I had my first shift volunteering at the Museum of Contemporary Craft. It was amazing! It was during an event called "First Thursday" in the Pearl district of Portland, where all the museums and galleries are free for the day on the first Thursday of every month. It was very busy, and I helped checking bags and policing to make sure people didn't take flash photos or touch stuff or talk on their cell phones. (Just a public service announcement: you can't take flash photos in a gallery. The flash damages the art. Some galleries don't allow photos at all for copyright reasons.) It was great fun. The other volunteers are all amazing people, and I had a fantastic time. I also got to see the exhibits (not get a good look, but a look nonetheless) so that was an added bonus.
Friday, I went to a public lecture that was put on by the Museum and the Pacific Northwest College of Art. It was about one of the exhibits, Studio H. The presentation was by a woman who had a non-profit design firm. She wanted to use design to help change the world. She got hired by a school superintendent in Bertie County, North Carolina. The public schools in the county were doing really poorly, with not enough teachers and not enough funding and all the top-performing students going to private school. It is a very poor, sparsely populated area. First, the woman and her partner designed some classrooms to help create a better learning environment. Then, they got a brilliant idea. They would become high school teachers, teach a class design for the community, and then hire them over the summer to build something. They hit a lot of road blocks, but eventually opened a design class in one high school. The students had a lot of trouble in the beginning. Some of them didn't know how to read rulers (like they didn't understand the concept of an inch), some were scared of hammers, and some had never taken an art class. So they had to focus on the very basics in the beginning. Then, students had to build a corn hole board. They were given directions for the board, but they had to come up with their own design for the front. They were given two colors and a verb to work with. The verbs were things like "twist" and "stretch". They ended up being very beautiful, and the kids got to learn about how precise they needed to be with building things. Then they had a giant corn hole match. Their next project was to build chicken coops, where they had to build models and design the coops. The coops required a feeding area, a roost, and a run. They built three coops (after very many models) and gave two of the coops to families in their community. The last coop is in the museum. Their final project for the year was to create a structure for the farmer's market. Because Bertie County is a flood and hurricane area, they had very particular building codes they had to work with. Because their floor had to be raised, it ended up being the perfect height to unload trucks from. The local egg farms had bays with eight docks for loading the trucks, so the students made their structure with eight docks on either side for local flavor. They made built-in tables so the vendors didn't have to bring their own. It ended up being beautiful and the vendors and the shoppers loved it. So the students got a great education and summer jobs, and the community got some much-needed building done. It w