Tuesday, September 15, 2009

New Efforts, New Training

The project may have wrapped up, but that does not mean it has stopped learning. While the new enterprise sorts out its path forward, learning – and teaching – continues.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Expanding Entrepreneurship

A new venture is created.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Making Kites for Somalia

Kite orders continue to come in – many for Gaza and most recently for psychosocial activities in Somalia. With luck, toy project kites will be flying over both the Gaza Strip and East Africa this fall.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Expanding into Skateboards

Kites have been a wonderful tool, yet diversity is always healthy. In turn, the toy project has experimented with designing skateboards when participants have needed a break. A wonderful side project.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Expressing Individuality

Designing and making kites are one way to express individuality. Yet at the toy project, we have an open policy welcoming any and all new ideas. It’s great to see what has been created.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Making World Class Works of Art

Toy project kites have always been fun, yet as participants gain more and more skill their creations are becoming increasingly beautiful, and in turn trending more and more towards art.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Award Winning Community Involvement

Congratulations to toy project participants for receiving a service award from the Jordan Red Crescent for all of their fabulous work in the community!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Embracing Errors

Mistakes happen. Yet by embracing such slip-ups as a necessary part of the learning process, we aim to ultimately encourage greater innovation and resilience. All part of the fun.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Celebrating $5000 in Profits

Celebrating the first $5,000 worth of kites sold from the project. A truly wonderful accomplishment by a group of beginners.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Custom Made Kites

Creating new kites has been a wonderful endeavor for the toy project, yet also rewarding has been taking orders from outside institutions to make custom kites as well. Business development, quality control, and the pressure of delivering a new product with little flexibility has been quite a gratifying experience.

Friday, May 22, 2009

King's Academy Partnership

In the spirit of diverse community involvement, the toy project recently partnered with King’s Academy in holding an open day for kite flying and other fun diversions. Great fun was had by all, yet just as importantly participants gained great experience organizing and managing outreach on their own.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Support Through Soft Landings

Life is not easy for adolescents. This is often especially true in the Middle East. In turn, the toy project has experimented liberally with comfort and support, under the hope that such reduced stress would reward creativity and expression. And for the most part, this has been pleasantly observed as participants come up with more and more interesting creations as they become more comfortable with their surroundings.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Global Concern

Because complex challenges always benefit from wide-ranging support, the project actively encouraged participants to act upon their desire to support their adolescent peers suffering from conflict and trauma in Gaza. In turn they designed cutting-edge t-shirts that were distributed both within Gaza and throughout the region to help declare that the kids of Gaza are not alone, as well as highlight their own civic development.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Connecting Through Language

Because communication and expression are so essential to contemporary success, two hours a day are invested three times a week into improving our abilities to share our experiences. Sometimes language, sometimes speaking, sometimes writing, yet always insightful and supportive.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Advanced Design

Utilizing technology, both to design better kites, as well as introduce and empower participants to contemporary skill sets, the project has increasingly strived to integrate computer software into every aspect of our efforts.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Global Connections

To help participants gain the widest possible understanding of our globalized world, the project has involved citizens from six different countries. Denmark, Germany, Iraq, Jordan, Palestine, and the USA all contribute to a truly global experience.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Listening to the Community

Jumpstart International is currently laying out the specific aims for its vocational media project in Amman. But in doing so, it has deliberately included a wide variety of potential participants in the design phase to ensure that the local community is learning the skills and sharing the stories they feel are most important. With such an inclusive approach utilizing Jumpstart’s familiarity with the latest technologies, in concert with the perspectives and connections of all of its partners in Jordan, everyone involved is optimistic that together we can ensure that cutting-edge tools and training are increasingly available to all – no matter the background – and that in turn, a wider variety of viewpoints are shared with the world.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Testing the Next Round of Kites

The first two classes of participants have finished their latest round of kites, and in turn, we’re eager to get them up in the air and see what‘s successful, and what needs to be reexamined. Beyond being both a productive step in the development process and a fun outing to blow off some steam, it has also become an additional aspect of the project to be managed completely by participants. Now consequently who exactly to blame if there is no wind will be an interesting question -- yet like all things, we’ll work it out together!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Digital Designs

