Fireweed Community Woodshop

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empowering women & non-binary makers through the art of woodcraft

  • 02 November 2021 7:13 PM | jess hirsch (Administrator)

    (The current board having fun post board retreat)

    We are on the hunt for some awesome human beings to join our board! Its our first time adding new members as our current cohort has been volunteering for the past 2 years! We are so pumped to grow the crew by adding 3-5 new members!

    What we are looking for:

    Fundraising Skills,  Racial Equity skills, Finance Skills, Marketing Skills

    That said you may have a skill that we didnt even know we needed. All are welcome to apply.

    How to apply:

    Fill out this form and we will contact you for a zoom or park walk to get to know you and answer all the questions you may have. Next steps would be putting together your information to have the community vote in the new members! We hope to have voting in December. 

    More info like term lengths etc is available in our Recruitment Packet!

  • 14 September 2021 7:35 AM | jess hirsch (Administrator)

    Fireweed has started on VIRTUAL classes again, and we are attracting to add some in-person classes!  With that in mind, we want to keep everyone as safe as possible.  Please read over our COVID POLICY below:

    COVID policy for indoor classes: 

    • everyone wears masks, regardless of vaccination status
    • students must be vaccinated OR have received negative COVID test results within 72 hours of class. 

    COVID policy for outdoor classes:

    • masking requests will be communicated by the instructor of that course and according to their needs
    • students must be vaccinated OR have received negative COVID test results within 72 hours of class. 

    If you are unable to come to class you are registered for because you are unwell/showing symptoms, get in touch and we'll work something out together.

    *if you have any questions or clarifications, let me know :)

  • 25 June 2021 7:36 AM | jess hirsch (Administrator)

    Fireweed is pausing on classes this summer to make a start on our little library of FREE video tutorials.  We are hoping to grow it as time progresses.  What kind of content?  It is all centered around woodworking of course!  We are going to start with a set of four videos released by next year.  We have plans for three of them, but we would also like some feedback from you - our community!  Head over to our Instagram (@fireweedwoodshop) to share your ideas with us.  We will take a vote in the next few months.  

    We are also using this time to partner St Paul Public Parks to offer spoon carving classes for the BIPOC community.  It's been a wonderful expansion and we are super pumped!

  • 30 November 2020 7:43 AM | jess hirsch (Administrator)

    Hello folks! It’s Nia here with an exciting announcement. WE ARE CHANGING OUR NAME! But before we get to that, I’d like to spend some time on the why and how of our renaming.

    Women’s Woodshop was born in the aftermath of the 2016 election. On the day that the website went live, 45 was sworn into office and the Women’s March was about to make history. It’s estimated that somewhere between 3 and 5.5 million folks marched in different cities across the United States. Women’s Woodshop started here in Minneapolis with a birch bark weaving class taught by the legendary Birch Bark Beth. Our grand opening went viral and the space was packed shoulder to shoulder despite having very few tools. The shop slowly filled up with tools and students. We experimented with many models while always centering on putting tools into the hands of women and non-binary makers. We had a residency program, a very short lived artist talk series (Thank you Mara), holiday sales, our entrepreneur program offering space to others wanting to workshop their workshop (donation based), and we even skateboarded after hours. But Women’s Woodshop would not exist without our founder, Jess Hirsch, a name and face that is sure to be familiar if you’ve hung out much at the shop.

    Jess is an artist and a woodworker and at time of the shop’s conception she’d spent the last fifteen years of her woodworking career navigating spaces that were mostly male. Sometimes she’d have tools taken out of her hands by other students in a class and was definitely on the receiving end of harassment at big box stores and lumber yards.

    Women’s Woodshop was created as a space in which folks didn't have to contort or conform or make themselves smaller or bigger to fit into. It was created as a space in which we could learn and exist with a sense of belonging. I think the name Women’s Woodshop is emblematic of the time in which the shop was born. Women’s Woodshop was an act of resistance. The name was almost oxymoronic. Women and woodshop were not words we often saw side-by-side.

