I am interested in the upswing in enthusiasm for Do-It-Yourself (DIY) projects and initiatives. From bee-keeping to urban farming to bicycle repair, people across the country are taking on a wealth of independent projects with nothing but a heap of ingenuity and their local Home Depot to help them. Just across the street from me, there is an organization that hosts workshops almost every evening on everything from “Print Your Own Monogram Stationary” to “Build Your Own Terrarium!”
So why do I bring up DIY in the context of Persephone Magazine? I bring it up in part because I am intrigued by the way that the DIY movement is empowering the individual on a very basic level. I am going to argue that the DIY movement is a small part of much larger-scale change. Instead of acting as passive consumers dependent on corporate structures to provide us with our basic material needs, people are waking up to the fact that we can take a more active role in building and maintaining the objects or items (or systems) that we use on a daily basis. This is empowering to everyone, but I believe that it is especially empowering to the traditionally disempowered, including women. If I want to make something, build something, fix something, or learn something new, I’ll make like the Little Red Hen of storybook fame, and I’ll do it myself. And what’s more, in today’s world, I can do it myself, and I can even be successful at it.
However, none of us can be an expert in everything. So isn’t it sometimes better to let a bicycle mechanic fix our bicycle? I think so. And I also worry that there may be an unproductive element of nostalgia as well as a pinch of anger-fueled anti-technology sentiment mixed in with all of the genuine enthusiasm in the DIY movement. As we look ahead, and envision the world that we want to see in the future, we cannot paint out technology, or the Internet, or Twitter, or SnapChat, even if we would rather return to a simpler time free from Facebook notifications and fueled by steam power.
Whatever your thoughts about the DIY movement (“those darn hipsters with their fixies!” *waves fist in air*), I believe that it is undeniable that we are living in a rapidly changing world in which the power of the individual to enact change is growing. As with many societal transitions, these changes can be seen either as a threat to the status quo, or as an opportunity to build a better world. We have a choice as to how we want to view this shift, and how we want to use our human ingenuity to guide these larger trends in a positive direction. You with me?