Three weeks ago, Minneapolis police officers killed George Floyd. Outrage over his death sparked protests around Minneapolis and around the world. As a Minneapolis resident, it appears that change is really happening. It is up to us to ensure that changes occur, to remain vigilant and to work for a better, fairer society. My fate in life is the result of a privilege and I must do more to help those who have not had the same opportunities.
What does this have to do with woodworking? This is an excellent question. As a company invested in stimulating and supportive manufacturers, we cannot agree with the status quo. You know how powerful and rewarding woodworking can be and we want to give everyone the opportunity to have the same feeling. We want to teach and inspire everything.
As carpenters, we are skilled at building things, fixing things, improving them. Do you need a place to sit? Here, I made a chair. Are your dovetails a bit gappy? No problem. Some thin wedges, perhaps some glue and sawdust, and they look much better. It is time to help repair our society.
If you look through the pages of Popular Woodworking (or any carpentry magazine), you will mostly see white hands and faces in the photos. You will probably also see almost all men. This lack of diversity is unacceptable. And we will change it.
How did we get here? Research indicates that most of our readers (hobbyist carpenters) entered woodworking because of owning a house. Buy tools to fix things in the house and then wonder what else you can do with them.
Looking at the demographics of Minneapolis (where I also recently bought a house), there are some fairly clear lines between race and ownership. Minneapolis has a history of redlining. When they built the highway, I-94 destroyed the historically black neighborhood of Rondo in St. Paul. Once redestination had concentrated minorities in parts of the city, I-94 cut North Minneapolis from its adjacent neighborhoods. Similar stories have taken place across the state and the country.
This leads today to the state of Minnesota, where only 25% of the state’s black population owns a home, compared with approximately 75% of the state’s white population. (Overall, approximately 65% of people living in Minnesota own their homes.) Home ownership is the primary way generational wealth is built. This is just one example of systemic racism present at all levels of American society.
I don’t think Popular Woodworking can change it on its own, but it can be one of the many voices working towards a fairer world. It can be a voice that listens more, that has its flaws, that encourages its audience to change for the better.
With the full support of our parent company, Active Interest Media, we will seek and present multiple color manufacturers online and in our magazine. We will present some projects for people who are not homeowners. We will be actively anti-racist. We will do our best to help create the world we want to live in.
But there are also more pressing needs right now. To this end, I am raising funds for the Northside Funders Group in Minneapolis to help rebuild North Minneapolis and am making donations of up to $ 1000 total (out of my own pocket) until the end of June. Make your donation here. Forward your e-mail receipt from your donation (send to email@example.com). I’ll match it (up to a total of $ 1000). I will update this post if we reach that goal.
And please, contact us to let us know how we are doing, if there are producers we should work with or if there are things we can do better. I know we won’t be able to do everything right, but it’s more important to make progress and correct mistakes than to wait for the perfect opportunity. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. I want to hear it from you.
Here are some supplies and tools that we find essential in our daily work in the shop. We may receive a commission from the sales indicated by our links; however, we have carefully selected these products for their usefulness and quality.