When I put out a call for readers to help fund the upcoming free chair class for people who have been historically excluded from woodworking, my hope was to be able to buy a truckload of clear cherry for the students for their chairs.
But y’all dumped about five times the amount of money I needed for that into my pockets.
So here’s what I’ve done. I set aside enough money for the lumber and to buy lunch every day for the students during the July class. The remainder of the money ($8,400) was donated to The Chairmaker’s Toolbox, the non-profit organizing the class.
Your money will fund additional classes for students who have been historically excluded from our ranks. Plus it will assist toolmakers who are being helped by The Chairmaker’s Toolbox.
The donations ranged from $5 to $500. And they came from all over the world. So if you are wondering if there are still kind and generous people out there in the world, here’s one answer.
— Christopher Schwarz
29 thoughts on “A Brief (but Heartfelt) Thanks”
That. Is. Awesome. Congratulations!!!
You wrote “people who have been historically excluded from woodworking,” and I wonder who that would be.
Women, BIPOC and GNC (gender non-conforming) people.
Hi Jim. As a brown dude, I am one of those historically excluded people. True, if you visit any job site you will see a lot of us, but usually doing the difficult jobs no-one else wants to do. This is where the stereotype of picking up a bunch of Mexicans at the front of Home Depot to do some grunt work comes from. You don’t see a lot of us running crews, doing finish work or owning the business, not because we don’t have the skills or the drive, but because of good ol’ racism.
Things are even more stark if you look for women, trans or NB, or other BIPOCs, let alone a combination of those criteria.
As bad as the construction industry is, woodworking in general is even worse. Outside of large manufacturers, it is rare to see anyone outside of white cis hetero males, simply because “thats just how things have always been done”.
Opportunities like this gives us a foot in the door, and I am deeply appreciative of organizations like The Chairmaker’s Toolbox and allies like Chris.
Hope that helps, feel free to hit me up with more questions.
Thank you for your thoughtful response, well said & spot on.
Good Show my Friend and to all that contributed. You are an inspiration to me and to those we teach.
Thanks for the good news!
Thanks to the donors and thanks to Chris!
Outstanding. Just wonderful.
I think it’s great that money was raised for this chair making class. However, I find it somewhat bothersome that we continue to use labels and jump on the diversity bandwagon. If you want to raise money for financially underprivileged people to attend woodworking classes, that’s wonderful. I just don’t understand the “historically excluded from woodworking” statement. Are you talking professionally ? Hobbyist or Vernacular woodworking ? Professional Societies or Guilds ? I’m not trying to start an argument but when we have separate classes for BIPOC or GNC or whatever the label is, I believe we contribute to the divisiveness and segregation of our society.
“I’m not trying to start an argument.”
—White guy trying to start an argument
I don’t think Mr Schwarz was implying that the classes will be separate?
Wouldn’t it be nice if in the future classes that they and (everyone else) have a slot or two is open for someone who has tremendous odds against them being there?
The fact is, we already exist in an extremely divisive and segregated society. Separate classes for those of us “historically excluded” allows us to grow our skills and presents us with opportunities we don’t get otherwise. Even when we are included in ‘non-segregated’ classes, there is still segregation that we have to fight against. If you can’t see that, you are privileged.
I don’t mean that as an insult, privilege is a blessing. It is a gift that you have not earned that you can use for the benefit of others, much like Chris as a white male is using his position to pass on his skills and knowledge to us “historically excluded” folks, and how those with the privilege of some level of financial security (some of which are, I can only assume, also white) were willing to donate funds for this to happen.
When you say “bothered”, I am reminded of a quote from Tyler Burns, “They hate our deconstruction because our reconstruction doesn’t center them.”
Hope that helps, feel free to respond if I can clear anything else up.