Building upon our previous work with graphics, the toy project is now moving into utilizing design and engineering software to lay out the planning of our latest products. This is useful as it provides genuine experience using such software towards professional aims. Beyond that, however, is also a meaningful evolution in our learning process. Where before we made our mistakes by hand and well into the construction process, we are now learning to put more initial thought into our subsequent actions – a change that will presumably result in less effort and greater accomplishments over the months ahead. While a small modification, it is our hope that the experience will reinforce the growing belief that everything should be open to healthy reevaluation and reinvention now and again.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Recycled Toys

The vocational toy project is pleased to share that it is slowly beginning to work with recycled materials. Our first kite made from post-consumer plastic bags was recently completed, and our work with making dominos and other various toys from discarded shipping pallets is currently under way. Until we test the reprocessed (melted) plastic kite in the air this weekend, we’re unsure if this is an area we can justify expanding into. Yet for plastic bags, as well as discarded wood, the important issue for us is that we are exploring what fun and educational treasures we can make from items others deem unworthy – a test of our entrepreneurial creativity to encourage seeking value in areas others choose to ignore!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Project Logo

One of the latest efforts at the vocational toy project has been developing our own logo. Such an assignment is useful at first as it allows participants to gain real world experience in graphic design and marketing. Yet this is also important because it allows participants to take ownership of everything they create, as well as sharing a bit of themselves with the world. All told, a half dozen people contributed to the design process, and in turn we’re pleased by how it represents everyone involved.

The outside border is a merger between our first two projects, a wood and canvas square frame, overlaid with a diamond kite. This creates a frame in itself that has 24 independent lines (one for each member of the team) and is filled with colors most representative of our Arab participants. Within the frame is the Arabic name of the project – “Ibda” – spelled out as the heart we all share. In turn, everything we produce is “Made with love in the Middle East.” A true collective accomplishment.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Encouraging Leadership and Decisionmaking

Whether encouraging entrepreneurship or more generally just proactive tendencies, the vocational toy project has been placing a particular emphasis on empowering individual participants to step up and play a role in leading the project. This includes frequently surveying participants about their individual preferences for collective direction, and to a further degree, encouraging everyone to help manage our progress towards those ends. One of the biggest ways we’re pursuing this is to emphasize a daily meeting for everyone in the group. Beyond updating everyone on the day’s agenda, this also serves as a chance for each person involved to gain practice running discussions and managing diverse groups. We were constantly warned not to provide adolescent participants with meaningful choices, as such a gamble invites unknown volatility. And while this approach has not been without challenges, we remain convinced that everyone in the project will continue to encounter difficult adversity outside the project – and be forced to make the choices to deal with it. In turn, the more we can provide a supportive environment to encourage thoughtful decision-making, the better for all involved. (Let’s help each other learn to face uncertainty while we’re working together.) It may not be easy, but such practice holds many advantages to facing tougher decisions with less guidance down the road.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Introducing Graphic Design

Because of the advantages technology can play in working – either for oneself or a larger firm – Jumpstart’s vocational toy project has increasingly been cultivating the use of software in our larger training efforts. Our primary focus remains designing and manufacturing toys by hand. Yet by demonstrating the usefulness of certain cutting-edge tools, such as the latest graphic design software, the project aims to complement the natural abilities of its participants with the tools that will allow them to create even greater accomplishments in the next phases of their careers. For now, our technological efforts will be focused primarily around creating a group logo and laying out toy designs, but hopefully in the months ahead we will increasingly employ Internet media, both for marketing and sales, and in turn expose our participants to virtually all major aspects of a vertically-integrated business.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Seeking to Stimulate Demand

Because of the recently depressed economy in the Middle East, along with much of the world, local markets are currently experiencing lower prices for the majority of their recycled commodities. This impacts our vocational recycling efforts, as well as the larger efforts of the community. Because of this, Jumpstart continues to seek out the most sensible way to stimulate demand for recycled goods through our support of community-based vocational recycling projects, so that we can play a small role in maintaining current momentum and encouraging demand-driven innovation of recycled goods in the Middle East. We’re not as far along as we hope to be in the next few months, but for now we’re optimistic that stimulating demand, as well as supporting vocational training, is our most useful contribution.