On-site with unCommon Construction

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Aaron Frumin (R) and Desmond, one of unCommon Construction’s apprentices. Photo courtesy of Gigsy.

A couple of months ago, we introduced you to Aaron Frumin and unCommon Construction(uCC), a New Orleans-based nonprofit teaching high school students hands-on construction skills. The students have to apply and interview to be accepted into the program, which trains them to be collaborative, hard working leaders who know how to problem solve. They earn class credit and are paid for all this hard work, as they should be – they construct an entire house in just four months. uCC is just over a year old, but has already taken off with grants, accolades, and expanded programming, and it’s been incredible to watch.

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De’Shaun giving the cordless circular saw a workout. Photo courtesy of unCommon Construction.

The bottom line is that construction-based trades are on the short list of jobs that provide stability and permanence nowadays – they can’t be outsourced and will always be in demand on a local level. uCC is working to destigmatize vocational education and to provide a career path for high demand, high wage jobs. And, should these apprentices decide they don’t want to go into construction trades down the road, no problem, they’ve learned a tremendous amount of transferable skills and they’ve proven themselves to be leaders who can easily point to their accomplishments.

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Apprentice Destinee in the forefront of this pic, making some dust. These apprentices build an entire house in a semester. I know. Photo courtesy of Gigsy.

The ToolMade Project worked with Craftsman to donate a bunch of tools to the crew (see the end of the blog post for the list), and Aaron checked in earlier this week with some updates on how they were working out:

“We’ve been putting the tools to good use over the last month or so, and they don’t look nearly as shiny as they did when they first arrived. The nail gun has been especially awesome for baseboards and other interior trim…no more tripping over those pesky air hoses! And, the gun even shoots through the tough, cementitious Hardi Trim we used on the exterior…something our pneumatic guns even have trouble doing!”

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This is what a job site should look like: BUSY. Photo courtesy of Gigsy

The apprentices also seemed pretty happy with the loot. Here are some of their reactions when asked about the donation:

-“[The Cordless Circular Saw] is super light – I like it a lot more for plywood ’cause it’s easier to control. or, for a quick cut so you don’t need to mess with all the cords.” – Destinee, 12th Grade, 5-1/2″ circular saw (part of a combo kit)

-“Dang! That’s strong.” Noel, 11th Grade, using the brad nailer

– “It’s tight that they all work together so easy – you can use the alternate batteries & they last a while so you don’t have to wait for them to charge…The nail gun’s definitely the best one ’cause you can just make all your cuts, and then – really fast – just go through and shoot everything in without it getting too complicated.” Tahj, 10th grade, using the brad nailer

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Idallis on the circular saw. Photo courtesy of unCommon Construction.

Another reason this program is unique is that while the students’ project is, er, rather ambitious (AN ENTIRE HOUSE), that project is only seen as the tool used to get to the real end goal: well trained, well equipped apprentices. They are the end product that uCC uses to measure its success.

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Noel, nailing it. Photo courtesy of unCommon Construction.

For more updates on unCommon Construction – and there a whole lot of them nowadays – check out their website and follow them on Facebook and Twitter. Please note that GiveNOLA Day is coming up on May 3rd, so please consider supporting this amazing crew as part of that event. Or, if you’re so inspired that you can’t wait until May 3rd, you can always give your time or some green!

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Photo courtesy of Gigsy

Tools donated to uCC:

Bricks, Beams, and the Pillars of a Post-Industrial Renaissance

Brick + Beam Trio

Brick + Beam Detroit is a collaboration between the Michigan Historic Preservation Network, Detroit Future City, and Preservation Detroit. Victoria Byrd Olivier, and Amy Elliott Bragg, and Emilie Evans are the founders (L-R). Yes, all women, which makes this writer giddy.

So, I’ve noticed a bit of a theme recently. The ToolMade Project (TMP) has partnered with numerous organizations and amazing humans working their tails off in Rust Belt cities, though perhaps that’s not much of a surprise. Both the need and the efforts in this region have been so great. But, the work taking place in these cities is not merely triage. Economists, urban planners, architectural historians and other nerds obsessed with the built environment are hailing these cities as hotbeds of innovation as younger generations—those not old enough to have experienced the elevator drop of decline—see only endless potential in the sturdy industrial bones of these cities. All of the stories TMP has covered center on grassroots efforts with local buy-in and hardworking community members, and these efforts have manifested in different ways. Here are just a few of the strategies from recent blog posts that are shaking the iron oxide off the gears of progress:

