The theme of Mohawk Maker Quarterly #4 is Community — an idea that has evolved over the past century. In the industrial age, people worked side by side to produce well-designed goods. In the information age, people worked in cubicles, connecting virtually with colleagues and clients.

Now Mohawk believes we have entered the Maker Age, “where modern creators are harnessing the best of those previous eras: a communal approach to work, enhanced by technology and tools.” For me at least, never is the idea of a modern maker community more in evidence than at National Stationery Show (NSS), where, although there is a degree of competition, “everyone lets their competitive guard down and shares their work,” noted Thomas D. O’Connor, Jr., in the editor’s letter.34041_Mohawk826_Val_R1

The images above and below by Henrik Kam depict San Francisco’s 826 National, of which Author Dave Eggers is a founder. It combines fantastical storefronts with after-school tutoring to fuel kids’ creativity & interest in learning. I love this idea — as a reader, a writer and especially as a mom. If only there was a 826 National in every town!

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To create an environment where learning and growing feels unforced, Eggers explains that “There is a sense of fun and looseness and creativity that starts at the top and goes all the way through the staff and volunteers, and the kids really pick up on it. If you make a clinical space for kids, and run it in a rigid way, the kids will feel it, and they won’t want to be there. If you create an atmosphere that’s accepting, and has wit, and where every conceivable way of learning is embraced, the students will fight to be a part of it.”

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I love that they are actively nurturing the next generation of writers — who knows, maybe a Salinger or Capote crafted one of the stories and drawings shown above! Whatever the futures of these children, it’s essential that they can articulate their perspectives, Eggers emphasized.

“In a democracy, people have to feel they have a voice. And there are so many people who don’t feel like they have a voice — that no one’s listening to their concerns or ideas. Being able to write effectively drastically increases the likelihood that unheard voices will find willing ears. We’re trying to give young people a very democratically available tool, the power of the written language. If you have a community of people who feel like they can be heard and are heard, then you will have a far more content and thriving community.”

Like every issue, there is so much food for thought here — this amazing piece just scratches the surface of the Maker Age concept. There is also coverage of communal workspaces (where say freelancers in all different trades may share a large office), makerspaces (outfitted with everything from woodworking tools to 3D printers), plus insights from a slew of great minds, including Blurb’s Eileen Gittens, who waxes eloquent on the idea of authorpreneurs.

She draws parallels between launching a company and creating a book, often made possible these days via crowdsourcing, not a traditional publisher. “While writing is a solitary pursuit, independent publishing is collaborative,” she underlined. “Writers need help editing, shaping, designing, packaging and distributing their work. Doing it independently doesn’t mean you’re doing it alone — you need to form your own little tribe where you can share your talents.”

I love the idea of one’s own little tribe — and it reminds me how lucky I am to have a career where mine intersects, supports, and is supported by so many other little tribes. Regardless of your tribe or what you create, there’s something sure to inspire you in the pages of Mohawk Maker Quarterly. You can read the latest issue online here, or sign up here to receive paper copies. Personally, I find reading it in print to be so satisfying — plus you get to experience Mohawk’s amazing paper repertoire at work.

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Above: Hug 1 by Geoff McFetridge

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