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Monday, September 17, 2012

The possible future of work

The Scythe Shop (UK)
Always, September the busiest month, compounded this year by family illness and obligations. Here is another old post to chew on ...

Rob at Transition Culture pulls out a list of occupations necessary to run a post-oil society (by looking at those found in a pre-oil society) :
Woodland Crafts. Coppicers, hurdle makers, rake makers, fork makers, besom makers, handle makers, hoop makers, ladder makers, crib makers, broaches and peg makers, clog sole cutters, bodgers, charcoal burners, oak basket makers, trug makers, stick and staff makers, field gate makers, willow basket makers, net makers.

Building crafts. Stone masons, joiners, roofers, floor layers, wallers, thatchers, slaters, lime burners, paint makers, glass blowers, glaziers, stained glass artists, mud brick makers, tile makers, chimney sweeps, plumbers, decorators, bridge builders, French polishers, sign writers.

Field crafts. Hedge layers, dry stone wallers, stile makers, well diggers, peat cutters, gardeners, horticulturists, vintners, arborists, tree surgeons, foresters, farmers, shepherds, shearers, bee keepers, millers, fishermen, orchardists, veterinarians.

Workshop crafts. Chair makers, iron founders, blacksmiths, wheelwrights, coopers, coppersmiths, tinsmiths, wood turners, coach builders, boat builders, sail makers, rope makers, wainwrights, block makers, leather tanners, harness makers, saddlers, horse collar makers, boot and shoe makers, cobblers, clog makers, knife makers, cutters, millstone dressers, potters, printers, typographers, calligraphers, bookbinders, paper makers, furniture makers, jewellers, mechanics, boiler makers, boiler men, soap makers, gunsmith, sword smith, brush maker, candle maker, artist, sculptor, firework maker, cycle builder, bone carver, musical instrument maker, clay pipe maker, tool maker.

Textile crafts. Spinner, weaver, dyer, silk grower, tailor, seamstress, milliner, hatter, lace maker, button maker, mat and rug maker, crochet worker, tatting and macramé worker, knitter, quilter, smock worker, embroiderer, leather worker, felt maker.

Domestic crafts. Fish smoker, bacon curer, butter maker, cheese maker, brewer, cider maker, wine maker, distiller, herbalist, ice cream maker, butcher, fishmonger, pie maker, pickle maker, baker, barrister and coffee roaster, homeopath, reflexologist, osteopath, naturopath, storyteller, teacher naturalist, historian, jester, actor, administrator, philosopher, labourer, poet, writer, midwife, publican, bookseller, librarian.... [reposted from the red mullet]

[risa] ... not that I think we'll get to such a future from here without a hideous triage, which I don't personally expect to survive. There, it's out in the open, I'm a doomer. But one who has always had, and paradoxically perhaps still has, a certain optimism as the ground of my being. And I think my lifestyle changes are good for me even if I am proved wrong by events.

So, on to my idea of fun:

Though I see myself in many of the occupations listed above, I've taken increased interest in coppicing, which I see as part of small farming (I'm also a letterpress printer, a chandler, a carpenter, and so on. Beloved is a flock-keeper and small farmer as well, and also a locally appreciated storyteller-folksinger-puppet theater artist, with an emphasis on participatory work with children and teaching multiculturalism. And we are both low-tech homemakers).

Coppicing is an ancient trade, which was much in demand for wattle-and-daub constuction, woven fences, and basketry until relatively recently. Tree species that re-sprout from the stump quickly, grow quickly, and are native are a sound basis for a good coppice. The fuelwood you can get from these burns with a little less heat and is a little less convenient to stack and handle than large chunks of Douglas fir, but it's markedly easier to cut! I have a small electric chainsaw, which larger trees tend to intimidate, and I like figuring out how to do things around here without gasoline.

You can get wood out of your coppice with a bow-saw if necessary, and very little splitting is required. A bundle of sticks or even twigs can do much toward keeping a small, well insulated home warm and a meal cooked, as anyone in Bolivia or Senegal could tell you; and coppice wood can provide 6" diameter firelogs on a very short rotation with the right species.

I've been experimenting, for several years, with hazelnut wood, Oregon ash, and pussy willows. I'm told hawthorn is good, but haven't seen any around here, or maybe I just don't recognize it. Ideas? Or occupations to add to Rob's list?


  1. The descriptions of the occupations reads like a list of trades practiced on Pern, in the Anne MacCaffery books! (exceping Dragon riders!)

  2. It is a major charm of these books ... I'm from Harper Hall, myself ...

  3. also, in kunstler's world made by hand and witch of hebron! and sm stirlings change books

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