“Do It Yourself” and “Maker” Movements Bringing Hope

Do you know about the DIY Movement? The Maker Movement? The Great Re-Skilling Movement? If you are like me, these movements (DIY stands for “do it yourself”) may at best be at the edge of awareness. I’ve come to know some remarkable young people in West Marin who identify with these deeply interactive movements, which reflect critical trajectories in technology, environment, culture, and economics.

These young people are at the core of the Transition Movement concerned with peak oil and climate change. They often make their livings by piecing together numerous part-time jobs. They face the economic conditions of our time with remarkable ingenuity, courage, and grace. They show up to learn new skills at the Commonweal Garden/Regenerative Design Institute (in addition to permaculture and nature awareness, RDI’s reskilling series features classes like soap making, natural dyes, wild foods, herbal products, and medicinal botany). About these movements, Wikipedia reports:

The maker subculture is a contemporary subculture, representing a technology-based extension of DIY culture. Typical interests enjoyed by the maker subculture include engineering-oriented pursuits such as electronics, robotics, 3-D printing, and the use of CNC tools, as well as more traditional activities such as metalworking, woodworking, and traditional arts and crafts. The subculture stresses new and unique applications of technologies, and encourages invention and prototyping.There is a strong focus on using and learning practical skills and applying them creatively.


The DIY ethic refers to the ethic of self-sufficiency through completing tasks without the aid of a paid expert. Literally meaning “do it yourself,” the DIY ethic promotes the idea that anyone is capable of performing a variety of tasks rather than relying on paid specialists. The DIY ethic requires that the adherent seeks out the knowledge required to complete a given task. The term can refer to a variety of disciplines, including home improvement, first aid, or creative works. Rather than belittling or showing disdain for those who engage in manual labor or skilled crafts, DIY champions the average individual seeking such knowledge and expertise. Central to the ethic is the empowerment of individuals and communities, encouraging the employment of alternative approaches when faced with bureaucratic or societal obstacles to achieving their objectives.

The Great Re-Skilling is a term widely used by the Transition Movement, the New Economics Institute, and many others to describe the re-appropriation of new and old skills for self-sufficiency, community building, resilience, and connection to nature.

I’m fascinated by this brave new world of young people co-creating the best future they can imagine. I look forward to engaging with the DIY/maker/re-skilling community in West Marin and beyond through Commonweal and The New School. They give me hope for the future.