Saturday, December 7, 2019

Some Thoughts on Light and Generosity

If you look at many past Decembers' respective posts here on the blog, you'll see a fairly consistent theme: light and gifts (and giving in general). Since this is the time of year for both of those themes, this is not so surprising.

It is also no secret that I have been intricately involved in the Indie Designer Gift-a-long for the last six years - the first and last year as just a participating designer (this year as well), and the middle years as both a participating designer and a group moderator, which does take up quite a bit of time (and to put it in some perspective for you: this year there are over 13,860 members in Ravelry's Indie Designer Gift-a-long group who have, collectively since November 26th at 8:00 pm EST when the GAL began, finished 490 projects - or on average since the end of the day yesterday, approximately 44 gifts per day. I know I personally have 3 ongoing projects in the GAL, two of which are gifts for others with deadlines, so the gift-making onslaught will only intensify over the next few weeks). To say this has become a DIY phenomenon is putting it mildly.

There are a few reasons why it has consistently grown over the last seven years - the general spirit of giving among makers, the ability of makers to interact freely with designers (many of whom also now, as a new tradition, make some number of their own gifts during the Gift-a-long and allow themselves this time to make other designers' designs, which is a real treat), and the ability of indie designers to come together one time during the year and support each other in a spirit of good will and professional camaraderie. In fact, in the words of the GAL's main administrator from just this year,

 " ... I want to reiterate that the spirit of the GAL is about promoting your fellow participating designers and not your own work."

So, given all that, imagine my surprise when I suggested, in a separate Ravelry forum, that for future years our annual pattern sale be extended just one day to incorporate Giving Tuesday, and was promptly bullied by a fellow designer for the suggestion. 
The bullying designer's take: since she did not view her design business as charity, and Giving Tuesday was all about giving to charity, she would greatly appreciate if I did not view her business in that light. My, my, my - a tad touchy, perhaps? While I certainly do not view my design business in a charity light, I do very much view my business in deeply personal terms - personal to me, and personal to all those who choose to purchase my designs and support my efforts. My following is small, but very, very loyal - and I take some satisfaction in the fact that over the last many years, I have gotten to know many of those who make projects from my designs on a personal basis. I really had to shake my head at the source of the criticism, because the designer in question has only published 3 new designs since 2017, while I have published over 30, both independently and via third party publishers of all sorts, despite all kinds of personal challenges. I will leave it to you, dear reader, to determine who is taking their design business more seriously.

When this online chastising occurred, I thought it might be good to do some digging on Giving Tuesday and the impulse behind its creation. Started by New York City's 92nd Street Y in 2012, it is "a global generosity movement unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world." Furthermore, the non-profit's site goes on to state:

"In an era of global crisis and disconnection, we need new rituals to connect us. ... Giving Tuesday strives to build a world in which the catalytic power of generosity is at the heart of the society we build together ..."

Honestly, though Giving Tuesday may have morphed into a day which many now give to charities, its initial spirit is (I would argue) exactly in line with the spirit of the GAL. I'd go even farther in suggesting that, given the amazing number of makers and participating designers, the GAL is continuing to create a new ritual that connects the making community via generosity of all sorts, precisely what the Giving Tuesday founders had in mind. 

I am going to continue to do what I have always done: support my fellow indie designers during the GAL through purchases, making, and social media exposure of my completed projects. (I actually bought a record number of patterns this year - 14, and all with sales derived from my own designs, I am happy to report.) I sincerely hope the GAL administrator might see the light of and generous spirit in my request, and include Giving Tuesday in all subsequent GAL kick-off sale weeks.

And, of course, I will still be publishing (and selling for potential profit) my own designs ... no matter what.