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For the average person today, a typical day means waking up to a cup of coffee brewed from an automatic coffeemaker, perhaps a microwaved packaged pastry or a trip to MacDonald's. Most people don't think of life without the conveniences that automation and fast food restaurants have brought us. However, in a camp in the mountains of Georgia, groups of people flock to retreat from everyday technology and learn how to live on what the earth provides alone. In these Earthskills workshops at Unicoi State Park in Helen, Georgia, participants live in teepees, make their own dishes and utensils, cook over a fire made by rubbing two sticks together, and learn how to form weapons to hunt for their food.
Folkways Earth Skills introduces these participants, as well as the survival skills they are learning. Differentiating between edible and toxic plants, for instance, proves valuable for meals. Rivercane has various uses, from weapons to baskets. One instructor demonstrates making pottery without the use of a pottery wheel or a large constructed kiln. Workshop participants learn how to make weapons, prepare animal hide for use in clothing or shelter and make a fire without using matches. No telephones, no computers, no electricity--these participants come to the workshop to get in touch with ancient ways and their natural surroundings. While living without meals that can be cooked in less than 15 minutes and gadgets that reduce several of the steps in our tasks may not sound like fun, instructors and participants show that even at the end of a day in which they have made their own utensils, gathered their own food and prepared their own clothing, they still have time to play music and dance.
Unicoi State Park
From Unicoi State Park in Helen, Georgia.