Tuesday, June 14, 2011

At long last: give-and-take

give-and-take is a community-based project that is developing services, activities and events to circulate pre-loved clothing throughout the local area. Along the way we share ideas and thoughts on how to re-use, repurpose and rethink the clothes that pass through our hands.

Join us at the give-and-take Kick-off
The Polish Hill Arts Festival
Sunday, July 17th from Noon-9pm.
Please join us for the first in a series of local socials to exchange and repurpose clothing.

Bring an item or bag of clothing to donate to the collection we're assembling for public use. In thanks, you're free to pull from the pile we've collected to date. We'll be using your donations at public workshops and clothing exchanges; to showcase ideas around the city for reusing and repurposing clothes; and to serve as a free resource for people in need.

This just in:

Jackie McDowell of Iron City Upcyclery will be joining us with some of her handwork. She'll be providing hands-on demos throughout the day. Check back for times and details.

Just look for the airstream.
(Lent to us from the folks over at Lili Coffeeshop. Thanks Rob!)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Brainstorm Session #2: A Word of Caution about Storytelling

Our second session was a powerful dose of reality as attendees challenged the trendiness of storytelling and the need for it to be an essential feature in the service. Everyone agreed that clothing is laced with meaning about our personal histories, identity and value systems. But workshop members still had a knee jerk reaction to the storytelling, cautioning us to think carefully about why and when it serves a purpose or enhances the experience. This criticism was exactly what we had hoped to hear about.

At the same time, we talked at length about the project's name--not to find that perfectly brand-able phrase but to get to the essence of what this prototype is about. What was making the rounds were names that evoked a sense of the legacy that clothing brings with it and the willingness to take things at face value. Names like "As Is" and "The Shirt off my Back" gave pause. Ultimately they didn't make the cut, so we're still out there trying to capture that kernal that will help explain what we do.

The majority of the evening was spent on programming efforts. Again there was a deep conversation about what value a workshop could bring to attendees. Many people pushed right past functional activities such as re-use and tailoring workshops to take a look at the emotional side of clothing selection. Given that one part of this project is to broker clothing for people re-entering the work force, one beautiful idea suggested was to create an event where community members/attendees would break into teams and put together outfits from the collection for women in need. From there, the women could "judge" which outfits they liked the best and then walk away with a new wardrobe. This way the transactional, anonymous nature of a social closet is replaced with a more community-oriented event where women come together in a low pressure, highly playful way to help put together needed outfits.

The world is turning in a good way this week. Happy to be here.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Brainstorm Session #1: Programming our mobile, pop-up collection process

Last night, we had the first of our two brainstorming sessions to gather ideas around reaching out to the community with programming efforts and informal, pop-up collection events for our upcoming re-use service.

At the heart of the project (currently searching for a name, so hang in there) is the desire to prototype a local system of services, activities and events to circulate pre-loved clothing and get them into new new hopeful hands. Along the way, we will gather stories from the community and explore new and unexpected ways to re-use and re-purpose the materials that make it into the mix.

On a functional level, we’re prototyping an informal yet practical way to keep everyday materials in play and out of the landfill. And on an emotional or social level, we’re creating ways to connect to one another through personal stories and interactions that come with wearing and exchanging clothing.

For any public effort we want to ensure that we're able to:
Encourage and enable people to share the stories of their clothing
Expose people to new ways of re-purposing or configuring clothing
Allow people to leave with something if they like ie. provide hands on, tactile interaction with donations
Create a way for people to stay in the loop after they’ve donated or participated ie. bring them into the fold
Give people a sense of the big picture and how their efforts make an impact ie. understand their impact and effort

Over the course of this 4-6 month project, we will showcase the growing collection of clothing by offering different ways that people could re-purpose or re-configure items into new outfits or new realities. We want to inspire people with possibilities. Imagine: What once was a skirt is now an ottoman cover. What once was a pair of men's pants is now fitted for a woman. What once was three sweaters is now one new sweater (think: pre-loved). What once was a pile of rags is now a tapestry of the city (think Tejo Remy). As we hold workshops, we'll also invite community members to dive into the collection pile and create their own one-of-a-kind ideas that will be showcased in our storefront window. Using the materials, they will be invited to ammend, arrange, concoct and configure the clothes in any way they see fit.

One of the more exciting things that came out of last night's workshop was to forgo a set storefront and instead move about the city using abandoned and existing store fronts as our showcase spaces. This way, we can start to build relationships with the owners and area while creating a roving treasure hunt where clues about the city pop up wherever they might.

That said, we're looking for both creators and public facing spaces that will help support this idea. Interested? Or know someone who is? Let us know.