In my last entry I mentioned a thing known as "Member Prize Season" which coincidentally is also the title of this post and also happens to be a made up thing by my brain trying to figure out a good way to reward positive behaviour while engaging our young people at the makerspace.
My thinking lead me to the final conclusion that I would hold a competition for each month of our NZ winter, June, July and August. For our first month, we chose the theme "Most Creative Member Project" to get our members amped and thinking creatively (one of our 4 C's)!
As it goes with most seemingly brilliant ideas, I was very enthusiastic and launched in head-first. I have the tendency to do that, I must admit. I did the planning required to get the competition off of the ground, I communicated with my colleagues to let them know what I was thinking and I went ahead and sent out the mass email to our members encouraging them to craft something wonderful. The incentive was a $150.00 dollar gift card which in my opinion is really enticing and would've inspired younger me to write a song about global climate change or something in hopes of both making and impact and winning the competition.
Surprisingly (to me), there were no song entries about making the world a better place. There were however entries of artistic nature, which always makes me happy. Choosing the winner was meant to be a simple process between my colleagues and I but as we sat there looking at the few but inspiring entries we had, we struggled to make a choice.
How do you look at pieces of a young person's soul and decide which one should win a gift card? It's actually really, really difficult. I want to give everyone a prize and tell them all that they are bright and shining stars and that their work is the most wonderful I've seen. I want to uplift each person that comes through our doors and encourage only positivity in their hearts. Then there is the reality of the world and that is one that isn't a rainbow-filled butterfly den. It is sometimes a little cold and a little hard-edged to say the least. It's a beautiful place, don't get me wrong, but it can feel like it chews you up sometimes, especially for adolescents who are trying to make their place and find themselves and their passions. It's hard when you create something and someone says "you could've done better than that" or "that's not what we're looking for".
It's hard not to win. It actually is.
But it's part of life. And what we really want to learn from these experiences, or what I really want to see our members learn, is resilience. The ability to get back up and keep creating. To keep drawing or painting or designing or engineering or whatever it is that they enjoy and see light in. To be proud enough of what they make to know it has worth and value without it being "valued" as the prize winner by someone else who honestly doesn't have the right to take that away from them.
In conclusion, you may be wondering what we chose as our project winner, so I will tell you. It was an epic lampshade design, previously featured in my last post- but reimagined into a more effective and improved version of the previous design. It is truly cool.
Our second place winner was a lovely sequence of drawings of animals which are really well done. I am proud of both of the prize winners! Pictures to come.
It was not an easy decision and the truth is, they were all good. Even through the biased eyes of a passionate soul- I did my best to shed the bias of appreciation I feel for all self-expression and be a "critic" which is so not my thing clearly but when I stepped into that place and put that hat on, so to speak, I still thought all the entries were good. So there!
Our next competition has now started, and is a lot less emotionally asking of me- I saved myself the pain this time around. It's "Most Member Referrals" for the month of July. I am keen to just tally a number and be done with it at the end of the month. I reckon this one is a win-win situation.
I learned a lot about myself and about rejection and about creativity and about how hard it is to be a critic of self-expression and I ALSO learned that I will never ever pursue an alternate career in doing reviews of people's art. So it was a really good experience for me personally! I will say, if you decide to embark upon a similar journey, I recommend a more quantifiable competition to get the ball rolling. Even so, it was well worth it and I will be revising it and doing it again in future with a bit more planning still.
Thank you for reading and see you soon,