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Proposal 1 - Culture

Page history last edited by Wayne MacPhail 10 years, 9 months ago

Wayne's Notes

Good job gang, thank you. It looks like you've done lots of good groundwork here, lining up possible interviews. Now you need to dive into those interviews and get some solid images, interviews, audio and video in the can. Also, would like to see a more solid throughline stitching the various aspects of this episode together. 

Good, honest set of assumptions. As you say, don't let them drive you, just let them be out there for you to test against.

Finally, make sure you keep in mind how this aspect of maker culture fits with and is influenced by other aspects. This is key to making this project a cohesive whole. Will send you your mark via email.



Culture Proposal


Elevator Pitch

Why spend money on items you can just make yourself? 


Picture this. You spot something beautiful in the store. It could be a buttery leather jacket, a handmade piece of jewellery or a beautiful new coffee table. But the price tag is really hefty. You really, really want it, but you still need to pay off your credit card bill from last month, and you plan on going on a date this weekend, which means even more money to spend. So what do you do? a) Splurge, and face the consequences later, or b) Resist the temptation and go home sad and empty-handed?


The answer is neither. Enter MakerCulture, a world where people actually make things themselves. Whether it be clothing, crafts, or home decor, these people would rather "do it themselves" either by choice, or by means of survival, rather than relying on mass consumption.


But MakerCulture is not only about raking in the cash. Prison inmates are the original makers. Not really, our aboriginal peoples would fit that bill. They tap into their creative sides to make items either to keep themselves busy or for means of survival. 


We want to explore this MakerCulture world by speaking to individuals who participate in it. We have people who make their own clothes out of animals they eat, others who make crafts in prison to pass time, some who create crafts to sell for extra cash, and some who build their own homes out of local materials like straw bales.



Research to Date
The first step in our research was to grasp the concept of MakerCulture. In order to do so, we Googled "MakerCulture," and learned more about its different aspects: hackers, home decorating, fashion and apparel, refabrication and remixing music to name a few. Lauren, a student from Western contacted us via e-mail and suggested we split the "Culture" episode, as it is such a broad topic. We took her advice, and split up the episode into "Media" and "Craft/Fashion." We decided to tackle the latter.


We explored several "Do It Yourself" websites such as InstructablesEtsy.com and WebUrbanist. We also began to look into organizations like the Ontario Straw Bale Building Coalition. Once we began to understand why people were adopting this lifestyle, we decided to search for potential contacts. Through Facebook, Twitter, Delicious, MakingMakers blog, and personal resources, we discovered many people were already immersed in this way of life.


We received replies from several individuals on Facebook. Adrian Smith is the brother of an ex-inmate. Chris Babcock-Rimore is a lifelong volunteer at the John Howard Society (JHS), an organization which provides support for offenders. His father is the head of the JHS's Sudbury division. Barbra Akoak, a student at Arctic College in Iqaluit, provided two sources: Carol Tootoo, the fur design and production professor at the Arctic College and Becky Kilabuk, the coordinator of the Iqaluit fashion shows. Becky is also a seamstress that makes clothing from sealskin and caribou. She's a very recognized person in the fashion community in Nunavut.   


From Twitter, we received a reply from Chris Herbert, B2B marketing and business development specialist and founder of MI6 marketing agency. Chris provided two sources: his wife, Teresa Herbert, who is an Etsy user, and Wanda Kerr, an Etsy and Ning user. We also heard from "kentofthenorth," an employee of APTN (Aboriginal Peoples Television Network). He suggested contacting the Premier of Nunavut, Eva Aariak, as she used to own a craft and fashion store in Iqaluit called Malikaat. Now, the store is run by her daughter, as Eva had to tend to her duties as Premier. He also suggested contacting the Department of Environment from the government of Nunavut, as they have a collection of seal and caribou skin clothing. The department seeks seamstresses who create clothing for them when they go on expeditions. Finally, Chris Windeyer, an employee of Nunatsiaq News, a territorial weekly newspaper, advised us to contact Sean Rombough, from CBC North, as he can provide even more contacts.


Matt Lundy contacted us through the MakingMakers blog. He wrote a feature on craftivism, which explained was crafting for political or activist purposes. He provided us with a bunch of links, which was helpful. Lauren O'Neil, a student from Western who is also participating in this project, also provided links.  



Our main assumption at this stage is that the population of craft makers is a dying breed, and the inmates which partake in Do-It-Yourself projects will cease to continue these tasks once released from prison. In terms of crafting, why bother creating your own crafts, when you could simply buy them? Who actually makes crafts, unless they have nothing better to do? And, if this is meant to go against consumerism, doesn't selling your work still contribute to mass consumption? Faced with more efficient automated building methods, would it be at all practical to build a straw bale house in a city, where the vast majority of the world's population lives? Basically, we are skeptical about the popularity of MakerCulture and its following. Our project will not completely depend on these assumptions, in fact, we hope to be proved wrong through the interview process and be enlightened by our findings.


Possible Interview Subjects

  • Malikkaat --- An Inuit Fashion/Craft store previously owned by the Premiere of Nunavut, Eva AAriak, now run by her daughter.
  • Nunavut Department of Environment --- They have quite a collections of Inuit Clothing, and are able to explain how animal skins are important to Inuit culture and fashion.
  • Nunavut Artic College --- They have a specific program geared towards using animal skins for fashion (Fur Design and Production). The class is taught by Caroline Tootoo.
  • Rannva Simonsen --- Rannva owns her own design store (http://www.rannva.com) where she makes purses, jackets pants and many articles of clothing out of seal skin.
  • Chris Babcock-Rimore, John Howard Society (JHS) volunteer
  • John Rimore, JHS Head in Sudbury
  • Adrian Smith (brother of an ex-inmate) for his brother's contact info to arrange for interview.
  • Wanda Kerr, Etsy and Ning user
  • Teresa Herbert, Etsy and Ning user
  • Cat Mazza, KNITPRO developer
  • Matt Lundy, knowledgeable about Craftivism.
  • Carly Rutledge, makes notebooks and ipod soft cases.
  • Erica Secnik, creates homemade soaps.
  • David Elfstrom, secretary and webmaster, Ontario Straw Bale Building Corporation


Please see Contact Diary for more info.



