Monday, August 16, 2010

Civic Engagement with Food Not Bombs! (Spring 2010)

 The collective group of 10 classmates in our Research Studio Community Based Practices class had the opportunity to engage in a community-based project. We met, we looked at places we’d previously visited, we created a wiki with ideas and links, we talked and talked and finally decided on our collective criteria:

We wanted it to:
  1. Be free
  2. Be public
  3. Include art in some way
  4. Allow for individual + collaborative participation
  5. Provide a needed service

Get a list of places or events that interest you. Share these with each other and plan a brainstorming day.  Try to narrow down your choices based on some collectively agreed upon criteria. This really helped us to narrow it down by quite a bit.

When you decide who you would like to collaborate with, make contact and start the conversation about what might work best, where, when, etc. We decided that contributing something to the regular food distribution by Food Not Bombs was something we were very interested in. They let us know a few things about their event that they could use help with or where certain items were hard to come by and this informed our decision to create bags for people to take the food home in. We thought it would be nice if they were not disposable and if they contained original designs on them that somehow related to the work of Food Not Bombs or could be some type of logo for them. Each person wanted to create their own design. This also allowed us to create a good quantity by dividing the work between 10 people, each responsible for 10 bags.

Coordinate the work and studio days with your collaborators and lay out a schedule for days and times and the materials you will need and perhaps establish partnerships for gathering materials and setting up work stations. We set aside two studio days: one for creating the designs and transferring to masking and one for doing the silkscreening.

The distribution! We had arranged to meet up with Food Not Bombs one Sunday for their regular distribution and arrived a little early to set up a table with our bags. We found that they were very useful and people were genuinely thrilled that we wanted to give them away for free. They were gone really fast! One of the greatest parts of the day that most of us remembered was how we met people and stayed longer just to continue conversations, even though it was a cold and rainy day. I think we were surprised by how many people we met and wanted to talk to us about why we were doing this and who made the bags and with the quality of conversations all the way around. The Food Not Bombs volunteers really appreciated it too.

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