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Report from the DIY Solar Panel Cooker Class

Last Saturday, Shawn Reeves of EnergyTeachers.org came over to Shira and Ari’s house to give a workshop on how to make a solar panel cooker using recycled materials. Visit the Shirari blog for photos and info on how to make your own!

Freeskool, Meet Swidjit

A letter from Swidjit founder, Alex Colket.

Hi Freeskoolers-

I hope your studies have been going well this semester, that you have all learned something from each other and hopefully a thing or two about each other as well :) I think what you all have going on here is one of the most beautiful things in Ithaca and I always tell people about it when I boast about the awesome place we live! However, I am a bit ashamed to admit that I have not attended class this semester, as I have been a bit obsessed with something else that I would like to
discuss with you today. It’s called Swidjit, and if you like to share or build community, I think you will like it.

Publicly, I often frame Swidjit as a platform for a local economy because that seems like a message that will resonate in this current economic climate. However, in my head and in my heart, I see it just as much as a platform for a collaborative community, a suite of tools to allow friends, neighbors and groups to share, network and organize in ways that provide easier access to local information and opportunities. Freeskool is a great example of the possibilities inherent in such a system of community sharing, as the number of useful skills or interesting experiences you can have on others generosity seems to grow each semester. Swidjit respects and embraces Freeskool and hopes to support and encourage it in many ways. For instance, I think it would be great if teachers/students had the option of creating a class community on Swidjit and using it to organize class meeting times, provide links to other useful resources, share relevant media files, host discussion topics, post notices, etc. It would be a way to easily supplement the hands-on, person-to-person teaching/learning/sharing nature of the freeskool with a virtual
collection of pertinent resources and a place to connect when not in class, for those who wished to take part in it. I believe that the Swidjit platform coming this spring is going to provide a lot of exciting opportunities to give and share and trade and connect with others around us and I hope that many of you organizing or instructing or attending Freeskool will share some of that energy with Swidjit and work with me to build another amazing community resource!

You can check out the Ithaca Freeskool page on Swidjit and see how they are already integrated. Classes appear on the public calendar, and viewing the Freeskool profile page will show you all the upcoming classes that are offered. You can even set an event reminder to have Swidjit send you an email the before to help you remember to attend. You can also use the calendar to find out about other community events or perhaps to discover other items related to the classes you are investigating. Much more will come down the road as I improve the platform.

Please feel free to contact me through the site to share ideas, feedback or questions.

Alex Colket

Video: Ithaca Freeskool at Ithaca Ignite


Ignite Ithaca
is a “high-energy evening of 5-minute talks by people who have an idea – and the guts to get onstage and share it with their hometown crowd.” Lily Gershon did a jam-packed presentation on Freeskool on November 6, 2010 at the Pixel Lounge.

Video: Crafting Herbal Formulas for Individual Constitutions with 7Song – Ithaca Freeskool Distance Learning

Missed a class? Loved a workshop so much that you want to relive it? As part of D.I.Y. Movie-Making, we’re filming other Ithaca Freeskool classes and making them available online for anyone who wants to participate.

Part I of a 3-hour class taught by 7Song, Director of the Northeast School of Botanical Medicine on April 3, 2010. Learn how to treat common illnesses with local plants, for free!

Video: Juggle, Spin, Hoop with Lily and Tori – Ithaca Freeskool Distance Learning

Missed a class? Loved a workshop so much that you want to relive it? As part of D.I.Y. Movie-Making, we’re filming other Ithaca Freeskool classes and making them available online for anyone who wants to participate.

Learn how to start a D.I.Y. circus with Tori and Lily who taught us how to make hula hoops, poi fire spinners and juggling balls on June 11, 2010.

Video: Trap, Neuter, Release with Kristin – Ithaca Freeskool Distance Learning

Missed a class? Loved a workshop so much that you want to relive it? As part of D.I.Y. Movie-Making, we’re filming other Ithaca Freeskool classes and making them available online for anyone who wants to participate.

Local animal advocate and TNR expert Kristin demonstrates how to trap feral cats so that they can be spayed or neutered and returned to the wild. This class took place on June 22, 2010.

Ithaca Freeskool: We Are All Teachers

Wondering what it’s like to be a part of Ithaca Freeskool? Check out this ten-minute video and don’t forget to submit your spring/summer class proposals by May 1st!

Video: Mushroom Hunt and Identification with Carl Whittaker – Ithaca Freeskool Distance Learning

Missed a class? Loved a workshop so much that you want to relive it? As part of D.I.Y. Movie-Making, we’re filming other Ithaca Freeskool classes and making them available online for anyone who wants to participate.

Renowned local fungi expert Carl Whittaker led a Mushroom Hunt and Identification on August 30th, 2009. Enjoy the beauties of the Danby State Forest while learning about many species of edible and inedible mushrooms.

Check out photos from the class on Flickr.

Photos: Carl Whittaker’s Ithaca Freeskool Mushroom Hunt

more about "Carl Whittaker’s Ithaca Freeskool Mush…", posted with vodpod

Video: Pumpkin Cheesecake with the Vegan Cooking Skillshare – Ithaca Freeskool Distance Learning

Missed a class? Loved a workshop so much that you want to relive it? As part of D.I.Y. Movie-Making, we’re filming other Ithaca Freeskool classes and making them available online for anyone who wants to participate.

Sharon of the Dacha Project taught us how to make vegan pumpkin cheesecake at the “Thank You America” House in Ithaca on July 29th, 2009. Hang out with some Ithacans while they collaborate on a recipe, share vegan tips and chat about strategies for sustainable living. Join the Facebook group to find out about future Vegan Cooking Skillshares.

The Complete Recipe from Sharon:

New & Improved Vegan Pumpkin Cheesecake

Crust (you can also buy a prepared graham cracker crust if you feel like lazing it a bit or are in a hurry!)
- 24 whole graham crackers
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 cup margarine, melted

Place the graham crackers into a plastic bag and use a rolling pin to make fine crumbs.

Pour the crumbs into a bowl and add the sugar and melted margarine. Stir well. Note: We found that adding a few spoonfuls of tofutti cream cheese helped to add integrity to the crumb-consistency – it was a bit too dry given what the recipe called for.

Pour the mix into a pie pan and use your hands or the back of a large spoon to press the mixture into the bottom and sides of the pie pan. Makes enough for 3 pie crusts!

1st Layer
- 8 ounces Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese (look for the non-hydrogenated version in the yellow container)
- 12 ounces light firm silken tofu (or extra-firm)
- 1/2 cup agave nectar (or sugar)
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Put the ingredients in a food processor and puree until completely smooth.It should be silky smooth – not chalky or lumpy. Spread mixture into the bottom of the crust.

2nd Layer
-12 oz. firm silken tofu, pureed
-8 oz. nondairy cream cheese (Tofutti or a tofu cream cheese from your local deli)
- 1 cup canned pumpkin
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3 Tbsp. flour
- 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
- 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. baking soda

Do the same as above – puree ingredients in the food processor & spread over the lemon layer. Bear in mind that the pie will rise during baking! Bake at 350°F for 60 minutes. Allow to cool for 30 minutes, cover with plastic wrap or the top of the pie container.

This should make enough for around 3 pies!

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