Becoming More Self-Sufficient

I’ve been thinking a LOT about Do-It-Yourself (D.I.Y.) projects and culture lately. It’s really starting to pull together into a big picture and make sense to me. At first, when I thought of D.I.Y. projects like fixing my bike, saving money seemed to be the main benefit. I couldn’t really see how these little projects made that big of a difference. How was fixing my own bike, or car, or whatever taking a stand against huge corporations? I still had to buy the things I “needed,” whether it be groceries, gas or bike parts. I still felt like I was relying on the system I didn’t want to support.

Then I heard about the D.I.Y. skillshare in Berkeley, California and I was really inspired. They put together four days of workshops and taught each other how to do a list of things too long to name here. Plus, I had been reading a lot of D.I.Y./How To zines (See: D.I.Y.: Zines) that really got me thinking about how it could all be connected. I had also been reading Taking Charge of Our Lives by the American Friends Service Committee, and there was a lot of discussion about community. The book made mention of community shops and toolsharing. I was really impressed by the systems they had developed to make working with each other a natural and practical part of daily life. They no longer needed to hire the specialized technicians or repair people. They became self sufficient as a community.

I keep reading more about these communities not having to rely upon department and chain stores. It comes down to a simple principal; sharing. The more that I can do for myself; the more I can do for others. I can fix bikes; someone else can garden, or plumb or build stuff. Maybe I can do that already, but this person is willing to help me out if I’ll help them them. This is called skill trading. We can step away from a consumer mindset and support each other, instead of a multinational company that doesn’t care if we live or die. In addition, the less we money we spend, the less money we have to earn and the more time we have to focus on the things that are really important to us. That’s where I see the real benefit of D.I.Y.