June 4, 2012

Beer and Ballot Boxes

The goofiness that is Wisconsin takes center stage tomorrow amidst an historic recall election.  Based on the ads inundating the airwaves, nothing short of the apocalypse should be expected.  The fate of the state rests in tomorrow’s ballot box.

As important as our elected leaders are, it is nevertheless encouraging to see communities taking initiative.  An excellent recent article describes how the DIY movement is contributing to a greater sense of place in post industrial Midwest cities.  Recognizing the budget realities local governments currently face, communities are taking urban renewal into their own hands:

“We seem to have reached a new moment, where this kind of community-based and community-directed activism is playing a larger role in shaping the possibilities and facilitating a variety of new opportunities, from play to work to food to housing.”

To the extent DIY activism is of any value, craft beer would seem to be the perfect promoter.  The origins of craft beer can be found in basements and garages across the country.  Fed up with sameness and motivated by a desire to create, homebrewers have taken matters into their own hands.  The explosion in craft beer directly correlates with the home brewing movement, a movement which is part of the broader DIY phenomenon:

Home brewing is part of a broad spectrum of DIY activities including amateur astronomy, backyard biodiesel brewing, experimental architecture, open-source 3-D printing, even urban farming. (My pet chickens Pepper and Fanny eat my spent beer grains and, in turn, feed me breakfast.) Many of these pastimes can lead to new ideas, processes, and apparatus that might not otherwise exist.

Policy has its place and is immensely important; yet, policy is only as good as the imagination that drives it and the ideals it sets out to achieve.  The DIY spirit is creating fresh and innovative ideas for how to view, engage, and improve our communities.  It makes sense to cultivate the DIY energy and allow it to reshape how we imagine our communities and the ideals that we want directing specific policies.  So do vote tomorrow.   Then, grab a beer with friends and colleagues and start reimagining your place.

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