The Focus, Scope and Angle of the Piece
Canadians, on a whole, consume a lot. Once we as a people learn to be happy with less, we may just find that so many possessions were merely complicating our lives. We may also find that few, but more special or unique, things give the vast majority of mediocre or common things a run for their money. True, some purchased, material objects do make our lives easier. However they cannot bring us the happiness and feeling of satisfaction, as that provided by self-made projects. Just take a look at the prisoner adapting to his surroundings while confined - perhaps the incarcerated artist - and watch a surprising range of unique crafts unfold.


It has been widespread that buying the latest gizmo or the snazziest new fashion will make us happier and more popular. Of course, that is a lie, since these material items eventually get replaced by something faster, better, cooler, and newer. The cycle never ends, which is why we're all about D-I-Y. From soap to clothing to buildings to arts and crafts, the individuals we will profile have adapted to a standard of life worth exploring.


The need for affordable housing is growing with the world's population and the environmental impact can't be ignored. Does the solution lie in a return to the use of local, inexpensive materials, or in manufacturing technologies like Greenblock (a sort of architectural LEGO) and fully automated fabrication? We'll separate the wheat from the chaff in this struggle to build better, cheaper, greener homes.


Media Choices

Each group member will prepare a 1500-2000 word online feature story. In support of our written word we will rely on multi-media sources.


We are fortunate to have access to many different media outlets, and plan to make use of as many of them as we can. We plan to take photographs from each of our interview sessions to create a slideshow on Flickr. In terms of video footage, we plan to film the Makers as they create (ie. One of the interview subjects, Erica Secnik, has agreed to demonstrate how she makes her soaps) and we may videotape (in addition to photograph) the home of Chris Babcock-Rimore, whom has several pieces of inmate art on display.


Due to geographical limitations, we will also be using various audio tools to capture voice from afar. Skype will be used in interviews that are not based in Toronto. Using our audio footage, we aim to create an insightful podcast. From Skype, we will also be taking video and still shots of interviewees. Journalists are extremely lucky to have such a tool; it definitely breaks down geographical barriers. We will also be using audio recorders to capture phone interviews, particularly with John Rimore in Sudbury. One of the interviews which we plan to conduct via Skype is that of Nunavut's Premiere, Eva Aariak, who is a Maker of her own by using animal skins to create clothing.


Next Steps

At this point, we would like to spend time refining our story ideas. Once this is completed, we will individually explore our topics in more depth to further expand our knowledge. We want to feel more comfortable with the MakerCulture concept before interviewing people. After we are familiar with our topic and understand our specific angles, we will start conducting interviews with some of the many contacts we have made. 








Comments (12)

Madelyn Chung said

at 3:45 pm on Oct 8, 2009

Sasha, Lauren and Chris, I need your ideas for media choices.

Also Chris, we need you to add in the research you have done so far.

As for the elevator pitch, how do you want to rework it? What do you guys find is fresh, new and exciting about our piece (we also need to come up with the focus, scope angle)

Lauren Solski said

at 9:31 pm on Oct 8, 2009

added my section to media choices.

For elevator pitch, we should definitely mention how some of our Maker stories are people wanting to revolt against consumerism, but also means of survival. I think that people don't necessarily associate MakerCulture with surviving.

Maybe I'm just silly.

Lauren Solski said

at 9:33 pm on Oct 8, 2009

Okay, i edited the elevator pitch a tiny bit...you can change it, I'm just trying to add some pzaazzz.

Sasha-Ann Simons said

at 10:25 pm on Oct 8, 2009

edited media choices and added the focus, scope angle section. please add/remove as you see fit.

Sasha-Ann Simons said

at 10:34 pm on Oct 8, 2009

**whomever is the last to edit tonight, please remember to remove Wayne's comments in red**

cbattaglia said

at 10:43 pm on Oct 8, 2009

I'll probably be the last one to edit, unless anyone else is planning on posting stuff at 4 a.m.

Sasha-Ann Simons said

at 10:46 pm on Oct 8, 2009

Chris u have your work cut out for you...please ensure that each category mentions/pertains to your topic as well. Good luck!

Madelyn Chung said

at 1:21 am on Oct 9, 2009

Okay so I re-did the elevator pitch. Hopefully Wayne likes it better.

Feel free to play around with it before the deadline.

cbattaglia said

at 4:55 am on Oct 9, 2009

Added a few things. The elevator pitch could use some tightening up. I'd do it if I had any clue how all of this fits together into a cohesive piece. What's our focus, people making stuff? There must be a better connecting thread than that...

Sasha-Ann Simons said

at 6:30 am on Oct 9, 2009

Madelyn i think the way you incorporated mine in the elevator pitch is fine considering we are just beginning and like chris said "what's our connecting thread??" It's definitely better than what we had before so thank you for updating it. At this point I think we're finished but I will wait until about 11am-noon while I'm in class to check if anyone's done a last update then I'll clean this up (i.e. remove all the notes in red and fix the spacing) so it's ready for the deadline. Yay team!

Good luck on your research/interviews this week!

Lauren Solski said

at 1:18 pm on Oct 9, 2009

Wow guys, I'm glad we are good at working together!

Lauren Solski said

at 10:56 pm on Oct 14, 2009

did anyone get our marks?

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