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October 08, 2008

Resurgence of all things do-it-yourself

One of the blogs that I enjoy reading is LifeHacker. It's a blog that offers practical advice on getting things done efficiently, something that I'm constantly striving to do.

A little while back a post was written entitled, "The 'Greater Depression' Can Be a DIY Renaissance".This post got my attention. Now, I don't agree with some of the things talked about in the post, but I wholeheartedly agree with one thing: We are in a DIY Renaissance.

This is a phenomenon that has been growing for years, which is seen by the proliferation of DIY retail stores such as Home Depot, and Lowes in the US, and by the popularity of HGTV and DIY Network on television. But, in my opinion we've not seen anything yet.

With the events that have happened here in the US and around the world over the past two weeks, many are worried (to say the least and for good reason) about the economy. And the first thing most folks do when hard times hit is to 'tighten the belt'.

People that lived through the Great Depression had to do things for themselves out of necessity. They didn't call a plumber when the sink stopped up, they didn't call a carpenter to build a shed, they didn't call an electrician when the light switch had a short. They either fixed these problems themselves or pooled their skills together with neighbors and helped each other out.

The DIY renaissance that has been going on for the past 10 to 20 years has come about because of our prosperity. Many people take pride in doing things for themselves, we derive pleasure from it. With more discretionary income than any time in history, people poured money into their homes.

The coming DIY explosion will will be one of necessity. People simply won't have the extra money to pay others to do the things they can do (or learn to do) for themselves.

Don't get me wrong, I know our economy will bounce back, it always has. I don't think we're all going to end up like Ma and Pa on Little House on the Prairie (although, for some of us, that doesn't sound too bad), but a little self sufficiency is going to be helpful.

The problem is, so many people were never taught self sufficiency. For many, self sufficiency means they know how to use Google to find a plumber online to fix the clog in their sink.

As a group, woodworkers are some of the most self sufficient people I know. It's in our blood. It's one of the reasons we build with our hands. We would rather do-it-ourselves than pay someone to do it for us. But don't be fooled, that is not the norm in my view.

Don't keep all those skills you have locked up inside. Share them with someone you know who can benefit from them whether it's with a neighbor, friend, or your kids.

Life skills aren't taught in our schools for the most part anymore, so it's more important than ever to pass down your knowledge to the next generation. Do you remember when you were young and had more time than money? That time allowed you to play and explore, to figure things out for yourself. Kids today just want to play video games and adults just want to sit in front of the TV and be entertained. Some of that mentality may have to change with the economic changes facing us.

Maybe it's time that we start investing in life skills again as a country and not just the biggest HDTV we can fit into our living rooms. Skills like woodworking, gardening, welding, and DIY in general may end up being very important.

Something to ponder. Let me know what you think.

Craig

P.S. And if you need some help or know of someone who needs help teaching kids woodworking, check out our book, Woodshop 101 for Kids.

Comments (1)

Well said. And I couldn't agree more: we should seek any opportunity to share that which is valuable, even our experience and knowledge of life skills. Those kinds of gifts take nothing from our account, but add immeasurably to another's.

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