This weekend I was back at the Lincoln City Kite Festival on the beautiful Oregon Coast. There is a lot to write up about the weekend and the fun kite flying and all of that, but I wanted to take a moment to tell you all about some fun activities I tested out for the first time at this event.
First there was a 'card game' interview that I crafted up. (Which will end up becoming a really cool video montage with all of the answers from kite fliers around the world!) A week or so ago I had a moment while waiting for an appointment, and wrote out 50 or so questions that are somehow related to kite flying, that might help you get to know a person, a style of kite, or the general kite world better. While I tried to capture one question and one answer at a time, the whole night ended up being a round table where we got to know each other better. Some of us have known each other for decades, and learned tons of stuff. Other times, we fell apart in laughter when we were each prompted to come up with a ridiculous answer to a question.
It got me thinking about why I set out to do this type of interview. We may think we know someone because we share a common hobby, activity, experience with them (and do so often) but do we really know them? Like with Ron Gibian. I consider him one of my friends (and mentors) and have known him for about ten years, but it wasn't until this weekend that I learned some amazing history about him. All it took was asking a simple question and letting him tell me the story about it! We really should be asking the simple questions more often. Not just of the new people, but lets ask those questions of the people we have known for ever. You never know what you might find out.
Can't wait to share some of those videos with all of you. :)
The other activity I tried out was an interactive group art project. Using sticks, some vinyl tubing, and bits of left over tyvek. Nothing fancy, just free form creation and art.
The idea was that there was the sticks and there were connectors (vinyl tubing) and you could build shapes or structures. Nothing was planned, it was all about seeing how the thing shifted and changed through out the day. For the artistic folks, there was markers and tyvek and they could write a word or phrase, or color the tyvek, then attach it somewhere on the structure.
As the day went on, there were a few things that stood out.
1. The number one used word (and used on almost every piece of tyvek that had writing on it) was 'Love'
2. Kids fully understood the creative play process. When they asked 'what are we building here' I would respond "I don't know, what do you want to build?"
3. Parents were evenly split between stepping back and letting their kid create (or encouraging them and building with them) or confused. The confused parents kept asking for a plan, or some guidance on what to build. I refused to tell the kids what to do. If they wanted to destroy something ... go at it. If they wanted to shove the sticks in the ground instead of connecting them... awesome. If they wanted to build a tower their own way... awesome. If they wanted to call their stick a gun and build a fort with guns... go for it kid.
4. Lot's of adults 'Didn't get it'. "Why do you have this?" "So... they are just building something?" etc.... Perhaps I could have better signage that explained to the adults that this is a free form creative play space. But I kept it simple, I kept the language the signs simple, because I didn't want it to be complicated with rules or ideas.
Something interesting really stands out for me with point #3 and #4, something that I have read a lot about in various books on creative thinking and education, and that I know the Maker Community has actively been countering. That is the fact that somewhere along the way, we have lost our ability and desire to be creative and to 'play'. We start weighing risks in a different fashion, and it is debilitating. Losing the respect for free form play that has no real end goal or purpose other than to just do. Yes, there is a the risk of whatever it is we are creating (in this case a stick tower or stick maze) will fail. But, that isn't the end goal for something like this. In fact... there really isn't an end goal other than to open up and play. We really need to play more.
We need to ask each other how we can play more, and how we can help others play. We need to ask why we are so afraid of this free form creativity, why we are afraid of failure, and why we aren't playing and failing more. Ask.... ask ourselves, and ask each other.
Alright, I have to get back to work, just wanted to jot some notes down about the various things going on! Now go ask!!!