This post is an ode to making things… a pleasure that has been enjoyed for millenia, but even more so by the young adults now referred to as The Millenials. Can you remember the satisfaction you got from the first thing you ever made?
Making His First Move
Our youngest graduated from college last month and took his first real job making sails. Not sales, sails…he traces patterns, cuts canvas, stitches seams hundreds of yards long on an industrial sewing machine, laminates on graphics for the finishing touch, then lets his workmates hoist him, along with his sails, up towering masts.
It’s not quite how we thought he’d apply his brand new bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Political Science, though we couldn’t be prouder of his career choice. We always knew he was a physical and social guy who learned far more swinging from the monkey bars and mixing it up on the playground than in any classroom. What we underestimated was his strong need to make something, not just of himself, but also with his own hands. He wants to use his body, not just his mind. I’ve got to hand it to him, I’d do the same but my fingers just aren’t up to it anymore.
The Makers of the New Millennium
Last summer when I made my first ever batch of Cabernet grape jelly from our backyard harvest, our son said my sweet concoction was “like crack.” I took this unfortunate turn of phrase as a compliment from a thoroughly modern Mill-enial.
Over the years, he has watched me make curtains, make dinner, make Halloween costumes — make order out of chaos. I just didn’t realize how much he was “on the make” himself. I knew that he could make a great Hollandaise, make a grand entrance and make lots of friends. What I didn’t appreciate was his wisdom on how satisfying it is to his soul to make a real product, especially in our services driven economy.
Evidently making things is a strong trend among his Millennial generation. You can read more about it in a recent New York Times Magazine article. Young, college educated workers are turning away from desk-bound careers preparing endless PowerPoint presentations and adopting a much more hands-on approach to work.
What’s in a Name?
Maybe making is in his DNA. He comes from hard working Anglo Saxon stock where people with names like Smith, Cooper, Miller, Fisher, Glover and yes, Potter, made a name for themselves. Did you know that a Webster is a female weaver? That Wallers built walls? Those Travers kept toll bridges? And the Shields made armor?
Perhaps it’s no coincidence that these sorts of occupational surnames are very popular first names these days. Taylor, Bailey and Paige top the list for girls and Hunter, Tanner and Mason are up there for boys. If you want to check the provenance of the likely names of your grandchildren and perhaps their destined occupations, read about job names at NameNerds.Com.
Making the Best of A Bad Situation
Have you been following the ABC News series titled “Made in America”? You can see the most recent results here, where Diane Sawyer rights the wrongs of foreign-made gift shop souvenirs in our National Museums.
The ABC investigators have moved on to cars now, showing just how many jobs in our economy are linked to the manufacture of the automobile. Being a Native Detroiter, that’s not news to me. Making things out of steel, rubber and wood was the life’s blood of where I grew up.
That’s why I found Make Magazine. It’s all about making and has been promoting a classic film, made by Detroit’s own Jam Handy Organization in 1961, which shows just how our deeply felt need to make stuff was stoked after WWII. The thirty minutes of “American Maker” is well worth watching if only to see amazing archival clips of radio actors making sound effects and a 1930’s housewife getting to grips with a futuristic home robot called Roll-O.
Did You Make It to a Maker Faire?
If you ever crave a big creative in-your-face dose of how to make the most of things, attend a Maker Faire. These festivals are gatherings of inventive and ingenious makers who make things just for fun, …just for the hell of it, …just because they can. The Faires take place every year in the Bay Area, Detroit, and New York with Mini Faires in other places around the country.
You can watch here as Bay Area Makers made magic at the San Mateo Convention Center last month. The enthusiasm and creativity oozing from the participants is contagious. From these whacky beginnings will come the shelters, musical instruments, vehicles and solar powered salvation of our future.
Your Life is What You Make (It)
Perhaps you’re not a handy person yourself and you feel that your crafty days of making things are behind you. Perhaps it’s time to take a lesson from the Millenials.
Here are 30 things that Baby Boomers can make today – no tools required. They may not make your life complete, but some will surely make you smile:
1. Make love (not war)
2. Make a mess
3. Make your bed
4. Make waves
5. Make yourself scarce (or at home)
6. Make your garden grow
7. Make a fool of yourself
8. Make contact
9. Make amends
10. Make breakfast, lunch or dinner
11. Make a music, or a racket trying
12. Make history, or at least your mark
13. Make your final offer
14. Make a final payment (feels great)
15. Make plans
16. Make a friend
17. Make a statement
18. Make a change
19. Make a fuss
20. Make progress
21. Make a big deal
22. Make yourself useful
23. Make something memorable
24. Make a mean martini
25. Make a mountain out of a molehill
26. Make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear
27. Make someone proud
28. Make someone happy
29. Make them think
30. Make a difference.
What can you make today? Make a comment.