Sunday, May 16, 2010

Let's be friends

I have returned from Creative Week in New York City and my mind is still reeling. What a whirlwind. We visited top agencies, showed off our school’s work in a student exhibition, had incredible “wow” moments at the unConference, and explored the beautiful city in our spare time. I’m still in the filtering process after an overwhelming week of information and creative stimuli. At the unConference in particular, we had the opportunity to meet and learn with some of the most brilliant minds in the industry.

At the unConference, I learned about one particular project that related to my own work. Peoplescape is a “connective social experiment” driven solely by Maria Scileppi. Beginning in June 2007, Scileppi set out to meet one new friend every day for an entire year, record their story, and make an impact. In a digital world overwhelmed with social media, Scileppi wanted to explore the power of human interaction. From Peoplescape’s wesbite:

“Peoplescape is about promoting human connection and breaking down social barriers. It is an exploration and affirmation that each day and every individual is significant ... Affecting the people around you and being affected by them is the essence of life.”

To conclude her project, Scileppi hosted an exhibition to share her experience with others. In this space, the project participants could finally meet and interact themselves, expanding the connections formed around this project.

Peoplescape was a big “aha!” moment for me, especially with my work with Talk, a community-building project for the University of Oregon. We have similar goals, but have yet to get to the point where we can really foster a connection between our project’s participants. Scileppi reminded all of us at the unConference that your brand, project or organization is a friend to your audience. You always need to be thinking of what you are giving back to the relationship. Why does your audience want to be your friend?

Scileppi’s project is a huge inspiration to me. Whether it be for a personal or professional experience, I think it’s important to be reminded of how to connect with others. Turn your neighbor, customer, or classmate into a friend.

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