Friday, June 29, 2007

Localism... I would like to throw out another small example for consideration. My wife Jean bought a set of teak patio furniture. She researched it thoroughly, making certain that the teak was "plantation grown" and renewable rather than from endangered forests. The price was far less that what the same furniture would have cost if we had hired a local craftsman like myself to make it for us.

I had to spend the morning at home awaiting the delivery truck, then had to help the deliveryman to assemble it, as I noticed that he was attempting to force fit parts that weren't designed to mate. By being there, I saved Pottery Barn money from the damages that would have occurred, and saved us from the aggravation of sending it back and waiting for replacement. The most interesting thing was the amount of waste packaging left in its wake... A mountain of foam and cardboard was loaded back on the truck for transport to the landfill.

So what are the tradeoffs here? Jean got just what she wanted, delivered in a timely manner. It looked just like the furniture in the catalog, meeting every expectation at a reasonable price.

If the furniture had been made in Eureka Springs, there would have been some investment required of time in designing the work, and the craftsman's schedule to consider. If I had made it myself, months would have been required from start to finish. On the other hand, the amount of fossil fuel used would have been minimal. No overseas transport, no truckline, except for the delivery of materials. Instead of the money being spent on distribution of catalogs, shipping, packaging and overseas manufacture, the money, all of it would have stayed in Eureka Springs, building our local economy, and perhaps, most importantly, supporting a local craftsman in the growth of skill and experience...

Is that the balance point? The trade-off? the expenditure of fossil fuels vs. the growth of craftsmanship and art? It may seem like a stretch. But think about it, and let me know what you think. Can we change things on the planet by investing our lives in making beautiful things?

The photo below is a carved dogwood design on the ash entertainment center I built for our home. It was completed in 1985.

No comments:

Post a Comment