Crafting a Lasting Impact: June Johnson
June Johnson, her three boys grown, arrived at Gould Farm in 1982, hailing from Chicago. An artist, community organizer, and former social worker, she had run a small farm while raising her boys. June became the head of the woodworking shop, a role she held for nearly eight years before becoming a serving Board member.
Now 89 and living with her husband, Robert, in nearby Great Barrington, June readily admitted and joked, "What did I know about woodworking?!" She credited a colleague with helping to work out many of the procedures for the shop and teaching her about the tools and equipment, including how to use a wood-turning lathe which she then taught guests.
Agnes Gould had tried for years, beginning in the late 1920s, to get a small woodcraft industry going at the Farm without much-sustained success, but June's addition to the staff at a time when the work programs were gradually becoming more systematic changed this.
June typically worked with four guests for four months at a time—repairing furniture, building new pieces (including the dining room’s sturdy chairs, still in use today), and making mechanical toys and wooden signs. June admitted that it was tricky weighing up the inherent dangers of working with shop tools and empowering guests. Still, she felt that she found a good balance and that she was often able to give guests more responsibility as their skills advanced. “We kind of learned together—which is a good way of learning.”
“The main things that I felt that I was teaching were:
Nothing is wasted, including people. There’s always a purpose.
Everything has a place.
Everybody has a role.”
Like that of a song refrain, June’s values bear repeating and remembering:
“Nothing is wasted, including people. Everything has a place. Everybody has a role."
Thank you, June!