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Townspeople #2: Artisans

May 9, 2009 Leave a comment

Artisans are the skilled workers  of a town – the backbone of its economy.  Their monopoly of knowledge, skills and tools give them a degree of control over their own destiny (and over the town). They tend to work in small shops with a few employees.  If they operate a retail business, they are unlikely to build up much in the way of inventory.  Most work is “tailor-made” and produced to order.

These people are proud of what they do – and what they are.  But it is important to remember that they don’t necessarily have the same security as their farming customers.    A bad winter, illness or poor markets  could all lead to serious hardship. Therefore, the artisans (like all townspeople) create and maintain social/economic networks to enhance their chances of survival.  They will frequently be found socializing, visiting friends/family or in fraternal societies.

Some  artisans can become wealthy (examples: weaponsmiths, mechanics, printers and others who deal with the local elite) and others can do quite well (examples: butchers, bakers, and some builders).  On the other hand, many artisans will be relatively poor (examples: tailors, shoemakers) .

Despite these divisions of wealth and status, artisans have a strong sense of community .  Their world-view is built around a pride in their skills and the value/utility of their products.  This pride makes them egalitarian and democratic in their political outlook (if only by comparison to their Farmer customers).  Most artisans are ambitious to improve their skills and their economic success – which would allow more comfort, luxury and self-esteem.

The artisans’ sense of community, pride in craftsmanship and a tendency towards democracy ties a Town together – and provides a nucleus that would help any Morrow Project team rebuild. BUT only if the townspeople can be persuaded to take the risk.

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