Tuesday, July 28, 2009

This is lovely!

I just got home from work and this wonderful thing was waiting on facebook, from the AMERICAN CRAFT COUNCIL!

Ethics in the Marketplace: Natalie Chanin and the Bureau of Friends
Introduced by Maria Moyer, Bureau Chief
A few Sundays ago at the Chez Panisse Edible Schoolyard kitchen in Berkeley, about twenty of us gathered to learn how to make beautiful things from the Alabama Stitch Book. Natalie Chanin regaled us with tales as we practiced the depression-era sewing techniques used by the artisans who make her exquisite designs for Alabama Chanin. Natalie’s stories were about life—hers and the others before her—and she related these stories to sewing, fabric, thread and physics.

To hear Natalie Chanin weave a tale is like eating a meal. In stark contrast, my trying to tell one of her stories is more like reading a recipe. But, dare to tell it I will. Here goes:

During hot summer evenings in the South, Natalie’s friends and family would gather around the family home to eat, drink, tell stories on the porch and be together. On one of these evenings, Natalie’s grandfather set the children to the task of collecting sticks from around the yard.

After the children had secured their bounty, he asked them to each take and hold a stick—just one—with both hands. Then he asked them to break it. As they easily snapped their twig in two, he said, “That stick is you. You, on your own.” While lightening bugs flashed and the night rolled in, the children listened intently. “Now, take as many sticks as you can hold in your hand, maybe five, and hold them together. And now break those,” Natalie’s grandfather asked of the children. The tensile strength of the individual sticks held together as one made the task impossible. “This,” he said, “is your family.”

This is the sentiment that brings Natalie and me together with others in the Bureau of Friends. Formalized over breakfast and a pinky swear in a Manhattan bistro, The Bureau of Friends is now open for business and ready to help others do the good work. We are stronger together.

The Bureau of Friends Manifesto
As entrepreneurs and artists, taste makers and otherwise creatively engaged people, we stand together as the Bureau of Friends, tightly bound by shared meaning and purpose.

We share the belief that what we all want is shifting. On the trend-spotters front, we’re told (and we know) that mindless consumption is giving way to discretion. Even “luxury” is suffering an identity crisis and searches for substance. Put simply: People want what they buy and how they spend time to be worth it and they’re looking for objects and experiences that ring true.

For the Bureau of Friends, this pursuit isn’t about a trend. This is our life’s work.

We make a living appreciating and seeking beauty. For us, this is the pursuit of a beauty that endures and enriches. The Friends understand this as the very stuff that defines quality. Each of us demonstrates—in our own way, within our separate spheres of influence—what quality is. For us, quality is authenticity. It is a future-forward focus and eco-smart thinking. It’s handcrafted, locally supportive and globally aware. First and foremost, it is beautiful, delicious and relevant.

We know a growing number of people feel this, and we have something to say to them: We are the Bureau of Friends and we’ve joined together to support each other not only in doing the good work, but in spreading the word about it.

The Bureau of Friends is open for business as the go-to-depot for tasty and nutritious content. We’re not only a speakers’ bureau, we create experiences that connect message to specific audience and inspiration and insight to desired action.


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