April 4, 2022

The Shaker-Fuller Test

I found the Spring 1969 Whole Earth Catalogue ("Access to Tools") online today. It was my go-to book back in the day, and it felt comfortable seeing it again.

In the Purpose section the publishers say, "So far, remotely done power and glory - as via government, big business, formal education, church - has succeeded to the point where gross defects obscure actual gains."

The Catalogue was meant to help redress power imbalances in society, and help people start to take care of themselves.

A little further in I was looking at references to Buckminster Fuller's books. 

When I read about what Fuller wrote about the importance of beauty in problem solving, I thought of groups like the Shakers.

Fuller said, 

"When I am working on a problem, I never think about beauty... but when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong.

The Shakers didn't need to think of of beauty when they created the things needed to solve the problems of life since arriving in late 1700s America from England. 

Their work has always been a sacred pursuit, and a job well done a form of worship. 

The result was durable, practical, and beautiful things, the designs of which endure to this day because they can not be improved upon.

Humanity needs broader solutions that are as beautiful. 

That should be the sniff test - 

1) "Is this solution as simple as it needs to be, no more and no less?", and

2) "Is it beautiful?"

I call it The Shaker-Fuller Test.

Have a proposed solution? Is it needlessly complex and not beautiful for everyone and the planet?

Then it is not viable.


Thinking beautiful thoughts is our first step. 

Then, we make those beautiful thoughts into simple, beautiful solutions.

Surely this is possible for big-brained beings that consider themselves to be the most intelligent, highly evolved life form in the known Universe.

See the Whole Earth Catalogue here. Note: it appears to be a scanned copy.


  1. Well done - blog and post!

    1. Thank you. I have been enjoying your blogs, too. Specifically enjoying What Just Happened... Is something I say daily.t

  2. Oh such memories! The Sears Christmas Catalogue for (proud) weirdos. It was everything wasn't it? Certainly provided much food for thought. Thanks, this ole girl needed a perk today (tons of snow coming our way later this week, rivers are already high).

    1. I was a 10 year old (proud) weirdo when I enjoyed flipping through the first WEC I had ever seen. Bummer. I was too young to join the hippies and build a geodesic dome home.


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