Crafts & Community

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Subtitled "Empowerment through the act of making", this is an essay on the modern crafts community.

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  • 3Crafts and Community

    C o n o r T r a w i n s k i M i n s e o n g W a n g W a r d G o e s

    Empowerment through the act of making

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  • 5Crafts and

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  • 71. Introduction p8

    2. The Act of Making and Community p122.1 The act of making p132.2 On empowerment p142.3 On Community p15

    3. Structure and Responsibility p203.1 The structure of a modern crafts community p213.2 The Responsibility of Status p24

    4. Empowerment through the Act of Making p28

    5. Appendix p34Asli Kiyak Ingen p36Neptun Ozis p40Kadir Has University p44Alexis Sanal p48Superpool p52Ercment Ersz p56Chemical workshop p60Tarihi Eyup, Toy makers p64Ezgi Aydinlatma p68Artin Anaron p72Ali Cindik p76Discussion at Cafe Gndaldu p80Creative Session on Community p84Creative Session on Play p88Collaboration O p92Eily OConnell p96

    IndexC

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  • 9Craftsmanship, or the act of making, has the potential to be a means of empowerment. However this is only possible within the structure of a community.Both in a traditional and modern sense, community is about a way of living. But there is a difference between a traditional crafts community and a modern crafts community. Traditional crafts communities existed in order to support one another through the exchange of necessities. However with todays industrialized mass production and consumption, crafts communities cannot exist as they have in the past. Modern crafts communities are not a gathering of various craftsmen, instead it is a community of diverse people with distinctive roles who have come together in acknowledgment of the value of craftsmanship.

    The modern crafts community is a group of people with visions and people with assets. The structure of a modern crafts community consists of the Visionary, Advocate, Specialist, and the Creative. The Visionary is a person who has an aspiration based on the potential of the crafts community. (S)he motivates the community to persevere, and provides not only the long term ideal but also specific goals within reach to maintain the momentum. The Advocate is a person who persuades third parties about the value of the crafts community. By means of publicity and networking, the Advocate rallies support and patrons so that the community can not only be sustained but properly appreciated. The Specialist is a person who provides the community with core resources in the form of hands on skill and knowledge. And finally the Creative is a person who realizes the potential of the crafts and comes up with ideas on how to bring it into a modern context. And it is through the collaboration of these people that the added value, which will empower the community as a whole, is created. Of course a person can play multiple roles within this structure, but it is only when all four roles are fulfilled that a modern crafts community may empower its members.

    In many collaborative projects between designers and craftsmen, the

    1.Introduction

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    craftsmen (or in terms of the structure stated above, the Specialists) are not acknowledged properly for the value of their work. There will always be people who will have more power in the form of education, networking or creativity, but having a lower status must not lead to less acknowledgement for ones contribution. Since people with higher status are responsible for distributing the proper credit to the contributors, our ideal is to ensure that the people with such power contributes back to the community of which they are working with.

    We believe the structure of a modern crafts community consisting of the Visionary, Advocate, Specialist and the Creative is an ideal model in order to empower through the act of making, and provides the possibility to properly appreciate the craftsmen as they are within a modern context. This paper is a summary on how the Crafts and Community project has led us to this conclusion.

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    Introductio

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    2.1 The Act of Making

    Crafting or the act of making is something which gives people a sense of pleasure and pride in themselves. The ability to make, build or craft something using your skills and knowledge is an empowering experience. With the following words David Gauntlet summarizes some essential dimensions of this process of crafting, the inherent satisfaction of making; the sense of being alive within the process; and the engagement with ideas, learning and knowledge which comes not before or after, but within the practice of making.1 Not only is making an engaging and fulfilling experience it also usually involves some form of social connection at some stage within the process. It is through sharing the things which we make with the rest of the world that we increase our connection both socially and physically.2 In this way we can see that making creates connections between people as well as creating a fulfilling experience for the maker. However we live in a world where huge amounts of mass-produced stuff is available in your local shop. This means there is almost no need for people to make or craft things on a professional level anymore.

    When we look at Geert Hostedes scale of individualism European countries are among the most individualistic countries in the world. Of the top fifteen most individualistic countries eleven of them are European.3 We are part of a society that shops to impress, and as Alain de Button puts it We often shop to persuade people we are worthwhile, interesting people.4 Instead of persuading people we are worthwhile and interesting through empathy, acts of favor, or creativity we do it through the individualistic act of consumption. This is a problem because, as we have already mentioned, crafting and the act of making are acts which bring a sense of satisfaction and self worth to peoples lives. A project called Rotterdam Skillcity, which ran from the year 2006 to 2011 in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, used skills and craft to empower the students of the city. Focused on the specific social-cultural and social-

    2.The Act of Makingand Community

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    economic situation of Rotterdam, Skillcity tried to link cultural education and social skills so that the youth could be taken seriously for their skills and abilities. Henk Oosterling, the founder of this project, states Eventually skill is a double edged sword: socio-culturally it gives the skilled person a certain esteem within his or her community - (s)he is taken seriously - and socio-psychologically it provides the skilled person with a crafty focus and engenders a feeling of proportionality and a sense of limit.5 Within this project he used the skills to integrate the students within a community and to create connections between students from different institutes. When people come together to collaborate on projects things happen which could never have been accomplished by one person on their own.Collaboration O is a creative partnership stationed in an old industrial zone called Section C located in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. Collaboration O arose from the desire of free and innovative collaboration between young creative entrepreneurs by sharing knowledge and experience, and currently accommodates 14 individual young Creatives. A leading member of Collaboration O, Sander Wassink states when I was creating with somebody something new came out of it that I could not have imagined.6 He goes on to say that it is this process of collaboration with other people that empowers him and inspires him to do his work.

    2.2 On empowerment

    The term empowerment refers to increasing the spiritual, political, social, racial, educational, gender or economic strength of individuals and communities. It often involves the individuals and communities developing confidence in their own capabilities. It encourages people to gain the skills and knowledge that will allow them to overcome obstacles in their life or working environment. Ultimately, empowerment helps people to develop within themselves or within the society.7

    The act of making and also being part of a community help to empower people in different ways. However when both are put together people are given opportunities to empower themselves on many different levels. The act of making helps people to be satisfied with themselves, to be engrossed in the moment as well as to connect with other people. Communities help people to have an identity, to feel safe and to be a part of something which is greater than themselves. When the act of making and belonging to a community come together, people are empowered. They can take pride in their work because they are surrounded by others who acknowledge and value it. In this way we can say that the act of making has the potential to be a means of empowerment, and this is encouraged and furthered through the structure of a community.

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    2.3 On community

    Wikipedia defines a community as a group of interacting people, living in some proximity (i.e., in spac