The Edo period in Japan (1603-1868) was noted as a period of order, marked by excellence in arts and crafts, and environmental sustainability. The period was preceded by one of environmental collapse, and followed by the age of industrialization leading to Japan's role in WWII. Azby's book takes a look at that period to discover means through which we might reshape our own culture to become more sustainable and meaningful.
In Azby's introduction he makes reference to a classic, Small is Beautiful: Economics as if people mattered, by E. F. Schumaker:
Instead of assuming that someone who consumes more is necessarily better off than one who consumes less, "since consumption is merely means to human well-being, the aim should be to obtain the maximum of well-being with the minimum of consumption."I would add that if consumption is a means to human well-being, then making, fixing and creating are even more.
I am convinced that the richer, more fulfilled and secure life we might seek for ourselves and hope for others would have something to do with our hands. If we were makers rather than merely consumers, how would that affect our lives? Your thoughts?
My own are simple: make, fix and create.
John Grossbohlin sent a link to an editorial in the New York Times, Let Kids Rule the School and Randall Henson sent a link to a boat builder, Douglas Brooks who is helping to preserve traditional Japanese boat building techniques. It seems all the information about Wisdom of the Hands is out there, but too few are willing to take the chance to do anything about it.
This afternoon, I am engaged in my friendly competition with the Chinese, by making wooden boxes.