About Professionals and Novices.

I am the latter, at least in this current pursuit that I am writing about in this blog (there are other areas in which I could be said to inhabit more of the role of the “pro”…. if I truly believed in this delineation…. one woman I know called me a “curandera” a healer, but she followed promptly and sternly with the statement, “but you CAN’T call yourself that”).  A professional calls them self one, a master is named by her community.  It is as much an attitude embodied in a skill as the skill itself.

What I believe in, or what I wish for, is a model of sharing knowledge in such a way that each and every person (not just special folks) yield a certain power just simply by the fact that they know how to do “stuff”.  “Stuff” meaning the things of life that make life work, the simple technologies, the simple tools, and things like making food and birthing babies.    (yes, I think birthing babies should be common knowledge or at the least, people shouldn’t be scared to death of it or think it is a crisis of major proportion if mama doesn’t make it to the Hospital with a capital “H” before baby pops out.  Duh!  I mean before about a hundred years ago, all babies were born at HOME….it’s actually NOT rocket science….there is my little birth rant for the evening….)  And then there is actual “rocket science” (does that exist or is it just a way of saying “way too complicated”?) The more complicated the world becomes, the crazier the technologies, the harder it is to live into this dream of knowing how to use, fix, and create our own”stuff”.


But here I’m talking of building.  “Men’s work”.  Hah!  The opposite end of the natural skills of life spectrum, and yet so very intimately connected to the same fabric of life and community, that those missing skills would be and are equally lost in this modern world to that of the midwife.  (I actually know of a few builders, with midwives as partners.) And both skills, we all should know at least a little about, if we are living in houses and are human beings.

Very very simple.  Build houses.  Have babies.  (and a few other essential skills).  And Wa LA…a culture, a peopled world, needs met, gratitude, time to play….

So, in comes the expert (today I met an expert- a very kind and lovely expert who does beautiful work).  And skill becomes commodity and thus is born need, and capitalism and consumerism (yes…I’m way way oversimplifying here, but trying to globally contextualize my story of the day).  I’m not saying here there shouldn’t be masters, those who refine and work the edges of their craft and excel in certain ways that are a gift to everyone and to the unseen. (but according to Chellis Glendenning (who wrote, “Hello I’m Chellis and I’m recovering from Western Civilization”-LOVED it), one of the most striking things she found in studying earth based cultures, was that people actually knew how to do most EVERYTHING that was done in their tribe/village and that made them both unified and extremely self possessed).


What am I trying to say?

I am a novice (no doubt), trying to simply become skilled enough to “do it for myself” with a little help and support.  I called out for support on CL (once again) to find someone to help me with my design.  A student perhaps?  (when I was in massage school, I gave hundreds of massages to learn my craft… practice through doing).  But again, not really looking for someone to “do it for me” but to do it with me, to show me enough specific skill to help fill out my vision which currently is some rough little drawings with a LOT of notes attached.

Two replies thus far.  Both promising.  One a man with years of experience building fancy eco-homes and using salvaged materials.  He is taking time off due to his health and looking for a fun project to fill his time. We met at the fancy tea cafe and I drank a spicy green tea chai.

Great photos.  Really nice dude–East Coast Brooklyn (?) accent.  Then, I started hearing words like, “this house I’m designing for you” and “what I create”, and I started to feel like I was sitting in the seat of client rather than collaborator.  “Someone else is trying to build MY house.  Ahhhh.  He’s missing my boat”.  I felt like I needed to grab my project back from him, even though nothing obvious had been taken away.  I interrupted.

“Um.  I just want to clarify.  That this is really my project and feeling empowered is really important to me.  I want to be fully involved in every step.  I’m not asking anyone to do it for me”

(“and I have a dragon tea shirt”) No, I didn’t say that, but damn, it was hard to find my tongue.  It’s f—in’ hard to speak up when you are novice trying to find your way, speaking to the expert who seems to know theirs and is all too happy to fit in the status quo model of doing business.

I’m not complaining (except a little) because the guy took time out of his afternoon to meet with me, and frankly the whole thing was quite clarifying for me.  “What do you want from me?” he asked at one point.

“Some mentorship.  A little guidance”.  I didn’t say “collaboration”, but I think that is a better word.  I don’t think a lot of the world works that way though.  But my house will, even if it takes me a hell of a long time to build.


Any student designers out there willing to collaborate on a cool little project?  Any simple books anyone can recommend about design (like maybe one of those big yellow books for “dummys”?)

Still one more man from CL to call back.