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Imagine a better country, a better world for our children and their children. Imagine helping to build a new future, based on renewable energy, efficient transportation, and flexible, local alternatives for manufacturing and agriculture, along with improved opportunities for everyone through innovative approaches to education and higher levels of community participation.

The challenge is so enormous that the work itself is hard to imagine. Yet I believe that makers offer one of the best hopes for the future. Makers have the knowledge and skills paired with the energy and enthusiasm to lead the way. The time to start is now, to do something, however small, at home or in our local community. Together, we’ll begin to make considerable progress on this giant, multi-generational DIY project, which we’re calling ReMake America: Building a Sustainable Future.

In this spirit, here are some ideas to consider as first steps in the right direction.

Make Things » Make things that other people need. » Make things so that you don’t need to buy them. » Start a business that employs people making things. » Make things closer to where they’ll be used. » Repair things instead of replacing them. » Harvest usable components from devices and redeploy them. » Get to know your local salvage yard and recycling center.

Energy Usage » Buy or build a home energy monitor that lets you see how much energy you use. » Conserve energy by understanding how much you really need to use. » Share your own energy use data. » Unplug what you don’t use. » Use more energy-efficient lighting systems. » Use low-tech solutions like the clothesline when appropriate. » Take advantage of sunlight to warm your house and dry your clothes. » Experiment with generating energy at home, such as solar and wind power. » Use solar energy to heat water. » Weatherize your home, repairing or replacing old windows.

Transportation » Get your bike in working order. » Invent ways to make riding bikes on roads safer for more people. » Consider how cellphones and the web can make public transportation and carpools more convenient to use. » Map the routes you travel frequently and share with others at work. » Walk when you can. » Use your car less. » Try or buy electric vehicles. » Monitor your usage of gasoline; it’s a precious resource. » Drive slower to save gas. » Work from home.

Food & Water » Grow your own food. » Experiment with different methods of growing what you need. » Cook your own food. » Raise chickens and give them your food scraps. » Know the land you live on. » Compost and create richer soil. » Use worms to create new soil. » Monitor your water usage. » Collect rainwater and reuse it in the landscape.

Learning » Learn new skills and teach others what you know. » Engage your kids, and kids in your community, in DIY projects. » Create a place to work on projects. » Embrace failure. Failure is part of learning. » Encourage curiosity and self-directed learning. » Promote hands-on projects in schools and after-school programs. » Form ad-hoc groups to share knowledge and resources.

Dale Dougherty

I’m founder of MAKE magazine and creator of Maker Faire. I am CEO of Maker Media, the company that produces MAKE, Maker Faire and Maker Shed. I am Chairman of the Maker Education Initiative (www.makered.org).


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