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Why We Make: A Brief Maker Factory Story

When people make together, they create a community and culture; and when they continue to make together, they can use that making to shape and change culture. By making, we make relationships, and by making together we make community - we do together.

This is a story. Stories are the way we articulate reality to one another, and so we are all already making all of the time in the act of relationality; we tell stories, we live stories, and when we make community, we stitch our stories together. If this sounds abstract and scholarly, it's because it is; I'm summarizing in a few sentences the foundation for my scholarship as a university faculty member. So let's get away from the abstract and tell you a story. This is our story.

It began with Brian's proposal to me - "land, home, farm, family life - you and me doing all of this," and the purchasing of our first home and what we loosely termed "a homestead." We started a garden, bought chickens, and began living our story. Soon I started a food and lifestyle blog that eventually helped us sell at farmer's markets and farm stores around Indianapolis.

At that time, we had very little money. The market had just crashed, we had two very young children, and Brian - with his B.F.A. - was dedicated to transitioning that degree in painting into a career in creative engineering. For his senior thesis, he had constructed an Art Lab - a collaborative community of different kinds of artists, showcasing paintings, sculptures, and art utilizing physics and engineering. He had spent hours trolling the physics department making connections and learning as much as he could. But, straight out of college, he was essentially a glorified intern for a few years while he proved his mettle to employers doubting his engineering skills. As a result, I learned to make and do a lot; as did he. It became fun, in a way, to see what we could learn and how we could grow.

As our children grew, so did Brian's career, and soon, no one was questioning his engineering skills. In fact, a lot of people wanted to hire him as a manager. They appreciated his vision and creative mindset. Our financial insecurity gave way to a season of plenty, which enabled me to go graduate school to pursue my career - a position that asks me to lead a community of practice. As a result, my entire research focus is on the making and doing of community - something called cultural rhetorics.

This past year has been especially difficult for our family. We've had some big losses as a family, let alone to mood and rhetoric of the nation. In such a time of unpredictability, we see more than ever the power of community. We want to shape and make a different story, together, with you. Whether it's crocheting, cooking, gardening, painting, building, welding, fixing, or other engineer-y things I lack a name for, or whatever - you are a maker. We are all makers already because we all live and tell stories and make community and culture every single day. And we have so much to learn from making with one another.

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