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Gratitude on A String

Based on Brazil popular - Literatura de Cordel, community will hang art, stories, poems...of gratitude on a prominent and visible cord.

Photo of Amy Sparks
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The name Literatura de Cordel, or "literature on a string" comes from the practice of street vendors to hang art, stories, poems on strings so that potential customers can browse them easily. The idea is to create a campus-wide Gratitude on a String where members of our workplace can post art, stories, poems, etc... on a large public cord either temporary placed around the outside central courtyard, or a permanent cord in a central part of our building - a place that teachers, support staff (custodians, food service, health office), and students can see and participate in adding to. 

Idea Title

Gratitud de Cordel - "Gratitude on a String"

How the Idea will inspire the experience and expression of gratitude within an organization.

First, these public stories, poems, and artwork on Papel volante or "flying paper" will be affirmations of goodness. They will affirm that there is goodness and beauty in the world all around us, every day. Secondly, our staff and students will be able to reflect and recognize in the creation of these Gratitud del Cordel stories, poems, and art pieces that sources of for us to achieve success and wholehearted lives.

Who are you innovating for?

The entire community of Buffalo high school would benefit from this idea. The community of Buffalo High School is made up of more than 2000 people this includes students, administration, educational support staff, and teachers. At a large workplace like BHS, you can feel as though your voice is not heard, or your face is not seen. This project would give voice and visibility to many people that are simply taken for granted for. This project would increase the overall health and wellness of all.

What type of workplaces are you innovating for?

Buffalo High School is a large high school of 2000 students drawing from both rural and urban areas. There is wide variety in student and staff's wellness, access to opportunity, social values, and experiences. It is the building's goal to have 100 percent of students feel supported by their peers and by adults in the building. It is also the goal of building leaders to pilot kindness and gratitude projects such as 3 Good Things, Gratitude Letters, etc..

How you envision the Idea being introduced to your selected organization?

It is BHS site team's current goal to have 100 percent of students feel supported by their peers and by adults in the building. It is also the goal of building leaders to pilot kindness and gratitude projects. Working with the local health clinic the administrators have supported a Bounce Back Project which includes 3 Good Things, Random Acts of Kindness, and Gratitude Letters. Admin. Team - Support, Introduction to staff & students. Library Learning Commons Coordinator - Researching & contacting printmakers and supplies, and installation information. Local Printmakers/Staff/Students - Creation of "flying papers." Local Bounceback Allina Health - Financial & data collection support.

What obstacles, if any, do you foresee in implementing this Idea, and how would they be overcome?

Obstacle: Finding local printmakers who will partner with school. Solution: as an Arts Magnet School we are part of the North Suburban Integration System and will have extended access to art resources. Obstacle: Time for workplace community to participate in creating the Gratitud stories, poems, art. Solution: Using flexible and high volume times such as lunch, before school, after school. Create a few extended evening or weekend opportunities. Obstacle: Money. Solution: Local partnerships.

How will you test and prototype your solution?

Create a smaller version of the Gratitud de Cordela in the Library Learning Commons. This will be similar to last year's November Gratitude Ribbon Garland. Students and staff members wrote on ribbons messages of gratitude and these were hung in the centrally Library Learning Commons Windows, creating a beautiful reminder of what and whom our community was thankful for.

What immediate next steps will you take if you receive an implementation grant.

1. Research and obtain supplies for a prototype Gratitud del Cordel. 2. Create marketing and Library display materials for prototype. 3. Observe and take data on prototype including interviews, photos, etc... 4. Research and contact potential partners. 5. Begin researching large Gratitud del Cordel. 6. Install cord. 7. Organize dates and marketing. 8. Create poems, art, stories & hang on cord. 9. Celebrate and collect data - interviews, etc.. 10. Reflect.

At what stage of development is your Idea?

  • Prototyping: You have conducted some small tests or experiments with prospective users and will continue developing idea through these tests.

Please describe from where your Idea emerged

I wanted to continue to create opportunities for students and staff to show gratitude publicly and beautifully. In my research for ideas, I stumbled upon the Habla Cordel Handbook by Kurt Wooten and became obsessed with implementing this idea in our school.

Tell us about yourself

Amy Sparks - Buffalo High School English and Theater/Dance teacher, director of after school theater, Peer Coaching Coordinator, Library Learning Commons Coordinator, Gay Straight Alliance Adviser, and member of the Instructional Leadership Team. Erika Clifton - Library Learning Commons Specialist, tutoring coach. Tammy Otten - Library Learning Commons Specialist.

Where are you / your team located?

Buffalo High School, Buffalo, MN U.S.A.

Please describe your legal and organizational structure

Public high school.

Company / Organization Name


Tell us about your experience

Amy Sparks - B.A. Theater/Communication, teaching license in Dance, Theater, & English. Past experiences include owning an independent coffee house, a film/video business, starting a farmers market & directing local theater. Experience in marketing, design, & customer service. Tammy Otten - BHS alumnist who brings knowledge & experience in marketing & customer service. Erika Clifton - B.A. English, certified tutor who has mad tech, people, & IKEA furniture building skills.

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I first came across this article when looking for a way to bring together our community of teachers, students, support staff, and administration in a public art project. Before reading this article, I had not heard of Literature on a String.


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