“By the People” Exhibit Reflection

The By the People exhibit inspired me to start thinking about changing the world on a medium scale. What I mean by this is, often I’m frustrated with our country and I want to change it in the most radical, large scale way. But my frustration only increases because, well, I’m in school and can’t be physically tied to the White House for weeks on end. Also, chaining oneself to important political buildings may not be the most relevant way to affect change in 2017. The By the People exhibit helped me think of other, really important ways to empower and revitalize communities, and it felt really good to know that there are existing initiatives that I can become a part of.

One system I found particularly empowering was the maker’s space in the Chattanooga Public Library. Librarians at this library converted 12,000 square feet of storage space into a maker’s space with low and high tech tools like a loom and a laser cutter. I think that this system is particularly radical because it tears down barriers of access, and provides a public place for community members to be creative, and make things. It also empowers people to understand and use daunting machines like a laser cutter. There is implied trust in the community when you are all responsible for taking care of shared equipment.

I could find a system that I would necessarily label as “prohibitive,” but I will talk about one that I am not so sure about. The “Where’s Daryl? Toolkit” is a tool teachers can use to talk to students about gun violence in Los Angeles. The toolkit includes a life-sized cutout of Daryl, and 8 lessons including activities and short videos aimed to prevent gun violence in vulnerable communities. This system seems a little outdated and restrictive. I do not know how necessary it is to create an imaginary kid who students can empathize with. I feel like that method is very transparent. Kids know when they are being forced to empathize for the sake a teacher’s agenda. I am interested in the effectiveness of this program, and the age group the “Where’s Daryl? Toolkit” is aimed at. Overall, I get the impression that this design solution is a little flimsy and condescending.

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