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New non-profit TradesUp launches to energize interest in trades

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KENT—A new non-profit organization, TradesUp, has evolved from the popular Touch A Trade event held for the past two years on the grounds of the Eric Sloane Museum and the Connecticut Antique Machinery Association grounds.

TradesUp founder Mason Lord works with Oscar Lovato of Kent on using a jigsaw during the hands-on demonstration offered May 4 at Springfest on the Golden Falcon field. Photo by Lynn Mellis Worthington

Founder Mason Lord, who runs Hudson Valley Preservation with his partner Dave Seegers, envisions making children comfortable with using hand tools and learning about the trades from professionals who love what they do. He hopes to spark an interest in the trades.

The group’s mission states that “a more diverse trades community enhances our collective expertise, effectiveness and capacity.” Information about TradesUp is available online.

Recently Lord showed children how to hammer and run a jigsaw on the Golden Falcon field May 4 during Springfest. “This is my favorite part,” he said, adding he loves to see children’s faces light up as they find success using tools. “I can pretty much get anybody who hasn’t held a hand plane to do a complete shaving on the fourth pass. It just shows it takes some skill and the proper form, but eventually you can learn.”

Lord explained that they changed the name of the organization to separate it from the fall event.

Andrew Rowand, a TradesUp board member and administrator and curator of the Eric Sloane Museum, explained that as the group moved through the process of becoming a non-profit, it saw an opportunity to brand the organization in a different way. The name TradesUp fit what they were doing better, he said.

“We felt that it has a great message as to what we’re looking to do with the organization—uplift trades and empower individuals that are looking to get into the trades,” Rowand said.

In much the same way a separate name for the fall event was needed. He explained that during his evolution as a museum educator, he had a boss who said their job was to “create that spark of interest or to turn the light on for people.”

“That really stuck with me,” Rowand said. “So, it really felt like this idea of turning the lights on with electricians or that spark of inspiration—the blacksmith hammer hitting and creating a spark. It just seemed like it fit.”

Spark will be held this year Oct. 12. A second Spark event will be held on Martha’s Vineyard Oct. 26, sponsored by the Martha’s Vineyand Builders’ Association.

Orla Munro and her brother, Max, of Kent try out the hammering activities offered by TradesUp as Mason Lord looks on May 4 at Springfest in the Golden Falcon field. Photo by Lynn Mellis Worthington

There are also three free youth workshops planned by TradesUp this summer at the Eric Sloane Museum. Last year the workshops were very popular and sold out quickly. More volunteer presenters have been added to allow more students to be accommodated.  

“These hands-on classes are empowering for people of any age. To be able to come and learn a new skill and see that what they’re doing has a tangible effect— that feeling you get when you walk away and say, ‘I did that,’“ said Rowand.

The first session, Woodworking Basics Youth Workshop, on June 15 at 10 a.m. is already full. The Plumbing  Basics Youth Workshop will be July 20 at 10 a.m. and is almost full. This is for ages 10-17 and registration is online. The Household Painting and Drywall Repair Basics workshop will be held Aug. 17 at 10 a.m. for ages 10-17. Registration is online.

Rowand sees the work aiding young people to develop these skills as very important.

“What we’re really doing is developing community-building skills. It is not like I have this skill and it is only for me. What you’re doing is empowering this group of future makers—people who are willing to be involved in their community,” Rowand said.

In addition to Rowand, Lord is also joined on the TradesUp Board of Directors by Richard Comstock and Dorothy Yewer

Lynn Worthington
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