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Maker: Having Visions

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Having Visions

"A revolution is underway. But it's not about tearing down the old guard. It's about building, It's about creating, it's about breathing life into groundbreaking new ideas. It's called the Maker Movement and it's changing the world."--Maker Manifesto

Talking Stick participating in the Maker Movement is a very natural extension of what we have been doing for years. We established our "Maker Community" in 2006 without actually calling it that. We are a place where innovation and invention are encouraged and and there is a strong focus on learning practical skills and applying them creatively. Perhaps most importantly, Talking Stick is a place for visionaries.

According to the Maker Manifesto:

-If it can be imagined it can be made.
-The first step in making a thing . . . is visualizing it.
-A most effectice step in refining/developing a thing is collaborating with others on it.
-Begin with the end in mind.
-Making things always combines form with function.
-The art of making should be appreciated and celebrated.

Here's how these aspects of Maker apply in reality:

The other day we set out to use natural materials that abound at Awbury such as branches, stones, sticks, stumps, soil, and logs to build a natural playground. I proposed the idea and brought my own vision of how a certain aspect would be. I began digging a hole to secure a stump as the beginning of a line of "stepping stones". The Makers, however, had different ideas. They kind of looked at me digging and then turned to their own grand plans. Soon an elaborate branch was erected, supported by logs and stones wedged around it. It was a structure I did not visualize as possible, and yet there it was. I had not thought that the branch could be supported enough to hold weight as people climbed it yet as it turned out they achieved their vision.

This is part of why I like being around young people. The improbable occurs to them as possible. They are still so in touch with imagination, they can create reality out of it. Their abundance of flexible thinking makes me realize how limited my thinking and visualizing can be. The best part of the building of the climbing structure was when I was experimenting with wedging a stone as part of the clibing structure and one person came up to me and said in a gentle way:"I know you think you're helping, but actually you're not. Why don't you go and leave it to us." I had to admit, he was right.

Meanwhile in another section of the natural "playground", another participant was building a zip line. When she first brought up the idea my limited thinking sprung up in my mind: "There's no way we can build a zip line that can hold a person's weight." But I did not say anything because I wanted to be open to the possibilities. She determinedly tied a rope from one tree to another as high as she could reach, attached a wire hanger to a log to be sat upon, and tested it out. She soon discovered that there were a number of laws of physics working against her and that the vision would have to be revised to take them into account. The seat would have to be lighter, the roped tied higher, the attachment made more secure. She had a vision, executed it and did not achieve what she had envisioned. But she gained information and experience with laws of physics, knots, and being resourceful with limited resources. My plan is to provide materials that will be more appropriate and secure to make her vision of a zip line a reality.

Maker Class provides space and time to make mistakes and learn from them without shame or censure. There is disappointment for sure, but also a determination to keep trying new ideas. The activities are experiential and collaborative opportunities to apply creative visualizing. It's a chance to step aside and let the young people take the lead.