  • Buffalo’s University Heights Tool LibraryThere’s a definite need to buck the overspecialization of trades and to make tools and resources more affordable and accessible to communities with few resources.
  • Detroit’s Americorps Urban Safety Program: Vacant structures need to be secured, lawns need to be mowed, art needs to fill boarded-up windows, and streets need to be cleaned up to make areas safe and to foster optimism in struggling neighborhoods. There may not be money from the city or state, but there are people willing to give their time and energy.
  • South Bend’s Historic Preservation Commission: Having a vintage home and some tools is an incredible opportunity, but most people weren’t born knowing how to rehab a structure and require some know-how. Free or inexpensive hands-on workshops are invaluable and empower individuals and the community as a whole.

This month, the TMP has partnered with yet another organization in that region—a group from Detroit—that is creating the bedrock for massive change by fusing many of these strategies. But before you get to hear about the groundbreaking work they’re doing, I thought it might be useful to give a quick and dirty history lesson about what the Rust Belt is exactly, and how these cities—cities with rich histories, ideal geography, and extraordinary infrastructure—experienced such a rapid and devastating decline. So sit back and soak in a little context.

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I love me a useful map. Credit: BJennings, 2010

The Rust Belt refers to a region of the U.S. formerly known for its industrial jobs, specifically, steel and automobile manufacturing. It also wouldn’t be a stretch to credit this region with having played a crucial role in winning the second World War, with Pittsburgh alone having produced one-fifth of the Allied forces steel from 1940 to 1945. While boundaries vary depending on the source, in general, the belt stretches across parts of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, West Virginia and Wisconsin—areas that thrived because of their readily available coal, labor, and inland waterways. This “industrial heartland of America” was booming until the 1970s, when a number of critical things changed. And they pretty much changed all at once. The steel factories that were the bread and butter for a huge percentage of people were shutting down due to a combination of increased automation, the transfer of manufacturing to the West, several devastating free trade agreements, and the general decline of the steel and coal industries.

As you’d imagine, this created an industrial and economic free fall that changed the realities of hundreds of thousands of people. Specifically, the U.S. worldwide market share of manufactured steel went from 20 percent in 1970 to 12 percent by 1990, and employment in the industry dropped from 400,000 to 140,000 over the same period. The term “Rust Belt” was coined in the 1980s and became synonymous with economic decline, population loss, and urban decay.

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Many old homes in Buffalo, NY are vacant and slated for demolition. Fortunately, the city’s Urban Homestead program allows residents to buy these homes for just $1 each, as long as they agree to renovate and occupy them. Programs like these are crucial, but they need additional support from groups who will help homeowners navigate the work.

Needless to say, these cities are still struggling. Populations plummeted when many were forced to move elsewhere for work, and those who remain and are doing what they can do deal with the economic realities and vacant property issues. So it’s a darned good thing that so many organizations are stepping up, like Brick + Beam Detroit.

As I mentioned earlier, Brick + Beam is taking what many pioneering organizations are doing and going a step further. They’re not only educating residents about rehab directly, they’re thinking bigger and creating an infrastructure for a massive community forum with potentially endless resources available to rehabbers. 24/7. This makes a whole lot of sense because, well, maybe you really want to fix your wood windows before winter but oops(!) you missed the one class a year that is offered. What do you do next? Can you do the work yourself, or is there a reasonably priced contractor out there who will actually do the work well? Also, what in god’s name is a glazier point? They’re making resources (and moral support) free and accessible to all.

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Workshop instructor Jim Turner demonstrates a paint-scraping technique at a hands-on window restoration workshop. Photo credit: Brick + Beam Detroit

Brick + Beam began by holding monthly (mostly free) events for people wanting to know how to fix up their homes. But these aren’t typical lecture-style meetings. These events include incredibly well attended open mic storytellings (rehab stories!), panel discussions with local contractors to field their questions, and even a “fixer-upper supper club” that was held at the site of an active rehab project. As a result of these events and partnerships with skilled professionals, a community web is beginning to catalyze and rehabbers are sharing their tips (and, likely, minor catastrophes) with others in the same boat.

