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Proposal 2 - Culture

Page history last edited by Wayne MacPhail 11 years, 4 months ago

Culture Proposal 2


Your pitch still needs an intro that gives me a sense of the full scope of your piece. Don't see that yet. And, I'm concerned about the lack of completed interviews in half the topic areas of this episode. Not good this late in the game. Will send your mark via email. - wFrontPage

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.


Your pitch is about more than just clothes, but the you don't explain that until the third paragraph. You need a pitch that is much more integrated higher. 


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 have a need for day-to-day items and express it by taking part in MakerCulture. They tap into their creative sides and, using limited resources, they have invented some pretty neat stuff! From cigarette lighters to salt n pepper shakers to tattoo guns...prison inventions are functional, fun, and expressive. 


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, and his father is the head of the JHS in Sudbury. Both have been interviewed and provided insight on the Creative Arts Programs run inside of Federal Institutions. This information will help to segue between creative arts and the very different, more raw Maker Culture prison art. We have also been in contact with Marc, from an organization called Temporary Services. Together with a current inmate name "Angelo", they created an in-depth book on prison inventions. We also plan to explore the Penitentiary Museum in Kingston, Ontario to gain insight on their prison craft exhibits.


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. Also through Facebook, Nanauq Kusugak, an Inuit born and raised in Iqaluit, Nunavut, contacted us regarding his take on Maker Culture in regards to Inuit Fashion. Nanauq hunted a lot in his childhook, and often donated the animal skins/furs to seamstresses. Qajaq Robinson, a third generation Maker Culture maker, is the next on the list to interview. She was born and raised in Nunavut, and has been sewing since she was a young girl. Her family was very poor when she was young, and they relied heavily on skins and sewing to have clothing. We will be interviewing her in the next week.Carly Rutledge is a student from Peterborough who makes her own iPod cases and notebooks. She is unable to download Skype, but has agreed to do an interview via e-mail or IM. 


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. Unfortunately, Teresa's last tweet is from early September, meaning she hasn't been on twitter in a while. She has been removed as a potential contact. 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.Linda Brown, the creator of "Knotty Linda" was found through Twitter as well. Linda specializes in fine braiding and fancy knotting of kangaroo leather lace to create unique fashion accessories and adult toys. She has been contacted, and we are currently awaiting her reply. 


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. CONTACTED AND IS UNAVAILABLE UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE
  • 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. CONTACTED TWICE, WAITING FOR RESPONSE
  • 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. CONTACTED, is unable to interview due to further notice
  • Nanauq Kusugak; hunter in Nunavut. 1st INTERVIEW COMPLETE, second to follow.
  • Qajaq Robinson -- Scheduled interview on Tuesday
  • Chris Babcock-Rimore, John Howard Society (JHS) volunteer, INTERVIEW COMPLETE
  • John Rimore, JHS Head in Sudbury, INTERVIEW COMPLETE
  • Ryan Smith, ex-inmate 
  • Nathan Nesbitt, ex-inmate
  • Marc, Temporary Services (co-writers of the book 'Prison Inventions'), INTERVIEW COMPLETE
  • CUPE representative (Prison Guards Union)
  • 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
  • Marc Thompson of MonkeyMarcCreations 
  • Linda Brown, a.k.a. "Knotty Linda"


I'm not seeing complete interviews from two team members. This needs immediate attention


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

The entire group 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. We have also obtained permission to use video footage on Temporary Services' website, demonstrating step-by-step how common prison inventions were made. We also have access to sketches of prison creations to add to the visual effect.


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. Currently, we are trying to work through some technical difficulties faced while using Skype, more specifically, Pamela. Although technology is a wonderful thing, it can be frustrating. 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 are also using audio recorders to capture phone interviews, already use for John Rimore in Sudbury and to be used for the ex-inmates in Calgary. One of the interviews already done via Skype was that of Nanauq Kusugak, who is a hunter, youth and Inuit resident of Nunavut.



Next Steps

Now that we are more comfortable with Maker Culture and our individual topics, we have all begun conducting interviews. Some have already been completed, while we are still waiting on confirmation from others. Once the interviews are completed, we will individually explore our topics in more depth to effectively contribute to the feature article. In the meantime, we will continue to blog about our interesting findings.


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