Older people teach young ones traditional skills at GrandFest

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

GrandFest2017Older people led masterclasses in skills such as dressmaking and bread-making at GrandFest, a one-day festival in east London.

Thousands of people came together for GrandFest on June 18, 2017 to celebrate the knowledge held by older people and to learn skills that organizers say are becoming less common.

Now in its third year, the event hosted more than twenty classes at restaurants, pubs and shops around Spitalfields Market. Each class was run by a festival GrandMaker – all of whom are over 70 – and skills included quilting, wood turning and cider making.

It is very important to pass on the older traditional skills that are disappearing and there are so many old and traditional skills that are going that way and which also may be needed more than ever in the future, in the post-carbon world.

Even cooking from scratch, let alone brad making, including and especially sour dough bread, are skills that are fast disappearing. Others have almost gone entirely and many are going if they are not being passed on. That is why festivals such as this one are so very important.

Often such events are held in rural locales and while they need to be held and taught there as well for even in the countryside the old countryside skills are being slowly lost they also must be held in towns and cities and that also more often.

It is extremely important to pass on the older skills to a younger generation, and especially the young generation, as most are rapidly disappearing (the skills, not the younger generation) and many are already lost or almost lost.

In a time not so long ago those skills would have been, automatically almost, passed on from father and grandfather to son and grandson, and from mother and grandmother to daughter and granddaughter. But this has all but disappeared. Not because the young people are not interested but because the older folks think that they are not interested, or that the skills are no longer of any (practical) use.

The festival was hosted by older people's charity the Royal Voluntary Service, which helps more than 100,000 people each month connect with others and keep active.

As I said already, however, we need more of those festivals, fairs or whatever we may wish to call them, and that everywhere, as much as in towns as in rural locales. Even in the countryside many of the old skills are diminishing and are becoming lost as the old practitioners die and have no one to pass the skills on to.

And, in addition to that, we need grandparents to pass skills on to their grandchildren. Young children are generally very receptive and willing to learn and it will be much better for them to learn such skills that may come in rather handy, especially in the post-carbon world into which we are headed, than to play around on their PC, tablet or smartphone, engaging in useless games and other activities.

Introduce them, for instance, to gardening and you will be surprised how eager they will be to do it and to learn. The same goes for cooking, for woodcarving, leather working, and many other old – and not so old, even – skills and crafts.

© 2017