Saturday, December 31, 2011

greeting the new year...

As we welcome the end of 2011 and greet with hope the arrival of 2012, which of course are only mental constructs in the first place, some will be making resolutions about what to do next and how to improve our lives. My apologies, first of for not being as clear and concise as I would like.

Yesterday I listened to an NPR radio program, Talk of the Nation, with interview guest Roy Baumeister, co-author of Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength. His suggestion with regard to New Year's resolutions was not to try to change everything at once, but rather to address one small thing at a time. The successful change of one small thing can have major impact on the sense of self and the growth of confidence to change other things. Baumeister suggested that even the effort to change one's posture could be enough to awaken latent will.

So here, as I address the change necessary to bring a new age of American Craftsmanship we will start simple things.

For instance, set up a regular pattern of interchange with others. Most Americans are strategic shoppers looking for the best deal. But if we did our shopping based on the simple objective of establishing relationships instead, we would find different results. If instead of focusing on the objective of getting the stuff as though the maker and source of supply did not matter, we were to look toward building the foundational relationships of local supply, the fabric of our communities would be dramatically changed.

First is that instead of rushing from place to place seeking the best deal, one would build relationships with those in the store of choice, and build relationships with other customers likely to be shopping at the same time. This idea is based on observation here in Eureka Springs, where there are just three places to shop for food, and each has its own niche. We have the farmers market, where we meet the actual producers of the food, we have the health food store, and we have Harts Grocery. Each is a social center, each offering opportunities for social engagement within the community. You can drive 20 minutes to Walmart, and you may meet one or two friends who are also there shopping for the best deal, but if you are shopping for meaningful relationships instead, you will find your truest bargains at our local stores, as you can see in the graph.

After living in this small town for as long as I have, it is near impossible to go to any of these three stores at any time of the day without a chance encounter with friends and conversations that assure deep roots in community. By understanding the need for community development as being greater than getting the best deal assures greater things.

If you live in a larger community than Eureka Springs, you will need to refine and narrow choices, whereas here in order to build community, we simply need to make the choice of not driving to Berryville. Of course there are other ways to build your community. For instance regularly attend your local public library, or join civic groups. These things are free.

Another key to being successful in either craftsmanship or the building of community is to wear your heart on your sleeve. Instead of being armed, let others know your kindness, your accessibility and availability, and your hopes and aspirations. They will often arise to enable your progress and be encouraged in their own.

The article for which I was interviewed in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette came out this morning and I will try to get a link through which it can be read. The point I hoped to make is that if we want craftsmanship we need community. As we develop skills, our communities may grow wider. At this point, my own community due to the sales of my products and publications, my teaching and this blog is rather wide, but it was not always so, and even now, it is the participation in local life, and local community that is most real and offers greatest depth. In order to create a society in which craftsmanship is encouraged and supported as a wide foundation, and to present the widest possible opportunity for our children we need the fabric of narrow deep community to do so.

My simple notion of change is built on the model of progressive education. Start with the interests of the child. The first community is that of the family, then the child is brought through gradual awakening to greater, wider things. Blog reader JD sent photos of his grandchildren in his workshop, showing the projects they had completed together. Such things are the foundation of our future.

Make, fix and create...

1 comment:

  1. Johnny9:16 AM

    Thanks or yor daily post as I have not missed one since August. I found the blog while searching for resources to help me change from teaching carpentry at a area vocational center (18 years) to teaching woodworking and construction at the SC school for the beaf and blind. I have shared Wisdom of the Hands with our team to reform and make Applied Accidemics the center of our school. Your posts and ideals are spot-on and are helping to make a huge change in the mission our school. Thanks and happy new year and success to our students.
    Johnny B