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.