You all left such fantastic comments on my post last week. This is the first of several replies I’ll be posting over the next few weeks.
When I was eighteen, I dated a guy from the first floor of my dorm. Actually, I dated quite a number of guys from quite a number of floors in quite a number of dorms. It’s amazing how much of the freshman class a girl can get through if she dates each one for only two-and-a-half minutes. They coined the term “serially monogamous” just for me.
This particular guy was very sweet, so the relationship may have lasted as long as three or maybe four minutes. Neither of us thought we were finding our soul-mate, and we broke up with absolutely no ill-will. We continued on friendly-like throughout college, bumping up against one another doing theater or taking classes together. We were both in Viking History, a small seminar, and then in Greek and Roman Mythology, a lecture that had about twice as many students as my graduating class from high school. Brian and I often sat together in the lecture, and we joked that maybe we could make a major of Mythologies From Long Dead Societies. Brian, it turned out, actually did major in that, although he called it “Folklore.”
Now, a Folklore major may be the only major at Penn that is more useless than an English major, and you can rest assured that Brian got plenty of ribbing for choosing to major in Where the Wild Things Are while all his friends were preparing for careers in investment banking over at Wharton. After college, he kicked around a bit here and there, and I’m sure all our friends on Wall Street tittered a little about humanities majors as they tucked into their six-figure incomes.
We all know what half those Wharton graduates are doing right now, which is inserting their thumbs up their butts on the unemployment lines. But, what is Brian doing?
Brian has created an entire cast of lovable little monsters named the Scrap Kins. These little furballs live in a recycling center, and they are the masters of the whole Reuse ethos. They build their lives out of the crap you and I throw away. Brian takes his Scrap Kins on the road to schools and parties and other events where children are likely to turn up. He does art projects with the kids and uses his monsters to empower children to take responsibility for their own eco-living.
Brian, in other words, may be the only Folklore major in the history of Penn who actually is using what he learned in college.
So, when Lillian asks whether part of my angst is that I am subscribing to values that hold fame and beauty up above all else, the answer is “no.” Brian, I suspect, is probably not about to start his own foundation with his personal wealth from teaching eco-art, and he looks about his age, which is to say my age. But, he is using his talents to affect our world positively. He is living a meaningful life. That is the standard to which I am holding myself, and I am disappointed in myself.
Brian has t-shirts and other Scrap Kins stuff for sale on Zazzle and Etsy. If you are thinking of buying a gift for a child, the stuff he has is adorable, he’ll bend over backwards to make sure you are happy, and you will be supporting an artist who is trying to save the world our kids have to live in. Please, go look at what he has to offer and think about whether you have any upcoming birthday parties to buy for. Normally, I don’t review products on this blog because if I were getting something out of it I would feel like I was using my friends, but I asked Brian if I could write about him. The work he is doing is so extraordinary and I believe in it so fully that I want to make sure you all know about it.