welcome to the Ontario Rural Skills Network. Whether you are looking to learn a new skill or whether you already have years of experience, I hope you will find this site useful. For newcomers, here is a chance to work with someone who has already been practising their skill and can help you begin your own journey. Those of you who already have some knowledge and skill, perhaps you may find here resources to take you further. For those at the height of their craft (if craft indeed can have a summit!), i hope you will be delighted to find here new ways to share your experience with others.- because many of these rural skills are in in decline,and its vitally important we share them among our communities. Eventually I hope to add a market place for the sale of our hand made goods.

If you do have workshops you would like to advertise through ORSN please get in touch with me at Even if the skill doesn't yet appear on this site we can see if it will fit with the ethos.

I would hope we can develop here a supportive, inclusive, non-judgemental environment for learning. Some learn faster than others, and mistakes made are just opportunities for learning. You won't find experts on these pages, just teachers or guides. A friend introduced me to the Japanese term 'sensai', one interpretation of which is 'one who has gone before', which I think best encapsulates the spirit of why I lead workshops: to share the excitement of the journeying with people who have yet to take those first steps.

This is a new adventure for the Waterloo Institute of Sustainable Innovation and Resilience with the aid of funding from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Most of the rural skills here are those that are best practised out doors, without the use of power tools, although of course summer bugs and winter snow do make that problematic and where possible- its difficult to lay a hedge indoors- retreat to a warm workshop is encouraged for health & safety sake! The reason for this focus on outdoor skills is it makes for a better understanding of our place within the environment and can foster stewardship of increasingly scarce resources. While ORSN will act primarily as a networking site and a guide, as researchers we hope to gain a better understanding of how rural skills such as these can help foster sustainable diverse communities and build resilience to social and ecological changes. You will be hearing more from me and others in this blog in future.

Please bare with us as the site builds in content. There are links to other sites and organisations, particularly on Facebook and You-Tube which already have well-developed communities at various scales from the global to the local, which are invaluable sources of information for this (currently) Ontario-based project.

Whatever skill you decide to pursue, I hope you will share your discoveries, trials and successes with all of us. You can sign up to follow the blog and even add your own profile in the members section.

Happy days


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