Brick + Beam put together a "Fixer Upper Supper Club" as a show, tell, and eat event. More useful and more tasty and the old "trick them into attending a meeting with cheap pizza" approach. Photo credit: Brick + Beam Detroit

Brick + Beam put together a “Fixer Upper Supper Club” as a show, tell, and eat event. More useful and more tasty and the old “trick them into attending a meeting with cheap pizza” approach. It’s also a great way to foster community. Photo credit: Brick + Beam Detroit

But beyond these events, they’re also creating a website that will serve as a hub for people interested in property rehab. This will be accessible at all hours as a result, and contain a Q&A forum, a resource library, and a map that shows where the forum members’ properties are located and what they’re working on. These concentrated areas will be “hot spots” that will reveal which neighborhoods are seeing new, concentrated investment–information that can be used in a number of ways. They’re also working on a “Launch Box” that will be stocked with how-to guides, stories, resources, and other goodies for first time homeowners.

The “Launch Box” was something that especially made my ears perk up. It seemed a perfect opportunity for a partnership, so TMP partnered with Craftsman this month to give a handful of homeowners some essential tools they’ll need to fix up their “new” vintage homes, as well as a cheat sheet of tool essentials. These kits were hand delivered last week and we can’t wait to hear (and see) the follow-up!

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The Brick + Beam launch party in 2015 brought people together to share their home rehab stories. As you’d imagine, many of these stories are filled with successes and mishaps, and create a wonderful sense of “thank god we’re not the only ones!” Photo credit: Gertrud Høgh Rasmussen

Some Rust Belt Sources and Resources:

How the philosophy behind the Chicago Industrial Arts and Design Center could solve the world’s problems

A bold headline perhaps, but hey, it’s true. In June, I visited the CIADC to learn more about the new nonprofit arts center in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood, and was blown away by the facilities and philosophy behind the Center. What resonated most was the founder’s focus on not having prescriptive end products in the classes. It seems there is considerably less room and encouragement than there was in past decades, even in realms that are supposedly promoting these efforts, to make original work via trial and error and creative problem solving.

Last year, there was some criticism (that I very much agree with) of Legos (gasp!), drawing attention to the fact that these building blocks are not quite the creativity-inspired units they once were. Instead, we purchase pre-made kits that direct us to follow instructions with every brick having a predetermined location. This does not exactly build skills that lead to brilliant discoveries. Beyond this, the kits even tell you what girls can build vs. what boys can build, which should drive any self-respecting human insane. I don’t understand how innovation has a gender, do you? How exactly are these projects contributing to our/our kids learning process?

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Beautiful, non-gendered, monstrous creation that will never be made twice (left) vs. a prescribed, cutesy end product with only the exact pieces needed to make the same prepackaged item every time (right).

Of course, this isn’t only a Lego phenomenon, not by a longshot. I took a painting class with my nieces a while back and everyone had to paint the exact same image–every kid was looking around to make sure they were doing it “right.” The paintings were still adorable, sure, but I found the process to be anxiety producing because we had to focus on recreating an expected end goal (the teacher’s example painting), instead of focusing on playing with color and space and creating something out of our imaginations, which can never be “wrong.” This isn’t about being touchy feely, it’s about not correcting a Picasso when he paints something a different way. As a society, we mass manufacture, buy wholesale, feel pressured to keep up with norms, and are called out on all of our choices on social media to keep us in check. If we all do everything the same way, how on earth will we ever progress, solve the problems of the world, push the boundaries of the arts, etc.? How will we ever do anything great?

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CIADC Member, Natalie, forging steel belt buckles by heating the steel round stock and hammering into shape with the 24oz Craftsman ball-pein hammer.

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The hammer and anvil are a classic combination for metal makers.

But I digress…the point is simply to remember the spirit of creativity and the benefits it reaps.  I believe this spirit is captured at the CIADC. None of the projects shown were for classes that specifically taught belt making or frame fabricating or, lord knows, bike trailer manufacturing. They simply evolved as the process unfolded. Methods changed, mediums changed. This is encouraged, not frowned upon.

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When you want ultimate control of the fastening torque, nothing beats a good old manual phillips head screwdriver. Laura, the CIADC Woodworking Department Manager, is assembling a plywood cross-cut box for the table saw.

Basically, classes at the Center teach you about a specific medium and you decide the trajectory. If you decide that you want to work with metal and wood simultaneously to complete a project you dream up, all the better. The idea is not to limit but to expand options and methods. As someone who works in various architectural fields, I can’t tell you how useful it would be if architects, engineers, and contractors would cross-collaborate!

