A designer of junk mail reflects on a recent conference that celebrated the role of craft in a diversity of business and media professions: Confessions of a Spam Crafter | The Dominion:
It was odd then, in a venue so pumped up on high-tech and corporate endorphins, that the conference theme was a re-valuing of "craft," a word usually reserved for basket-weaving and needlepoint. Keynote speaker and The New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik described craft as an almost Zen-like, spiritual undertaking: something learned by doing, intelligent without being intellectual. Jane Olson of Human Rights Watch related how knitting enabled her to find common ground with traumatized Bosnian refugees while providing them with a means of income long after her visit was over. Martin Fisher of non-profit KickStart discussed how the company's portable, human-powered irrigation pump is helping sub-Saharan African farmers out of poverty. Radical craft indeed, these practices are actually changing people's lives in substantive ways.
In the past, these kinds of discussions between professionals have invoked the value of 'design' as means of enhancing creativity. However, in this context 'craft' seems to make the connection to peoples outside America.