Build a Fire, Change a Tire

A few months ago, I drove over a nail on Chicago Ave and popped my tire. I am a capable and confident person, and I looked at the tire and felt deflated. I have never changed a tire, and I had no confidence that I could figure it out, Youtube tutorials and all. I pride myself on my independence, but I had to ask my boyfriend to change it.

Not long after my flat tire, I was talking to a friend about camping. She said she "would never go." When I asked her why she said it was because she had never gone and didn't want to feel like she was in over her head or somehow foolish for not already knowing the basics.

The theme of these two stories is clear: a woman who never learned a commonly-needed skill feels like that ship has sailed. If they haven't learned it yet, they weren't going to learn it now.

Flash forward to a chilly morning in my home with a cold water heater. Our water heater has a lot of problems, all of which I am very used to dealing with. That morning was different, and I called a plumber. An older man arrived, and as I explained what had happened, he didn't listen to me - he barely looked at me - and announced that the issue was "user error." He left without examining the issue. At that moment I wished I had known a woman plumber that I could have called.

These experiences sparked an idea -- introducing Build a Fire. The concept is pretty simple:
-- Women or non-binary people will participate in practical skills classes - auto repair, bike maintenance, plumbing, electrical, outdoor skills, and more.
-- Women or non-binary people that are experts in those fields will teach those classes.
-- By making these connections, participants will know an expert they can call when they need to hire a mechanic, plumber, etc.

In April I am partnering with West Town Bikes to lead a bike maintenance 101 series. This summer I'm organizing a camping trip at the Boundary Waters that will provide in-depth instruction in wilderness skills. I have a lot of other programs in the works, including car repair, home maintenance (in partnership with Chicago Women in Trades), woodworking (with Rebuilding Exchange), and foraging (with the Resiliency Institute.) There is much, much more to come.

This new project mostly requires my time and energy, which I am giving at 150% when I'm not otherwise working as a fundraising consultant. That said, there are some startup costs - paying instructors up front, incorporating, etc. I'm exploring some options to fund these needs - loans, mostly - but I would love it if you could help me. Giving even a small amount will not only help me get Build a Fire off the ground, but it will also encourage me every step of the way.

Thank you for considering giving to this passion project that I truly believe could be a vibrant business. Your investment in me - a young(ish) woman innovating and going out on her own - means a lot.
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    • $40 
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    • $250 
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  • Andrea Newberry
    • $25 
    • 56 mos
  • Sandra Edwards
    • $10 
    • 56 mos
  • james convery
    • $100 
    • 57 mos
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Alison Hanold
Chicago, IL

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