Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Workshop #1: Maker 101 with George Sprague

One thing I've learned about myself through this class is that my first instinct, in any situation is to seek out abstract, big-picture ways to frame things. I find comfort and familiarity in working on the level of ideas, and then filtering my experiences and problem-solving processes through those ideas. For me, hands-on experience often comes at the very end, if it happens at all.

When George began has presentation in Maker 101, I found myself looking for George's big picture take on making -- his understanding of making as an approach, the goals and concepts behind his projects, etc. Instead, George dove almost immediately into the fine-grained details of his tools. He shared his preferred types of tape (never Scotch), the dangerous of epoxy in confined spaces (as Kayla noted to me, George remained conspicuously silent about his experience with toxic chemical in his dorm room!), the gradual transformations of softball helmet and cardboard into warrior helmet.

I found myself leaning in to hear those concepts and framework, which surely would show up on the next slide, or the next slide... but instead, I had the opportunity to enjoy George become visibly delighted by the nuances of these tools and processes. Gradually, I realized that George was answering those big ideas about significance and goals and ideas in his passionate commitment to details and processes -- he wasn't just sharing examples of making or an introduction to making, but a direct line into the joy of the process for him.

I frame my post this way because I am coming to really appreciate the ways in which making, as a process and approach, creates meaning and purpose through that earnest commitment to the materials and tools and physical interactions themselves. There are lots of relevant ideas here from mindfulness -- be in the moment, make space for what arises - and it makes me think of the poetry of Rumi too, welcoming in whatever experiences and feelings arise and treating them kindly, as guests. I love that George gave his talk, which in another universe could very well be happening in the isles of a local hardware store, and yet through it expressed so much about his curiosity and kindness, his generosity of spirit.

When, at the very end of his talk, George revealed that he and his partner wear their Proton Packs over Ghostbusters costumes to delight children at local hospitals, I was simultaneously overjoyed at the sweetness of that (I mean that is SO kind) and also could totally understand how this might into his earnest commitment to doing and making and putting things out into the world. I really admire his approach, and the talk genuinely inspired me to set aside my analytical mind and jump into making-doing-creating-first approaches a little more often. :)

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