Make Pt0545
From MAKE 13 Welcome – Slow made – take it easy… by Dale Dougherty.

This magazine explores not just how to make things but also why. Why make things when you can buy them? Why spend hours on a project when you could be doing something else? Why?

I have often referenced cooking when explaining why people make things. I love to cook and grow my own food. Food is such a basic need that all of us have to figure it out on a daily basis. We have to become food makers on some level.

Cooking is not something everyone likes to do, I realize. Two people can view this same activity very differently, one as the worst kind of drudgery and the other as the practice of something like an art form. The former wants as little hands-on involvement as possible, while the latter sees multiple ways to enhance his or her own pleasure and enjoyment.

One’s level of engagement makes all the difference. If you want to cook well, you’ll be willing to learn about cooking from books, from friends, and from eating out. You’ll become better with practice and challenge yourself by trying out new recipes. You will also fail now and then, but you’ll enjoy the process as you discover new ways of creating meals that you really enjoy. You don’t have to aim to become a professional chef, either. Being a good everyday cook is rewarding, making satisfying dinners for family and friends. Simon Hopkinson writes in his cookbook Roast Chicken and Other Stories that good cooking “depends on common sense and good taste.” He says cooking is “a craft, after all, like anything that is produced with the hands and senses to put together an attractive and complete picture.”

MAKE is about creating that kind of picture using the technology at hand (and in this issue, sleight of hand). There are plenty of DIY magazines for cooks, woodworkers, and gardeners. But until MAKE, it had been decades since there was a true DIY magazine for technology enthusiasts. Our mission is to help anyone become a better everyday maker.

We recently signed with Twin Cities Public Television (TPT) to create a Make:TV program for PBS. I envision it fitting in with cooking programs such as Julia Child’s or woodworking shows such as The New Yankee Workshop. The goal of Make:TV is to inspire people to become makers and show how much fun it is to make things yourself and share them with others. MAKE is helping to lead and shape a movement.

Lately I’ve been learning about the Slow Food movement, which developed in Italy as a response to fast food. In short, they advocate wholesome, local food over processed food with dubious ingredients and obscure origins. They want to develop alternatives to the industrial system of food production and distribution, which is optimized for speed and efficiency. The Slow Food movement encourages us to slow down, enjoy the simple pleasures of life, and make connections to real people creating real food. It’s good for you, good for your community, and good for the Earth.

At the heart of the Slow Food movement are local farmers’ markets. These markets have become the hub for locally produced food. However, the Slow Food movement wants us not just to become better consumers of food, but also to see ourselves as co-producers. It’s a higher level of engagement. If we become more involved in the process of bringing food to our table, then we can have a positive impact on the local environment as well as the local economy.

I see makers, too, exploring alternatives to what the consumer culture has to offer. DIY is essentially the slow way. To do it your own way allows you to optimize for values that are important to you. You can choose to put fun, coolness, or pride of craftsmanship ahead of efficiency. It’s the sum of these very personal choices that makes the work of an artist or craftsperson unique.

I’d like to propose using slow made to characterize the work of makers. A slow-made object is one whose maker got involved and engaged in the process. Slow made could be used the way the term handmade is used but without insisting that we ignore using machines to make things. Slow made recognizes the human effort — a combination of manual and mental labor — that goes into creating something. Whether it’s building things from scratch or from a kit, or taking an idea all the way from design through build, you become the producer. Making things is not only satisfying personally, for some it’s a livelihood. Maybe we need the equivalent of makers’ markets to showcase the work of local makers.

I can imagine a world in which we feel more connected to the things we own because we had a hand in making them. I can imagine being more connected to the people who make the things we cannot make ourselves. I can imagine all of us actively engaged in shaping what matters most to us and to our community. Why not?

Related:
Revenge of the Slow – In the ultimate irony, the Italian journalist Carlo Petrini has created a global movement to combat globalism.