Sunday, March 11, 2007

Decisions, decisions, simple decisions...The use of wood to connect people with the natural environment is something that I started in my work in 1976. I make inlay from a variety of Arkansas hardwoods and use the inlay in the lids of boxes. With each piece I include a product card explaining the beauty and value of our native woods. When I sign a piece, the signature includes identification of the species used, so it that informs, educates and helps the owner to know and recognize the various native species and understand their value and diversity.

I thought that was a good thing I was doing for the environment. I didn't realize when I started that it was also a good thing for my career. After a period of time, because my work reflected the natural beauty of my home state, Arkansas officials started using it as gifts and promotional items. The last 3 governors of Arkansas used my boxes as international gifts of state and one of those governors became president.

As an illustration of how things work, I'll share the following:

One day I got a call from Barbara Harvel at the Arkansas Commission for Quality Excellence about designing the Governor's Award for Quality. She had gotten my name from the Arkansas Economic Development Commission which had sent a large order of my work to Japan as part of an event to encourage trade. When she asked me about the kinds of work I did, I mentioned my small boxes. She looked down and realized she had one, right on her desk. It clinched the deal. I was selected to design the award and have made the award bases for the Governor's award now for about 8 years.

Her husband, Paul, who had given her the box was the director of the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce and had frequently purchased my small boxes as gifts. We became good friends. When the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce decided to build a new office over-looking the Arkansas River in downtown Little Rock, the chamber director commissioned me to do the furnishings for his office.

These are things that happened for me, due to my simple decision of using my work to promote the beauty and value of our native woods. Of course, telling the story of the woods in poor and uncaring craftsmanship wouldn't have conveyed the full understanding of their value, so I also had to put attention into the development of skill. I can't offer assurances that things would work in the same manner for others, but my personal choice to use and promote the woods of Arkansas was the most important simple decision I've made as a craftsman. Also, instead of having questions about my own impact on the world's forests, I can look out every day and see the woods growing to replace what I use.

Sometimes a very small decision can make all the difference.

No comments:

Post a Comment