Durable Trades: Family-Centered Economies That Have Stood the Test of Time (Book Review)


Durable Trades book cover (from the publishing site) 

Cover photo from Wipf and Stock, the publishing site

Rory Groves has given us a beacon of light at the end of a tumultuous year of medical, political, educational, career, and social unrest. Rory asks, and attempts to answer, what our response can be to brittle systems and challenges. He seeks to show how families can build their economies in a time of shifting sands. Through extensive research he lays out how we got here and tries to identify what will last and what will crumble under its own weight.

“Resilient nations rely on resilient communities, which rely on resilient families. Historically it has been decentralized, interdependent families and communities working together that have best weathered the storms of adversity.” The Industrial Revolution was a time in which handcrafted goods gave way to machine-aided production. In a single generation this had the effect of fracturing both home and community as work moved from home to centralized factories. Urbanization, with its concomitant financial abundance and disorienting fragmentation of families, came upon us.

Through historical research, Rory demonstrates how overly complex societies eventually collapse and details the ways in which Western culture is rushing in that direction. “For too long, work has driven a wedge into families, dividing husband from wife, father from son, mother from daughter, and family from home.”

“We are abundant with things but wracked with loneliness and starved for meaning.” Is it possible that the current resurgence in small batch handcrafting (be it beer, clothing, or furniture) is in reaction to the complexity and distance between us in society? Is it demonstrative of a desire to reconnect meaningfully to individual people even through the things and services we purchase?

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