Cece and My philosophy about life and the purpose of our existence - and how that is expressed through the creation of our products, and thoughts about how/why we sell them
I have to start this page by asking if this has ever happened to you, even with the clearest understanding about saving and backing up your work on a computer judiciously: When the moment appears that a topic you have been ruminating upon in your mind, possibly sharing aspects of it with others to obtain feedback and direction... when that moment arrives and your thoughts are crystalizing before you in celestial order - AND - you are typing it out as the stream-of-consciousness that it is; you are "In the Moment, Fully Present" - isn't that a terrific sense of accomplishment when you have entered your final thought and your complete thread is authored in a way that just clicks - you know your reader will grasp it immediately... (this time I actually rolled a cursor over FILE / SAVE AS - and the program promptly CLOSED... No SAVE!
As I now retype this page; drawing from the quickly penciled recollection of passages; I sincerely hope that I manage to make the same points with the, well... the same punch. Here goes:
The RoaringCreek website was something I had conceived within weeks of challenging myself to learn how to use a computer (1998); shortly thereafter realizing how expensive being online was, given that connections were a long distance call. That sidetracked me for the intervening years until now as I struggled to build a dialup Internet service for my calling area. Cece's and my ambitions are to be able to support our modest lifestyle, adventurous and creative energies in our crafts and be recognized and supported for our efforts by a community of like-minded souls. That has never become more possible to attain than the present, with nothing less than the Internet Revolution to enable it. The last few months have provided us with a rare opportunity: The time to dedicate to reconstructing this website into the visual and tangible expression of the products of our spiritual selves, hm - an autobiography with a gift shop?
It's also cool that I finally have a venue wherein I can quote one of my heros, Utah Phillips; from a story about a railyard tramp named Fryingpan Jack..."Fryingpan Jack once told me, 'When I can no longer dictate the conditions of my labor - I will henceforth cease to work'. You don't have to go to college to figure that stuff out!" That line has managed to burrow into my subconscience and affect me regularly. And I love to work, I feel invigorated by good physical labor and mentally sated by solving more abstract challenges. It isn't about having a desire to work, it is about having a clear understanding of what the real cost to work for someone else must be in America to justify sacrificing my short time on this Earthwalk for that someone else's benefit. We live in a part of America that has a very distorted sense of employee compensation; most available jobs are minimum wage service-sector with no possibility of health care benefits; while housing skyrockets due to our comfortable distance from the Bay Area for those retiring here seeing Shasta County as a far cheaper housing market than the one they are leaving. I've seen similar situations cripple local economies in programs like 60 Minutes when they interview the people who work at the hotels, restaurants and gift shops of ski resorts in Colorado - interviewing these people in their treehouse encampents as none can afford to live in the area that employs them. That speaks to me about a (at least it is vividly imagined) desparation among our population to simply have paying work; and that this sense of desparation is milked of all dignity possible by the employing class that offers "Minimum" wage. If they could legally pay you less to do what you are doing for them, they'd be glad to; that's what it says to me about how much a fellow human being is valued in his or her community.
Meanwhile, to treble the blow to the working class - many of whom will (need to) struggle to stretch every dollar, and in so doing will shop at Wal-Mart (and I cite them only as an example; imported goods are nearly ubiquitous in our economy - to avoid buying them is the true challenge). I've recently brought home a gallon of ordinary apple juice, to read on the label that the contents are made of 100% apple juice concentrate and water - concentrate from China. Please, take a moment to imagine an apple orchard being planted and harvested, the juice processed and frozen, and shipped across 8000 miles of ocean (at 16 FEET per gallon of crude) to the states. And that saves a few pennies from the cost of buying domestic apple juice? China? A country with the landmass equivalent to America but less arable - and with over a billion humans now has the ability to send US food - for less than we can grow it ourselves? What's wrong with that picture? Now multiply that scenario to include nearly everything you see on store shelves - and wonder how sending our currency abroad is the single largest threat to America's security (security isn't killing everyone with a different skin color and [often justified] hostile thoughts toward our government, security is usually considered to mean Economic). In exchange, economies of many "Developing Nations" flourish - primarily because corporations take advantage of an enormous disparity in the wage scale and living standards abroad. Eventually this will right itself - an international wage scale and labor unions to enforce it (that is my hope, if everything is to proceed as it currently is). What will remain of the economic security of America, and the morale of its labor force? At some point each day another American worker either loses his/her job because of this wage imbalance - or perhaps the company has to cuts costs in other ways and so reduces/eliminates health care coverage, for example. A member of that employee's family (could be your friend, neighbor, relative) may have to wait until a medical condition worsens to the point that an emergency room visit is required - an ER visit that may not be possible to pay for. That burdens our hospital systems as well as the insurance companies (ever in business to stay in business) that must raise premiums to meet rising health care costs, while we impugn our elected to draft a system of socialized medicine without the word 'socialized' in it, and one that could even be considered remotely adequate - and who pays for that??
