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Why Craft is Worldchanging

Amy Shaw, WorldChanging
…Today there are 6.5+ billion people living on Earth. The economic hegemony governing this massive number of people in the developed and developing worlds is what we’ve come to call “the Walmart economy.” It’s an economy operating on such a vast scale that one one-hundredth of a penny makes the difference between whether a business is profitable or not.

Every one of us on the planet is involved in using, making, and trading. Big corporations make, use, and trade as giant faceless entities with a million tentacles moving as fast as possible and effecting billions of people. Billions of people worldwide are also involved in making, using, and trading craft. (A recent survey published by the Craft Organization Director’s Association measures the U.S. craft industry alone at $14 billion per year.) However compared with big corporations, the craft industry operates on a more individual, intimate, and personal manner, and on a smaller scale.

Craft is radical. In this age of corporate-driven mass-production, the act of an individual making a useful thing is radical. The act of buying a useful thing made by an individual is radical. It is akin to living off the grid: trading outside the big box.

Craft is to shopping what slow food is to restaurants. Buying high-quality things that needn’t be replaced over time but instead may be passed on to future generations is not only old-fashioned, it is also worldchanging. Craft is slow retail, slow consumption.

When dealing with craft, there is an awareness and appreciation for where a thing came from, how it was made, what materials were used in its fashioning, and who labored over it. Through this awareness, a relationship forms between the maker and the user, narrowing the huge gap between the producer and the consumer fostered by our mass-production globalized economy. Putting a face on an object is one way in which craft is, and always has been, worldchanging.
(26 Jan 2007)

Photo journal: Harvest in Caracas

BBC News
Since coming to power in 1999, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has implemented a range of social and economic programmes. One of them aims to change the way city dwellers think about food through the creation of organic urban gardens and to promote self-sufficiency.

The Organoponico Bolivar I garden occupies 1.2 acres in the centre of Caracas and is the first of its kind in the capital.
(Jan 2007)
Research cred: Carolyn Baker who writes:

This link to a bbc story is truly awesome. it shows how Venezuela is replicating the community gardens project which Cuba used after it lost its oil supply when the Soviet Union collapsed. You may have seen the DVD “The Power of Community” documenting how Cuba sustained this project for decades and where it has led the nation. Venezuela is now doing the same thing which is incredibly exciting.

Unions see greenbacks in ‘green’ future

Moises Velasquez-Manoff, Christian Science Monitor
Organized labor is joining forces with environmentalists to push for an eco-friendly economy.
With alarm growing over global warming and the economic vulnerability created by American dependence on foreign oil, it’s increasingly obvious to many that the only viable future is a green one.

The pursuit of this future has made unlikely bedfellows of many groups historically at odds with each other. Evangelicals have joined forces with tree huggers. Creationists have aligned themselves with scientists. And now, organized labor is working with environmentalists.

Union leaders are betting that a green economy will not only address the issue of climate change, it will also provide a bonanza of well-paying manufacturing jobs – the kinds of jobs that have largely vanished from the United States in recent decades. A proliferation of wind turbines and solar panels means more factories, while ever more stringent efficiency standards imply the need for inspectors and experts in sealing and insulating.

“From labor unions’ point of view, these are the kinds of jobs their unions are most prepared for,” says Jeff Rickert, vice president of the Apollo Alliance, a coalition of the major environmental and labor organizations.
(25 Jan 2007)

Reegle – the Information Gateway for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency

Eva Pawlowski, EU Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Partnership (Press release)
reegle is an international project designed to remove one of the major barriers to the growth of energy efficiency and renewable energy – a lack of reliable, quality information.

reegle is an information gateway – both a search engine and an “actors catalogue” of key players in clean energy and energy conservation across the globe.

reegle is targeting governments and policy makers in developing countries who are currently assessing legislation and regulation for sustainable energy – for reasons of energy security, energy access, emissions reductions and economic development.

reegle is also targeting project developers and the finance community who require up-to-date information on country data, technology and available finance necessary to implement clean energy and energy efficiency projects.
(29 Jan 2007)