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July 19, 2010 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Are your grandparents cool?

Mine are! My granny is really cool, last time I went to visit her she helped me learn how to read sewing patterns and went with me to buy cute fabric for a really nice summer dress. I never even knew that my granny could sew so well! This really got me thinking about all the things I didn’t know about my grandparents, what other skills did they have? What did they have to learn to get through the depression and the war?

I began to think that these skills and crafts may appeal to younger generations. Maybe they would be a fun way for us to reconnect with older generations, learn valuable skills and learn how to live with less money and less of a carbon footprint. This really excited me, maybe we could find a way for people to have fun and make stuff that also has real environmental and social benefits.

My great grandad used to make his own alcohol. When I visited recently we walked through his huge garage, still full of brewing supplies. How many students would be keen to learn the ancient art of brewing, I thought? He’s 90, still has a thriving vegetable garden, two sheep out the back and numerous fruit trees, all in an urban area. He is a wealth of self-sufficiency skills and knowledge. Similarly, how many of us would love to make good tasting meals for a fraction of the cost? I bet there is a wealth of knowledge within our grandparents, who grew up during times when living frugally was not an environmental choice but a necessity.

There are so many things that any of us can do: making soap, growing our own food, making and mending our own clothes, knitting, even spinning our own wool! But what we need is the people to teach us these skills, and what better way to learn than from our grandparents, many of whom are left alone in their old age. I once tried to teach myself to make jam and preserves one weekend mum was away, and while I did have some success, I certainly had an improved product with my mum beside me to show me the real tricks of the trade she had learnt from her grandmother. These skills are also likely to be very useful in the future with the encroaching threat of peak oil and continued economic recession, who knows what we will need to do for ourselves?
Nanatech is a collaborative organisation which I’ve helped establish that has sprung out of these thoughts and musings. Nanatech aims to bring together young people with older people. To reconnect people with skills and how much fun making your own things can be, while beating consumerism and aiding environmental and social causes. Could it get any better?

Nanatech is currently a low-key group that is expanding through a website resource, events and workshops in Wellington. We are aiming to provide a way for young people to digitally interact with the skills of the past, with people’s stories and practical information on how to make things. Watch this space, the website is under development but the blog is up and running and is actively updated with posts from our contributors.

We also want to provide workshops and events so that we can all meet each other and learn from each other’s skills. Our very first Nanatech workshop will be held during this Environment Week! We are offering anyone interested a chance to come and learn how to knit and participate in a guerilla knitting project to beautify the winter urbanscape with colour. Because crafts can be radical as well as practical! The details are below:

A Nanatech Workshop: How to Knit (and Guerilla Knit!)
Student Union Building
Meeting Room One
1pm-3pm (You don’t have to come for all 2 hours though.)
Some knitting needles and yarn available, bring your own if you can!


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  1. Raven says:

    Hey everyone, if you’re interested in the Nanatech blog the url is!

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