    Despite the name, the shop has never been and was never meant to be exclusively for women. Over the last couple years the majority of our classes have been intended for women and non-binary folks. We’ve had all gender classes too. The shop is a space for folks who have historically existed on the margins of woodworking spaces due the identities that they hold and for folks that have never felt welcomed into a woodshop despite their identity.

    This name change has been a long time coming. We are aware that the word Women in our name has in some ways detracted from our mission. Not all of our community feels that they belong to that word, or that word belongs to them. We started brainstorming on the name change about a year ago, a task that proved more difficult than I initially anticipated. We were searching not only for a name that speaks for us, but a name that speaks to us. The process forced us to assess who we are and what we are here for.

    In late February, right before the world got different, we settled on a name—Fireweed Community Woodshop.

    Fireweed is a wildflower native to Minnesota. Throughout central and northern Minnesota you are sure to find it in bloom in the summer. Once you know it, you know it. You’ll see it running along roadsides or on the outskirts of wooden areas or sprawling across grasslands— bright pinkish, purple flowers growing up the stem of the plant. Fireweed gets its name from its status as a pioneer species. After a wildfire it is one of the first things to grow. A single plant can produce over 80,000 seeds in a year and its seeds are fluffy and can ride far and wide with the wind. Fireweed begins the process of nurturing depleted soil back to health, starting the chain of ecological regeneration.

    We settled on the name Fireweed and then a pandemic happened. Facing rent payments and the reality of not being able to hold classes for the foreseeable future, we decided to leave our physical shop space on Standish Avenue. I think anyone who’d ever spent time in that space (and especially anyone who's ever made it to a busy open shop) knows that although it had it’s charm, we’d grown out of our starter spot. There were some tears, but instead of resisting change, we let it happen. Leaving the shop space never meant leaving behind the mission. We pivoted with the pandemic. We went virtual with the classes that we could and canceled and refunded the ones that we couldn't. We took this rent-free downtime as time for future planning. Our transition board voted on restructuring from an LLC (which I’ve often jokingly called our not-profit model) to a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

    On May 25th, George Floyd was murdered by a member of the Minneapolis Police Department. This tragedy brought the racial injustice and trauma that has long existed in our city and around our country to the forefront. After taking time to process, we as a group made a commitment to reappropriating and sharing resources that this work gives us access to. We’ve written a racial equity committee into our bylaws to ensure BIPOC liberation as a core value within our organization. This core value is also intimately intertwined with how we proceed as a nonprofit. Organizing ourselves as a 501(c)(3) is a beneficial legal structure to exist within, but we recognize the flaws within the nonprofit model as it’s typically understood. Fireweed Community Woodshop is guided by the principle of mutual aid. I often look to the words of the quaker abolitionist poet John Greenleaf Whittier in understanding how mutual aid works— I lift you, and you lift me, and we’ll both ascend together. As we continue to grow, this principle will guide our practice. We are committed to transparency, an open and welcoming exchange of resources and ideas, and self-determination of our organization based on the needs and desires of our community.

    Women’s Woodshop is what we were and Fireweed Community Woodshop is what we are now, but this becoming is a process. Over the next few months we will be transitioning our website and social media accounts to reflect this name change but also the organizational shifts that we’ve been working on behind the scenes.

    Over the last ten months, the imagery of fireweed has loomed clear in my mind. I’ve found the fireweed a grounding symbol in this time of uncertainty and reconstruction. After a fire, after all the heat energy and destruction and breakdown of a burn, fireweed grows. Fireweed is a symbol of new life, it represents a new way of being. This is some symbolism I’d like to see manifested in Fireweed Community Woodshop for many years to come.

  • 01 July 2020 7:52 AM | jess hirsch (Administrator)

    In light of the Covid-19 situation, Women'sWoodshop is expanding its offerings in the form of online fun. Our first offering is a free daily coloring sheet for kids that are stuck at home and adults that are bored too. Learn tool names and keep your hands busy for the time being. More soon!


