David Harter with a group of children

Knowledgefire Open Repair Clinic – Neighborhood Learning Laboratory

Date grant awarded: 10/15/2017

If knowledge is power, then teaching is where power is born.

The Knowledgefire Neighborhood Learning Laboratory is a hub of learning and learning resources that exist to foster significant connections between community members, build skills relevant to individual lives and provide tools for accomplishing goals; all of which improve the quality of life for this international neighborhood. Dave Harter uses his space and tools to bring this remarkable network of people to gather.

Knowledgefire means: whatever you learn, learn it well enough to teach. The project treats learning like cooking a feast; they do it for everyone. Their shop has dozens of teachers every week, some as young as 8 years old. These individuals learned something, practiced it and eventually one of their neighbors needed that skill also, so they became a teacher. They share their knowledge and help new members practice; they very literally make the learning laboratory run. They are the power of Knowledgfire.

Members’ origins cross the globe, in this most diverse neighborhood in the city of Buffalo, New York, and thrive in the wealth of experience and insight that diversity offers. More than half the residents in this zip code live below the poverty line, as do more than 75% of members. There are nearly 20 languages represented by Knowledgefire members and a generational spread of 91 years; our youngest member is 6 and our oldest 97.

Knowledgefire helps people accomplish goals as they define them, whether it’s fixing their bikes, starting a bracelet business or learning how to fix a leaky faucet. It’s a great resource for many people, but that’s not the beauty of Knowledgefire. The beauty of Knowledgefire is the connections made through teaching and learning. Teaching someone who needs your help is a gift that lasts a lifetime and lives equally with teacher and student. The members of Knowledgefire get to share that ancient, beautiful and deeply human experience of joyful learning with people from all over the world.

If you learn from someone you must also, in part, understand them. And that is the beauty of Knowledgefire.