Working with artisans and local communities is an experience.
Experience occurs. Because it doesn’t end after an occurrence of incidences. It continues with our interaction. With the changing set of environmental conditions in the very process of living. Environmental conditions like resistance and conflict. Elements of the self and the world.
Completing my research trip before the lock down, “that was an experience!”
Each time our role changes, our experience with the interacting bodies change. We develop new insights, new learning; have new realizations, and a new set of conclusions. This interaction completes the institution of an incidence and develops new perspectives. New Experiences.
Lets talk of working with Artisans and local communities!
Does change in roles and environment give us new perspectives? Shape our experiences?
I use my own set of observations to understand the same.
As a Consumer. I’m exploring a handicraft exhibition with my friends, looking to buy a pot for my kitchen.
I visit an artisan’s stall, ask for the price of a beautiful fish-shaped bowl. I have a budget limitation and the artisan quotes way higher than the limit. I talk to him with an intention to negotiate for the product. But it turns bitter. We end up cussing each other till the time I walk out his stall.
The negotiation between me and the artisan gave me a bitter experience. I conclude, artisans are hard to bargain with and artisanal products are expensive.
As a Design Researcher. I’m at a village and I see locals demonstrating traditional daily use products.
An old lady is making a bamboo strainer. Her hand glides the bamboo real smooth. Without using any adhesive the strainer is complete and looks sturdy enough!
The audience is in awe and want to auction the strainer. Amma’s got finesse in making the strainer.
Rs. 2000 for a product that Amma usually sold for Rs. 200 or even less.
What we auctioned as a craft, was a tool used by the locals in cooking meals daily.
We as an audience appreciate the product quality. The artisanal value of a daily use product. We recite this as an ‘eye-opening experience’ to our family and friends.
As a part of an NGO.
I take workshops with people of the community. I do it to up-skill artisans and local community members.
If we ensure internet education and communication skills, communities can outperform businesses. Making them explore their potential, I experience true joy of serving a purpose in my work.
As a profit incurring business. I collaborate with artisans as equal stakeholders of the business.
One such day we are working on how to scale and tool the business model with other communities.
I learn that ethical business is crucial for the growth of craftsmen and the industry. Transparency in business keeps both parties in trust of each other. Profits motivate you to keep working for the cause. This is a life changing experience for me and members of the community.
There is an outline to the common pattern of consequences, perspectives and experiences.
Every experience is the result of interactions of changing roles and environments.