I'm baffled that I live in the times that I do, a culture with such short-term selfish ambitions that have such obvious nihilistic consequences. I must have been summoned here at this time to serve some purpose and/or learn something. I'm reminded of the line: "An optimist thinks these are the best of times, a pessimist fears this is true". In that regard, I make solemn attempts to find virtue in others and humanity - the one element in which I value universally is the ability, the gift we have been given... to Create. I am easily uplifted by the creations of others, in art, music, architecture - anything; I'm equally inspired by the efficiency of a factory on an episode of "How It's Made" as I am with music - it all gives me a sense of hope that our collective ingenuity may come to our own rescue... and hopefully soon enough!
I've begun to seek higher truths at this age of my life, I've semi-consciously resisted following in the jackboot steps of the above blueprint for life as an American working class citizen - now I am far clearer in my convictions!
If you have studied the commodities markets, if only to understand how supply and demand at any given moment determine a settled price; you will understand how Cece and I have priced the products we make on our site. The purchasing power of an American dollar is what changes; and it trends to an inflationary model - more dollars in the future to buy the same item. I'd given thought to accepting gold buillon as exchange, unless you are sending metal - and your order is of a size that makes that remotely feasible; it's obviously not an efficient means to conduct business (much less online!). We've given price a lot of thought, it has always been the single most agonizing part about creating things that we don't offer as gifts. I finally decided that we had to ask ourselves, "What would someone have to pay us to make it not only worth the effort of sourcing the parts to make a replacement - but to also derive a sense of emotional satisfaction and (this is very intertwined with us) to fairly ensure OUR economic security? If we charge too little, we know in our hearts that we will not be anticipating the work, it will become a chore - I fear that the energy we put into our craft will suffer. I have recently been listening to a radio promotion for two floor tickets to a Sacramento Kings basketball game at Arco Arena. The value of these tickets is touted at being $760.00! For admission to one single, hour-long ball game. This price is based on the market's willingness to pay it. Is something wrong here?
Regardless of whether I spout my armchair philosophy justifying our pricing model; I've browsed other sites and eBay and some are higher, some are much higher, and some are lower on comparable items. We value our clear consciences as much as we value being provided the means by which to camp, rockhunt and build the articles on this site. If you've read all of this page, I hope you'll know that our thanks for your interest and purchase of things from us is sincerely appreciated. The world isn't too big to have that acknowledgment be personally extended to you - you'll know it when your purchase arrives in your mailbox.
I've also struggled with my attempts to, basically, bridge two diametrically opposed cultures insofar as 'selling' sacred items. Traditionally among indigenous peoples such items were gifted to, or crafted by the wearer. I had reason to think about that notion again recently, upon reading "Mutant Messenger Down Under". When we collect the succulent new growth spikes on black sage, we consciously ask permission of donor plants; and thank them collectively when we've finished. At the very least, these plants are living entities and should be acknowledged for our walking and picking among them; that's not rocket science. I feel drawn to some and avoided by others, as though each decides whether to sacrifice some of its growth. I wear a carnelian that I 'found' in the Warners around Davis Creek - I say 'found' because were I to do the finding, it seems that upon subsequent and more thorough hunts of the same square mile or more I would expect to 'find' at least one more; I have found none. I sense that this stone has found ME; I can't consider selling it! The notion of selling smudges, medicine bags and so on has felt as though we may be violating that trust; dishonoring donor plants, animals and minerals by collecting them with Intent to sell rather than employ them in our own ritual - or: return it to Earth so that another can enjoy the thrill of its discovery. The way I figure it; you're visiting our site because you are seeking something we have available to us; and it may be less feasible for you to go through the effort to collect your own spiritual tools - we are at some level like-minded; and for that I feel that our site serves to connect and share resources - it may only be money that is exchanged - but money is also (ahh, ONLY!) a tool, one that enables us to provide these things in the first place; seems very circular, and more acceptable to me as a workable compromise - considering that we feel our supplies are abundant I hope that is a sign that the natural world spirits agree.
Thank you so much for supporting our way of life!