    Hand Tools, illustrated by Jess Hirsch: handtools-part1.pdf

    Wood Block Printing Tools, Illustrated by Liz Walker : Printmaking.pdf

    Hand Tools part 2,  illustrated by Jess Hirsch: HANDTOOLSPART2.pdf

    Pliers, Illustrated by Jess Hirsch: pliers.pdf

  • 03 June 2020 7:37 AM | jess hirsch (Administrator)

    Dear Ones,

    BLACK LIVES MATTER. Unequivocally Black lives matter.  We mourn the death of George Floyd, Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, and so many others that were murdered by the police. The shop actively believes in dismantling white supremacy and supporting the BIPOC community, in particular Black lives right now.

    We know you haven’t heard from us in a minute because we have paused to focus on the Minneapolis and St. Paul community in real life, not the digital realm. We are slowly coming back together to keep working on our new structure as non-profit and making sure we build anti-racism actions into our very foundation so we can address the vast inequities in the woodworking world. We hope you too are looking at your role in white privilege and how to deconstruct the injustices woven into this country’s framework too.

    We do intend to offer classes again but there is a lot of work to do behind the scenes and there is still a pandemic and unfortunately touching and sharing tools is a big part of our classroom. Please be patient with us and support organizations that are changing the world for the better right now.

    Black Visions Collective

    Black Women Build

    Crafting the Future

    Black Lives Matter

  • 02 April 2020 7:39 AM | jess hirsch (Administrator)

    Dear Students, fans, friends, and family,

    We have big news to share...we’re changing gears and going mobile!!! Due to the Covid-19 pandemic we made the challenging decision to leave our current location and offer a smaller array of classes while focusing on developing a better community woodshop after this thing passes. 

    As many of you know, our little storefront on 38th street has always been considered our starter home. It's a charming space, but over the past 3 years we have outgrown the physical space and the electrical limits (if you have been in a power tools class, you have experienced us blowing the breakers!) We need more space and more power to keep supporting the community and expanding as y’all have shown up in droves and our instructors keep proposing more awesome classes.

    As the shop navigates the current situation with Covid-19, we have faced some obstacles and been given the gift of seeing our blindspots. Financially, we have depended on our in person classes to pay rent, pay instructors, and keep the lights on. It’s always been a makeshift diy space doing it month to month. We have been hit hard by the crisis and have spent some time reflecting on what actions make the most sense. 

    The month of April we will be moving into storage and simplifying our course offerings until we can find a better home. We see this time as a “wildfire” ferociously taking down broken models and systems, but leaving fertile soil for the future. Instead of trying to resist, we are going to let this one take us and turn us into that soil that we can emerge stronger and brighter for the long haul.

    We have been building an incredible non-profit board of brilliant minds and will be spending the next few months focusing on regrowth. More to come soon once we are done moving! Stay tuned.

    If you are currently signed up for classes we will be in touch about a pop-up location to host or a cancellation with full refunds. Our small summer offerings will go live once we find a host. If you know a host that could share space during this limbo phase, please reach out:)

    If you want to purchase wood, tools, workbenches, we will be posting things we are not able to keep on our instagram and will be offering contactless pick up after the Stay Home mandate expires...if it expires. 

    Thank you for all your love, support, and hunger for woodworking!

    More soon,

    Jess & the crew

  • 16 March 2020 7:41 AM | jess hirsch (Administrator)

    WE ARE TEMPORARILY CLOSING! Due to the pandemic we believe it is our social responsibility to flatten the curve and advocate for social distancing. We are postponing our classes as the news comes out. If you have courses scheduled we will be emailing you about rescheduling opportunities and refunds. Its a bit of a dance to re-arrange all the classes so please be patient as we work through the upcoming classes for this week. We will most likely be rescheduling all classes through April 10th, but have to do it in batches. Thank you for your patience.


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