The e-NABLE group had it's one year birthday yesterday. When I joined the group last December it had less than 300 members. Little did I know how quickly it would grow. Now there are over 1000 members and it's still growing. I hope this is a sign of our changing world and how design and fabrication can make a real impact in the lives of others. Especially when ideas are shared freely and ideas are open to development across the world. If we all would stop working towards furthering ourselves in this world for an hour or two a day, and take the time to help each other, one might be surprised how it makes them feel and how one's life becomes enriched by the people that are helped.
I was reminded by a comment that Shop Teacher Bob made on one of my earlier posts about how Industrial Arts/Shop Teachers used to be the people at a school that "fixed" and made things for people. He wrote:
Well done! You and your compadres are doing great work. Most shop teachers are called upon to fix/make things for the community and we do it routinely but rarely is the work life changing like what you're doing. Now that you've got a little funding, hopefully you can do even more. Again, well done! on hayley's charity night.
I think Bob's comment addresses how things have changed. With the elimination of shop classes from early and secondary education, we have seen a decline in skills but more importantly a decline in what it means to be human. My father had broad training in Industrial Arts. At his high school he learned to build houses from the ground up, that the school would sell at the end of each year. The students learned how to pour a foundation, framing, wiring, and plumbing. I've always known that the training he received was beneficial to his life in that he could fix anything that needed fixed when I was a kid growing up. It taught me and my siblings to be self sufficient and to not depend on anyone for our well being. The thing that I am just now realizing is that it also taught us how to care for others and what it means to be a part of a community. To be a part of a community you give freely of your talents and skills without thinking of yourself. As a child I was fortunate enough to frequent the factories that my Dad worked in. I remember taking tours on family weekends at RR Donnelley & Sons and him pointing out all of the things he had built for the new printing factory during his early apprenticeship, and later going to work with him at Petty Co. where I would see him assisting a group of people with figuring how how to make a tool to make a job easier or more efficient for the person doing the job. I later worked along side him at Casey Tool and Machine (after massive downsizing occurred at all of the Print Factories in my home area) and saw him inventing and building tools to make jobs faster on the assembly lines that I worked on. He didn't do those things for recognition, nor did he do them to further his career. He did them because they helped the people that he worked with. Now I see that building those houses allowed him to acquire skills, but more importantly it provided the foundation for becoming a good citizen. Those students were learning what it meant to be productive individuals in a local community and how they could use those skills to help the community. Their skills were providing a shelter for a family to live in, and they were able to transfer those skills to their own future homes in order to provide for their future families. All of the Maker Communities and Online Build Groups that are popping up are great and I am excited to see what the results of volunteer communities such as e-NABLE. That said the talk that surrounds these groups and comments about new technologies saving the future of humanity makes me chuckle. It actually boils down to people becoming selfless, using their God-givin talents to help others, and getting back to the core of what it means to be a part of a community. Shop Teacher Bob hit the nail on the head, and I hope he realizes from this post how life changing it can be when a school doesn't have to buy new chairs or desks when there is a person in the community that can fill that gap, or there's someone in the community that can fix your lawnmower when you simply don't have the money to shell out for a new one when your trying to put food on the table. Everyone has a role to play if we can all stop promoting ourselves, even just for a few minutes, and take the time to help others for no other reason than to make a difference in someone else's life. Stop worrying about getting to the top of the ladder and all of the imposed demands of your institutions and workplaces and ask yourself, when was the last time I used one of my talents to help a friend in need for no other reason than to help them?
Editor's comment: sorry for the rant, but I write this in part as a message to myself. It's aways good to stay grounded and I often come back and read this blog so I can remember what my core values are. I take my rant to heart and need to remind myself from time to time why I choose to do the things I do.