I’m a communist

posted on 13th of May 2018

But not the one you might think of 🙂

I spent last week in Birmingham at Makers Central, first such event in UK brought to us by Nick Zammeti and his team. And I’ am still mind-blown.

There was a huge number of stalls where companies, crafters, artists and shops could present their offer, viewers could try wood-turning, scroll-sawing, pyrography – you name it! Beside that, there was also a YouTube bay, where all YT makers were gathering making new friends, exchanging experience and promoting their channels.

But why this title?

Before going to Makers Central I was invited to WattsApp group of people who wanted to meet up there. At some point the subject of “big names” – like Jimmy DiResta or Alec Steele – emerged, as they were coming along with tonnes of other world renowned makers. At some point I said that a name of everybody sacrificing his or her free time to create something is a big name. Be it wood-turning, soap making, resin casting – anything hand-made with passion and love – the name of its creator is big. Some are more famous of course, but there are many other factors involved which led to them being where they are. And that’s what I saw at Makers Central. Whether it was someone with a million YT subscribers or a thousand, the passion for creating was burning in everybody’s eyes.

I was born in Poland in 1980. My childhood happened under the communist regime throttling the whole eastern Europe. Those times were quite difficult, as after it’s fall the society had to reshape and adapt itself in many aspects. As it often is in situations like this, all the things and phenomena related to that former regime are nowadays seen as very, very bad. So bad that it also affected the very social structure of our community, which at its core is a factor that connects and binds together people with similar interests or goals.

Unfortunately, it resulted in free to use makers clubs, where you could build plane models, learn woodworking, knitting and so on, being scraped. They were seen as a places where youth is indoctrinated with communist ideas, which was total bullshit. We didn’t reform the system leaving the things which were good, we just drove over it with a steamroller. From then on, from the time of transformation, everybody has been acting alone in opposition to others. Gone are the community clubs, youth centres, skills workshops. Makers and craftsmen in Poland and eastern bloc are left to their own devices.

Luckily, makers in Poland have started to see slow, incremental change in this respect; however not thanks to any system of state aid or support, but rather due to the grassroots movement of the makers themselves, who have begun to organize a still rudimental system of community outreach.

Change of perspective

After coming to Scotland I was shocked. I saw local gardens, where neighbours were growing plants together. I saw charities helping the ones in need. I saw people gathering for a common cause. Finally I witnessed cooperation in many aspects I thought were not possible. Regardless of race, gender, political beliefs.

Gradually, I’ve set up my first workshop in my sister’s pottery studio basement and created my YT channel. I also joined many groups of interest on social media and I can’t value enough the amount of support I got personally and which I witnessed. It has changed – and is still changing – my perspective. Cooperation instead of competition. For instance, I’ve learned I can value someone’s craftsmanship despite their opposing political beliefs for example.

Ultimately, I had no choice in being born in my home country. Thus, I can’t be proud of being a Pole, as I had no influence in this matter. But most definitely I can be proud of what I do, what I achieve. And so can you. If you are turning a log of wood into a bowl, a lump of clay into a mug or yarn of wool into a blanket – be proud of yourself. If you are creating something with your hands, if your mind is set to build rather than destroy – be proud of yourself. If you value cold beer after whole afternoon in the workshop more than a cold beer while staring droolingly at a TV – be proud of yourself. If thanks to your help or advice someone evolved with their skills – be proud of yourself.

Because your name is a big name.