Sunday, January 04, 2009

A DIY Manifesto.

I've been steeped in DIY for most of my life. I grew up in the mountains, and for all the bad things that comes from dealing with that environment day in day out, a practical ability to get things done is a frequent benefit. That ability to get things done is why I can actually start a fire if I need to, and why I carry a knife with me all the time. There are a whole bunch of things about me that are firmly DIY.

My Mom was a home-economics teacher while the school still had a program for that, so while I grew up I also learned how to cook, and how to sew, and crochet. So along with all my wood choping snow shovelling, sterotypicaly male power I have more sterotypicaly female skills as well.

Tack on top of both of those my time in highschool absolutely fascinated with punk and everything around it, and you've got the recipe for a self sufficient scarf kniting, music playing, bomb making, useful person. It's something I'm proud of, being able to do a lot of things that most people seem to have forgotten.

It's nice having hands on skills that seem to be unusual.

For clarity sake the knowledge about explosives and guns, and drugs for that matter, is almost entirely because of the mountains and the requisite isolation. It was rather easy to get bored up there, so we fucked around with just about everything.

It's probably time I got to a point though; I'm wishing these hands on skills were worth more. I have this DIY attitude, and more and more that means less and less. I do things myself, and make what I can instead of buying it. I dumpster things instead of buying, and I go to thrift stores first instead of just hopping over to walmart, but that doesn't seem to make my situation any better.

all of my DIY skills keep me occupied, and give me things I'd like, but they don't provide sustenance. I cannot use whitleing as a real money making, or food getting prospect anymore. Sure I could make a spear, or a sharp stick, but what fucking good would that do me. I can start a fire, but I'd likely get arrested. I could make all my clothes, and honestly there're few good reasons not to do that, It just would take so much time that my music would go by the wayside because making my own clothes won't make me money, and won't keep me in rent.

So, I cannot do anything by myself. The world in which man could be self sustaining, or even live in smaller communities, is largely gone. We are in a world that won't allow that. The way that property laws work, the way that jobs work, they way that supermarkets work. All of those things make it harder and harder to support yourself. In tough times I should be able to buckle down and make due with less. I should be able to repair things that break and salvage things people left behind. The only problem there is that things aren't made to be fixed. If I want to fix my blender I have to take off the plastic covering to it, which happens to be one piece of hard hard plastic. I can't remove that while keeping it even remotely intact. Sure that's partly because of a lack of nicer tools, but that's part of my damn point. I have what is necessary to make something work again and I can't fucking do it because of the way things are built.

What ever happened to people knowing how to fix things, and knowing how the things they own work? Sure there are people for who that comes less naturally, but when did it become more logical to spend money on a new object instead of fixing the old one?

It's a problem that I don't think I'll be able to remedy by myself, and I don't advocate a complete ditching of technology, I just ask that we try to understand the shit we're using, and when it stops working, try to fix it. Don't take it in to the shop once, and then throw it away if it doesn't work, actually take the time to think about what the fuck you've got in your hands, and then see if you can modify it in a positive way.

Void a warranty! it'll be good for you, and bad for the corporate entities that rely on your waste to continue growing. Think a little.

There are obviously groups who feel the same way. The whole Maker movement and the fact that DIY is no longer just a punk, or a bob vila thing are signs of this. I don't know that they're good signs. I'm pleased there are kindred spirits, but I'm afraid these are just the death throes of a time when everyone had a chance to do this sort of thing. Every woman knew how to knit, and every man knew how to repair things. I'm not saying that strict sexual dichotomy is necessary, but the fact that everyone knew a craft was vital. We are in an era where things that never before were possible, ARE, but that does not remove the chance that those things that have never happened could be bad things.

so when your shit breaks, fix it, or just look at it. When you see a broken thing next to a dumpster, take it apart and see what makes it tick. I feel like that would be a growth experience, and one many people are sorely lacking in. Ultimately, remember to DIY despite the fact that our economy, and our system of government rely on you doing otherwise. Remember that just because something is prevalent doesn't mean it's good. It may not seem like it, but when you do something yourself, instead of relying on the government or business, you are going against the prevailing order, and are in some small way working towards sometime where the inherent inequalities therin are no longer an issue.

1 comment:

Teresa Lynne said...

I agree. People are so quick to purchase a new item rather than save money.

Why? I wonder.

Great post.