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The Endless Doodle

A lot of creativity comes from not just creating a new idea but building an old one. So let's make one endless doodle.

Photo of Mansi Parikh
26 11

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A lot of people have heard of the "Before I die..." wall ( http://beforeidie.cc/site/about/) or even seen one. My idea is to build something similar and create an endless doodle.

It could be as simple as painting a neighbourhood wall with Blackboard paint and laying out a few pieces of chalk and let people make what they will. The idea is that instead of starting form scratch people extend the already existing artwork and we never run out of space because all you have to do is erase a piece and change it around as you wish.

I recently attended a talk by author Kim Erwin. She spoke about an example that stuck in my head. The incident occurred when one of the subjects in her book was presenting an idea to a client. They put the whole plan on this massive sheet of paper which was printed with the ideas they had come up with. At first everyone was sitting around and discussing it and they were getting nowhere until, one of the team members noticed a typo, he got up took a sharpie and circled it saying "huh...we missed that" In circling the typo he broke the sanctity of the page. This encouraged the client's team members to then get up and draw on the page to explain an idea he was unable to communicate verbally. It broke the dam and they had a fabulously productive meeting. All because a guy picked up a pen and circled a typo.

Too often blank white walls intimidate us. A little scratch on that wall and it upsets us beyond compare because in our head that surface was perfect and the scratch diminishes that somehow.

The moment we begin to realize nothing is "perfect" and that everything can be changed we learn to re-imagine, redesign, reiterate and make it better, put our stamp on the world.

So let's make it so that we begin to teach the young people that nothing is perfect it can always be made better or different.  

In this challenge, we want to create ideas with young people, not for them. Outline how you’re planning to involve young people or other end-users (parents, teachers, etc) in designing, iterating or testing your idea during the Ideas phase.

I recently went to a talk by an author Kim Erwin. The idea is to encourage young people to simply paint a wall in their neighbourhood (with the requisite permissions of course) and let them have at it. So to speak. It is their blank canvas to make of it what they will. It is a simple way to encourage people to express themselves. It doesn't necessarily have to be artwork someone can write a poem if the want and make it part of the canvas. It can be done inside a school building or a classroom, practically anywhere there is a wall which can be painted with blackboard paint. Kids can make it their classroom art project that they pass along to the next batch of students who use the classroom in the next school year. It's low cost or even practically no cost. Just takes the will to do it.

How might you envision your idea spreading across geographies or cultures so that it inspires young people around the world to cultivate their creative confidence?

All we need is a wall which can be painted in blackboard paint. It can be indoors or outdoors, it really doesn't matter. What matters is people have access to it. It can be done is schools, a low cost way to encourage students to express their creative talents. Maybe even encourage their friends and family members to contribute to "their" wall. It is important that young people take ownership of this concept and believe it is somewhere that they can express themselves. It's their infinite art project which will be iterated and reiterated for generations to come. Another concept would be if they can take it online and get people to add to their creations. Friends and family from across the world, strangers in faraway countries all contributing to it in their own special way.

What skills, input or guidance would you like to receive from the OpenIDEO community to help you build out or refine your idea further?

I would love to make this Idea better. I am open to suggestions on how we can get young people involved, encourage them to express their creativity. Maybe we can build a website and mobile app allowing people to draw in real-time or upload a photo on the "virtual wall" that they believe will extend the already present artwork.
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Team (4)

Clint's profile
Clint Artes

Role added on team:

"Thanks for your ideas I'd love hear more"

Jeff's profile
Jeff Nagata

Role added on team:

"Thanks for the reminder to prototype Jeff. "

Mansi's profile
Tony's profile
Tony Li

Role added on team:

"Thanks for your idea Tony. It's brilliant! I never would have thought of opening this to commercial real estate."

26 comments

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Photo of Jeff Nagata
Team

Hey Mansi, there was a really good question asked by OpenIDEO on the "Creative Confidence through Positive Impact" concept, which was:

"Is there a way that you imagine this idea reaching youth who have little or no access to internet but who still might want to work on these kinds of creative projects?"

The first thing I thought of was your community blackboard idea. I think this would be a great way to integrate our separate ideas together!

I think everything that we talked about here in the comments can be applied to bringing a completely analog version of the original idea, which relies on a online community platform, to people without access to the internet.

For example, a community blackboard can be set up in hotspots, and ask people what problems they have, and youth can respond through the blackboard and the problem poster and youth can connect through that.

There's some obstacles and challenges to this idea. One, is that it would have to be more structured than the free-form doodling of your original idea, since it's a more focused on a particular goal. The information on the blackboard would have to be organized and easy to understand for people to engage in it.

Another obstacle might be that people might be hesitant to put their contact information. Maybe there needs to be another way for people who participate on the blackboards to get in touch with each other, but how?

Let me know what you think! Do you like the idea?

