Monday, July 13, 2009

july undercurrent article

Ed: D.I.Y. Do it yourself. I love that mantra, and in a lot of ways it embodies my spirit and the spirit of Fresno. We are a group of do it yourselfers, a city of them. Six or so years ago, there was a void in Fresno’s internet community, and so a few people started a little website, Fresno Famous, that eventually was bought out by the big time media. But the site stirred up others to grab hold of the internet and tell the world about Fresno and what’s happening here from our persective. Fresno had a void in reporting about politics, arts and culture, and a group of people started up the Undercurrent. A few years back a few women wanted to do something different and competitive. They strapped on some skates and started Smog City Roller Girls. They rented rink time, they promoted the hell outta themselves, and became local sports stars in a city that sometimes has trouble noticing anything that’s not a Bulldog. And us, was saw that there were and are Fresno based podcasts, but we saw a void and started up something of our own: The View Looks Good from Here, Fresno. And now we’re over a year old and have done 30 episodes. Did we take a class? Did we study what worked? No, we just got after it and have become a successful podcast drawing in a variety of listeners and guests. I mean, who would’ve figured we would have had news reporters, local bands, community developers, and a mayoral candidate all in our first year? Shouldn’t we have waited and established ourselves and then tried to take a big bite out of local media? The do it yourself in me says no way, do it now. What’s do it yourself mean to you, Adam?

Adam: Well, as your partner in this venture, I don't think it would be a surprise for anyone reading this to see that I absolutely agree with all the examples you've cited so far. I definitely think that the entrepreneurial spirit embodies the DIY attitude but I think that its roots are far simpler. And I think that the hard economic times we're witnessing now are bringing about a restart in personal DIY ideals.

For example, in a recent issue, we read about more people gardening and growing their own food. In my apartment complex, a neighbor has found a spot of ground that gets sun and started some tomatoes, squash, and beans. We even see that idea being born out with the community garden growing in the Tower District.

I know for my part, I see the idea working in terms of home maintenance. In the last months, I've put up a ceiling fan for a friend, finished some cabinetry for another, and changed the tail lights on my car, among other things. It's the idea of maybe not knowing how to do something from the get go, but having the gumption to educate one's self and actually do it; taking back some of the ground that is claimed by expertise.

Ed: Great point about hard economic times causing people to rethink what they pay for and what they’re willing to do themselves. At my house we’ve started a modest garden, and built our own raised bed boxes for them. At one point we considered a gardening service, but chose to do it ourselves. These little things have brought great joy and definitely have made us feel proud about our first cucumbers or how the lawn is coming along. Shoot, just today I had to get the hammer and nails out to fix a fence. Not a big task, but slightly empowering.

Adam: Yeah, I think it's a great thing across the board. And the more people that do it, the better. More people trying to promote shows, more people trying to engage in the public discourse of ideas, more people trying to contribute to their community, at all levels. It's wonderfully paradoxical that "doing it yourself" can be applied and be beneficial to the larger community.

Ed: Speaking of more people doing it themselves, let’s take some time to point out and thank some d.i.y.’ers and their work:
-Notown Roller Girls – DIY roller derby @ the Fresno Fairground, next match on July 11
-Let’s Go 77 productions – recently brought The Queers, the Hot Toddies, and the Mansfields to Audie’s Olympic
-Tower Beautification Group – group of volunteers that meets outside the Chicken Pie Shop on the fourth Saturday of each month and fans out to pick up trash.
-The guys @ for creating one of the only Swede festivals worldwide and pulling off 3 successful events and a fall one in the works.

So if you’re not already, get out and do it yourself.

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