Report from the DIY Solar Panel Cooker Class

Last Saturday, Shawn Reeves of 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

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 from the Ithaca Freeskool Outreach Board Decorating Party

We’re planning on doing some tabling in the hopes of getting more people involved in Ithaca Freeskool. So we got together at Lily/Sharon/Marina’s place to create an outreach board, science fair style. Check out the photos below…

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Freeskool needs your voice

Want to be on the Freeskool site? Send a photo of yourself to, along with a short profile – tell us what classes you’ve taught or attended, and why you participate. What does Ithaca Freeskool mean to you? Tell us, and we’ll post your profile on the site so others can get to know our community.

Also, if you have photos or videos from Freeskool classes that you don’t mind sharing, please consider emailing them to us or posting them in the Ithaca Freeskool group on Flickr:
… folks in the DIY Movie-Making class are working on a short film about Freeskool, so your contributions to the group could end up in the film – and they’ll help us to better show what we’re all doing to future Freeskoolers, and potential funders. We’ll also be using photos from the group in the display we’re setting up for tabling.