Photo of Jeff Nagata
Team

Also here's the link to the concept page: http://www.openideo.com/open/creative-confidence/ideas/creative-confidence-through-positive-impact/

Photo of Jeff Nagata
Team

I was thinking more about the blackboard idea, and there's so many possibilities for integrating this idea into activities that could really transform the entire area that it's placed in. Here's a few I thought of:

- Place blackboards in public spaces that are underutilized/vacant, with a prompt asking youth and others for what they want to see in the area. It would be a great way for youth to voice their ideas, and a resource for the community.

- Organize a monthly theme for the blackboards. This can act as a "imagination starter", a way to make the empty black space a little less intimidating. For example, I went to a Space & Science museum this weekend and I saw a prompt asking youth to draw a invention that would help save energy. I saw a huge variety of ideas from youth.

Another great thing I saw was that the museum partnered with designers to create 3D models to turn some of the youths' drawings to reality, and featured it for everyone to see!

I think there a lot of potential to turn the boards into creative activities that the entire community/city/town surrounding it can became engaged in, together.

What do you think?

Photo of Tony Li
Team

Hey Jeff and Mansi, really am a fan of the blackboard idea, since anyone, at any age can contribute. To expand on your idea, what if we also work with Commercial real estate companies that have vacant storefronts. For a limited time, we can line the walls with whiteboard/blackboard wallpaper and anyone can come in and contribute. It can be the community's gallery.

This may be a good alternate for areas that may not have a lot of public walls.

Photo of Jeff Nagata
Team

That's an awesome idea, Tony. Would commercial real estate companies also be interested because it might generate community interest and activity in the areas with vacant storefronts? Maybe on top of the blackboards being a space for any creative expression, there can also be a section where youth are encouraged to share ideas on what the vacant storefronts can be turned into?

Photo of Tony Li
Team

I would imagine this idea to bring more foot traffic to the property, which is a win for them. Since the setup and the cleanup is as simple as putting up and tearing down wallpaper, I don't see a risk of damaging their property.

I like the idea of a section of the wall dedicated to sharing ideas. It can also build dialogue within a community. Reminds me of the Talking Transition Tent that is now in New York: http://talkingtransitionnyc.com/

Photo of Mansi Parikh
Team

Guys, I love this Idea. In fact imagine we just cover the whole storefront glass with a Blackboard and get people to draw what they would envision it to be. It could be anything from toy stores to space age Ice cream shops. Great advertising potential for the real estate company and it also involve the community.

How many times have we seen empty storefronts get tagged with spray painted curse words. This could be a great alternative.

Photo of Tony Li
Team

This would be a positive way to approach this. I can see this giving the neighborhood a playful feel and inspiring anyone that walk past these windows.

All it takes is one to start an infection.

Photo of Jeff Nagata
Team

It would also challenge the notion that people have to be reactive to their surrounding environment, in a creative and fun way. It would be great for youth to see that they don't have to be reactive, they can be active in voicing their opinions.

Mansi, you should totally go for it!

Photo of Mansi Parikh
Team

Well, now I'm going to have to find a wall in Boston. We'll see how that goes.

Photo of Jeff Nagata
Team

I'll try looking for possibilities around here, too. I'll keep you updated!

Photo of Clint Artes
Team

Hi guys. A few thoughts here that might stimulate discussion/other ideas.

- QR codes. Each board with its own unique id.
- Sponsors. Create a 'chalk-art' ad for a sponsor, and they can pay for the chalk (small price).
- TED. I think this idea could be an idea worth spreading.
- Curved surfaces. The concept doesn't need to be limited to flat walls.
- Outdoor. The beauty of an outdoor installation? - Precipitation becomes the master eraser!

Good thoughts and ideas in the room. Keep them coming!
Clinton

Photo of Mansi Parikh
Team

How about this. There's also whiteboard paint apparently http://www.openideo.com/open/creative-confidence/ideas/go-ahead-and-write-on-the-walls/#c-db5de83ddaa8d8a41afb16577c129944

Photo of David Relan
Team

I love the simplicity of this and how easy it would be to implement. I guess it's not just geared towards children, but imagine a school painted in chalkboard paint, allowing the facade to be continually created. Or even as you suggested digitally projecting such a forum in an urban space :)

Photo of Mansi Parikh
Team

Hey Clint that's the idea. I'm pretty sure that blackboard paint is already available so that's not too much of a concern. Like you said white and coloured chalk just have this whole different feeling which makes it imperfect but gives is a whole lot of character. The web and mobile is a way to extend the idea to connect different parts of the world to each other. That was you can keep adding to work by people from all over the world.

Photo of Mansi Parikh
Team

sorry Nick I was replying to a comment below and for some reason it added a reply to your comment.

Photo of Clint Artes
Team

Re the paint Mansi, You and I can get hold of suitable paint fairly easily.

