Bill died in a single-person car crash on November 26th, 2013.
He and I had a marvelous connection from our first meeting in 2004.
I had been wanting to meet him since 1995 when Drew Langsner at Country Workshops had told me about him, but it wasn't until I had moved to Maine that I encountered him and we began our friendship.
His ideas around simplicity and non-competitiveness resonated strongly with my own tendencies and experiences, and I found that he and I understood tools and handcrafts in a similar way right from the get-go.
I have occasionally found myself wrestling with trying to make a living from selling my handcrafts, although I haven't managed it much.
Even so I have made things, lots of things, since I was in high school.
I love to make things.
It often seems, though, as if the ultimate goal of making something is to then sell it.
Why bother doing something if you don't make money from it?
But Bill didn't think that people should be making handcrafts to sell.
If Bill was asked by someone who admired his spoons to sell one he would usually reply, "No, I won't sell you one, but I can teach you to make your own".
He personally preferred encouraging others and bartering with handcrafts to outright selling.
For one thing, he thought it was too hard to compete with mass produced items.
He once told me,"If you sell your work, you will either have to make things fast enough to beat the machine or else you'll wind up working only for the Rich. It's not that anything is wrong with working for the Rich, it's just not what I want to spend my time doing".
He wanted more people to be encouraged to make things for themselves, for he believed that more individuals making things would bring about a change in society.
He expected that once people began to explore their own simple designs they would very naturally begin the process of making more choices for themselves, rather than being satisfied with the mass-produced junk that is being sold to them.
He expected that more people would begin to appreciate manual labor and be more willing to work with their hands and thus with their minds, through the process of making useful things for themselves.
He really hoped for a reversal of some of the destructive trends we see today through the very simple and direct path of someone deciding to carve their own spoon and bowl.
He liked uncomplicated designs that anyone could make successfully with a little instruction, and he spent a lot of his time exploring crafts and tools that he felt were within the reach of most people.
"Democratic" is what he termed such designs.
Democratic, in part, meant that the process of producing something was inexpensive, didn't require fancy tools or technical skill to make.
One of Bill's sayings was, "You cannot afford to pay someone else to build your house."
I believe what he meant was that paying someone else to build or make things for us denies us an opportunity to learn something valuable and essential to us.
So the more we pay others to do and make things for us, the more our culture moves away from Bill's goal of simplicity and connectedness.
Bill would say,"I don't care how good someone's spoon or chair or bowl is, I am just glad they made it."
Encouragement really was what defined Bill's life work for me.
In the meantime, I'm still working with the challenges and questions of selling my own handcrafts.
I'm often thinking of Bill as I try to make a living in a way that is in harmony with my values and makes a positive difference in the world.