This past week has been really emotional for many of our e-NABLE members as we watch our volunteers churning out hundreds of hand kits in mere days – to send to our conference this weekend at Johns Hopkins Medical.
The countless hours of design work, test prints, failed prints, shaking fists at uncooperative printers, mechanical failures, answering emails from hopeful parents, keeping track of volunteers and matching them with recipients, watching children’s faces light up when they move their new fingers for the first time in their lives – everything we have been pouring our hearts into the past year – is finally going to be shared with people who have the power to help really get these devices to those in need.
This weekend there will be hundreds of medical professionals, prosthetists, trauma surgeons, nurses, occupational therapists and medical students along with over 50 families – who have all come together to see, learn about and assemble the first ever completely crowd sourced 3D printed prosthetic device that exists because dozens of minds and hearts came together from thousands of miles apart – to create it and share it with the world.
“It’s rather amazing what a small group of people living thousands of miles away from each other can do when working together on the same problem. We are living in a time where we can navigate to different parts of the world with the click of a mouse, complex information is accessible within seconds, and we are able to connect with communities that bring a diverse skill-set to a particular problem. We have never lived in such a time, where all of these things are possible. I keep telling my students that this is one of the most amazing times to live in and that they need to seize the opportunity.
I think the largest challenge of our world is to get over the idea of ownership. I realize now, how my training as an academic, artist, designer, and craftsman can get in the way of actually doing something meaningful due to “ownership.”
Ownership plays a key part in actually prohibiting true progress from happening in our world. Ownership and ego create gridlock when progress needs to happen. I believe there was a time when people put aside their own well being and pride to help others in need, as a way of showing care for each other. I remember my Mother talking about her neighbors sharing the bounty of their gardens, helping when there was a big job that needed to be tackled, or just making simple “gifts” (such as the occasional baked good) for the people in her small farming community when she was a child. Helping others can get in the way when we’re all trying to “get to the top” or reach our own personal goals. When was the last time you used some of your precious time and abilities to make something for someone so you could show them that you care? Go take a look at the spreadsheet and see if you can help make one the last 48 hands needed to reach our goal.
I write all of this, not as a way to call any of you out, but rather as a way to keep myself from worrying about the issue of ownership (that I warn about above). When someone at work asks me what I, MYSELF, have accomplished in the last year, what exhibitions I have entered, or what new work I have single handedly brought into fruition, I have to remember the motivation behind the things I want to accomplish. Writing this post reminds me to not worry about personal gain, but rather make decisions and live for what makes for a fulfilled life. Right now, I’d rather be helping people through the things I am able to design and through collaborating with other people who devote their time and energy to larger problems.”
We reached our 2000th member today in the Google+ group.
In just a little over a year – we have collectively collaborated to create over 10 new designs for 3D printed prosthetic hands and arms.
We have changed the lives of many and we are just getting started.
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller