Over the next two weeks, the Oamaru community is being brought together by a love of learning and an interest in leading more sustainable lifestyles.
The Community Classroom’s Summer School, now in its 10th year, starts today and runs until February 2. For the first time, courses are also being offered in Dunedin.
Co-ordinator Melissa Pronk, in her fourth year as an organiser, said with more than 27 classes offered over the next two weeks, she was heartened that Oamaru was keeping community education alive.
“I love being involved with this project because I enjoy bringing together an event that has such a positive influence in our community, and also enjoy having so many great classes to choose from myself,” Ms Pronk said.
“Practical life skills and community connections are too easily lost without frameworks in place to support them, and this is one avenue for that. It’s a wonderful opportunity to exchange perspectives, support each other, share ideas and get inspired.”
Courses in Oamaru include yoga, drawing, raw food making, essential oils, dance, African drumming, knitting, up-cycling, cheesemaking and beekeeping.
The programme had grown a great deal since the school started in 2010 as the Sustainable Skills Summer School, under the banner of the Natural Heritage Society of Oamaru, she said.
“I would say the course variety has grown a lot in the last few years, and now not only offers classes which promote sustainable life skills but also arts and crafts, health and wellbeing,” she said.
“The name has changed to be more clear about what it is we are offering, which is education for the whole community. It also opens it up to not just being a summer school, but something that could be on offer throughout the year.
“I wanted to create something that would appeal to everyone in the community, and I see all of them as opportunities to bring something positive into their life, even if they only try it once.”
For Ms Pronk, the social aspect of the classes was just as important as the drive for knowledge.
“That in itself promotes a healthier, more resilient community,” she said.
As well as co-ordinating the summer school, Ms Pronk said she was looking forward to being a student.
“In Dunedin, I am excited to try some of the Photoshop and photography classes offered by Ted Grenfell, learning more about electric bikes with Dunedin Electric Bikes, singing lessons with Lois Johnston, and the organic gardening class with Michelle Cox,” she said.
“In Oamaru, I am intrigued to learn more about Drawbridge with Amanda Dennis, enjoy a tiny home tour with Sophia Leon de la Barra, and learn more about beekeeping with Danny Vinbrux.”