Saturday, November 15, 2008

Down the Path (to Recovery?)

I casually joined The Compact, to support my niece Larkin's senior project. Sure, I meant it, but I didn't really pause to consider the implications. What would I need to do differently, really?

I've been enjoying how the answers have been presenting themselves: each new purchase or SAO (stuff acquisition opportunity) now must pass through The Compact Filter. This means I have even more little voices in my head, saying, "Do you really need that?" and "Can't you make that?" and "Hey, that's probably on Craigslist!" and so on.

And then, there are the new pick up/put down moments. I'm standing in the store picking up one, two, three things I think I'm about to buy, and then it hits me-- knock it off! Put it back! You can make that instead! You don't need that!

The coolest thing has been the blooming creativity. For example, I need to replace/enlarge my pitiful porch. I had been looking for used lumber on Craigslist, and felt discouraged when finding limited or odd/short pieces. Then - aha! - I thought of how lovely a mosaic of various widths could be, sort of parquet style, especially when resurfaced with a (used) planer. I don't think I would have considered that design if I'd just gone out and plunked down the bucks for a pile of virgin Doug Fir. Plus, after I've been telling people about this thing my niece got me into, a coworker learned that another coworker was offing the 500-600 sq. feet of redwood decking, which she had just replaced with a composite deck. Another coworker in the Ag Dept offered access to the industrial planer if I need it. Then we brainstormed about getting a staff-based "freecycle" type listserve going, so staff could all share their no-longer-loved treasures! Love that networking.

Another example is the beautiful gallon of "cafe latte" colored paint we recently found at our Habitat for Humanity Restore. $8!! We bought it and painted our office that night-- yes, the one I'm sitting in right now. Doesn't it look great? Well, take my word for it. Anyway, I'm just saying I would not have ordered this custom color at full cost, and the "treasure hunt" of finding it new/used made it that much more satisfying.

Finally, my favorite: Larkin and I are lobbying our whole family to celebrate Christmas this year with used, made, and repurposed gifts, experiences, or charitable contributions in others' names. I create intricate drawings, and despite encouragement, have not taken the leap to mass produce them or share it in a useful way. Now, with this challenge, I finally made a plan to get my own home art production going, using mostly used and some new materials, starting with some silk-screening. I will use the products as gifts, and in support of local causes in which I'm involved. It's scary and exciting, and I'm glad I'm finally jumping off.

When I signed on, I didn't know just what I would do to change my ways to embrace this idea. I am really enjoying these unfolding discoveries. So, thanks, Larkin, for pushing me over the edge!


Anonymous said...

I love the way this virus of awareness & intention is spreading to your school colleagues...way to go! k8

Larkin said...

This is awesome! You are so right about the blooming creativity! While I will not say what they are, I will say I have my own little projects going on for our Compact Cristmas......