Sunday, March 22, 2015

the IKEA boat, parental involvement days 2, 3

Yesterday in New York, we took the IKEA Ferry from Manhattan to the IKEA store in Brooklyn. The ride is free, paid for by the thousands of dollars of stuff carried home in blue bags, and the thousands of Swedish meatballs consumed on premises before customers get back on the boat. The store is so large and busy that not all customers had arrived by boat. Some had rented Uhaul trucks to carry home what they planned to buy.

IKEA offers Scandinavian design at  low cost. Their furniture is knockdown and the kind you throw-a-way at the end of the day. But in a day in which low cost of goods is the primary value and not the growth of intellect and character within communities that arises through craftsmanship, IKEA is a perfect choice for people from all the diverse cultures and ethnic groups within the whole of New York. For a young woman on a teacher's salary and in a tiny apartment, the occasional ferry ride to IKEA, with Mom and Dad to help carry home large packages is an ideal way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Today we assembled a book case and fold down dining table to make Lucy's small apartment living a bit easier and better organized. As others have pointed out, assembling IKEA furniture can give a sense of tactile feedback as though you've actually made it yourself. And all the hard thinking has been removed from the process. Even the instructions are simplified so that you can follow the pictures and assemble without reading a word. So what if it falls apart when you move to a new apartment? It was fun while it lasted, and you can always take the ferry back to IKEA to launch another adventure.

Yesterday we also visited the 9/11 site. Like a trip to the American Natural History Museum, you learn that the world is very large and human history is complex. The tragedy of 9/11 was an international one, launching the US and allies into a conflict that the world will suffer for generations. The answer to it all is not arms, but rather the growth of human dignity and means toward social justice, which leads us toward my next stop.

This afternoon my wife and I also paid a visit to St. John the Divine Cathedral on Amsterdam, and besides the visual delights, including one of George Nakashima's Peace Tables, an acoustic delight was taking place as the great organ and choir were practicing for a performance. The first time we visited St. John the Divine much of the cathedral was closed due to a devastating fire and they were cleaning the inside stone, block by block. Now the full cathedral is open and lovely, though it remains unfinished.

You may have wondered what inspired the small chapels of wood that I'm making in the shop. The photo above from St. John the Divine is of a particular type of cabinet you will find in many large medieval churches and cathedrals in Europe. The people carved within are characters from the great stories of the Christian church. The panels close upon the story, just as the doors of my small cabinet will close upon the choir, which will consist of small turned samples of 25 American hardwoods. What deserves more reverence than the forests that give so much?

Make, fix and create...

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