I think it would be interesting to have a basic way of creating blackboard-ready paint from any available paint. Imagine a progressive thinker in New Guinea (or in any city without a hardware store) wants to set one up... They simply source some black paint, throw in a few bucketfuls of road-side dirt/sand/whatever, and get some people to paint it on a wall. [How-to make black-board paint?]

That way it could have a truly global application...

Photo of Clint Artes
Team

This is an awesome idea Mansi. I can see application in offices, classrooms, public spaces, old-people homes. Everywhere.

I think the white-on-black has an 'anti-perfect' feel to it. And the coloured chalk with its thick, patchy lines completes the antithesis. If it was introduced and implemented (read: marketed) just right, and went viral, you can only imagine how far it might go.

You would perhaps need to research the most basic method of creating the right paint (that will mark with chalk). If the idea made it to developing countries, the implementer would need to know how to make/source a tin of suitable paint.

I suggest staying with a low-tech solution (chalk): Easy to clean; no power, and yet still effective in getting people to contribute and think creatively.

Photo of Mansi Parikh
Team

Hey Clint that's the idea. I'm pretty sure that blackboard paint is already available so that's not too much of a concern. Like you said white and coloured chalk just have this whole different feeling which makes it imperfect but gives is a whole lot of character. The web and mobile is a way to extend the idea to connect different parts of the world to each other. That was you can keep adding to work by people from all over the world.

Photo of Jeff Nagata
Team

Clint, I definitely agree with you that we can only imagine how far this idea can go. I love that this idea is so simple, but there's infinite possibilities for implementation.

I saw this idea this morning, and while I was on the train afterwards, I looked around me and most people were zoning out in their seats. I kept thinking about how awesome it would be if there was a blackboard in the middle of this train, where people can just add something really quickly on their way to work, and share and collaborate with each other. It would be such a great way for people to quickly express their creativity.

Photo of Clint Artes
Team

We have an interesting thing going on in our community magazine, MX (Brisbane CBD only): It is a segment called 'Here's looking at you" (or similar).

Contributors send in an endearing comment about someone who they saw on a bus or train, telling them about something they liked about the person (eg. Nice eyes; You made my day; I'll be on the 5:15; etc.).

A BB on a train/ bus-stop/ subway could become a fun way to do the same.

Photo of Jeff Nagata
Team

Great idea, Mansi! In the Creative Confidence book, the Kelley brothers also mentioned creating a floor-to-ceiling community chalkboard in the bathroom of their San Francisco IDEO office, and how it was a huge hit.

Another cool aspect of it, is that the informal nature and impermanent nature of the chalkboard sparked people to just share what is on their mind, and questions they were thinking of at that moment, like "What fun things can we do this year?"

I love this aspect because the chalkboard would be such a low-barrier barrier entry for youth to just share what's on their mind. It would be a great first step for youth without creative confidence as well, and to keep developing it by taking a bunch of small first steps to sharing what's in their mind.

They also suggested to "experiment first", to try different sizes and placements before committing to creating a permanent, giant chalkboard. This might be a good idea, to see what places generate the most involvement.

If you already happen to have the book, it's on page 79-80!

Photo of Mansi Parikh
Team

Thanks Jeff I haven't read the book but I plan to at some point.

I think it's a great idea to experiment with sizes on something less permanent like a temporary blackboard like the one you can get on stands and place it out to see the response.

This ideas is kind of like the street pianos idea if you've see those. They placed pianos in the streets of some of the major cities in the world for anyone to play. It was an art project only for a month or so but I feel like this can be more or less permanent. Even with painting a wall with blackboard paint is easy enough to reverse, you just have to paint it back to whatever colour you want and like you said having something impermanent encourages people to share, to re-work, re-design and re-iterate.

Photo of Jeff Nagata
Team

I definitely think this is a idea anyone can implement pretty easily right now. The only question is, are there any permits or anything that we would need to get from the city/county to implement?

Also, if we wanted to set up temporary blackboards, what would be the cheapest way to do it? I'm thinking one way is to buy a few boards, paint it with blackboard paint? I also know that melamine boards (like the stuff whiteboards are made of) are pretty cheap if you buy it straight from places like Home Depot.

Maybe one way to implement the idea is to start in schools, like you said. That would be a good way to prototype the ways that youth get engaged with this idea. Here's a related concept, about creating a homeroom space that can be modified by the students, that might go well with this idea: http://www.openideo.com/open/creative-confidence/ideas/open-space-by-us-rethinking-homerooms/



Photo of Jeff Nagata
Team

I had another idea. What if community members could "adopt a blackboard?". Community members can pay for the materials for blackboard, and set one up in their community.

When you adopt a blackboard, community members are responsible for maintaining the blackboard and also set up "creativity starters" to help generate creative activities by youth. The adopters can also post pictures and share the activities on a single website.

Maybe the website can even show a map of all the blackboards in the area? It might be a cool way to unify all the blackboard and creative activities that are happening around it.

Photo of Clint Artes
Team

Adopt a blackboard! Great idea Jeff.