I just returned back to Vancouver after 27 days in Peru feeling well rested, inspired, and a little more colourful. I unfortunately wasn’t able to access my website in Peru so I’m going to write about the journeys post-trip (Which I think is better anyway). Here we go!
I went to Peru to learn, to challenge myself, to visit some alpacas, and to witness communities that practise a tradition of textiles that spans over centuries (Did you know that the Incas used textiles and knotted strings instead of books or scrolls to send messages across their empire?). Over the past 5 years or so, I’ve been immersed in both local and online communities of making. Through visiting (and sometimes running) Maker Faires and participating in Maker and Hacker Spaces, I’ve discovered communities that have a currency of participation – where the exchange is through learning, sharing and doing. I’ve found it invigorating and I’ve found that it’s given me a lot of meaning, connection, and purpose.
I’ve come to realize that what really makes us happy in life, is being connected to the world, and to others – and having a place in that ecosystem. I’ve found that through learning about fibre (the kind that you knit, not the kind that you eat), I’ve found connection with other cultures, to other knitters in Vancouver, and to a history and tradition of textiles and textile manufacturing. As soon as I pick up a pair of knitting needles, I instantly feel connected to family members and friends, and often reflect on the giant factories that have made our lives much more convenient, but have drastically changed the patterns of making in our world.
In a world where things are becoming more and more “convenient” – with big box hardware and grocery stores with any material or food you can imagine imported from all over the world – I can’t help but think that we are missing the point. While I’m extremely grateful that we even have food and things like washing machines and I am in no way anti-progress or anti-mechanization, I do believe that there are some serious implications for a culture that knows more about their meat from the packaging and labeling on the box than about animals themselves or the farmers that raised them. I feel that we are losing our connection with the earth (or “Pachamama” as they say in the Andes), and our connection with others, in exchange for convenience. But why are we so obsessed with convenience? It’s not like we’re really going anywhere…
Throughout my experiences in Peru, I noticed a real culture of connection – to the earth, and to others (Especially in the Andes). Even though there were many communities, there seemed to be a collective workforce. I saw women in a few different different areas in Lima tearing apart ribbons to weave them into reusable bags which they sold for a couple of soles. These bags are all over Lima, and I saw women selling them everywhere. There was no special designer label that “owned” the brand or the pattern – weaving is a collective knowledge that belongs to the people and benefits many communities. It was really interesting to see what every region made, and how much what people made was reflective of the surrounding environments. Making isn’t hidden away in factories with gross working conditions – it’s done right in front of you. You can’t help but feel connected.
Here are a few stories and anecdotes that relate to this idea of connection:
I wrote pages and pages on this stuff, so I’ll probably have some more anecdotes and stories to come. I am in no way an expert on any of these ideas. I was traveling as a tourist, so I imagine that puts a certain cultural lens on things. Please, if you have anything more to add, or any other thoughts, I encourage you to share!
* Source: Inca Cosmovision Glossary