Monday, 15 September 2014
Firstly we have to send an apology for the lack of entry the last few weeks. We’re at the final stages of renovating our freight container now, and much preoccupied with such things as finding usable materials, calculating voltage capacities and being creative with very small spaces.
For me, one of the most interesting things about launching a new bakery has been the discovery of the booming business ‘startup’ industry. There’s countless online resources and support companies out there who can help get your organisation off the ground – or hinder, depending on how bogged down with it all you decide to get. Sales, strategy, market research, finances... the list goes on. Realistically though, inexperienced people (like us) trying to grow a successful organisation are not going to see much happen if they stay behind a desk.
And then there’s remembering why the whole thing started in the first place. For me, that was seeing a lethally defeatist mindset in a lot of quite dangerous young people, and realising they needed more than just ‘charity.’ Over time, I came to see that the calm, cyclical and somehow quite spiritual nature of the bread making process might offer them the kind of stability, routine and financial independence that are key to sound mental health in most people.
More importantly though, is the ‘bigger picture.’ Like it or not, we live in a society where individual success is judged largely on career specifics, and career specifics are still largely determined by school experience. Those who disrupt at school, and struggle to conform to classroom expectations (for any number of reasons), face a labour market that more often than not perceives them unfavourably.
So I find it unsurprising that those affected develop an alternative system of values. That they congregate in groups with like-minded others, where they can feel pride and self-worth through behaviours that are accessible to them. Aged 14-22, there is very little in life that feels more important than the acceptance and respect of your peers: the trouble is, in some groups that means being prepared to partake in situations that might get you killed or put in prison.
What a tragedy that some become institutionalised from such an early age because of this. That the opportunity never emerges for them to feel self-worth through other means; like a hard days meaningful work, or earning legitimate money, or feeling part of a productive and fun workforce.
Amidst the chaos of trying to get The Dusty Knuckle off the ground, I’ve enjoyed taking an hour to remind myself of what it is that we’re aiming for with this organisation. Recently we consulted a group of teenagers who all have some experience with the Criminal Justice System - next week I’ll post about their perspective on all this.