Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Don't Consume, Create!

With all the talk of crisis and recession at the moment it makes one think about the nature of economics and trade. Through woodcraft I have come to a few realisations that may be of interest here. I hope that the idea that we can create prosperity or capital through shifting numbers and papers will be properly challenged. I warn you, I'm no economist but as seen as everyone else has written their opinion I thought I would too.

  • Reusing items is a great way of creating value. A bottle in the landfill has no value, it costs. Whereas a bottle, reused as a canteen has created a value from this void. It might not be the the best way of topping up an endless cycle of production and consumption but it does create.
  • Harvesting natural resources is one way of releasing value from the world. Our economy is in many ways built on this very principle, through the extraction and use of fossil fuels but bushcraft teaches us that there are so many other resources, many of which are a great deal more renewable than squashed dinosaurs. Be it wood, bark, leaves, roots or skins there are a lot of resources which, with the aplication of time and skill can be used to create lasting, valuable, objects.
  • Teaching and practicing a skill is one of the greatest ways of multiplying value. By teaching another a skill you are effectively doubling the amount of potential value. By practicing and developing your own skills you may not acheive such a drastic increase but there is still an incremental increase in the potential value.
  • Growth is nature's way of making value. It can be through planting crops, rearing animals or even producing your own :) As a natural way of producing capital it is hard to beat, though it does bring with it its own serious consequences and complications
That's all for now - what are your thoughts?


JohnW said...

I will agree with your assessment of the current economic situation. We are now in many ways reaping the societal attitudes that have been prevalent for the last two or three generations. I work in education as you do and see the negative influence of the mass media. Many young people today,at least the ones I work with, are very dependent on the latest gadget or item that is promoted. In a way their incomplete sense of self identity is boosted with a material good that is of marginal utility.

I'd like to teach more about bushcraft and self reliance to the kids under my charge but it is hard. This may be odd to hear but one problem I run into is that many of these kids from the inner city are deadly afraid of the woodlands. Another aspect is that many do not have the proper clothing or footwear. They have the latest" kicks" i.e. sneakers that are in style but they are completely useless on anything but pavement. On thing to add to the last comment. Many of these kids hate to have anything get dirty. There is a badge of social distinction in their subculture regarding how clean your sneakers are and your status.