Building an artisan economics movement

16.November 2012

To build a movement, we need to spread the idea, far beyond the subculture which has nurtured it.

We need to translate to older and newer ideas, and expand our way of seeing to recognize resonances and amplify them.

As Matthew Crawford points out in Shop Class as Soul Craft, “by the mere fact that they stand ready to fix things, as a class [mechanics] they are an affront to the throwaway society.” He exhorts us to have engines rebuilt locally rather than buying new ones as an expression of

a humane regard for the kind of labor involved in each alternative: on the one side disciplined attentiveness, enlivened by a mechanic’s own judgments and ethical entanglement with a motor, and on the other systematized carelessness…If the regard that many people now have for the wider ramifications of their food choices could be brought to our relationships to our own automobiles, it would help sustain pockets of mindful labor…

It means choosing re-upholstery at a local shop, although you might be able to get a new chair cheaper. Look for tradesmen in your area and broken stuff in your house that could be repaired.

It means getting across class and age lines to recognize that we are surrounded by people who know how to work with their hands, who understand materials, and tools. These people should be valued as teachers, now that repair is nearly a lost art, and their wisdom of materials should be precious to those of us who have been educated without the chance to learn these judgments. The organic and urban farming movements in the US have sometimes forgotten that most immigrants know how to farm organically.