Learn Something New from Knowledge Commons D.C. | The American Word

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Learn Something New from Knowledge Commons D.C.

Katarzyna Strycharz | 11/23/14 7:15pm
| Updated 11/23/14 7:15pm

Upon visiting the Knowledge Commons D.C. website, you are immediately welcomed by their banner which states that KC is a “free school for thinkers, doers, and tinkerers – taught anywhere, by anyone, for everyone.” And that is exactly what you get.

Inspired by the Public School in Los Angeles, the School of the Future in Brooklyn and the Trade School in New York City, Knowledge Commons D.C. was designed to re-adapt the District’s diverse spaces and communities, said Erika Rydberg, a Communications Assistant for the organization upon question. This “floating school” is run completely by volunteers and is dedicated to fostering conversation and interaction on a variety of topics including fitness, home economics, dance, writing and film. Partnering with existing organizations, passionate individuals and D.C. communities, KC promotes collaborative learning and information exchange in safe and hospitable environments.

The core organizing team behind Knowledge Commons, eccentrically called the Wonder Dojo, works hard to connect classes with the right partner spaces, said Rydberg. With 57 classes scheduled for the Fall 2014 session and many of them requiring unique spaces, the volunteer team has their work cut out for them. For example, a class called “A People’s History of Madonna” was matched with a record store. Community building is one of KC’s main goals, therefore an adequate amount of time is given to make sure that classes fit the space and vice versa.

D.C.’s many vibrant communities provide the perfect platform for individuals with many different interests and areas of expertise to share their knowledge and teach others new, and sometimes random, skills. When else are you going to get a chance to learn about basics of palmistry or hatha yoga? The Knowledge Commons network merges together D.C.’s many public spaces with the highly skilled people who occupy them to bring residents – kids, students, senior citizens, professionals and everyone in between – an overabundance of tools they can take advantage of and add to their own personal tool belts.


The organization is not only a great way to obtain new skills and turn strangers into friends, it is also a way to explore the nooks, crannies, and intricacies of the robust and culturally diverse city. Thinking outside of the box, the people behind Knowledge Commons often make use of outdoor parks, libraries, churches, art studios, nature labs, skate parks and Metro cars. If you don’t venture off of AU’s campus or the Red Line often, KC will make you step out of your comfort zone and will leave no corner of the city unexposed. Never been to U Street, Anacostia or Shaw? This is your chance to grab a friend and explore.

Whatever you are interested in, more often than not Knowledge Commons has or will have a class for you. This past month, KC has offered classes and workshops such as “Dance Like a Fool and Love It,” “Conflict Resolution With a Difficult Person,” “Anesthesia Through the Ages,” “3D Printing” and “Group Meditation,” to name a few. Whatever your interests or hobbies are, KC can help sharpen your mind and expand your experiences.

If you’ve had enough learning throughout your academically strenuous day at AU and don’t want to be a student any more than you are required to, fear not! Knowledge Commons offers you the opportunity to teach. You don’t need to be a certified expert, or any sort of expert really, on your topic of choice, as long as you are passionate enough to spend a few hours discussing it. If you have an idea you’ve always wanted to put into motion, KC is currently accepting class topic proposals for its February 2015 session. This is your time to teach that class about how the ‘Lord of the Rings” trilogy can be applied to everyday life (which is what I would totally teach if I could get enough Ringers/Tolkienists to promise to attend, by the way).

Although the organization has not changed much from its inception, there have been dreams in the KC “headquarters” of finding a “central space to call our home,” reports Rydberg. The idea was brought to fruition and experimented with in 2012 when KC had a pop-up school located in a venue above the Bike Shop in Adams Morgan that unfortunately no longer exists. It’s a dream that the team hopes to bring to reality soon.

For anyone interested in learning more about this extraordinary organization, please visit their website at www.knowledgecommonsdc.org or their twitter @KnowledgeCommDC.