Maker Faire: Celebrating DIY

One of the ways in which we can promote sustainable living is to learn how to do things and how to make things ourselves. This idea of a DIY ethic -- "do-it-yourself" -- is hardly new. The term originated in the 1950s, as part of a movement for home owners to tackle improvements themselves rather than rely solely on hiring professional. The idea of do-it-yourself is perhaps most commonly associated with the arts-and-crafts movement, as an alternative to our contemporary consumer-oriented culture.

This past weekend, one of the best known DIY events was held in the Bay Area: the fifth annual Maker Faire. Maker Faire is an event created by Make Magazine to "celebrate arts, crafts, engineering, science projects and the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) mindset."

The idea behind both the Maker Faire and Make Magazine is to help foster a culture in which building things and taking things apart - tinkering, experimenting, and hacking - are encouraged. The Maker Faire both showcases and encourages creativity, countering the idea that science, technology, and art are things that only "experts" can do. Although some of the inventions are, for lack of a better word, quite zany, they all point towards ways in which creativity and innovation should be encouraged, not stifled. The Maker Faire encourages people to experiment not just consume, and it highlights the work of those who are, as the name suggests, makers of things.

These things, the Faire contends, need not fulfill any sort of consumer market. Contrary to the saying "necessity is the mother of invention," the items displayed at the Maker Faire points to the joy simply in the act of creation itself. It's a joy that can be shared with the whole family.

At the event in the Bay Area this weekend, over 600 exhibitors showcased projects ranging from singing tesla coils to a lifesize mousetrap. Over 80,000 people attended the event, taking part in various hands-on demonstrations and activities.

Maker Faires are planned in other cities in the upcoming months, including one in Detroit on July 31 and August 1 and one in New York City on September 25 and 26. If you're in the vicinity, be sure to check out an event that showcases innovation, creativity, and sustainability!

Photo Credit: Flickr