Halfway through summer already?!

6 Jul

Is it really halfway through summer already? I am never ready for summer’s halfway realization the July 4th holiday brings each year. I’m usually faced with a little sadness that the fun days of summer are on the downswing, but also experiencing a little excitement for the upcoming school year.

This summer has a little more time realization (panic?) along with it as the CreateAthon onCampus interns realized we were already more than halfway to completing our independent studies this summer. I can say with certainty the past couple of group meetings have been refreshing and encouraging. One such meeting with held with CreateHere co-founder, Helen Johnson. She encouraged us to think of our work as templates for future CreateAthon onCampus events and that the work we are completing this summer has the potential to be utilized by other classes and schools. That visualization helped us to keep our projects focused on readability for everyone and keep it human. Knowing our work has some potential staying power is major encouragement.

At the end of the summer, we will update the blog with some of the specific projects we’ve worked on this summer that include branding work, heading up some tutoring programs for Dalewood, and other reading motivational/school spirit items. I can say that we would not be working on these summer projects if our passion wasn’t already behind CreateAthon onCampus and Dalewood. A challenge behind many 24-hour events, like CreateAthon, is that they fail to live beyond those initial 24 hours. These summer independent studies are working against that challenge to bring even more excitement to CreateAthonCHA. We’ve met our “clients”, or the students, and their faces continue to serve as motivation beyond a typical target audience.


What’s new with CreateAthonCHA?

17 May

This summer, three of the junior graphic design majors who participated in CreateAthonCHA in April will be continuing work with CreateAthon-based independent studies. Elena, Dustin and Dawn will be working in conjunction with CreateHere to continue the projects that came out of the 24-hour creative blitz. While each student will be tackling different aspects of the follow-up work, they will be working together in hopes of seeing the projects come to life in Dalewood as well as seeing CreateAthon live on in future years. Make sure to add this blog to your feed reader or continue to stop by during the summer to read updates to the blog on new work and progress.

Stay tuned for another great CreateAthon-based event coming in June!

Well Worth the Work

1 May

When the first talks of CreateAthon was introduced to our class at the end of last semester, I thought a “24 hour creative blitz” would be just that, 24 hours. Through this project I have learned a great deal about event planning and coordinating that I did not anticipate. A lot more work and planning went into createAthon than I had originally imagined, there is a lot of steps when planning an event of that size. We had to call around to schools, establish mentors, design t-shirts, plan presentations, press releases, and much more.  It turns out that more than 24 hours of work was put in before the actually event, not even including afterwards and the work still to be done.

CreateAthon is now over but the mark that we all left on Dalewood Middle School, Chattanooga, and each other will be felt for a long time. 24 hours of creating, no sleep, dealing with each other and strangers was something that will be hardly forgotten. I am a student, so a “24 hour creative blitz” of surviving off of caffeine and late night craziness was nothing new to me, but this was different, working with a group of intelligent creative people with loads of energy gave me a natural energy boost to keep me gunning throughout the night.  It really amazes me to look back and see the kind of power we each have to make a difference in our community, to truly effect some else’s life. The kids were the center focus of this project, and being able to visit and interact with them was amazing.  After our last presentation on Tuesday I feel like they really understood what our project was all about and were very excited for what was to come. It was somewhat like the icing on the cake for myself when I saw them jumping and screaming when they saw the picture of the new platforms in the lobby, I remember one of the kids sighing saying “finally”.  After talking with some of the kids sitting around me and laying a baseline beatbox for one aspiring freestyle rap artist, I can say that I am very satisfied with our work and plan to stay involved with my community in the future.

When we come together we can achieve great things

26 Apr

[Editor’s Note: Co-posted on http://lindseyfhiggins.wordpress.com/]

The CreateAthon is now over and I wouldn’t change anything about it. The junior, senior, professionals and mentors accomplished what we wanted to accomplish and that was to help out Dalewood Middle School gain success. Through design thinking we all band together as one unified group and made a difference. In the beginning I had no idea what to expect, I was thinking that our mentors and the seniors would take the lead in the projects because they have more experience then junior class did. In my surprise the junior class took the lead, and the mentors would give their advice but if I had a nickel of how many times I heard “this is your project and you should make the final decisions” I would be a rich girl. I was so appreciative of how that atmosphere was continuous through out the night. I was very grateful for the professionals and mentors input and how they handled things that we couldn’t have done all that we did with out them.

