Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sunday Thoughts: The Way of the Budgie

I am fascinated by the psychology of marketing. This is paradoxical as I am also completely against a consumerism based culture. Which is ironic in that I write both a blog about things and stuff, as well as a blog revolving around the wedding industry which is relatively redundant in a modern society where the church no longer rules and girls are not the property of her father but is rather an industry based on charging obscene amounts for unneccessaries we have been taught since Barbiehood that we truly must desire to be happy. Right. I digress.

I am passionate about the creative process. My world has always revolved around creating in some form or another. I am unsure where it comes from as my family and friends growing up, while supportive of the arts, were not devoting much of themselves to creative pursuits. I was taught that money was not only important as a means to getting by, but also as a demonstration of who you were. Thankfully I was also taught values and interests that won out and cleared another path for me, however economically unviable it may be :)

A couple of years ago I took a marketing class that focused on branding and how to translate your business into print and various areas of advertising. I spent the last bit of the class trying to explain to the instructor how I was searching for a name that was simple and organic without sounding too organic. The thing about living in the Kootenays is that it is very easy to be pegged as what I like to refer to as a "budgie"... those who try to live simply, shun pop culture for the most part, and eat a rather "seed" based or natural diet. We have a high per capita tofu consuming population and to use the word organic in Nelson is to pigeonhole yourself beyond redemption. Once you are labelled budgie, your abilities in the business side of town are much hindered. It's a small town.

So before we even got to the actual name figuring we had to debate the demographic being feathered or otherwise and then came the part where I had to stand by the concept of people paying at least $80 for a pillow. As I myself find this strange to a certain degree, I tried in vain to explain that when certain people see good design they will pay what you charge. I have to admit though that there is a fair amount of frustration in knowing that those people are not the majority of Nelson's populace. We are a young, hip and vibrant town, but that energy comes from all the starving artists out there. If you want to make a living in this town as an artist, you have to find a way to do it remotely. I think "the world is your oyster" is a phrase that we creative types are clinging to in an attempt to convince ourselves that as long as we have access to the WWW, we will be just fine.  But at the same time, our values are finally returning to us and we are being hit with the question "If an overabundance of stuff and whatnots is such a huge part of what is wrong with the world today, then why am I trying to make a living by making more stuff?"

The handmade movement is such a greatly empowering entity. It allows the minority to be part of the equation. Single moms can try to make a living from home, students can supplement with part time, non invasive work and artisans are feeling that their skills might again be worth something. The lure of "cheap" and "mass produced" are no longer holding the sway they once did. Our economy in the toilet means that the higher ups are paying attention to details that they never would have in better economic climates. We are all standing tall while we steamroll the "Made in China" system. Yay us! But then, how do we make the right choices in choosing what to make? I often see people get down off their soapbox after a particularly brilliant schpiel about living simply so others can simply live... only to take up a needle and thread to sew more pretty stuffies and coffee cup sleeves. How big is our scope, exactly?

More and more I am seeing that the way of doing things is changing whether we are ready, aware, involved... or not. I am finding more people who are making huge changes in their lives. Not simply changing their light bulbs to CFCs, or upping their blue box capacity... but digging up their front yards to garden and tossing their cable subscription. Choosing not to drive, buying less... educating through leading by example. In a world where Disney rules and toothpaste brands are fighting over the rights to sell mint tooth cleaner with the top rated cartoon face, maybe the best bet for everyone is to worry less about the bottom line and think more on the common denomenators. Community, health, love and understanding... imagination and play... support and caring and selflessness. Maybe trading in the second car for more quality time via fewer soccer camps. Eating dinner at the table with healthy conversation is worth more and says more about the family than the cottage at the lake, or the size of the toybox.

Let's get back to making quality, dependable and beautiful necessities and work hard at trimming the excess. If less is considered to be "needed" then people will eventually learn that it's not about saving a buck, but putting that buck where it counts... and that buying something to last, maybe even to pass down through the generations, is in fact better than the "convenience" of disposable anything. Make less and get paid what you are worth. It sounds easy. Let's make it so.

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