The Proper Way To Do It


Being a migrant in the 1960’s was an interesting experience. Western Australia is quite a bit different from Canada and was more so back then. There was little in the way of information put out from here to there and we arrived pretty green.

Well, it all worked out. We found out what local foods were like and how to drive on the other side of the road and how basic the housing could be in the face of enormous climate challenges. We did not get attacked by sharks, snakes, or giant spiders.

But one of the most difficult lessons to learn was not about the wildlife or the drinking customs – it was to look at the basic items of daily life and design…and to realise that there is no absolute world standard for them – and that you cannot go looking for it.

Now I don’t mean industrial standards pushed out by the EU over the last 50 years…presumably in an effort to crowd out other production – I mean when you come here you cannot expect the light switches to be made like they are in Pittsburg. If you have a design in your mind as the “standard” you can forget it – everyone has their own standards. And they all work pretty well as good as they should.

A hammer is a hammer, but even they change. Electrical equipment is mightily different and can be mightily crude when it is made locally. Of course now it is made in someone else’s locality and is crude or sophisticated as the case may be, but I can’t help thinking that we would all benefit if it were made here. Even looking at basic things – I would rather boil water in a ceramic Hecla jug – exposed element and all – if it meant having a Hecla factory paying Hecla workers in Victoria.

And then there is the question of the the designed life…and that is another post…



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