Last month, right before the school year started anew, five members of Youth Rock the Rebuild paid a visit to Architecture for Humanity with a problem: how do we [they] get the word out about our concert series to raise awareness and funds for humanitarian issues? Zac, Elizabeth and I kinda beamed–not because we knew the answer, but because we knew a process that generates solutions from the very people looking for them: the charrette.
For the uninitiated, a charrette is a fancy French word for an intense design workshop with a goal of producing some tangible solution to a problem within a matter of hours. Architects and designers use the process all the time–not often to come to the "right answer," but to generate a lot of sensible options pointing the conversation in the right direction.
YRR is known around Marin County, California, for their marathons of a dozen+ bands and solo artists passing the performance baton and drawing attention to humanitarian crises. They raised several thousand dollars in the first Students Rebuild Challenge for schools in Haiti, and are thinking about: 1. where funds could go this year, and 2. how to get the word out to a wider audience. This we discovered after a few minutes of introductions and light conversation. Now, we set to brainstorming how to address the issues. (Keep in mind–we have no idea what's coming out of this meeting. The time is 2:30 PM.)
After some more talking we all recognized that the musicians wanted a two-part issue to call attention to–an international issue that could use funding, and a local issue that perhaps more neighbors could have an immediate relationship with. Like greening schools. Along these lines, we (the "designers") asked what problems their schools have with their ecological footprint, or challenges they have becoming comfortable spaces for students. Ideas eventually started to flow: the science lab experiences dramatic temperature swings (and the occasional dead animal in the air duct). Ingredients in school lunches come from who-knows-where (air ducts?), and the stage lights still made for scorching performances (...suggesting they're wasting energy creating heat...ah, physics...).
As for the medium for their message: between wheatpasted fliers, personal approaches, door-to-door invitations and the Internet, we landed on viral videos as a great way to spread word of upcoming concerts. Something quick, clever and memorable so that people who have seen it walk away with an impression...and a need to see more. It seems that such a video should be music-oriented (given the topic at hand), and that maybe Youth Rock the Rebuild could develop short songs talking about social and humanitarian issues and compel people to take initiative, attend a concert and contribute to a cause.
So. Ideas: spilled. Pizza: eaten. Conversations: aplenty. Time: 4:00. We know that two groups need to write some songs, but nothing's coming out. In fact, we're still not sure exactly what we're talking about. But it's time to record. Each team is given 15 minutes in the (quasi-soundproof) conference room with a guitar to put ideas to paper and to song. The pressure's on, but then so is the magic. We couldn't have guessed what the musicians would have come up with in this short time–but we can present their Soundclouded performances.
Team 1: "The future started yesterday..."
Team 2: "Don't be a modified chicken"
The best things out of these charrettes are of course the surprisingly awesome blasts of creativity–but only slightly less cool are the artifacts–here are the "working documents" from the musician teams. And they let us keep them!
Youth Rock the Rebuild will indeed be performing later this month in Mill Valley. We hope they were able to take this creative exercise to heart and that they got some thinking done on getting more folks 1. to their shows, and 2. thinking about how to engage world issues and take action.
World Day of Peace Concert
Sweetwater Music Hall
Mill Valley, CA
September 21, 2012
Proceeds from the World Day of Peace Concert will support Architecture for Humanity's efforts to bring sustainable design and environmental leadership opportunities to students and public schools in need. To learn more about how you can support the work of Youth Rock the Rebuild or to get involved, send us a message with 'Green Schools' in the heading.