Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Crafting Alone

“No man is an island.” John Donne

The Lord God said, "It is not good for man to be alone."  Genesis 2:18

As I look back over the last eleven years that we’ve had our little haven of community, I think about what has changed.  Some changes have been for the better:  like our increased inventory (aren’t these pictures hilarious!  They are from the day we opened!!!), and the left-turn arrow.  Some have not been as wonderful, like when they changed our address and GPS and UPS couldn’t find us for weeks.  One of the biggest changes, of course, has been the Internet!  When we opened, we processed credit cards with a modem, and we were the primary source for product education.  But YouTube has really changed things for us.  You can literally find out how to do ANYTHING on YouTube.  

Of course, that’s been hard for us and for many small businesses (think of your local bookstores).  But it’s also impacted society – believe it or not.  Even with as connected as we are electronically, we are more alone than ever.  I have just started reading Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community, and it’s really speaking to me.  The book was written by Robert Putnam, a Harvard professor of public policy, and published in 2000.
In this book, Putnam identifies “social capital”.  This is much more than just networking, because the community that forms improves the lives, not only of the individual, but also of the society surrounding it.  I’m going to talk more about that in future posts, but I wanted to give you an example from my experience here at the shop.  We offer FREE make-and-takes every Thursday.  A couple of single ladies started coming every Thursday after work, so they ran into each other here frequently.  A friendship developed that began to extend outside our walls.  And one day, one of the ladies came in during the work day.  I asked her if she had the day off.  “No,” she replied, “Jane had a dentist appointment, so I took the day off to drive her.”  That is a thriving community that only happens when people get out and meet each other.  I will give more examples of that, too, as I add to this blog.

Lots of research has been done to indicate that community is important.  In order for community to thrive, we all need to participate.  We are increasing the times, days and kinds of workshops we have available to try to meet your need for community.  Please join us!  There’s no community without you.  We have FREE demos every Tuesday from 12 – 2.  We have a FREE make-and-take project every Thursday from 10 – 8.  We have crafting workshops several times each week.  And we’ve now added a more holistic series of workshops to our offerings this summer.  I have scheduled the first Guided Meditation workshop for Wednesday morning, June 4 at 9 AM, and the Affirmations Box workshop for Monday evening, June 9 at 6 PM.  We would love to see you at any of these offerings and share in your lives.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Beginnings

“One can acquire everything in solitude except character.” Stendhal

“What should young people do with their lives today? Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured.” Kurt Vonnegut

We, as humans, are built with a desire to fit in somewhere.  A need to be understood and cared for.  Before I could articulate that thought, I believed it.  Experienced it.  If we’re honest, we all have.
I opened Angela’s Happy Stamper in August of 2003 after having been a stay-at-home mom for 5 years.  In those 5 years, I had moved here from my strong support network up in Philadelphia, and I was desperate for community again.  I didn’t realize at that time how the community would grow and really care for each other in such a transient, busy place. 

 About 3 years after we opened, I read an article in the Washington Post about the concept of the “Third Place”.  I’ve been calling the store a “Third Place” for years, not knowing it’s an actual thing!  You know it’s a thing because it’s on Wikipedia!!!  Here’s the definition:   “The third place (or third space) is the social surroundings separate from the two usual social environments of home and the workplace. In his influential book The Great Good Place, Ray Oldenburg (1989, 1991) argues that third places are important for civil society, democracy, civic engagement, and establishing feelings of a sense of place.

Oldenburg calls one's "first place" the home and those that one lives with. The "second place" is the workplace — where people may actually spend most of their time. Third places, then, are "anchors" of community life and facilitate and foster broader, more creative interaction. All societies already have informal meeting places; what is new in modern times is the intentionality of seeking them out as vital to current societal needs.”

I truly believe we are A Third Place.  We are a place where community happens.  And as such, we are important – vital – to society.  Wow!  I’ll be exploring this further on this blog in the days and weeks to come.  I welcome your involvement, thoughts and comments.  But before I conclude this initial post, let me tell you how I’ll be exploring this idea IN PERSON – in community that’s face-to-face and ask you to join me!

We already have FREE demos on Tuesdays and FREE make-and-takes on Thursdays in an effort to build community.  We have workshops several days a week where our hands are busy, but our mouths are free to share :)  I want to add some other opportunities to gather to the mix this summer.  As I’ve talked to some of you about these plans, you’ve shared things you’d like to do, and I’ve listened and incorporated them as best I could.  So, here’s what’s coming….

When the store is closed, we will be using the classroom as a gathering place where we can connect with each other and check in with our own selves.  I will be leading sessions of Guided Meditation using the Psalms, sessions on Women in the Bible (by request) and a field trip to a local outdoor labyrinth where we can walk in silence and then come back to the shop to create an abstract work of art to capture some of the impressions we had.  Some have requested info on the power of Prayer.  We can either incorporate that into some of these other sessions, or we can do a session exclusively on that.  I want to hear from you.

My plan is to offer both morning and evening sessions for the Guided Meditations and the Women’s study.  The morning sessions would be from 9 – 10 on a specific day beginning in early June, and the evening sessions would be either on a Sunday, Monday or Friday evening from 7 – 8.  I’m interested in getting your feedback.  Please email me and tell me which of these sessions you might be interested in and the days/times that work best.  I’ll do my very best to accommodate everyone that responds.  My email is

As I said, I’ll be talking more in upcoming days about the importance of community to society, and how there has been an incredibly decline in community building (and the ramifications to that) since the 1980s.  It’s not just the crafting industry that’s been affected.  It’s a societal trend.  So, let’s talk.  Let’s gather.  And let’s start a revolution :)