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CIADCs founder and Metalworking Department Manager, Matt, shows students the Craftsman aviator sheet metal snips while cutting 18ga steel to be bent into an open-faced box. Snips are great for cutting both geometric and organic forms from sheet metal.

The man behind the initiative, Matt Runfola, was kind enough to send some pictures of the CIADC students and members in action. You don’t have to be a member to take classes, by the way, but members do have additional privileges such as discounted classes.

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Long-time CIADC student, Jeremy, demonstrates an outside-the-box use of the Craftsman 24” Carpenter Square. Here, he uses it to set a parallel fence to cut perfect sizes on our metal cutting band saw. Jeremy is working on a bicycle cargo trailer at CIADC.

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Having the right tools on hand make the tasks safer and easier. New CIADC student, Shelly, adjusts the miter gauge for the table saw with combination wrenches. Shelly was cutting beautiful mitered wood frames for her 2D art.

The best part about tools is that they can be used in many different ways for many different things–this is but a tiny sampling of how the CIADC will use the tools we shipped from Craftsman. For more information on the wide range of class options and the philosophy that guides the Center, please check out their website. Tools help us to make our world more functional, interesting, and beautiful, but of course the most versatile tool of all is our noggin. Use it. Explore. Have fun out there!

The Chicago Industrial Arts & Design Center: Forging Creativity. Literally.

photo 4 copyI’ve been playing around with metal arts since I was 15, so when I heard that a multidisciplinary arts center with welding and forging facilities was moving into a giant warehouse near my home, some blood vessels burst in my eye. There are not many of these spaces in Chicago, so I immediately contacted Chicago Industrial Arts & Design Center (CIADC) founder Matt Runfola to see how to get involved and how Craftsman might be able to help.

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The Chicago Radio Laboratory signage still remains in the building, and Matt is proud of the history of the space, which gave birth to Zenith Electronics via the work of makers a century ago.

Matt ran the Evanston Arts Center’s metalworking program for the last 13 years, but when the organization made plans to move to a new building this year, the new space was unable to accommodate metalworking facilities. So Matt decided to go off on his own and go bigger and better by taking over a poured concrete and masonry building that would be mighty hard to burn down. This woodless construction allowed for welding, forging, and even casting to take place in the building and with a full three stories to play with, there was ample space to fabricate objects using any methods he could dream up.

Forging and metalworking equipment!

Forging and metalworking equipment!

So, beyond the firey arts that make my heart swell, there are numerous other workstations in the CIADC building, allowing for glass blowing, wood working (which Craftsman will now be providing numerous tools for, since the greatest need was in this department), and even 3-D printing and electronics. This is all very intentional–the purpose is not to teach people how to fabricate a prescribed end product, but to make them work out a project using a broader creative process.

Woodworking space.

Woodworking space.

Basically, you could learn to make a wood table top, then learn how to weld a table base, then cast a vase to sit on top of the thing. Then you could buy some flowers for the vase, model a necklace on a computer, and fabricate it at a jewelry station and have a damned dinner party. It’s not about production, it’s about process and creating something that is truly unique and from your own wonderful brain.

3-D printing studio space.

3-D printing studio and electronics space.

This way of thinking reminded me of my time spent with the Austin Tinkering School and their philosophy of learning and fostering true creativity and problem solving skills, which we are sorely lacking these days. If you can’t make this one way, figure out another way, or take the project in a new direction. There are a million ways to accomplish a goal and nothing is right or wrong. That’s the fun of it and what expands our brains. That’s art, science, alchemy, and what’s going to get us through any number of sticky situations in the future, in and out of the studio.

For more on the CIADC and to sign up for classes (this session is starting soon!), click here.

Where the magic happens. (Photo courtesy of the CIADC)

Where the magic happens in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood. (Photo courtesy of the CIADC)

The American Hobbyist

Boy building a model airplane at a Farm Security Administration (FSA) camp. Initially created as the Resettlement Administration (RA) in 1935 as part of the New Deal in the United States, the FSA was an effort during the Depression to combat American rural poverty. The kids stayed busy as well.

Boy building a model airplane at a Farm Security Administration (FSA) camp. Initially created as the Resettlement Administration (RA) in 1935 as part of the New Deal in the United States, the FSA was an effort during the Depression to combat American rural poverty. The kids stayed busy as well.

