Thursday, February 16, 2012

Well now, that's handy!

I just finished reading this book by Mark Frauenfelder of Boing Boing fame and Make Magazine. While it seems that he approaches DIY and maker culture from a different perspective and perhaps with other motivations than say the Transitioners, permies, peak oilers and zombie apocalypse preppers among us, he treads a lot of common ground and the end result is the same, namely, a greater sense of resilience and control over one's life, a better appreciation for the resources used and waste produced by consuming 'stuff' and "a deeper connection and more rewarding sense of involvement with the world around us."

One of his main goals is "to improve my family's home life by taking an active role in the things that feed, clothe, educate, maintain and entertain us", and to that end he takes on a number of DIY projects, some of which include planting a garden, raising chickens, keeping bees and fermenting sauerkraut. He encourages people to not fear making mistakes, but rather see them as an essential part of the process. He frames everything within the context of a busy family life, raising two small children. And he focuses an articulate, critical lens on a consumer culture that is overly saturated with designed-for-the-dump, low quality goods.

He also profiles some really great DIYers, some familiar and many new to me, and shares stories of their projects and expertise. I loved the list of Mister Jalopy's Maker's Bill of Rights, which includes things like:
  • cases shall be easy to open
  • special tools are allowed only for darn good reasons
  • if it snaps shut, it shall snap open
  • screws are better than glues
  • ease of repair shall be a design ideal, not an afterthought

At the end, Frauenfelder reflects on his DIY adventures, musing, "Now that I am making and fixing some of my own things, I've developed a more meaningful connection to the human-made objects and systems I use...The small degree of autonomy I've attained as a DIYer has had a big payoff...I like knowing I can make something that way I want it to be."

This was a fun and informative read. Well worth a trip to the library!

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