Creating a community by doing it yourself

Julie Enman adopts unwanted stuffed animals and dresses them with papier-mache clothing or items she transforms from the free store. But the 29-year-old isn't reliving her childhood through these homemade puppets.

Julie Enman adopts unwanted stuffed animals and dresses them with papier-mache clothing or items she transforms from the free store.

But the 29-year-old isn’t reliving her childhood through these homemade puppets. It’s part of her do-it-yourself attitude.

“It’s kind of that whole philosophy of anti-consumerism and I just really feel that it’s important to develop skills to make yourself self-sustainable,” said Enman.

The DIY ethic encourages people to use their own talents and adopt new skills to produce goods and services without the help of businesses.

It comes from the punk lifestyle where musicians and followers fixed or made their own clothes, produced their own records and created their own merchandise.

Enman found her inspiration in the punk music she listened to while growing up.

“It was really a transformative part of my life because you start consuming music about different ideas and you sort of become an adult that way,” said Enman. “There’s just all these things that became available via that, like you use patches and you’re seeing little anarchy symbols and you’re thinking, What does that mean? I guess that’s really where the whole philosophy came out.”

Now she wants to share her independent style by co-founding the Whitehorse DIY Festival.

Yukoners are relying too much on Outside products and services, she said.

“In such an isolated place, we really need to network and learn from one another and become less dependent on the outside,” she said. “I think this is really about celebrating people’s ability to create and share their skills and teach one another to make living up here a little more sustainable and a little bit more connected.”

Part of being sustainable comes from a sense of community.

“It’s really important to know your neighbours,” said Enman. “It’s nice to be able to knock on someone’s door for flour if you need it.”

The festival, which runs from July 1 to 4 at various venues around the city, will offer free workshops on bike maintenance, vocal training, knots, beat-boxing, silk screening, zine creation, meditation, sewing and a hand drum circle. There will also be free food.

“Make it free and make a world where people can learn from one another,” is Enman’s philosophy for the festival.

“I feel like there are a lot of people who are doing really amazing and cool stuff that I don’t know about and I’d love to think about the things they’re thinking about or learn something about them.”

So far people have been enthusiastic about the event, she said.

But running the do-it-yourself festival is one thing she cannot do by herself.

“We want to form a network of folks that would be able to skill share and hold workshops. I think it’s really important even if you just have a living room and you don’t mind people sitting in it and having tea and knitting for the afternoon.”

Enman is asking people to contact her at 335-3565 or if they want to share a skill or a venue.

“We want to make it as big and offer as much variety as possible. I really want to reach out to the community.”

She’s also using this festival as a trial for another idea.

“We’re also planning to try to make this move to a free school so we’re trying to set up a model for after the festival or trying to create a forum by which people can contact each other and share their skill.”

Aside from trading talents and connecting with your community, Enman said the festival is a great way to meet people.

“And it’s not that scary to open up to strangers.”

Contact Larissa Robyn Johnston at

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