I don’t usually include an Author’s Note, but seeing as this story has sensitive narrative information, I want to address the fact that I am both honored and nervous to write this story. It is humbling to give an account of Brian and his once-homeless coworkers. I cannot claim to understand poverty or any of its complexities, but my hope is that this account revives and nourishes an inner quality within us for human equality. May we learn together from Brian and the craftsman at Lamon Luther about the power of a “hand up,” a way to make a living, and reviving human integrity.
A new awakening moves through the veins of America’s economy. A revival of the craftsmen and craftswomen. A belief that locally obtained goods outweigh their mass-produced counterparts. The movement started in the food industry when Sinclairs’ nightmarish The Jungle became common, abrasive knowledge. Now, it is difficult to find any product in a big box retail chain that you couldn’t find in another local shop, on Etsy, or by an individual maker. Perhaps it is our starved tactile sensabilities that have finally won our attention and demanded that we know where our products came from and who touched them. Brian Preston, founder of Lamon Luther, answered some of the first rumblings of America’s cry for locally-made products, carving out a niche for himself and his team in the furniture market. However, Brian understood something beyond the basic carpentry: people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. Artisan furniture is only the means. His end is creating jobs for abandoned communities and individuals. Brian redefines the power, life, and integrity of a job by hiring homeless carpenters to “build reclaimed wood furniture all by hand.” (west elm)