Solutions for Self-Reliance

The Humble Origins of the NEXT Global Economy. Don’t Miss Out.

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Joe Carr stopped by the Detroit Maker Faire in Dearborn over the weekend and sent me some excellent photos of what went on.

What is evident to me, in the geeky splendor of the photos, is that this type of event is where the future is being made.

How so?

It’s where we are learning to make things again!

This time, we’ll be using a combination of new technology (i.e. 3D printers) and traditional techniques (i.e. blacksmithing) to create small, profitable artisanal businesses at the LOCAL level.  These businesses will greatly enhance the quality of our communities and generate significant amounts of income by exporting high quality products to the rest of the world.

Here’s an example of what is available.  The machine pictured is an Amaya Bravo.  It’s a 16-thread computer controlled embroidery machine that can rapidly and flawlessly embroider complex designs onto hats, shirts, and dresses.   It’s probably not of much interest to most readers, but IF you want to build an artisanal clothing business that uses embroidery, you will be well served to buy one of these machines.

Unfortunately, while the machine’s price has been DRASTICALLY reduced and the size of the machine is MUCH smaller than it used to be, the basic model still costs $9,000.  As such, it’s a tough purchase for someone starting or running a micro-business.

Fortunately, makerspaces are being established in communities all around the world to make it easier for people to get access to tools like this.  The Amaya pictured is from a place called Maker Works in Ann Arbor Michigan.  At Maker Works, you can get access to this machine and many other tools as well as a collaborative environment filled with other artisans, all for a low monthly fee.

Here are some more pictures of different tools being used at the Faire.  From left to right:  a 3D scanner, a computer controlled router, a computer controlled lathe, a 3D printer.

Of course, maker faires and makerspaces aren’t only focused on new tools like the ones above.  They do include lots of traditional skills and chances for young people to learn new skills.  For example, here’s a picture of an artisan blacksmith at work (he holds classes).

Here’s a picture of kids learning to solder.

Final word:  What does this mean to you, and your community?

It’s simple.  If you want to build a thriving local economy.  A local economy that makes your community resilient to economic failure and shocks, you need to find ways to help the innovators in your community make things.

How do you do that?

Get a makerspace started.  If you want more insight into how they work, find a makerspace near where you live (here’s a list of makerspaces around the world) and drop by.

Of course, in order to get the best insight on this an other issues, stay subscribed to this newsletter.  I’m going to have a report on building makerspaces, artisanal business, and much more in the not too distant future.

Making the world better,

JOHN ROBB

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