The submissions came in fast and furious at the deadline, and in the end, only five could win.
I'm talking about, that is, in which readers were challenged to come up with the best way to use a do-it-yourself (DIY) philosophy to remake America.
After receiving the submissions, I forwarded a numbered, anonymous, set of finalists' entries on to our celebrity judge, Make magazine senior editor Phillip Torrone, who then chose the five winners.
Each winner will receive four tickets to the upcoming Maker Faire in San Mateo, Calif., as well as a festival T-shirt.
The winners, in order, were:
First place, Karen Fraga:
My 90-year-old dad was the first I knew of that was a DIYer. He had coffee cans in his shed full of nails. If anything would break down, he would fix it. If America would repair more items, it would reduce the need to make more items.
I brought out of my closet a game that Dad made over 30 years ago. He re-used the bottom portion of an egg carton, paper towel roll and some felt for rolling the dice in. I think in order to remake America we need to think of different ways to use things that we already have around the house.
Dad would tie up his newspapers for recycling back when no one else was even thinking about recycling. I think America also has been recycling more than when Dad first started but, still, make it part of your daily life.
Second place, Nifer Fahrion:
As a crafter, I have witnessed and participated in skills sharing salons, from knitting and screen-printing, to computer programming and welding. Skills sharing salons provide infrastructure and collaboration opportunities for people, as well as encourage knowledge exchange, learning, and mentoring. These types of salons also allow for artistic collaboration and experimentation, birthing fresh and creative new ways of interacting with one's world.
Whether skill sharing salons are held as a monthly crafting session, or are more semi-formalized through small collectives, they have the power to change the way Americans have come to interact with their world. By instilling each other with the DIY attitude, we no longer are passive observers of the world around us, but rather are creating what we want our world to be, one stitch at a time.
Third place, Christopher Pepper:
As a high-school teacher, I am inspired to use the DIY spirit in our schools. I'd like to see our school as incubators and curators for the creative ideas that burst forth from our youth. I'd love to be able to teach about nutrition and actually have a space for students to cook and create meals. I'd love to have students learn about biology and ecology by planting and maintaining a garden. I'd love to bring back some of the mechanical arts--which, like cooking and sewing, have been taken out of many of our schools--and teach students some hands-on skills, like how to fix their own bicycles or how to build their own solar cell phone chargers. I think there's a lot of room for DIY ideas in our own schools.
Fourth place, Mickey Staudt:
Recycle, Reduce, Reuse. I am a mother of nine and I find that we use a lot of everything in our home. So, it is very important for me to help my family understand this impact on our country's environment. In my small way I teach them this by finding ways to re-purpose items as often as possible. This winter, my twin 10-year-old daughters learned how to unravel old sweaters to use the yarn for new knitting projects. They learned how to felt discarded wool sweaters for new items, like pot holders or wallets/purses. For Christmas, my sons received sweater pillows for their beds. These had some small defects that might have landed them in the trash, but instead they kept them warm all winter. I think kids understand that the need to recycle effects everyone's future, especially their own.
Fifth place, Jacob Rose:
"Victory Energy Gardens." Grow power at home with little generators everywhere. The same way we standardize energy-eating appliances, there should be a simple plug-in standard for energy producing devices. Update the national electrical code to include this standard, and set a timeline, the same as we did for HDTV. Got a creek? A windy rooftop? A treadmill? Figure out a way to make it spin a standard generator, and plug it in to produce power.
A big thanks to everyone who submitted, to Maker Faire for offering the tickets and T-shirts, and to Torrone for judging.
To the winners, enjoy Maker Faire, and to everyone else, let's keep on using the DIY spirit to remake America, and the world.
On June 22, Geek Gestalt will kick off Road Trip 2009. After driving more than 12,000 miles in the Pacific Northwest, the Southwest and the Southeast over the last three years, I'll be looking for the best in technology, science, military, nature, aviation and more in Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana and South and North Dakota. If you have a suggestion for someplace to visit, drop me a line. And in the meantime, join the Road Trip 2009 Facebook page and follow my Twitter feed.