A Community Vision
|Vintage 1950’s decanters designed in form and glaze by Weston Neil Andersen
This blog post grew out of a response to having my comment deleted in an economic development discussion in my local news paper. The Boothbay Peninsula is the grayest town in the grayest county in the grayest state in Maine. I believe my vision can have a transformative effect on the problems of my home town, but there has been no forum wherein one can introduce such a vision, and so this blog post expanded beyond merely posting the comment deleted by the Boothbay Register. I replaced the comment in the Boothbay Register, with one promoting my own economic development blog, Preserving the American Political Philosophy, where my deleted comment can be read, Then I decided to repost the blog post here.
The Comment presented further down, has been deleted twice from the Boothbay Register Discussion about the JECD, It is my view of the JECD that it is just an arm of Maine central management of our economy which operates in the “high value industry” paradigm, which Senator Rubio discusses in his report, American Investment in the 21st Century. I was already aware that some industries are targeted and subsidized by central management and other industries devalued from my research on the Maine economic development statutes, incrementally put into place since the Longley administration
|Go to Report|
In my opinion it would be good thing for the Boothbay Peninsula if there were a place for the small entrepreneurial community to connect but currently I have not found that to be so. Therefore, I introduced my own economic development vision to the larger community in this post (below), which was deleted twice by the Boothbay Register by being marked as spam in Disqus.
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I started this blog around 2007 because I observed an absence in the Maine media of alternative voices to central management. Central management of Maine’s economy was deemed into existence by Governor Longley’s unelected board, in the 1970’s. Maine’s fastest growing sector was then small businesses employing up to 100 people, and Maine was leading the nation in that sector. The excuse for creating a centrally managed economy was that small business have a much harder time finding capital that larger ones and so the Maine government would come to their aid. Instead the small businesses have been marginalized or used to subsidize “high value industry” in the model of China, which Rubio presents in his report, Made in China 2005 and the Future of American Business.
|Go to Report|
Andersen Design is a brand, uniquely situated, because of our history, to represent the intrinsic value of the work process in the same way that the Trump brand represents the wealth culture.
|One of a Kind Vintage Pitcher, designed and hand crafted by Weston Neil Andersen in the late forties or early fifties as part of his concept for the original line of functional forms which launched Andersen Design, then known as Ceramics by Andersen. This pitcher and other rare vintage Andersen objects are available for sale HERE|
Recognizing that we now live in a wealth redistribution economy, I approached a New York Arts fiscal sponsor for fiscal sponsorship of our production. Fiscal sponsorship allows an organization which does not have non-profit status to apply for grants from foundations and other non-profit funding, but does not make the organization tax exempt. Translating that into the local dialogue, fiscal sponsorship would allow Andersen Design to fund a fiscally sponsored project with grants but it would not be property tax exempt, and so this would be a plus for the local economy in all ways.
It was the word “production, used on our application, which sent the board into a tizzy. The use of the word, “production”, was specifically stated as the reason we were rejected. The board suggested that Andersen Design change its historical mission and apply again as a school or a museum. As a school we would be prohibited from teaching what we know and love or selling any of the student work as other local non-profits are known to do. Since selling the student work would help to support the school, it touches on the real reason our application was rejected. The application asked for figures, which I took from our business plan, based on my Dad’s parameters of operations, a system of ratios. I used an amount that would fund our business at the scale appropriate for a company with over 200 market proven designs in its inventory. The figures projected that if we started with an operating grant scaled to the size of our assets, we would make most of it back in the first year of operations.
When I re-read the application instructions, I realized my mistake. The guidelines instruct that applications showing no profit or a loss are preferred. I reapplied as a Museum showing a significant loss in the figures. At that point the museum was a Museum of Andersen Design, only, a company which grew itself from the roots up in the free enterprise economy, using production as its method of growth. The application as a Museum of Andersen Design was readily accepted. Soon afterwards, I reconfigured the concept as the Andersen Designer Museum of American Designer Craftsmen. When I approached the JECD looking for support, Wendy Wolf told me that the JECD can’t do anything to help individual businesses, which she was actively doing in the form of supporting the Botanical Gardens and the dining and entertainment industries in Boothbay Harbor.