I think that unless you are one of those who have been excluded it is difficult to understand. As a woman who wasn’t allowed to take shop class or who, even today, is the last waited upon when in a store trying to buy materials in an auto parts, lumber store or any other store that traditionally deals with men. I became an auto mechanic in an all male institution and had to deal with abuse daily. I then became a woodworker and the same thing
Have you ever had the feeling of being a lonely “other” in a woodworking class? Have you ever felt ignored or dismissed because of the color of your skin at the lumberyard? Ever had to tell the Home Depot guy to quit hitting on you and just show you where the PVC fittings are? If not, maybe reconsider whether you’re in a good position to know what contributes to divisiveness and segregation.
Wow, I was really surprised by the responses to my post. I feel like I’ve taken something away from Chris’s original intent of the message to thank everyone. That was not my intention at all and I want to apologize to Chris for it. Chris has a big heart and I applaud him for all he has done for the woodworking community I wasn’t going to respond to any of these posts but I would like to try this one last time.
All I was trying to say was that anytime people are selected for anything (even for positive reasons such as this case) by their sexual preference and the color of their skin, that’s not equality. That’s all. That’s it. My wife and I have these discussions all the time about racism and gender equality and how much of a problem it is in our society. She has been sexually discriminated against at work many times. I also have an immediate family member who is gay that has been mistreated because of it so I do understand a tiny bit about what some people experience. I wish I could get rid of racism and mistreatment of women but it’s not that easy. But I feel that having special classes for this group and that group is going backwards. I understand that not everyone agrees. I’m ok with that. I’ve thought about this a lot and I still stand by what I said previously.
Chris, again, my apologies. Your heart is in the right place. Feel free to delete this post and my other one if you wish.
This is the most succinct (and funny) answer to this question about equality I’ve seen, from the comedian James Acaster; go to 3:55 to 4:44 (contains swearing) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=adh0KGmgmQw
Suffice to say: Cheers!!!
You absolutely love to see it.
If you’re not on the side of the divide that’s being underserved or under-recognized, it can be hard to see how a class that excludes white guys actually cultivates unity.
The way I see it is that here are people who are dealing with so many obstacles on a daily basis that a white guy like me doesn’t even have to think about, that they can’t really get the same shot because they generally had to work twice as hard just to get in the damn room. So sometimes, if I’m really interested in unity, thats going to mean weighting a situation toward people who haven’t been given the same freedom of opportunity as me. In the long run that’s going to actually mean more, not less, freedom, knowledge, and experience for me as well. I’m not sacrificing anything in these situations, I can only benefit.
I mean, just imagine a world where where every woodworking video isn’t accompanied by bluegrass music! That ALONE gets me pulling out my wallet!
If there wasn’t something already divisive happening, woodworking shows wouldn’t be rooms full of 90% white guys.
Seriously though, just walking into a room full of strangers alone can be uncomfortable. A room full of strangers who don’t look like you, even more so. A room full of strangers who historically have looked DOWN on you (not to mention murdered, beaten, raped etc) ? Even more of a challenge. Harder to focus on the task at hand – making a chair. I walk into a shop full of white guys and I can just make a chair. From what my friends, history and a little observation tells me, my world is not the world non-white, non-male, and non-straight people get to live in.
So if I’m committed to unity, I need to be committed to creating opportUNITY, to turn a corny phrase. I’m glad that Chris is doing this. He’s taking heat for this I’m quite sure; but the craft will benefit from this. We will ALL benefit from from this. And I couldn’t be happier to be supporting what is ultimately all of our cause.
I have another idea for the money
i am making toy cars for the Ukrainian children refugees
i am in process of making 60 toy cars
delivering them to a Ukrainian church to distribute
Or a cis male waiting patiently for service at the cut-counter at the fabric store. :/
I wait patiently, as I’m a patient person. It’s usually another customer who points me out to the staff, and indicates I’ve been standing there with my bolt of fabric longer than they have been waiting with theirs.
I was happy to contribute a few $$ to the effort. I’ll do so again should the request be made.
Thank you Chris for leading this effort to support the school. And a BIG THANK YOU to all the donors! Awesome!
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