We Are Shelter People

Why is it that in a world with so many options and possibilities we are the least connected with our basic needs?  

Growing up with Atlanta, my city embraced the values of American consumption.  Consumption was our civic duty.  Marketing 101 at UGA in the 80's taught budding sales and brand managers to create marketing plans which appealed the human needs within Maslow's Hierarchy - basic needs first and then onto to the higher need for self actualization.

The public's job was not to question but to consume with complete trust in corporate America to fill our basic needs  cheaply and quickly so we can move on to filling our "higher needs" of self fulfillment, etc.  What they failed to teach us, practice in action, or maybe even understand was that basic needs were not basic because they were easy to fill, but basic because the way in which they are filled is basic to our being. 

  • Food is not simply nutrients and calories.  It is growing, harvesting, experimenting, trying, and sharing.  
  • Shelter is not square footage or even just a roof.  It is protection, privacy, community, inspiration, and family.
  • Clothing is not simply the filling of a closet with the most items for the cheapest price. It is individuality, exchange, style, design, crafting, and celebrating.

When we completely turn over the filling of these needs to the marketplace, we loose the lessons of self and the connections with others that come from participating in meeting our own needs - growing or cooking our food, designing or making our shelter or items in it, or mending or tweaking our clothing to fit properly.  

A general survey of friends over casual conversation has shown me that while everyone appreciates our shared need for food, shelter, and clothing, each of us usually has one of these needs which is even more important to us.  

For me it is shelter, a realization that I did not understand until Bill and I moved from a historic home with great proportions, views, and karma into a home which didn't have these things.  Our new house had a roof, 4 walls, and the appropriate number of bedrooms, but it was not until we moved in and really looked that we realized its placement on the lot demonstrated a complete lack of understanding of shelter's need to connect us with our surroundings.  I quickly realized that I cannot settle or feel at home until my shelter is working for and adapting to me, versus me working for and adapting to it.  

I cannot imagine what I would have done without having Bill and his friends.  These craftspeople are the people behind the production of shelter, they are the baker behind the bread, the seamstress or tailor behind the suit.  

Our society is such that we need sales people, office professionals, large scale mass-manufacturers, and techies, but when we allow ourselves to become completely distanced from the hand making of things, we loose the connections between those basic needs and both our individual and our common humanity. 

The Workshops at Howard Heights cannot be everything to everyone, but if your are a shelter person - someone who cares about what goes into the making of your house or the furnishings within it - we hope you will feel at home with us.