Tuesday, August 21, 2007

When prompted-- RUN!

I had dinner last night with two really good friends. The idea was to get together and talk about project ideas, job searches, whatever each person needed help with. Of course for me, the talk was about figuring out which of the three (top of the heap) ideas to pursue. One of my friends said, "Why don't you work on all three?" Holy mackerel! What a novel idea! Part of me thought, no way that's insane, the other part of me thought, that makes perfect sense, of course I should work on them all. (And a tiny little part of me was cowering in the corner). Of course there is the problem of funding all of them, but I guess I can work on that at the same time...

So in light of that discussion, I thought I would throw out the other two ideas and see what sticks.
The first is the Coffee Cup Reduction Project (CCRP). The idea is to find out why people don't use re-usable mugs (since most cafes will both wash them and give you a few cents off your cup o' joe). I would do this through surveying people. Then I would work with a design program at one of the schools and have a design contest for the mug, giving the students the survey data to work with. Next, have the new super cup fabricated (in a lo-energy eco-friendly way!), take those cups back out to the streets and offer to give them to people for free in exchange for their coffee cup. (Pouring their coffee into the new eco-super-cup). From all of the cups and lids collected I will create some sculptures to display with the information on how many cups there are and over what period of time were they collected.
This idea also spun off the idea of the Disposable Culture - What a Waste project. Which would be a sculpture/performance/awareness piece in Union Square. First I would find out how many plastic bags are given away at Filene's and Whole Foods over the course of a week. Then find out how many coffee cups are given away at Starbucks over the course of a week. Finally, how many plastic bottles are sold by the street vendors around the park within a week. Then I would take one week each to build a beach or nature scene using the number of items above. So if there are 65,000 plastic bags per week, I would spend a week in the park building say clouds out of 65,000 used Whole Foods and Filene's bags (that I would have collected before the beginning of the building). Then the next week I would build maybe trees out of the coffee cups & lids, then finally a lake of plastic water bottles. Then it could be on display for a week.
The other project is much simpler to undertake than the Green Seeds or CCRP/Disposable Culture. It is to open a Real Cost Cafe. I would do extensive research regarding the actual life cycle cost of a cup of coffee. (So the cost of the coffee beans if there were no subsidies, if the laborers were paid a fair living wage, if the cost to the planet were factored into the cultivation, roasting and shipping of the beans, and so on with all the products involved in making a cup of coffee). I would open the cafe for just a few weeks, create some good explanatory signage and charge for everything (cup of coffee? $15, don't have your own mug? $4 for paper cup, want a lid? that's $6, sugar? $2 each, milk? another $4, etc). Here's the funny thing, I think some people would pay it. Just to say they are supporting and paying the real cost. Plus if I open it in the Wall Street area, I think those guys would go nutso over it...
Some additional notes on the Green Seeds project, one of my dinner friends liked the idea of string going from house to house because of the reference to connections like phone lines and clothes lines. Another suggestion was green flags on the front of the building, like a symbol of belonging.

So I have a lot on the plate to work on. If you have any thoughts, ideas or want to be a part of any of it - or want to help fund! Then get in touch with me!

Next up: a wikipedia of artist ideas to give away.

Coffee cup image courtesy of Rachel Cartwright/Gazette published in article on coffee cup waste at the University of Western Ontario.
Picture of plastic bottles & plastic bags courtesy of Chris Jordan - whose studies of American culture, Running the Numbers, absolutely ROCKS!

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