My Declaration of Interdependence

I know I said I’d be light on text today, and I will after this post (grin), but this topic may spark a nice discussion either here or within your own circles so I thought I'd throw it out into the world and see what comes back. It’s also a nice thought to bring into the weekend: the idea of needing one another. Many of you asked to read the essay that I wrote for the current Inspired: This I Believe exhibit at the Nahcotta Gallery in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. It was the first time that I contributed to a show like this as typically galleries look for art and not essays for their shows. It's exciting to see both mingle together, which inspired me to write an essay titled, "My Declaration of Interdependence". In addition to the essay appearing in their gallery space until February 1st, it's also up on the Nahcotta blog. After you read it below, I hope that you'll take out a moment to chime in with your thoughts on the interdependence in the art and design world. I'd love your take.

My Declaration of Interdependence

"No man is an island". Whether this quote calls to mind author, John Donne in his work Meditation XVII written in 1624 or the 2002 film About A Boy in which Hugh Grant perfectly plays a single shallow thirtysomething with a disposable income but no real "life", the point is clear: We can not thrive when isolated - we need each other.

The Indie movement has made great strides and continues to thrive because though "Indie" may mean breaking off from 'the man' it does not encourage complete independence, its success is based on the principals of interdependence. Interdependence is about making allies, building bridges, forming solid partnerships. In big business you can step on a few faces to climb your way to the top. In the indie world, and I'm speaking of the one in which I'm a part of mingling with creatives and artists, stepping on others is the fastest way to find yourself at the bottom. Going "indie" also means that we'll find ourselves handing over power to others, trusting and sharing, and that's perfectly okay because our goal for personal and creative freedom can still be met. A desirable goal for creatives and artists, the indie lifestyle is also becoming a necessity as corporations continue to outsource, downsize, and close their doors.

This is exactly why I left a lucrative profession in the corporate environment in 2005, I wanted to pursue my talents and use more of my creativity to help others. Working from home nearly full-time as a writer and blogger, I'm able to do that successfully but there is a negative to this lifestyle: too much independence can create a personal vacuum and hinder growth and development. I'm not as independent as I once thought going 'indie' would make me. I'm more dependent on others than ever before. I depend on my readers, my contracts, my clients, because I care about their success, I have a vested interest. Their success is my success, and I like it that way because it keeps us all responsible in my 'circle' and that's a good thing. I've come to learn that this daily interaction -- being independent as a small business owner and being dependent as a creative professional -- is interdependence.

My husband Thorsten Becker so nicely puts it, "We are becoming independent of the established conventions and restrictions placed upon us by conformist thinking and profit margins yet we need a strong support network to stay independent." That is why I believe in interdependence within the creative community. The exchange of ideas, whether through a blog or at a gallery such as Nahcotta, can influence our thinking, open our minds, and help us to build such networks. Great things can be accomplished amongst independent but interconnected individuals and groups who work together towards common goals. I think another excellent example of this is blogging and how rapidly it has grown in such a short period of time. At first, it required some effort in overcoming long established but outdated thinking patterns, certain preconceived notions as well as misconceptions about what on the web is worth reading and what is not, but the reward has been that bloggers are recognized as a large reason for the success we see in this new creative economy. Design and craft blogging started off very small, one person, then two, and currently blogs number into the thousands. What better way to illustrate interdependence and its power to transform than online.

Another powerful illustration of interdependence is alive around you in this very space, at Nahcotta. Many independent artists are presenting their work and their interpretations of the theme “This I Believe” through art and text. We all want to believe, though we may not always know what the future brings as we cannot foretell the definite outcome before we reach it, but the more we believe in each other and ourselves the greater the end results will be. There is also the journey to consider, and I believe that the journey alone is often more rewarding than the result as new dependencies are often established and existing ones strengthened while at the same time the spirit of independence is fostered. Seeing it all in motion and experiencing it first hand as a blogger and freelance writer, I believe in interdependence even more but also believe that in order to see change we must be a part of that change and work alongside those who support it. No man is an island.

- Holly Becker

(image from Shari Altman sent to me by Nahcotta)