Connections Between Storytelling and Making

I have two big passions – trashmagination and storytelling/gathering. These two passions are really the same.

  • Both involve walking around this planet with your eyes and ears wide open, and seeing sparkly magic things.
  • Both rely on the core belief that at first glance, it may not look sparkly or magic.
  • But you just ask a few questions or turn the trash object this way and that way, and your brain will quickly see the possibilities.
  • Both brings a spirit of “making” – i.e. working with a raw material to make it resonate for others.
  • Both have playfulness at their heart.

I get my Trashmagination on with this blog and I get my storytelling on by leading the Story Initiative at work. But they are really the same thing, see?

Future of Storytelling Roundtable Pulls These Concepts Together

I have been following a group called the Future of Storytelling (FOST) and they hosted a Google Hangout this week on the connections between storytelling and making things. You can imagine my delight when the people introduced themselves with their usual credentials, but also they mentioned what they love to make. They joked that maybe they could do some embroidered baking and that is just exactly the type of thing I would love to figure out. If only all talks started like that!

Todd Oldham was one of the participants. He designs fun things for Target, Readymade and lots of other very fun sounding projects. He was asked for his opinions about all the latest DIY trends like Etsy.

“I think what’s new about it is the celebration and the broadcasting of it,” he said. Yes! I agree! This blog is my way to celebrate and broadcast to you all the crazy things I make and it’s a lot of fun to read all the other people’s blogs just like mine. It’s hard to remember a time when I couldn’t just pull up hundreds of blogs by makers who were all struggling to make creative things and then sharing those struggles on the web.

Kids Must Make Things To Be Good Humans

Todd noted that if kids don’t make things, “we’re just growing a nation of little a**holes” which is perhaps a harsh way of saying things but I could not agree more. He designs a line of art supplies to Target called “Kids Made Modern” to encourage kids making things.

Another speaker, Michele Romero, noted that humans are tactile creatures, and when we do everything on a screen, we are in this unnatural state. All the people on the panel make their livings on computers, making magazines and websites. And making things with their hands is part of their mental salvation – to leave the space of virtual making and enter the one of concrete making.

We must create connections between the digital medium and making things with our hands, which is exactly what I was going for when I designed the activities for National Wildlife Federation’s Family Fun website. Part of the mission of NWF is to get kids outside, to make them into good humans. While I agree wholeheartedly with that mission, my nuance on it is that if we just go outside passively, it is not much better than screen time. Most kids will naturally start picking up rocks and building structures – impacting their environment. So is it outside time, or making time that is most critical?

 “The Work Needs A Heartbeat”

And that’s why I’m love with hand stitching and fingerprints in clay. When I make perfect websites all day, you cannot feel my heartbeat. Sometimes I think a typo is the only thing that lets you know a real person was involved.

I think my favorite moment was when Michele Romero said “I will save things and reach out to people who have a really unique weird sensibility and that is harder and harder to do because if you go on the internet, you are likely to have an idea, and I can Google it, and someone else has had that idea. So in this day and age, to see something that is truly unique, it’s the biggest joy, the biggest thrill. It generally always comes from a handmade or some really off moment that someone is speaking from their heart, whether it is a dark place or a hilarious place. But invention is harder to come by unless it starts out from the heart, handmade.”

Yep. That just about summarizes my feelings about everything right now.

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