Monday, March 18, 2013

the pendulum and shared expertise...

It seems that about once every 40 years, the pendulum swings, and just as I and a few others of my generation arrived in Arkansas in the 1970's looking for voluntary simplicity, a way of life more in tune with the rhythms of nature, and a course of life more responsible to the planet than that offered by the consumer culture, there are young folks afoot (or should I say "at hand") again in Eureka. And they look for what we sought.

Yesterday, Madeline and Andrew Schwerin from Sycamore Bend Farm made a presentation at the UU church on the current movement that seeks roots in the land, depth in family life, and responsible husbandry of community. I tip my hat to those who pick up the shovels where my own generation dropped them. Has the pendulum swung back toward the land? And away from rampant obsessive consumerism? I hope we are entering a spiral moving upward with shared expertise. Great things seem to start small.

Andrew and Madeline raise vegetables for the local market and live in a yurt with their under 1 year old child, reminding many of us of our own early days in Eureka Springs. It is my sincere hope that those who work through their own hand-skilled labors find every success. What they are learning is essential to human culture and human survival.

Brother in Sloyd Joe Barry wrote to inform me of a new issue of Vesterheim Magazine that focuses on the Hands. What the Hands Know:
"celebrates the beauty and positive benefits of handcraft and how making things with our hands can connect us to heritage. It features articles by folk artists Kate Martinson, Harley Refsal, and Ingebjørg Monsen."
Vesterheim Magazine is a twice annual publication of the Vesterheim Museum in Decorah, Iowa. Vesterheim is a museum dedicated to Norwegian culture. And since I'm half Norwegian, I think I need to make a trip there myself.
Vesterheim is a national treasure that explores the diversity of American immigration through the lens of Norwegian-American experience, showcases the best in historic and contemporary Norwegian folk and fine arts, and preserves living traditions through classes in Norwegian culture and folk art, including rosemaling (decorative painting), woodcarving and woodworking, knifemaking, and textile arts.

Vesterheim houses over 24,000 artifacts, which include large samplings from the fine, decorative, and folk arts, and the tools and machinery of early agriculture, lumbering, and other immigrant industries. The lives of the people who settled this nation were often as colorful as their folk art and their stories speak through the objects they left behind.
If you've been reading here for long, or have paid the slightest attention to your own hands, you will know that the hands and their conscious activities are the foundation of human culture. When society chose to undermine the position of the hands and their labors, adopted a consumer culture in which the maker was of no consequence, we began the degradation of human and planetary life.

The video embedded above is of HIPPY USA, an organization headquartered in my home state of Arkansas. Mothers (and fathers) by all rights should be their children's first teachers. Pestalozzi and Froebel made that point clearly in the 19th century, and Pestalozzi made use of how a loving mother would teach as his model for how all children should be taught in How Gertrude Teaches Her Children. Mothers taking such a strong interest in their children and schooling are important to each child's later success in school. They've also found that mothers benefit in self-esteem when they realize their sacred mission in the education of their kids.

We also need a HIPPY Woodworking Program for fathers and mothers to take greater interest in their children's and grand children's creative capacities. That, too, will help children succeed in school.

In my wood shop today I've been making lids for a few boxes and trying to catch up on my production boxes necessary for spring gallery sales.

Make, fix and create...

1 comment:

  1. Good for Madeline and Andrew! It's a hard life, but also very rewarding. Very few of the people of our generation who tried that managed to stick with it.


    PS And have fun at the museum.