Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

CWC’s Project Self is re-established

Students share what they have gained from Project Self
Nina Walat

Project Self has been re-introduced into the University of Massachusetts community after several decades of pause.

Started by women in Hampshire County to promote equal access to education, Project Self began in the early 1970s as a way for women to find opportunities for education outside a traditional setting. Women were able to come together and teach each other their learned skills with over 300 attendees per semester.

They could select from a wide range of classes to take, including, “Project Adventure,” “Basic Volkswagen Maintenance and Repair” or “Lesbian Politics.” These classes were not offered through any college or community, solely through the women involved.

Upon celebrating Center for Women and Community’s (CWC) 50th anniversary last year came the review of old archives. After finding the old projects, testimonials and proposals for workshops and skills sessions, CWC decided to bring Project Self back. According to instructural designer and UMass educator Jillian Grimaldi, the relaunch of Project Self is a way for everyone to come together and reinforce the original goals.

“Project Self was relaunched in 2023 as a way for students of all genders to come together and recapture some of that original DIY community spirit…CWC is here to support them in building a community of learning and connection,” Grimaldi explained.

Shawnee Berke, a junior legal studies and Spanish major, is passionate about crochet. When she’s not busy, she does crochet once a day. Her workshop, Crocheting 101, was the first crochet class she has ever taught. She explained that the community of people both learning and educating is an encouraging and welcoming atmosphere.

“I think it’s important for both the people that are learning and the people that are teaching,” Berke said. “It’s a good experience either way, it’s a nice, safe environment to learn something in where you won’t feel judgement.”

Kay Denmead, a senior biology major, teaches strength training and weightlifting. They’ve been strength training for two years and decided to do Project Self to create a space of community and inclusivity surrounding weight training.

“The general consensus I got from people is that there are a lot of people who aren’t comfortable in the weight room because it feels intimidating because they don’t know where to start…so I wanted to create a safe space to share the basics,” they said.

Denmead explained that Project Self is a great way for a community to come together and learn a skill in a welcoming environment.

“It’s a space to interact with a community, and to learn things from people that you really can’t learn in other places,” Denmead said. “It’s so much easier to learn things like crocheting, or upcycling, or mending, or weightlifting, when there’s somebody you can talk to and ask questions rather than googling it…and you get to feel the passions of the people all around you.”

Eve Neumann can be reached at [email protected]

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