25 Nov Passing It Along
Growing up in Australia in the 70’s, knowledge and skills passed down from generation to generation, was the norm. My parents were extremely capable, very independent people, and firm believers that their kids should be self sufficient; not having to rely on other people to do things for them.
Having 5 children under the age of eight years old, I’m sure this wasn’t purely for our benefit, but also a big part of their future ‘sanity plan’ as well.
I remember vividly, driving home from town one night with my younger sister and, as we went beyond the city limits into the bush, my car suddenly started to misfire and lose power.
Good ‘Ole Dad
My father spent countless hours showing me and my siblings how to do everything from making a mean bolognese sauce, to basic electrical wiring, plumbing and mechanical repairs; in fact, we weren’t allowed to drive a car unless we could do a grease and oil change, replace spark plugs, and change a tire. Living an hour away from town, without cell phones, this wasn’t just for kicks but a necessity; unless you wanted to sit on the side of the road until someone found you…and none of us wanted to do that…especially us girls.
Foot flat to the accelerator, it continued to slow down until I was forced to pull over on to the side of the road.
Thank God I Paid Attention!!
It was pitch black, the only light coming from the occasional blinding headlights of a huge truck roaring past us; the force of the passing air shaking our car. My sister, 16 at the time, was terrified and, although I couldn’t show it, so was I. This was our worst nightmare. Two young girls alone, in the dark, in the middle of nowhere. Every horror movie we’d ever watched was running through both of our minds and we knew that we were stuck in the darkness with who knows who, or what, unless we could get the car working again.
We kept a torch (flashlight) and a basic tool kit in the car, so I popped the bonnet (the hood) and started examining the wires and fuel line hose, looking for poor connections, but couldn’t find any. I asked my sister for her nail file which I knew she always kept in her handbag. One by one I removed each spark plug, filed the gap with the nail file, and carefully put them back in place. I got back into the driver’s seat and, with teeth clenched, nervously turned the key. The engine sputtered back to life and we both screamed with relief and excitement. I pulled out onto the road and we drove the rest of the way home, without further trouble.
It Was “Our Way”
A trip to the local country ‘Tip’ (That’s Aussie for ‘Dump’) was something we all looked forward to. So many treasures to be found amongst the discarded and broken items that other people had thrown away because they no longer worked and didn’t know how to fix it themselves.
My brothers would comb the piles, looking for things they could bring home and tinker with. Lawn-mowers, engines, alarm clocks; anything with moving parts.Televisions were the most treasured item of all. Our house was a one tv home and, with 7 people and video recorders not yet invented, there was always someone who missed out on seeing ‘their show’. Back at the farm my brothers, under the watchful, wise eyes of our dad, would take their latest find apart, checking for loose connections and other simple fixes. Invariably that’s all the problem was – something incredibly simple that only took a little soldering or rewiring to repair and “voila”, it worked again. The thrill of making something ‘good again’ was incredibly satisfying and brought such a sense of achievement and pride that we ‘did it ourselves’.
And it wasn’t just our dad, grandfather and uncles who were passing on their skills and knowledge. My mother and our aunts and grandmothers also passed on their skills; sharing their incredible literary and world knowledge, and musicianship, as well as teaching every single one of us how to cook, and also mend our clothes. My youngest brother, inspired by the magic of taking simple ingredients and turning them into a delicious dish that brought oohs and aahs from the family, decided to become a chef, and ended up working in some of the best fine dining restaurants in Australia.
When we moved to our farm, south of Sydney, my mother, an extremely talented artist and sculptor, learned how to milk cows, build fences and a myriad of other impressive skills and taught us how to do those too. There was nothing like the taste of fresh milk and cream from our cows, or fresh fruit and vegetables that we’d grown in our vegetable garden and orchard, and again the satisfaction of having done it ourselves, brought the greatest joy of all.
A Thing Of The Past
These days, our fast paced lives and obsession with owning the latest gadget has turned us into a wasteful consumer society. We no longer take the time to repair something, we just pay someone else to fix it or simply buy another one. The invaluable skills and knowledge of our older generations are no longer being passed down and we have quickly become helpless; dependent on others for everything.
Addicted to our cell phones and the false sense of connection that social media has given us, we live in a world of solitude; community is lost and instead of turning to our parents or grandparents for answers, we turn to the internet. We’ve lost the quintessential thing that is vital not only for our survival but more importantly our happiness…human connection.
Enter WeKnow, the new startup that connects people who have something to teach, with people who have something they want to learn. Whether it be how to use your new DSLR camera, putting a business plan together or even just changing a tire, WeKnow is all about empowering people to do it themselves, through one-on-one, face-to-face learning. Instead of driving a car or doing someone’s chores to make extra money, people can share their passions and their skills. It’s a win-win situation for both sides.
WeKnow – empowering people, and restoring human connection and community to the world.