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.

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