During the Great Depression, there was death, famine, and extreme poverty. There was also a hell of a lot of quilting going on. The un- or under-employment in the 1930s brought with it a nationwide hobbies movement, promoted by everyone from Hollywood child stars to POTUS. Hobbies are generally defined as “specific activities pursued voluntarily in non-work hours for pleasure,” though many hobbies actually did have some tie to the economy, even if the pay wasn’t immediate or monetary (think: build your own or grow you own).

Having spare time was a new concept for many, and the U.S. government actively promoted and encouraged things like stamp collecting (FDR was a huge fan so it boomed), sewing, metalworking, model building, leatherworking and other useful or educational busy work as socially acceptable ways to spend one’s time. Guardians of public morality, such as government officials, ministers, and educators fretted about “morally dangerous activities” when the public was idle. So, you know, things like building model trains emerged as “approved” areas of leisure over activities like, say, gambling or counterfeiting. Hobbies also preserved a pro-work attitude and ethic, and developed job skills at a time when work was scant.

1933 map quilt Birds Eye View of the Chicago World's Fair

1933 map quilt titled “Birds Eye View of the Chicago World’s Fair.” The Sears National Quilt Contest, created in connection with the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair, offered $7500 in prizes—including a grand prize of $1000. More than 24,000 quilts were entered making it the largest quilt contest in history. People who had never quilted before decided to try. Husbands and boyfriends helped make the quilts. Adept quilters did their very best work. Local Sears stores not only sold fabric, supplies, and patterns, they displayed the finished quilts. All of this is simply to say that hobbies are damned awesome.

Hobbies also served to relieve the guilt of not having enough paid work—idle hands are the devil’s work, after all. This still rings true, of course. Feeling anxious about a slowdown in work and not sure how to relieve that stress? Do what I did in January and turn your apartment into a damned elf workshop, with newspapers and wire and string and glue and piers everywhere, culminating in wool-wrapped vases, elaborately framed stamps, and paper mache miniature models of my friends doing things they enjoy. Guilt and nerves are ingredients for great gifts. This kind of creative, hands-on stuff blurs the lines of work and play. It’s certainly no wonder that so many folks with unwanted leisure time turned to hobbies in the 1930s—while they likely didn’t learn to paper mache a piñata in 7th grade Spanish class like this rockstar, they certainly had a great facility with tools from working on farms and in factories.

 (From the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum)

FDR, the consummate philatelist. And for the record, that’s an accomplished stamp collector. You’re a terrible person. Terrible. (From the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum)

Of course, farmers were especially hit hard during this era. They were notoriously independent people, however, often building their own homes, barns and furniture. All these tinkerers and self-taught builders needed tools, making some companies winners during the Depression. The newly created Craftsman Tool Company was able to gain momentum by offering different quality tools based on a tiered system (“Craftsman Vanadium” tools were made with alloyed steel, which was highly prized at the time, but there were three lines that varied in price, so tools were more affordable for folks without much to spare). Craftsman also was early to create tools for automobile owners when the automotive boom was in its infancy, and lord knows there was a whole lot of car tinkering happening at the time. I think every movie I’ve seen that takes place during this era involves a smoking engine and men with grayed t-shirts, wrenches and cigarettes clammering away.

Even monks needed tools for tinkering. Check out this guy mending a tractor at St. Joseph's Monastery, Roscrea, Co. Tipperary, 1930. (Flickr Commons)

Even monks needed tools for tinkering. Check out this guy mending a tractor at St. Joseph’s Monastery, Roscrea, Co. Tipperary, 1930. (Flickr Commons)

While not necessarily considered as useful and productive as hobbies, board games also gained popularity as a way to pass the time, and Scrabble, Anagrams, and Sorry!, among others, were released or invented in the 1930s. While they didn’t necessarily teach overtly applicable job skills, some games did have an educational and economic component to them. I dug a little into the history Monopoly because it just seemed like it would be attached to some smarmy controversy, and boy, it delivered.

It turns out Monopoly was originally called “The Landlords Game,” and was created by Elizabeth Magie and patented in 1904 as a “practical demonstration of the present system of land-grabbing with all its usual outcomes and consequences.” Magie based the game on the economic principles of Georgism, a system proposed by Henry George based on the idea that people should own what they create, but that everything found in nature, most importantly the value of land,  belongs equally to all humanity. Magie designed the game with the purpose of demonstrating how rents enrich property owners and impoverish tenants.

The Landlord's Game, a game promoting social and economic justice that was ripped of by Parker Brothers in the 1930s and turned into a game of (fun) greedy land grabs. Monopoly has remained popular ever since.