The one statement that is going to stick me with through out this experience is something that Helen Johnson Co founder of CreateHere said to us in class. Helen was talking to Rodney, the principal of Dalewood Middle right after the pep rally. Helen was telling him how we are all so excited to be making a difference for your school. Rodney said “You have already made a difference here” taken a back Helen had asked “How have we made a difference when we haven’t done anything?” During the pep rally we had all the kids say a chant with us in unison and through out the pep rally we could see all the kids come together in one cohesive whole. This is what Rodney was telling Helen when he said we have already made a difference; Rodney had never seen his school come together like they did when we put on the pep rally. Like I said I wouldn’t change anything about what happened during CreateAthon, I’ve learned a lot and met many great inspirational people.

A Blur

26 Apr

24 hours isn’t very much time. What can get accomplished in a full day? Not much by one person. Maybe a research paper that’s due the next day, or a few last minute touches on a paper. But certainly not something that can affect a whole community right? Wrong.

The 24 hours we spent on CreateAthon onCampus flew by me. When I think back on the event it almost feels like a dream. All of the late night dancing and singing, the endless photoshopping, and the middle of the night pow-wows seem surreal. Perhaps it’s because of sleep depravation or all the Red Bull scrambled my brain, but I think it’s mostly because it’s hard to believe that we accomplished so much in such little time.

When presented with the challenge of repurposing these weird podium/stage structures in the school, that hadn’t had a purpose for the past few decades, I wasn’t sure how my group could rehabilitate this space. We all had so many almost-great ideas, but none of them seemed right. Through countless brainstorm sessions and several large diagrams we were able to create a great solution. We decided the space would be utilized best by turning it into a sitting area and communication center. It was a great moment when we revealed our virtual solution at the end presentation and I heard gasps and instant applause. I think the greatest moment for me though, will be the continuation of this project—to really see it to the finish line. This group of students and teachers at Dalewood Middle is so fantastic, I want to give them something real. Maybe it won’t be exactly what we designed, but they deserve for us to see this through and hopefully with the support of the community we can make that happen.

Proud to be the Pebble

25 Apr

Inspiration Posters

At the close of CreateAthon, UTC Department Head Matthew Greenwell made the comment that the true measure of what was done in those 24 hours was not what would come in the next few days or even weeks, but whether or not we could be the pebble that moves the boulder for change. A couple of weeks removed from the event, it sounds like some big stones have started rolling. There are meetings happening, conversations taking place and things otherwise in the works that mean we may have done some good. My sincerest hope, as a student participant in CreateAthon, is that someday I will see pictures and read articles about a school once in need of some help, that is now a model institution in the community. I hope to somehow, someday recognize a student that I met during this event, that is now in college, on the right career path and proud to have gone to Dalewood Middle School. Of course our involvement in CreateAthon makes us proud, makes us feel good about ourselves, but really I haven’t heard any of my fellow classmates excited about putting the things that were designed in their portfolio, I hear them excited to see those things made a reality. Thanks to everyone who made CreateAthon a rousing success. It was so successful in fact, that my last hope is that we do it all again next year, and I, as a senior, can help the rising juniors do some good too.

Opening a Door

23 Apr

During CreateAthon, around 2am when everyone was hitting their second wind or crashing from a sugar buzz, was when I realized how much we were helping Dalewood. I was so surprised, mainly because my original bed time is around 11pm, that I did not fall asleep even when my eyes began to protest. It was the energy the seemed to buzz around the building. The idea that we could really make an impact, a difference in the lives of so many children, that pushed each one of us onwards when we felt tired. It was actually inspiring to be a part of everything and having a team that meshed so well.

My main group was in charge of the art room which included creating a space for a gallery and more storage. The room was a massive area which was even better when our imaginations were in design mode. The possibilities became endless and for a while the task seemed daunting though we gladly accepted the challenge. Our group easily pulled together and decided what we were going to do, and how we were going to do it. In the morning each one of us had pooled our knowledge and created such wonderful designs.

According to our documentation team our room was the quietest, most of the others had music playing or were constantly talking across the room to one another. I find it funny we were considered quiet as many times when no one else was present the Star Wars quotes came out and we listened to Monty Python video clips. CreateAthon was so much more than a 24 hour blitz. It was something that brought everyone together in so many ways and taught us that even a day can make a huge difference.