1.5
August 21, 2010

Create is the New Consume. ~ Jess Commins

“The revolution may very well be televised.”

Get Ready: The Creative Revolution Is Taking The Power Back.

Rejecting the status quo in favor of a quest for less, an increasing number of individuals are going back to the basics.  Taking our every day needs into our own hands, we’re building our homes, sewing our clothes and owning our dreams one action at a time.

The revolution may very well be televised.  The rebellion, however, will not be watching.

Clay Shirky’s TED talk on cognitive surplus leads us to believe that the Internet has enabled us to use our free time in better, more productive ways. After all, the world has over a trillion hours a year of free time to commit to projects. Time is the chief commodity of this creative crusade.  Instead of tuning out with the tube, we’re tuning in to the development of our own unique gifts and sharing them with others.  Even better, as Shirky discusses, we’re working together to make our difference even greater.

A quick search for Team EcoEtsy member items on Etsy returns more than 9,300 results, all for items handmade in a sustainable fashion.  Nearly 53,000 people have taken the handmade pledge at Buy Handmade, showing the market is ready to support them.

Those of us who choose to create with words are turning to self-publishing in an effort to keep it green.  Others seek out independent publishers like Chelsea Green, founding members of the Green Press Initiative that have been printing sustainability books on recycled paper since 1985.

This isn’t just about adding more “stuff” to the world, though.  Often it’s just the opposite.We’re redefining meditation with the planet in mind.

“I love getting into the groove of making, letting my mind go blank while I focus on cutting, pressing, pinning, and sewing,” says Becky Stripe of Glue and Glitter, a craft business that uses reclaimed and vintage materials wherever possible. “The fabric industry is responsible for so much pollution and waste, it’s important to me that my crafting not contribute to that.”

We’re quitting our day jobs and focusing on our true talents.  All the while, we’re building relationships and not just online.  In fact, the number of alternative craft conferences and events is growing every year. Take Maker Faire for example.  This DIY festival is a “county fair meets science fair meets farmers market meets burning man for families.”  What started as an annual 100-exhibitor event has grown into a cult-like experience with multiple large- and small-scale celebrations hosted around the country throughout the year.  People come from near and far to adore the products of one other’s imagination.  In person. We’re not alone and our numbers are growing.  We’re not buying into the mass-production culture anymore, and we’re making friends in the process.  Our impact on the planet is improving alongside our enhanced mental well-being.

So, if we are to succeed by applying Shirky’s thoughts on cognitive surplus, we need to continue working together as though the betterment of society depended upon us.  It does. The civic value we provide with handmade goods and happier people can change the world.  Because really, that’s what this revolution is all about. We have the creative competence to do it better.  Whether with paint, paper, thread or words, we can be the change we wish to see.  It starts and continues with us. If you’re not already doing so, get out your sewing machine and set up your easel.  Sharpen your pencils and ready your knitting needles.  The time is now upon us to take the power back. Viva la revolucion!

*image courtesy of Hugh at Gaping Void.

Jess Commins is a North Carolina—based energy professional who enjoys all things crafty, sustainable and gnome—related. Although her work has helped businesses and municipalities save hundreds of thousands of dollars to date, she maintains it’s merely a karmic drop in the bucket for her obnoxious use of hairspray during her metal years. Jess answers your most pressing energy—related questions on her blog, Renewabelle, and spends entirely too much time on Twitter.

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