Collaboration of the Long Distance SIG

Greetings RWS members,

Welcome to the 2019/2020 season of RWS. Another new beginning for the organization with more opportunities to learn and do. High in my attention lately has been my impending retirement from the world of going to the office and getting paid, to spending a lot more time in my shop. But something about that change has been nagging me. Do I really want to spend a lot more time working alone? (I estimate that at least half of our members are retired, but this letter is not just for the elders among us*.)

I think woodworking tends to appeal to people like me who are a rather independent. I have always been independent, preferring solitary work over working in groups. I was once a candidate for a manufacturing management job in a big corporation for which I had to be tested by a psychologist. I passed the technical stuff with flying colors but I flunked for being too independent. I wouldn’t be a good cog in a big organization.

Thinking back to high school when I ran cross-country and track, these were sports that appealed to me because they were much more about individual efforts than cooperation with a team. So I guess I have always gravitated that way.

Back to the here and now. The idea of working alone a lot in my shop has taken a funny turn. My wife has rarely spent time in my shop, but lately we have been working together on a Murphy bed for our New York City son and his wife. She keeps asking me so many questions! I have had to put so many things into words. Doing so has forced me to address many flaws and guesses and pending mistakes. It dawned on me that working together, although contrary to my nature, is way better than working alone. Better results, more learning, and sharing our sense of accomplishment. And I like working with her!

And looking back at high school, although I remember my individual accomplishments, it is the collaboration and camaraderie of my teammates that is most indelible, and that is the high school memory that I value most.

So what does this yin and yang about individuality vs. collaboration have to do with RWS SIGs? Looking at the Luthier SIG, we have collaborated on building a single kit guitar together which has slowed it WAY THE HECK down (there is no good way to divide and conquer building a guitar). The experience has been rewarding in terms of sharing information, techniques, resources, skills, passion for the craft and forging new friendships way beyond my expectations.

Do you have some woodworking passion that you think is too individual to work as a new SIG? You are wrong about that. What are you waiting for? If you want some help getting one started, let’s talk.

* The RWS Board has been actively working to promote membership by young adults. If you have specific ideas about how to foster that, please share them with any board member.

Al Kupchella

Chairman, RWS