Creativity Week! The time we tried to save the birds

Ciao readers! Let's pretend I didn't leave this in the drafts bin for several months... 😅


Wow it's been a long week. Just to recap what went down:


Over creativity week, in place of classes, mornings were filled with many exciting "Tasters”, or short workshops centered around the Creative Arts. Both student and adult leaders were busy organizing and delivering activities such as Music Literacy, Dance Improv, Art Therapy, Intro to Photoshop+Graphic Design, and much more! I had the chance to learn some Gumboot steps as well as attend "Ceramic café" where we painted pottery that was later fired in the kiln.

THE HISTORY OF GUMBOOT


Gumboot is a long-standing tradition at Pearson College and has a strong historical roots. It dates back over 100 years, originating from South African miners who worked in the gold tunnels during the Apartheid. Working in the mines was a treacherous craft and often required hours of hard labour made worse by the Pass Laws established during this period. These laws allowed workers to be chained in almost-pitch-black darkness and shackled at their work stations. The constantly toxic waterlogged floors of the caves caused the miners disease, foot problems, and ulcers, resulting in death and long delays in their work. This eventually drove the owners of these mines to issue Wellington boots (commonly known as "gumboots") to all the workers was as a much cheaper alternative to establishing a drainage system within the mines.


Gumboot dance as we now know it arose as a means of communication amongst miners who were forbidden from talking to one another. Through the stomping their feet and slapping of their hands on gumboots, the miners could send messages in code without their bosses understanding. This movement eventually transformed into a dance, which became particularly popular during the fight against apartheid and even a protest symbol against the powerful regime.


2013 Gumboot One World Performance-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D2AC0VeytwM

Afternoons were dedicated to our week-long “Projects”. Some examples included Short Film Production, Creative Writing Incubator, Sustainable Textiles + "Trashion Show", Virtual Reality, Photography, etc. I had the wonderful opportunity to lead a project with two amazing people and boy...that was an adventure.


Here's the story:


It all started when we noticed the excessive amount of birds crashing into windows around campus. Frankly, it's quite hard to miss. Especially when the sound of bird-on-glass becomes a regular interruption during...well, just about anything. Classes, studying, chilling in the dayroom...you name it. It was clear we were (and are continuing to have) a negative impact on nature and we felt we should be doing more to protect the land we're living on. So why not make some art out of it!!


After researching the best ways to obstruct birds from hitting windows and taking careful measurements of said windows around campus, we came up with a game plan: order clear adhesive vinyl and use printed templates to paint all the world flags to be put up over the giant Maxbell glass panels. Meaningful design, light would still pass through, and limited art skills required. Simply and easy.


As you might have guessed, it didn't work out that way 😂.

Even after getting our budget pre-approved, pre-ordering materials, and taking every precaution to make sure everything would run smoothly, an overnight snowfall put a severe delay on our vinyl- like a 3 week delay. Only we didn't know it would be that long at the time 😌.


Not to fret, we adjusted our project to incorporate back-up plan #1: we would hand draw and cut different stickers to laminate and put up as a temporary measure on the problematic buildings set to soon be renovated this summer.


This new plan worked surprisingly well. We had an incredible team and had a great time. Meanwhile, we found a new solution for the whole lack-of-vinyl situation! Printer-safe acetate that we found in the copy room! Slight problem- we only had 50 sheets, but this was better than nothing. We could still print 100 flags rather than none, paint them, and get the same translucent effect.


Another slight problem- due to Covid restrictions we weren't exactly allowed to do the copying ourselves so our files were sent over to admin to be TEST printed along with our stickers to be laminated.


Unfortunately, due to some miscommunication and administrative error we ended up with 100 pages of flags on paper we didn't want and a ton of overlapping laminates that we simply could not use. Yay!


What a fantastic unfruitful end to a chaotic week 😂. Anyhow, we did learn a lot about making the most of what we had and had a very interesting experience. I just wanted to share this mess of a story to remind you that not all the projects you'll undertake, even at UWC, will work out. Mistakes happen and that's ok! Just another week at Pearson :)

I have a number of other posts lined up nearly ready to go including "Service Week", "What it's like living at a UWC" and many more, but alas, it appears we might have to wait until exams are over before they see the light of day. Bear with me! I really should be getting back to work...


Until next time,




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