The Backbone of America

I’m no expert in anything.  I read a lot and I pay attention to the news, and so I have opinions about things, but they’re just my opinions.  One of the things that’s been on my mind as of late, while the U.S. is in the throes of this dearth of jobs, bad economy, debt-out-of-control-ness is that the folks in power keep talking about bringing American manufacturing back.

Is that the way to build the economy up again?  Again, I’m no expert at anything besides knitting and sewing (okay, and in my professional life, corporate social responsibility), but it seems to me that focusing on manufacturing is a step back.  I get that the whole knowledge economy thing didn’t really get off the ground but I’d posit that that was because of over-exuberance on the part of investors in dot-coms.  As far as I can see, basing an economy on cheap manufacturing capabilities sets that economy up for extinction, because people who run machines can be replaced by machines that run machines.

Craft, on the other hand, cannot be duplicated by machines… I think?  So, maybe we should be focused on supporting the small businesses and independent makers and encourage that spirit in our work force so that they set out to do what only they can.  I get the sense that there’s a change in the zeitgeist around the joint that portends a possible change in the basket and the eggs that go in it.  I mean, for heaven’s sake, I live in the city– I mean, THE CITY–and my next door neighbors are raising chickens in their back yard (and here, I use the term “yard” loosely, because it’s teeny-tiny). We are shopping at thrift stores and flea markets to buy, reclaim and repurpose things instead of looking for factory-made solutions at Target (which I love, don’t get me wrong) or Wal-Mart.  There’s something powerful afoot, and relying on our manufacturing past ignores the fact that things are different now.

As far as I can see, the small businesses, the crafts-persons, the entrepreneurs –whether they innovate technologically or practically–are where it’s at in terms of bolstering the economy.  I may be biased, because I’m an entrepreneur at heart, and so are the people in my family.  And, speaking of people in my family, some of my fam is working to elevate the crafts-person by giving them a space and a network that brings their work to the world.

My mother, Meme, and her sister (my aunt) Sandra have a storefront in Cincinnati, Ohio, where they feature the work of local artists, give them a space to show and sell their work, and build networks to get them further along the creative path.  I think they’re brilliant.  And, they have an opportunity, via Chase Bank, to expand their work, bring more textile artists, potters, knitters, quilters, painters, jewelry-makers, whittlers, clock-makers, etc. into the fold, and help them succeed.

If you have a minute–and, that’s all it’ll take–I’d like to ask you to go to this site and cast your vote for our “family store”, EULA.  You’ll have to search for the company name, and the state (Ohio), and then all you have to do is click “vote”.  They need 250 votes to get to the next round of the competition.  I think they can get the votes.  I know they should.

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