Library’s How-To Festival draws Lawrence community members to learn and get their hands on new things

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Community members gathered at the Lawrence Public Library’s How-To Festival Saturday to learn about a slew of hobbies, topics, volunteer opportunities and more. 

The festival included nearly 40 learning stations and activities including how to keep pet bugs, decorate a cake, play the drums and even talk about death. 

As community members flooded in, how to decorate a cake instructor Grey Dallinga-Stangle, of the custom baking company Lady Grey’s Bakery and Teahouse, emphasized the importance of gathering the community together.

“It shows people that there’s a lot more resources in the community that they just aren’t aware of, that there are so many more resources available for people to get hands-on and see what else is out there in the neighborhood,” they said. 

Returning participant Shana Talley enjoyed the variety of options there were for her kids to explore.

“I think that it’s fun that they get a chance to see what animals are around and what things are happening at KU. Also just getting to partake in some of the creative activities like origami, heart-making and breathing with the mandalas,” Talley said. “All of that stuff just opens your eyes to what they can do later.”

The event also opened different avenues of conversation, one in particular being the Visiting Nurses and Banner Endings‘ “How To Talk About Death” station. 

Natasha Torkzaban/Lawrence Times Sarah Rooney, hospice volunteer coordinator for Visiting Nurses Association, speaks with an attendee at the How-To Festival.

At this table, community members spoke about normalizing the “death and dying conversation” with Sarah Rooney, hospice volunteer coordinator. 

“People are very uncomfortable sometimes talking about death and dying,” Rooney said. “[We are here] so that people are comfortable starting to talk about those things and pick up the information they need. And it’s OK, we can talk about it with you and we’re not afraid.”

Aside from the hands-on experience, numerous nonprofits also received the opportunity to showcase their missions and ways to get involved. Some of these included the Lawrence Community Shelter, Lawrence Tenants, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and Douglas County CASA.

Some people may have already begun thinking of ways to get involved in next year’s festival. 

“I think it would be good if people have ideas that they want to share with the community to take part in next year and then be part of the conversation of what’s happening here in Lawrence,” Talley said.

Natasha Torkzaban/Lawrence Times Kids at Gabby Boyle’s station learn how to keep pet bugs.
Natasha Torkzaban/Lawrence Times Shannon Vanlandingham and Liza Gant of #BeMoreLikeClaire and Claire’s Community speak with attendees at the library’s How-To Festival about how to nurture healthy relationships.
Natasha Torkzaban/Lawrence Times Wendy Holman (right) speaks with an attendee at the How-To Festival about how to identify snakes. Holman is education program coordinator with the KU Field Station.
Natasha Torkzaban/Lawrence Times Brian Moss and Sarah Goodwin Thiel speak with attendees about how to use the KU libraries.

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Natasha Torkzaban (she/her), a contributor to The Lawrence Times, is a current senior at Lawrence High School. She was an editor-in-chief of The Free Press at Free State High School before becoming an editor-in-chief for The Budget at Lawrence High School for 2023-24. Read her work for the Times here.

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