The Innovations College is a new department at the Seattle Cen- ter for Extended Learning, whose newest non-credit classes attracted a large number of students last year. The program is currently under major restructuring and will reveal some new surprises at the beginning of November. I talked about the program with Lisa Babinec, interim director of the Innovations College, who is responsi- ble for developing new educational programming.

Can you tell us about your new programs? Especially Distilling, Introduction to Artisan Cheese and Real Estate 360.

We are the first and the only partners in the US that can offer the Funda- mentals of Distilling class in partnership with the Institute of Brewing & Distilling (IBD) based in London. Because the law changed in Washington and we are now able to distill, there is a huge craft distilling explosion. Washington now has more distilleries than any state in the United States. While it all seems very glamorous, it is also very hard work—there is a lot of grain work, mashing, bottling, labeling, etc. It is good for people to have the opportunity to learn more about it so that they can be sure that’s what they want to do before spending millions of dollars opening the distillery and then deciding that it’s not something they want to do.

whiskey-cheeseThen we had the Introduction to Artisan Cheese and Charcuterie class. We engaged retailers such as De- Laurenti’s, Whole Foods and Metropolitan Market, and they sent employees to gain better skills.

Additionally, we offered the Food Business Incubator class, aka, “How to Start a Food Business.” Seattle now also has a law that allows cottage industry in pri- vate homes so one can make jam in their home and sell the product. A couple of local entrepreneurs such as Peter Lewis and Ana Sainz led the class and taught students everything needed to start a food business—whether this was a restaurant, food truck or cottage industry.

The Real Estate 360 class was taught by Jaebadiah Gardner of OnPoint Real Es- tate Services. He pitched this class to young people who wanted to get into real estate or were already in the in- dustry and showed them how to make money aside from buying and selling houses. The great thing about that class was that he got 25 sponsored places so young people who really could not afford the class were able to attend.


Do you also plan to give out any distilling and culinary scholar- ships for students?

See, that’s the thing, it’s a real shame. When we were doing the Food Incu- bator class, there were a number of culinary students who were interested. However because we are a non-credit class, financial aid scholarships are not allowable. Another thing that I do is work with faculty to pilot classes on a non-credit level and then hopefully, at some point, if we show that there is demand for this specific type of class, we can move it to credit status.

Do you plan to offer some samples to the Seattle Central Students?

Well, cheese we can totally do, but we absolutely cannot give people free alcohol. It would be too complex from a state regulatory point of view. I think it would be a great idea to have a retail store on campus where you could sell different people’s products: clothes, woodworking, furniture, etc. If you could have a great space where you could just put all of that on display, then people would have an option to purchase.

How can the Innovations College connect more with students and our neighborhood community?

I have this dream idea that once a month we have a space on the campus where a local person in our community could do a new mural and while that’s happening we could get culinary students to walk around and pass out appetizers, and then fashion students could do some kind of thematic clothing. While this is all happening, photographers from BITCA could take photographs of the event and then we could all go to SIFF,

to the Egyptian, for a film on the topic. It could become a once a month thing given to the community where we can have a themed evening of fun that showcases the best of what college has to offer and at the same time involves the local community and gives back.

By Petra Zanki


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