Craftsman (n): a person who is highly skilled in a particular craft; a person who makes things skillfully with their hands
There was a time when we valued tradesmen and craftsmen in this country. We valued food grown by farmers we knew; we valued meat grown by ranchers in our area; we valued well-made leather shoes that lasted years and years that we re-soled rather than buying a new pair every season. What ever happened to those days? (Actually, that’s a rhetorical question. Of course we know what happened. Industrialization, mass production, assembly lines, shareholders who want profits above all else.)
So much of our lives today consist of throw-away short-term items. We buy cheap because we assume we’ll just throw it away in a few months and buy a new one – chairs, shoes, handbags, clothing, cutlery, TVs, even couches. They’re cheap and disposable, but have you ever noticed that the cheap stuff is also uncomfortable? Those cheap shoes are killers. That cheap cutlery can’t even cut a tomato properly. That cheap couch sags after a few months. Those cheap clothes have ripped seams after one washing!
Thankfully there is a revival of craftsmanship in this country that is a welcome sight to those of us that still value quality. I buy my coffee from a company that is dedicated to the welfare of the coffee growers and the land on which the coffee is grown. I buy my vegetables from my local farmer’s market where I talk to the farmers. Hell, I even print photos with an artist who values the artistry of printed photographs. Forget Starbucks, Walmart, and CVS – I go for artisan coffee, vegetables, and photographs.
I think there is a deliberate link between craftsmanship and quality. When I buy my dinner table from a craftsman – a person who knows how to make good tables – it fits the room properly, it lasts longer, and it’s made with higher quality materials. Craftsmen take pride in their craft rather than pumping out thousands of identical items on a conveyor belt. Good craftsmen care about the sourcing of their materials and the methods used to create their products. Good craftsmen care about properly teaching their methodology to the next generation.
Let’s support the craftsmen and tradesmen in our local economies. Let’s help revive quality and staying power and, by doing so, support those entrepreneurs who care about the sourcing of their materials, their workers, and their methods.