Maya Pedal, upcycling bicycles in Guatemala

An excellent project and a good cause.

From the Makers:

In 1997, in San Andrés Itzapa in Guatemala, Maya Pedal Association began recycling scraps of bicycles into Bicimáquinas.

Bicimáquinas are pedal-powered blenders, washing machines and threshing machines, eliminating the need for fuel and electricity. Pumps are also possible, and are capable of extracting 30 liters of water per minute from 30-meter deep wells (electronic pumps reach just to 12 meters).

The idea of these ingenious contraptions emerged from the desire to help the farming families of the San Andrés community. The issue that gave rise to Maya Pedal was the expense and shortage of electricity and fuel in the village.

Carlos and Cesar, creators of Maya Pedal, have achieved an extraordinary result: a worthy project that does not pollute and is extremely fascinating in its involvement of volunteers from around the world who are building a fantastic pedal revolution.

Makers to the Rescue

Makers, Dreamers, Builders, and Inventors, Unite:

reflections on saving our world

“Perpetual devotion to what a man calls his business, is only to be sustained by perpetual neglect of many other things. And it is by no means certain that a man’s business is the most important thing that he has to do”  Robert Louis Stevenson.

Coup_de_poing_acheléen

Humans are, by nature, makers of things.  That’s how we deal with the world…  or did, until the Industrial Revolution tore us away from our connection with the earth.  Somebody is still making all the stuff, of course, its just outsourced and corporatized,  repackaged, and branded.  Strangely, the stuff that should last, like clothes, housing, or tools are generally poorly made and often unfixable while the junk that should be disposable is made from plastics that will endure for a geologic age or poison our descendents.  But maybe, with a little effort, it doesn’t have to be this way.

TheCordwainer

Today, instead of procuring our needs directly or through someone we know, we trudge off into an abstract man-made environment to be treated as children and told to perform an obtuse task or two or twenty.  And in exchange for giving up our time, we get slips of paper (or more likely, digits only readable to a computer on a plastic card) that confirm that we have performed our work and are now in a position to gather food, shelter, clothing, heat, etc. from a middle-man where profits are almost never seen by the makers.

FullApron

Hand Crafted Apron from THOSE WHO MAKE.

Creating things like fire, rope, or cutting tools, not to mention shoes or housing will baffle most modern people.  Weaving a blanket, sewing a shirt, or butchering an animal are simply out of the question for most of us in the western world.  Many of these activities will get you strange looks at best or a call to the authorities at worst.  This mindset means that most of us can’t feed or cloth ourselves any longer even if we really want to.

tailorMakers are the hope.  We’re out there.  Doing things and making stuff.  Fending for ourselves in an hostile but lethargic world of expected and nearly enforced consumerism. Once you realize the machine doesn’t work, you can realize it doesn’t really exist.

Most of my adult life, I’ve noticed an interesting paradox.  Typical wage-slaves who proudly give 50 hours per week to a faceless and unappreciative mechanism are convinced that the dreamers and the creators are just a bunch idlers and flâneurs when it’s, in fact the lifestyle that they really envy.  If it isn’t recognized as drudgery, somehow it’s not real work.  But how much do we really need to be happy?

hammock

As a side note, many modern philosophers trace this thinking directly to the Protestant Reformation when, as they claim, much of the fun was beaten out of life and holidays were things to be frowned upon.  But here I digress.

The internet actually gives me hope, especially seeing the wonderful documentaries of real craftsmen and makers around the world that are emerging from obscurity.  Maybe to many, Makers are just a novelty.  Something to be ogled at.  But knowing there are others out there looking for a deeper purpose and a better existence makes me feel a little better about humanity.

BicycleRepair

Repairing something is a first step toward making something.

Let’s be realistic; most modern folks wouldn’t opt to live as hunter gatherers as their ancestors did, but maybe we can reach a better balance with our lives than to adopt the imposed role as absolute consumers.  And hopefully conscience people can do some good things along the way.  Maybe by thinking outside the consumer mindset and choosing to build our homes, make our own socks and shirts, ride a bike, and hunt our meat we can make a difference by both our action and our inaction.

In the words of Samuel Johnson, “To do nothing is within everyone’s power.”

san

Remember: “An idle mind is a questioning, skeptical mind. Hence it is a mind not too bound up with ephemeral things, as the minds of workers are. The idler, then, is somebody who separates himself from his occupation: there are many people scarcely conscious of living except in the exercise of some conventional occupation”

Robert Louis Stevenson, idler extraordinaire.

stillWhy not go make something?  Your great grandparents did.

P.S. Pardon the Friday late night ramblings.  My disdain for the modern world is heightened at the end of a ridiculous week at work.

Robin Wood, Traditional Craftsman

Here’s another excellent video of Robin Wood, wood turner and traditional craftsman.  Visit his website to learn more about this remarkable man and his admirable career choice.  As he explains, his job is easy to describe while so many careers are just about impossible to explain what one does and we create fancy titles to describe what we do all day.

His website is: http://greenwood-carving.blogspot.com/

Pedal Power at the Maker Faire

Some of the interesting pedal power found at the Maker Faire.  Crazy welder contraptions, wooden works of art, well designed cycle cars.  The Faire had it all.

Shoe In Progress

The upper is turned, now attaching the sole.  This is very much an experiment but so far it is coming along better than expected.  It is a style from early modern shoe construction, with a lot of similarities to the archaeological finds from the Mary Rose but with a modernized upper.  This style of construction bridges the gap between Medieval turnshoes and fully lasted ones and dates from around A.D. 1545.  Ah, the good old days.

Not a great photo perhaps but construction photos will be uploaded if and when this project is successfully completed.