Making Something of Myself

makers 1219

Providence smiled at me today, from the pages of the Gunnison Country Times.

There was a time, not that long ago, probably when I was completely settled in a house, that I used to read the Times cover to cover every week. Then I would make it through at least the first section of the Crested Butte News, at least up until the music scene information, which occupies page upon page and which I just don’t care about. People thought I knew what was going on in town, but it was just a matter of carefully reading our local weeklies.

Then I started skimming them, and my knowledge of local happenings diminished. And now I’m at the point where I rarely even get the first section of the Times skimmed. So it was Providence indeed that I set out to read the Times this morning, rather than checking on-line to see what dreary news might be coming out of Washington.

I started with the second section, called the “Round-Up,” which is more features and happenings. It’s the section where the new babies are reported, and I always like reading about them. (Way back in the olden days when I was an employee of this same newspaper, one of my jobs was to go to the hospital to pick up the baby report, type it up and put it in the paper. Now, with HIPPA, I doubt the hospital tells the newspaper anything, so it’s up to proud parents or grandparents to submit this information on their own.)

I don’t remember if I ran across any babies this morning, since I was still doing a lot of skimming, but I got through that section and then backtracked to the front section, which when I picked it up on Thursday thought it was in a foreign language because the first two words to greet me were “Skiff milkvetch.”

The full headline is “Skiff milkvetch population stable,” and it turns out this is “a rare, wispy plant found only in Gunnison and Saguache [say Suh-watch] counties.” That’s as far as I got in that story.

But, on page A9, back in the section where we give up actual writing in favor of pictures with long captions, was a photo of two men standing in their new business, The Gunnison Valley Shop Class. It’s a makers space, the first in Gunnison. (Unless you want to count the arts center, which we probably should, as a makers space. Or my tap dance teacher’s pottery studio. Or Quigley Hall on campus. Or — okay, we have a lot of makers spaces.)

I’m still a bit lost on this “makers” concept. My friend Dan, who has probably been a maker his whole life except that when we were young this term was reserved in fairy tales for cobblers (shoeMakers), has been a member (and board member) of such a space in Boulder for many years now. But like most of the things Dan does, I grasp very little of the explanation.

For this new space in Gunnison, which officially opened on Dec. 19, I am getting the concept: they have tools and workspace for an electronics lab, and metal and wood shops. With classes. Including, as I found on their website, adult beginner wood working. Where the students will learn to use the proper tools and the end result of the class will be a shelf, with or without coat hooks.

Well, guess who is in the market for a shelf with coat hooks?

This is the answer to my plan for self-reliance, or at least the plan to no longer utilize a contractor who long ago forgot his pledged rate of $150 per square foot. Plan B was to find a handyman, and while Lynn and I can come up with three men who would qualify, we haven’t called any of them yet.

And now maybe I can go one step better than that. Maybe. My class doesn’t start until Jan. 7, and I haven’t signed up yet, pending some clarification (the course description says “four weeks” while the dates detail “eight sessions,” all of them on Tuesdays; and it says “membership only,” so I think I also have to become one of their “makers”). And, if it’s like the arts center, we won’t know right up until the convening of the first class if enough students signed up to make it viable.

But here is an answer for me, assuming the class makes and that after one to two months of learning to make a coat-hook shelf I can move on to more advanced projects like a staircase bookshelf for my room. And after that perhaps I could learn to put curtain rods in walls that seem to be devoid of wood.

These are lofty goals, sure, and all of them based on nothing more than a photo on page A9 of this week’s Gunnison Country Times. To succeed these two young men who are starting this business venture are going to have to find a market that I’m wondering how large it really is. If you’re serious about wood working, or metal working, or electronics, chances are good you have your own shop and tools. Maybe there are people who rent or live someplace like an apartment where it’s not convenient to have a workspace who are willing to pay to rent this communal space. (It’s $50 per month, or $500 if you pay up front for the year.)

Or you have to hope there are several people like me, who are tired of paying exorbitant rates and waiting to get basic repairs and projects taken care of. The editor of the Times a few months back detailed his frustrations with trying to find a plumber for a water heater repair. Only one company out of all that he called even returned his call; he ended up renting tools and following instructions on Youtube to do his own plumbing. I haven’t talked to him directly, but someone told me he got more heartfelt response from people in the same boat than almost any other issue he’s written on.

So maybe there is a market for a business like this. I’m going to hope so, because this sounds like just the thing for me to make something of myself. I’ll keep you posted.

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