Gaming also was especially popular during the economic downturn, though some argued that it wasn’t as industrious. The Landlord’s Game, a game promoting social and economic justice that was ripped of by Parker Brothers in the 1930s and turned into a game of (fun) greedy land grabs. Monopoly has remained popular ever since.

The game board was incredibly popular in Ivy League universities in the 20s and 30s and used as a learning tool. Students would create their own boards and name them according to their own cities. There was supposedly pride in the fact that the game was largely replicated in this homemade way as it did not promote the wealth of any big, bad company. Yes, you see where this is all going. It is unclear how Charles Darrow was able to obtain a patent for this game, as its history was easily traceable back to The Landlord’s Game, but nevertheless, he secured one in 1933, called it Monopoly, and effectively made Parker Brothers a major company from the profits. Things were a bit…altered, however. For example in the place of Monopoly’s “Go!” was original a box marked “Labor Upon Mother Earth Produces Wages.”

1930s Sears Roebuck ad for hobby equipment. Dreamy.

1930s Sears Roebuck ad for hobby equipment. Holy crap I want that microscope set.

The mid-1930s was also brimming with model building, especially model airplanes. Likely as an opportunity to actually have some positive stories to spin, media outlets were all over stories of model building due to the enthusiasm surrounding aviation at the time, and even started on-air model clubs, broadcasting to rural areas that didn’t have any groups nearby. A radio show called “The Jimmie Allen Club” featured actors like Mickey Rooney and Shirley Temple (R.I.P.) having aviation adventures. Municipalities and department stores offered classes in model building techniques as well.

Skelly Oil sponsored the Jimmie Allen Flying Club membership offer, circa 1933. Building models was huge during this period--tiny future airplane assemblers were being created everywhere!

Skelly Oil sponsored the Jimmie Allen Flying Club membership offer, circa 1933. Building models was huge during this period–tiny future airplane assemblers were being created everywhere!

Over the past decade, sites like Etsy.com have created a more concentrated marketplace for a growing number of hobbyists who want to make some cash on the side and for some, these hobbies turn into full time careers. The site does almost a billion dollars a year in annual transactions, and just the other day, WBEZ had a story about how Rockford, Illinois is trying to revive itself using an “Etsy economy.” Of course, a year previously there was controversy that Etsy was allowing sellers to outsource the work because they couldn’t keep up with the demand, which many argue changed the flavor of those homegrown greens (if you will). This blurring of the line between hobbies and work has recently been manifesting in a major way through craft brewing-gone-professional, and as self-taught woodworkers making furniture sell it at high prices in local retail stores. Lots of folks are quitting their day jobs, and I think it’s safe to say that with a few exceptions, most folks really want to leave their cubical to grow some vegetables or forge a knife, even if it’s just on the weekends, and even if they don’t get paid to do so. Maybe it’s just a matter of learning to trust in our creativity again as adults.

Amateur astronomer hobbyists made some unbelievably ambitious telescopes. This shows the construction of the Porter Turret telescope prior to the 1930 Stellafane convention, which attracted just under one hundred registered guests.

Amateur astronomer hobbyists made some unbelievably ambitious telescopes. This shows the construction of the Porter Turret telescope prior to the 1930 Stellafane convention, which attracted just under one hundred registered guests.

So, hobby on. You may just be able pay off those grad school loans and go to exotic places on a whim when your uniquely crafted Day of the Dead paper mache sculptures really take off. You know, for example. It’s gonna happen, damnit.

My friend Catherine riding her bike. Paper mache hobby experiment #3. Nailed it.

My friend Catherine riding her bike. January paper mache hobby experiment #3. Nailed it.

For more information on how folks stayed busy during the 1930s, check out “The Great Depression in America: A Cultural Encyclopedia, Volume 1,” by William H. Young and Nancy K. Young (you can find it on Google Books)

Some background on The Landlord’s Game:

http://lvtfan.typepad.com/lvtfans_blog/monopoly-and-the-landlords-game/

The WBEZ “The Etsy Economy” story:

http://storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-rockford-getting-a-boost-from-an-est

The plight of the farmer in the 1930s:

http://www.farmcollector.com/farm-life/u-s-farmers-during-great-depression.aspx

For more on the Amateur Astronomers’ Association of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and their journey to the 1930 Stellafane convention:

https://sites.tetratech.com/projects/103-RCPTResources/default.aspx