The Occupy Seattle demonstrators took some free classes Sunday night and into early Monday, courtesy of half a dozen instructors from North Seattle and Seattle Central community colleges.

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The Occupy Seattle demonstrators took some free classes Sunday night and into early Monday, courtesy of half a dozen instructors from North Seattle and Seattle Central community colleges.

The class titles included “The Art of Protest Signs” and “Camera Techniques for Documenting Human Rights Abuses.”

They were held for free in the brick courtyard along Broadway at Seattle Central, near where demonstrators have been camping out since Saturday.

The instructors conducted the classes on their own time.

“I’m here for my students. Education is an important part of the recovery,” says Don Barrie, who teaches design and drawing and gave the class on making protest signs.

He is 74. He says he worries how his students “will be able to survive” the bad economy. “I’m really energized. I haven’t felt like this since the Vietnam War, which I also was protesting.”

Barrie’s tips included very basic information.

For example, the signs need to be readable at a distance, which means letters shouldn’t be less than an inch high.

And the message should be “to the point,” not “a lot of dialogue.”

One example he cites is telling the Legislature about budget cuts for education: “Have guts, not cuts.”

Classes were scheduled on the hour, beginning at 9 p.m. Sunday and ending at 7 a.m. Monday.

The 2 a.m. session on camera techniques was taught by Sandy Cioffi, a film instructor who says the program under which she teaches might be eliminated.

She says she explained how film footage can be used as evidence in court, but that the footage needs “context” and “while the tape is rolling you need to show the surroundings in a wide shot, as well as a close-up when appropriate.”

Cioffi also offers such basic tips as not zooming in and out.

With automatic-focus cameras, she says, “the camera lens is looking for a focal point, and the audience has to endure that.”

There was no overcrowding at the sessions.

Esther “Little Dove” John, 59, a psychology and conflict-management instructor, says her 5 a.m. session on “Labor History and the Psychology of Greed” had a dozen people attending, and half of them were fellow instructors.

“People were cold and shivering, using blankets, bundling up together,” she says.

Why was she there?

“This is the moment,” says John. “I believe this is the beginning of a great historical sweep.”

Erik Lacitis: 206-464-2237 or elacitis@seattletimes.com