Thursday, August 27, 2009
A New Paradigm – Necessity is the Mother of Invention
By Susan Moir Mackay
My father’s father started his furniture business in the 1930’s during the recession. He started out small - driving to customers’ houses and cutting out a pattern for loose covers for their couches and chairs. In those hard times it was a more economical solution to brightening up the home than buying new furniture. His training was night school - the club chair he made sits proudly in my house today. From these meager beginnings a family business has grown and thrived into full house furnishers, renowned in my home city of Edinburgh, Scotland. My two brothers now steer the business through the troubled water of a new recession following in the footsteps of my father and grandfather.
It is well known that artists are not known for the business acumen. And truth be told I am no exception to the rule, somehow the concept of money seems to dirty the purity of distilled emotion in artistic expression. However my childhood was steeped in lengthy and animated conversations around the table about marketing, bottom lines, profit margins, turn over and other business jargon – not common fodder to fledgling creativity!
Being Scottish I was also influenced heavily by a slightly indulgently parsimonious upbringing, the phrase, “necessity is the mother of invention” was embedded in my DNA I believe!
It seems to me it is exactly in times of recession that necessity is in capital letters. And invention becomes the key to unlocking a brighter future.
There is a different sense with this recession - a sense that the old system is not only breaking down but permanently defunct. And if the old system IS defunct the question for everyone is what are we going to create instead?
And what I love about this question is that EVERYONE is entitled to answer it. No longer is this the sole arena of Harvard graduates and business analysts or fat cat bankers.
We are all now this moment inextricably involved in creating or inventing a new solution for our future.
My neighbor shares her vegetables with me and we discuss creating a larger garden in the bush beside our houses. And to steal a metaphor from her nimble green fingers - new growth occurs after pruning.
This is a time of change- we are in the midst of a severe pruning. Enormous global change- pruning on a mammoth scale, but it is this change that propels us out of the inertia of easy prosperity. Now is the time to look into ourselves and into our community and find the wealth of natural talent, resources and creativity to become better people and better neighbors in this island and as neighbors on a global scale.
And with an incessant Necessity calling to us in this current financial climate - what are we going to invent?
There is something exciting about generating ideas, pushing the boundaries of typical commerce to generate abundance in a time of supposed scarcity. And truly Grand Bahama is an abundant land….vegetables and fruit grow in profusion in this climate, even if the soil is a bit sandy! The oceans still hold belly full’s of fish. But beyond vital sustenance what innovations in technology and our common living practices may happen, even here in Grand Bahama? How can we as a community create new programs to motivate and encourage independent business? How can we support local industry? How can we combine awareness of our environment to make better business choices? How can we save money, reduce waste by recycling, even in our own homes? How can we use our imaginations to discover new solutions to everyday challenges of maintaining a house hold or a business? How can we as individuals keep the quality of life on this island something to be envied and emulated by others? What natural resources can we use to save money – yet be respectful to the environment?
These are some of the questions we can ask ourselves and be inspired to find forceful answers that we can all benefit from. It is no longer a time to sit back, now is the time to brainstorm, connect, diversify and take responsibility for our part in the solution for this community as a whole.
I am inspired by my grandfather’s example of planting such an apparently innocuous seed in a time of economic drought that has grown into a stout tree- a business supporting 50 families. I want to weave that story into my consciousness and allow my creativity to help shift the old paradigm of business structure to find a new way of doing things to create a new way of life that respects the individual and the planet. Now is the time to move away from mass produced large conglomerate, to something with more meaning and integrity, and this new paradigm, I believe, will be found by acknowledging commerce and creativity, to construct a society that speaks to our hearts not just our pockets.
Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, Susan Moir Mackay is a professional artist with a B.A. (Hons) in Art and Design from Edinburgh College of Art. She is an impassioned advocate of art and has a deep abiding belief that art benefits individuals and communities. Susan has travelled extensively, observing art in all its forms and has invested much of her time to art education projects, as well as developing her own art works and exhibitions. Susan currently lives in Freeport with her two children, Fiona and Dylan. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org