Thursday, July 22, 2010

Inspiration Thursday: Austin, Africa, and The New Imperialism

[Charles] Owning your own business is not for the faint of heart. It sounds great, work your own hours and do what you like, but somedays it just means staring at the door hoping somebody, anybody is going to walk in and buy something while all the while trying not to let your 1 1/2 year old screaming for attention drive you crazy. Somedays you really need some inspiration. You need some reason to go back in and face the ridiculous odds that seem desperate to crush you and your finances.

Thank goodness for the internet where you can connect with other businesses that are doing the same thing and joining the fight and making amazing things all over the world.

Our first stop would be the awesome Re-Nest blog on Apartment Therapy which comes through all day with a steady stream of great ideas and stories.

That lead me to Ref-Use, a company outside of Austin that makes something that I've thought about but yet to make - a stack of small scraps of plywood built into a beautiful chair. Trust me, in the shop there are so many small scraps of wood that are just dying for me to try and put in the saw and chop off some of my fingers in the process.

Last stop, for some true inspiration is a blog called Afrigadget where you can read about the ingenuity of people in Africa as they work to solve problems like building a radio from trash to trapping sewage waste and building your own personal biogas plant for sustainable cooking.

I was led there by the blog discussions I've been reading about the debate over "Humanitarian Design: The New Imperialism". Interesting stuff if you find yourself wanting to help the world but torn on whether helping in some far off place is really the sort of help you should be doing.

Happy reading! Hope some of these inspired you as well!


  1. Along those same lines is Design for the First World. Rather than first-world folks designing for the third world, this site reverses the conceit.

  2. Design for the first world was mentioned in quite a few of the posts and comments in the debate. The funny thing was that I read about that on your blog months ago. I like the discussion and how it makes us all do some soul searching before we seek out righting the wrongs of the world. Thanks for commenting Dave!