In a recent column, titled An Upside to the Economic Downside, Ellen Goodman wrote:
Sociologists will tell you that the most powerful impetus to change is not a new discovery. It’s when you learn what you already knew. What Americans already knew at some level was that the credit-card-driven, debt-ridden, pay-later economy wasn’t sustainable. Not economically. Not environmentally.
It wasn’t just the Birkenstock crowd or our Depression-era elders who knew this. It’s been nestled in our collective subconsciousness among all the critiques against materialism, all the screeds against commercials, all the unease about excess and inequality, all the fear that we’ve filled our kids’ lives and landfills with stuff. But it was as commonly dismissed as a Sunday sermon. Or manipulated into a pitch for diamonds.
It is the time for change and I believe makers were hoping the time would come. We’re living in a period of dramatic change that is, as Dickens described Paris during the French Revolution, “the best of times and the worst of times.”
We hear plenty about how bad it is or how bad it is going to get. However, there’s also good news, and it’s echoed in Goodman’s comments. Many of us have felt that our way of life, our way of living, was not good for us, and not good for the planet. We sought change but we weren’t clear how to make change and change the world. So much of society and culture seemed locked-in, finding more reasons not to change.
As I see it, we have a special opportunity now to make change and remake the world we live in. The kind of problems we face won’t be solved by the usual approaches nor by the usual people. Albert Einstein said: “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” We can approach these problems differently and propose unusual solutions that might have seemed impossible to achieve not long ago. Education, Energy, Transportation, Healthcare, Construction, Community — you name it, it’s on the table. We need more and more makers engaged in these issues.
As I said in my recent Make column, The Visible Hand, we have “to believe that [change] starts with each of us.” As individuals and in groups, we can work together to face tough problems and we can make changes in our lives, our homes and our communities. I am seeing more and more examples of people applying themselves to a wide range of issues, usually involving creative uses of technology and/or social media.
I plan to begin covering these efforts under what I’m calling Remake on the Makezine blog. I invite you to share your ideas and your projects with me (dale at oreilly dot com) and tell others about what you’re doing to remake the world. I hope we can create an ongoing dialogue about what remakers are doing and what can be done.