This year, I helped with their free soup by helping prepare vegetables for a couple hours the night before in fun company, and baking my trade mark cookies. (I begin to feel towards my cookies as Sir Conan Arthur Doyle felt towards Sherlock.)
|Death of a Squash|
|Crock Pot: the power of soup|
I also proposed running a crafts table with my friend Libby so people could craft personal gifts for their friends for Christmas. I and Laura spent the first hour crafting the Craft sign.
|It was a popular table|
|I was surprised at how many crafting |
supplies I've accumulated in the past year
|A friend, S, and I making the most of clothes |
and accessories we do and do not own
After that, DIYode was there. They're a community work shop that works with materials (via their wood lathe, laser cutter and, newly, a PLASMA CUTTER (Hello Ironman!), 3D printing (a $2000 MakerBot, which they make many mini-Yodas with), and DIY electronics (programming Arduino boards and Raspberry Pis). I went to their Arduino work shop. They were having technical difficulties, as the provided school computers lacked admin rights, so I used my own Linux laptop to connect to the board and upload programs to do neat things like ... make lights blink!
|Arduino with the DIYode Code Shield running my code|
So, buying things, the exchange of goods, is vital to a functioning civilisation, and having cash as an intermediary between services and goods is very efficient, even if it creates a disconnecting distance between a thing and its worth. Materials were a big part of Buy Nothing Day, and those had to be bought. The point isn't to stop all purchasing, but to encourage more intelligent and considerate purchasing. Do you need the newest and latest thing? Do you need to generate waste?
Arduino is cool because it's a functioning, no-frills chipset that is easily programmed by a user and can be used to accomplish all sorts of wonderful things instead of purchasing expensive, showing solutions. DIYode has a digital door access mechanism where you use a fob with a unique magnetic signature that is interpreted by an Arduino system that checks it in a small database of authorised users and then sents a signal back to unlock the door, also telling the security camera (a commodity web cam) to start saving its feed to the hard drive for the next 15 minutes (instead of periodic snap shots). This makes useful functionality very affordable to people in a relatively accessible manner.
The soup was cool because it was home made and communal preparation can be more efficient regarding waste.
The crafts were cool because they help use generic supplies to create personal gifts that can't be easily substituted.
But, time, creativity, imagination, energy. These are not infinite, and I suppose a major reason why we outsource to pre-packaged consumer goods, despite the reduced personality, the increased waste. Buying and installing a home security system is a lot less time consuming and requires less skill than fashioning your own. Buying lunch can save a lot of time over making it and carrying it around. We can't always be inspired to craft the most amazing things for our friends. And presently, economic health of societies strongly impacts the quality of life people can enjoy, and contracting an economy by reducing total consumption is dangerous.
Hopefully activities like this can be educational and provide alternatives and new ideas for the future. :)