Bang. Bang. Bang. No, the sound has nothing to do with fireworks or the local gun club. The banging is coming from the other artists setting up their exhibits. It’s Saturday morning before the Fourth of July. We’re setting up the Bailey Saturday Art Market, something that started a few months ago with three people melding three ideas into one, and then letting it go and grow. Today there are nine of us. Each is independent, yet each is helping the others move panels, hook up lights, and hang art. Somewhere between reclusive hermits and totalitarian empires exists a realm where most things get done, a place that balances dependence and independence. It is true in art, investing, and the world.
Of course independence is on my mind today. It’s July 2nd. Back in 1776 one of my ancestors (Francis Hopkinson) signed the Declaration of Independence. For me, my lineage emphasizes that event, the ensuing struggle, and the resultant nation. Thirteen independent states (and commonwealths to be more correct) decided that, somewhat counter to their various concepts of liberty and freedom, they were also dependent upon each other. They decided to unite for their common benefit despite their differences. It hasn’t been perfect, but it has been working better than the critics and pundits of the late 1700’s predicted. Of course, the colonists had a common external enemy. Today’s politics seems to focus on fighting each other instead of focussing on our common pursuits. Maybe those historical pundits will be proven correct.
It is easy to become discouraged while launching a new venture, whether it is a cause, a business, a party, or a project. Rough spots inevitably arise. They are excuses to stop, but a simple concept like Just Keep Pedaling, can eventually overcome or steer around potholes.
I may follow my passion when producing a Twelve Month series, but the details can be daunting. Visiting the site is the easy part, except for timing sunrises, sunsets, tides, and rain. Contrails, boat wakes, trash and power lines can smudge great photo opportunities. Reviewing over a thousand images to find the four dozen that artfully describe a place takes hours of squinting at details, diving into flaws, and finding reasons to put aside over 95% of the photos can be demoralizing. I am in month twelve of photographing Penn Cove, one of Whidbey’s quieter marine havens. At this phase, simple logistics mean I spend more time with the 95% than with the final 5% and it is easy to be overwhelmed with what didn’t work. But I remember that my passion is people and ideas. Eventually I get to focus on the final 5% that become the essays, and that they are the instruments, not the products, of my passion. The final criterion is whether the photos independently and collectively convey a message or inspire a response, and of course the attendant sales that fund the work and compensate me for my effort.
The Bailey Saturday Art Market has growing pains. Originally, it was easy. Three people that had low expectations, but who recognized a common cause, goal, and opportunity, started something that cleared that hurdle and continues to evolve and mature. Fitting nine people and their art into the same space requires much more coordination and negotiation. This week we actually had to pick a name. Evidently we crossed some legitimacy boundary even though we are still independent individuals. Now we have enough artists that photographers are selling beside photographers. Encaustics artists can sit together and compare techniques. Some businesses don’t like similar businesses moving in beside them. Others buy into it, like the garment district story from You Got Mail; but of course, the bookstore equivalent in that movie didn’t see the same synergy.
Independence is instilled in artists because there’s usually some necessary step when the artist immerses themself in the art without interruption or outside influence. Books usually aren’t written in crowds. Actors get to know their characters. Ultimately, one person presses the camera shutter release.
Dependence on others is necessary and requisite for armies, bucket brigades, and emergency relief. Sometimes everyone has to come together and follow the same rules to get something done.
Individuals can invest independently, but there’s a lot of free help out there, especially amongst the community of independent investors. My previous post provided links to the boards that I visit the most. I take the work that I do independently, my semi-annual portfolio review of my stocks, and post them so others can agree, argue, or embellish. Sometimes the conversation never gets started, especially if no one else cares about that stock. Of course, I learn from that silence too. It could mean that I am so wrong that people don’t even see a reason to visit the board. It also could mean that I am in the right place at the right time, an early discoverer able to take advantage of an unfound treasure. I rarely had readers of my FFIV reviews while the stock went from $5 to about $90 (split adjusted). Other stories are more complex. I understand Dendreon (DNDN) better because of the medical professionals and statisticians on the Investor Village DNDN board. Microvision (MVIS) has technical, supplier, and finance issues that benefit from the education I gained on a flame-free private board. It is a small community, but a common goal and freedom of expression is very powerful.
Personal finance benefits from sharing stories, insights and resources. Find a nexus like the New Road Map Foundation and the Simple Living Forums, and it can be easier to find that initial impetus that works for you, or to find that trick or rule of thumb that simplifies your life or a money management task. Yes, it is personal, and yes, personal is also part of the effective definition of independent, but even while avoiding dependence, reaching beyond independence can be powerful.
The artists are settled in. The last things to get set up are the chairs we occupy for most of the day. The lattes are at hand (herbal tea for me). Customers, tourists, and patrons are wandering through. We’re sitting quiet, seemingly independent, identified by our art. And it happened because, for a while, at least to some extent, we decided to depend upon each other.