The Museum is still a viable concept but it needs local support, which has not materialized.(inquiries welcome). The Museum combined with the network of small independently owned slip casting studios, would create a viable cultural focus capable of drawing new younger entrepreneurial residents and visitors and shoppers of all ages to the Peninsula. The Andersen Design brand and extensive product line are assets with a potential to bring new creative work opportunities to the area. The vision I have in my mind is a viable business incubator, but not in a sector designated as having the “high value” pursued by central management. However I submit that the “low-value, high value industrial paradigm is seriously flawed.
At first I did not know what to make of it when my blog post “What Difference A Curve Makes” was shared on Facebook by a college professor at an art school in Indonesia. In terms of globalism I might be worried that our designs will be copied and reproduced in low cost labor markets. However my post text is about the humanistic value of the work process as found in the art of making ceramics. This is a value which is important everywhere. The old economic paradigms which locates high value industries in developed nations and low valued industries in emerging nations is rapidly evolving. It would be much better for society if the value of all work, as a process which enriches life, is raised. I have seen some products sold as “authentic’ crafts from emerging nations which are souless commercial products. People making crafts everywhere should be engaged in a highly valued work process. Andersen Design established that this need not be limited solely to the high end of the art market. Andersen Design established production as an artform in 1952, when its purpose was stated to be to “create a hand crafted product affordable to the middle classes”. The collectors of Andersen took to referring to the product produced in our “factory” as “art”.
Andersen Design is a unique American company which took the road less travelled when we did not move our production overseas and yet we were able to compete successfully in a market filled with products produced in low cost global labor markets. Our line is classic, with marketability which has remained consistent through decades and has both national and international appeal.
DELETED COMMENT from Boothbay Register discussion: Towns discuss JEDC, collaboration Extension of shoulder season with Boothbay Lights benefited Boothbay Harbor dining, entertainment and bed and breakfast industry. There was no benefit for Boothbay although Boothbay also funded it. Well- not quite none, it also served as an advertising campaign for the super-funded Botanical Gardens.
Broadband has a lot of issues with G5 technology, which I won’t get into here and
say instead that no one has ever said why we need this. I am not saying that we
don’t but the whole idea seems to be resting on an assumption that we do need
it, which has never been articulated, to my knowledge. Since I once was trying
to get some information out of Wendy Wolf and was directed to go look it up myself
on the town website, I discovered that the plans for broadband were in place at
the town office, long before the publicly organized discussions about it ever occurred.
I would like a clear answer on why we need it and if there has been serious
consideration of the environmental issues with G5 technology and assurance the
technology, if installed, will not be made in China.
Housing is being conceived as an upstairs downstairs community with the “workers”
and middle income people living in modular housing, and ordinances in place to
restrict businesses in the home. Home businesses are fundamental to
designer-crafts persons and or artists, be they in maritime industries,
farmers, or other. I was recently told by a former member of the planning board
that “You can have a gallery in your home in Boothbay, but you can’t show anyone
else’s work and you can’t hire anyone to make your work” In other words you can’t
grow. I am not sure that he was up to date on “you can have a gallery in your
home”, pursuant to recent articles in this newspaper. Since we have both a
housing shortage and an age issue, maybe we should be rethinking the
regulations suppressing independent business in the home?
East side zoning changes and expansion of public access, footbridge work are
specific to Boothbay Harbor.
Historic buildings are being bulldozed over to make room for the new developer’s.
The former home of Andersen Design was one of the oldest buildings in East Boothbay,
is an iconic example. Andersen Design was one of the first businesses in the home
on the Boothbay Peninsula, first situated in a wooden barn built with pegs in
the 1800’s which was also bulldozed over after we left. The economic development
leaders of our community need to read some of the history books of this region such
as the Jim Harnedy series which features Andersen Design. The help we have received
from this community is phenomenal, but all has come from outside of our
“Sites inventory” is unexplained. Andersen Design needs a site for a training capacity I have long had a vision of producing our line of over two hundred classic and market proved ceramic slip-cast designs in a network of small independently owned slip-casting studios. I do not know of any other American company which has these kinds of assets to pull off such a vision. Andersen Design is unique in that capacity in America and the world. My father was an economic development thinker before that term was popular, studying industrial design at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. Industrial Design is economic development. My original vision was to locate studios in low income, high unemployment areas, but I look at my hometown with all its problems and I see another vision for how such a designer craftsmen network could impact every single one of the problems this town faces. But I can’t do it alone. It takes a village. However, in my experience, the JECD is not an economic development resource available equally to all, but run as a top down organization, which has no understanding of growing anything from the roots up.