In May, students and faculty headed out across the state of Maine to take a deep (if short) dive into ethnographic research methods and Maine’s culture of repair and reuse. We visited city planners, transfer stations, charity thrift shops, cobblers, used book stores, antiques sellers and Uncle Henry’s.
We learned important lessons about how to conduct ethical research, how to build trust, where to hold the microphone, when to suppress our urge to say “uh-huh” and how to work as part of a research team.
We also learned a lot about how second hand markets work, about the people that participate in the hard work of salvaging value from existing products, and about the love and care that people invest in each other, their community, and the environment through their efforts to save, repair and reuse things.
The pages to follow detail important themes that emerged for each of our three groups.