Going High-Touch

As every parent knows, when it comes to raising your children, life is a crap-shoot.

You can read to them when they’re young, be involved with them throughout school, and stay in touch with them after high school graduation, but when it comes right down to it, you never know when they might stumble off the path you started them down.

We enjoyed one of our son Blake’s memorable moments on his path toward becoming a physician last weekend during the “white coat” ceremony at the University of North Carolina. After six weeks of intense coursework, the first year medical students officially receive their white coats and begin following the doctors into patients’ rooms.

At the ceremony, one of the speakers, a renown surgeon with an office full of awards and recognitions, gave his audience of 180 first-year medical students a wise piece of advice.

“Go high-touch, not high-tech.”

Turn off your cell phones, he admonished them, your laptops, iPads, and anything else, and talk to each other. Get to know each other, listen to each other, build relationships, and share your experiences, your concerns and your worries.

And what did he think was the best addition to this world-renown teaching hospital?


A place, he pointed, out, where medical students actually sit and talk to each other, face to face.

Much of what he said, I realized, also related to us as Arts and Crafts collectors and enthusiasts, and helps to explain why it is that we are getting ready for our 30th annual celebration at the historic Grove Park Inn this coming February.

For those three days, we, too, turn off our cell phones, our laptops, our iPads, and all our other electronic devices. We forget about being high-tech and, instead, we go high-touch.

We take the time not to send an email or read our texts, but to actually talk to each other in the Great Hall, at the shows, and on the walking tours. We sit across from each other in small group discussions and we listen to each other. We go to demonstrations and workshops and use our hands to touch and feel various shapes, textures, finishes, threads and glazes. We use our fingertips not to tap coded messages on a tiny keyboard, but to feel history, to sense and to retrace the fingertips of a craftsman or craftswomen of a century ago moving across that same surface.

Technology certainly does enable us to stay at home in the privacy of our living room where we can now use our computers to bid at auction, to buy on eBay and to build our collections. But if we sacrifice high-touch at the expense of high-tech, then we will have deprived ourselves of the most important aspect of collecting: forging lasting friendships with other collectors, as well as with those craftsmen and craftswomen whose work we admire, appreciate – and touch.

Until next Monday,

“The more you do, the more you can do.”


For the latest information on the 30th National Arts and Crafts Conference, please go to www.Arts-CraftsConference.com.

Top: A group of collectors admiring the textiles in the booth of Karen Redinger.

Lower: Part of the crowd at a recent Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms Kick-Off Party held each year on Thursday night prior to the opening of the conference.

Center: Blake, Leigh Ann and me after his white coat ceremony at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.