Oct 7, 2009

Barn Raising Revisited

In early American rural life, communities shared the labor involved in erecting large buildings, particularly barns. In sparsely populated areas and on the edge of the frontier, it was not possible to hire carpenters or other tradesmen to build a barn. Many hands were needed to get the work done in a timely fashion.

Barns were raised by might, a strong social framework, and a survivalist interdependence. All able-bodied community members were expected to attend and work hard during barn raisings, yet no one was paid regular wages. Food, camaraderie, a celebration of completion, and a communal labor pool were the main incentives for these events. The barn raisings were a means of getting large buildings constructed, but they were also an important aspect of community life.

Sometimes barn-raisings resulted in disastrous disagreements, like this scene from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

Nevertheless, I'm pretty excited about the notion of barn raising as a method and a metaphor. I’ll help you build your dream then you can help build mine, okay?

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