Fiber College is always the week after Labor Day in Searsport Maine…the geographical center of the Maine coastline. In 2006 we started by offering 37 classes from Friday afternoon until Sunday afternoon using campground buildings that were split down the middle with drop cloths and tarps. From the very first planning session, we knew that we wanted to focus our energy on education and community building…feeding the soul with doing rather than accumulating more things in our lives.
September is a glorious time in Maine and we wanted to share all that we love about being outdoors, fulfilling our passion for learning and surrounding ourselves with people who understood why we need to touch a specially made garment or why our hearts get fluttery around a basket full of luscious colors. And we knew that we wanted men involved so we needed more than just knitting and spinning to draw couples into the mix.
In 8 years we’ve learned a lot and are humbled by the impact Fiber College has on people’s’ lives. We’ve learned that it costs a whole lot more human energy and money to weave an event like this than we ever budgeted for in the first year or two. We’ve always insisted that we must remain both sustainable and profitable in order to achieve our goals of expanding…not in large numbers but in quality…we want to be a precious jewelry box of experience not a big box store or activity. Participants are the jewels in the box and like anything precious, they shine best when they are in the appropriate setting…your comments provide us with the means for tweaking those settings.
Here are some of the suggestions we received in this year’s survey. Some we can implement right away, others will take planning and lots of discussion. We all appreciate your patience and hope that you’ll understand why we can’t make everything come true.
We asked, “What is the #1 thing you’d like to change?” Leaving out the responses that referred to a specific instructor or class, your answers could be grouped into 3 categories: money/fees, physical facilities and details.
slightly lower prices on classes
Material charges being listed in the program up front.
I have heard lots of complaints over the past 3 years of the admission price to enter the campground. (for those not registered for a class) I’m sure you have considered this before, but people are quite grumpily about it, both vendors and visitors. Maybe there is a way to reduce that?
The only thing I’d change is the parking, if possible. I was glad I had a 4WD car, because I doubt my front wheel drive car would have been up to the task. The distance from the parking to the classes isn’t a problem UNLESS you’re carrying a heavy sewing machine and the one golf cart ferrying cargo and people is not available. Having some rugged wagons (like the type that landscape and garden centers use) that people could use for heavy items would be nice.
Parking somewhere other than the mud.
Maybe arrange the seating in the rec hall in front of the fireplace to make it cozier and perhaps encourage people to come in and knit for awhile and chat, especially if the weather is dreary.
Inside classrooms. It got very cold and we moved to be in the sun, if it had been raining I think that it would be miserable.
Perhaps some on-site housing for folks who don’t have RV’s.
I missed having a time to recognize the planners and workers. This strengthens sense of community.
I think having a longer class period would be helpful.
This time is very special to me and a lot of works goes into this I know, the only improvement I could tell you about, is I had all but one class in the art studio, fine/needle work, the lighting is very poor. Difficult to work on detailed projects.
Broaden the definition of fiber even more so that those of us who are not /spinners/weavers/knitters would have more offerings.
Some sort of better lodging information would be helpful (2 people wrote this)
I would like to see the course description more accurately fit what is being taught (or not taught)
More advanced classes (2 people wrote this)
Only thing is the Sat night meal maybe 2 choices (I do not eat seafood)
A board set up at the store or on a bulletin board telling of any changes in location of the classes
The Fiber Swap should be open to everyone…Some of us cannot or do not have things to swap, but would like to buy tickets and participate.
More vendors (2 people wrote this)
A longer noon break on the days the vendors are there would have been great. I never got to shop at all./ a bit more time for lunch & boulevard browsing at midday and after classes (4 people wrote this)
Perhaps more gathering in the Studio at night
cook the cauliflower or cut smaller
We had intended to share both the “#1 Suggestions for Improvements” and the “Favorite Part” response in this posting but because we’re approaching 1000 words already, please come back again on Tuesday for the Favorite Part section. We’ll take all of your suggestions, one-by-one to the 2014 planning committee, add in others that we’ve received through e-mail…2014 will be the best ever. Thank you for participating! Remember, next year Fiber College will run from September 3-7.