Folk school finds campus

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SANDPOINT — The community is about to get a lesson in sustainability  now that Sandpoint Folk School has found a location to set up shop.

A product of the 2009 Sandpoint Transition Initiative, the school focuses on educating students about sustainable approaches that reconnect them with their environment.

The school now has a public face with the acquisition of an official local campus. Located at 1904 North Boyer Avenue, the facility previously existed as the Sandpoint Research and Extension Center.

“It’s going to be quite remarkable to have a place where people can visit to get information or take a class,” Sandpoint Folk School instructor Gail Locke said.

Residents have the chance to check the new location out for themselves at a June 21 open house from 4-7 p.m. Attendees will hear music, meet instructors and community members, listen to demonstration lectures and get a preview of classes.

“It will be kind of like an education fair,” Locke said.

The new facility also represents a partnership between Sandpoint Folk School and the University of Idaho Sandpoint in bringing new education opportunities to Bonner County. Previously, the Sandpoint Research and Extension Center hosted learning opportunities from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. That ended after state cutbacks following the recession dried up funding sources. While the Folk School will offer a different education experience, the commitment to vibrant learning remains the same.

Before the facility became a possibility, instructors had to host classes in their own spaces. While that worked well enough, it also sent students bouncing around from location to location and prevented the school from maintaining any central community presence. That will all change now, and residents will have one location to attend classes, enroll or inquire about opportunities.

 The new building will come in handy as Folk School associates prepare their upcoming catalogue of classes. Learning opportunities center on naturalistic and artisan skills characterizes by a sustainable relationship with the environment. For example, upcoming summer classes include nature photography, an introduction to genealogy, herbal medicine-making and naturalistic poetry. Locke also expects to see classes on topics like music and blacksmithing in the near future.

“It’s all really exciting,” she said. “We have a chance to be a model in building a small, functional agrarian community.”  

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