A Lack of Free Space

We have been working hard with some wonderful partners to find space and times for enough classes to teach more than 400 people who have signed up to take free classes in home canning. I will make time and space to thank each and every one of those partners once we have completed the class schedule because it has taken lots of cooperation, patience, and organization to put this together.

Ball Jar Family with Tomatos, Marmalade and Pickles_hires.jpgWe will end up with enough classes to meet the demand this fall, but I have been surprised and disappointed to learn that so many nonprofit organizations that have the space we need want to charge us for its use to teach their own neighbors. In all cases, the classes will be made up of people who live in their communities, and where we have reached out for help, we have offered to include clients, staff, and/or members of these organizations in the classes.

I know that monetizing everything from the sides of buses to high-school scoreboards, not to mention the Web, is big business, but since when do we need to be paid to do good—or the right thing? I know as a child of the ’60s that I still carry with me lots of that unbridled idealism that led to our activism. Even then, though, I was considered something of a cynic because I was always realistic about projected outcomes. But I never expected to find that organizations that depend upon the good will of the communities they serve for their own success would need to charge for the use of a room—a room that would not be disturbed in any way and would look just as it did before the class when the class was over.

Our needs are simple: tables, chairs, running water nearby, and an electric outlet. We are flexible as long as we have a three-hour window; we are hoping to offer classes at various times of the day and on different days of the week. And many of the facilities we know about sit empty of activity most of the time. So I wonder where this comes from. In the ’60s, finding a location to teach free classes in anything would have been a cinch. It isn’t anymore. And I am sad about that.

If you signed up, watch for a follow-up email to arrive soon with details and instructions. If you did not sign up this year, wait till next spring. We are going to do this again, even without all the supplies we have received from the Ball canning company.