Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Transition - Resilience - Traditional Crafts

Whether by dharma or coincidence, I've been to two meetings this week. One meeting had 23 social activists discussing community resilience and transition. So far, I know that some communities are beginning to plan how to become more self-reliant, before climate change and depletion of fossil fuels forces them to be so. Ideas are outlined in a book titled The Transition Handbook, by Rob Hopkins, and there is a website for the network. The movement sounds like it is open to any and all good strategies for scaling back what we consume, and for having more people actually talk with each other and work together on things. The Transition movement is a forum for doing good and doing better. (yes, those are two things) It is another aspect of the worldwide phenomenon of local groups forming to solve problems that are in their communities, and which reflect and connect to national and global issues. Local groups are becoming aware of each other, of how they can help each other.

I want to emphasize a small thing that happened at that one meeting. One of the speakers had recently seen someone use a drop spindle. A drop spindle is like an old fashioned spinning top. You attach carded wool to it, drop it down and it rotates in the air, putting a twist into the fibre. This spins a strand of wool. The tricky part is to be able to feed the fibre into the spinning length. It is magic to watch. And from this magic comes a length of yarn that one can knit into clothing. The fellow who had seen this magic had the most wonderful look on his face when he spoke about it. It was a joy to watch him talk about it.

In the early 1980s, I was lucky enough to work for a local history museum which ran all sorts of wonderful programs, including drop spindling. I never did get onto that, but through other classes I did learn a bit about using a spinning wheel and about looms and weaving. I know that our community has a District Weavers and Spinners association and that most provinces have such guilds. There are local farmers rearing sheep for quality wool. There are historic villages throughout Canada; they have their own organization within museum associations and have ties with people who are maintaining traditional crafts. The necessary crafts are alive and well, practised by people who love what they are doing and who love to teach.

Coming back to transition and resilience ... keep in mind that the world is full of people who already hold practical knowledge. What would you like to learn? Ask around. Start at your local library. You will find someone to teach you.

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