I had the good fortune last week to receive an invitation to the Kinfolk Social, a celebration of community, food, and craft, at The Green Building in Brooklyn. I went solo, hoping that like-minded nice people interested in meeting others would allow me entry to their conversations. They did.
The Green Building, a long, lofted barn-like space was lit by three golden chandeliers and enough candles to warm the place. Eucalyptus leaves were strewn from the rafters above, creating a canopy over the long communal table. After enjoying a family-style vegetarian meal, the group welcomed a larger crowd, doubling the size of the Kinfolk fans, the local crafters and artisans, and the writers and photographers who spend their time in the support of these artists.
Kinfolk, possibly the most beautiful quarterly magazine to hit limited shelving in recent years, celebrates this coming together. It inspires a slower pace, an appreciation of tastes, smells, decor, and place. Above all, it wants to create community. And that Sunday night supper in Brooklyn helped do just that. There were Brooklyn-made cheeses, chocolates, specialty beers and cocktails, slate serving platters, ceramic mugs and teapots... a true celebration of the talent our neighborhood possesses.
This was great timing, for the Times had run a quick story in the Sunday magazine the week previous, highlighting the artisans that are moving beyond pickles and knitted caps and becoming specialists in more specific manufacturing. The author, Adam Davidson, argued that this was true capitalism, as Adam Smith wrote it could be, for maximum efficiency there must be specialization. I make the cheese, you the bread, he’ll make the oven. Together, we all have grilled cheeses. If we each make our own parts to the grilled cheese puzzle, the process is slowed. This is ironic, isn’t it? This craft movement occurred in the first place because we wanted to get off the high-speed, high-pressure life style that thrives on quickness, access, and expediency. We focus on slowing sufficiently to focus on one thing, one thing we feel a connection to, and in doing so, we hasten the efficiency of the whole, as long as enough people slow to focus on their specialties too. There are holes in this argument, sure, but in a general manner, Davidson is right to point out the true expanse of this movement and its effect on our economy. We are moving in a direction of specialization by choice, we are making the crafts that we want to, not working in an assembly line of gadgets. We are, in becoming more passionate economic participants, creating a healthier, happier economy. Slowly, sure, but doing so nonetheless. This makes me so excited. I love to think that if we all gather together with our special talents, that we recreate this marketplace with our ideals and expectations in the proper place.
On that note, read this blog: