"Eventually everything connects - people, ideas, objects. The quality of the connections is the key to quality per se." - Charles Eames
Why is this so true? Is it because it's so simple? I don't know. But lately, all is connecting and its making my head spin. Last week, I attended a party for DesignPhiladelphia at Minima, a gallery in Old City. In the tiny garden space, I fell into a conversation with Ian Cross (I-SITE, The Trestle Inn, DataGarden, general creative coolness and more!) and bounced around a number of topics (all related), from "secret mentors" to how to communicate (anything) effectively, to TEDxPhilly: The City and the value of designing experiences. This particular conversation came on the heels of another interesting talk I had just two days earlier which had already kicked some mental-gears in motion. Connections. Connections. Connections.
Getting back in line, the garden talk took me back to my favorite TEDxPhilly moments, which I don't think I ever actually gave myself much time to think about. It turns out, for me, few actually came from the stage. Not that the talks weren't engaging and insightful - they were, and I've watched some of the videos more times than I can count, but when you're working on an event like TEDxPhilly, you can get a bit lost and your experience the day-of is often unlike that of speakers and other participants. I surprised myself talking about "my moments" - the ones you don't forget, for whatever reason - and actually got goosebumps getting into the stories (I don't know, maybe I'm dramatic, or maybe it was those DesignPhiladelphia pomegranate cocktails).
So it makes sense then that one of my favorite moments of TEDxPhilly 2011 was not a talk itself. I remember the last speakers that I was tasked with preparing had left the stage. Unwinding, a bit dazed but still wired, I took a break in the lobby, joining Dre Urhahn, of Haas&Hahn who spoke earlier in the day with Jeroen Koolhaas, Emily McManus, editor of TED.com, and David Clayton of Breadboard. I don't know if any of them remember this, but it was significant to me. We talked about a lot of things, which I can't even begin to write about. I mostly listened. I remember I was starving and had not eaten lunch yet (as we approached the final session) but felt too amped to actually eat much. We debated making an app for people who want to trade half their lunch, inspired by my asking if anyone wanted half my sandwich. The other Emily was into this the most, if I recall correctly. Sounds silly but just think about how well this could work at a mega-office with 100s, even 1000s of people. The choices!
Connections. TEDxPhilly was in November at Temple Performing Arts Center on Temple University's campus. Fast-forward to April 2012. I attended an event back on Temple's campus last night to hear Dre Urhahn talk about Haas&Hahn's project in North Philadelphia - which is why he and Jeroen happened to be in town for TEDxPhilly, what inspired this post, and made me think more about why I connected with Dre and Jeroen's work to begin with and how their projects in Rio's favelas, and now here, connect with the type of work my sister and I are doing on W Rockland Street. Oh, how it all connects in my head.
I could write and write and write, but I don't have the time, so more on connections later.
Jeroen Koolhaas and Dre Urhahn talk about their work best, and that's where my interests lie at this moment, so carve out 14 minutes of your time to watch their TEDxPhilly talk. Think beyond the paint (that's where the real magic is, for me at least).
Here is the video description for a bit of context (a'hem, written by yours truly):
Haas&Hahn is the working title of artistic duo Jeroen Koolhaas and Dre Urhahn, who bring art to unexpected places, from the hillside favelas of Rio de Janeiro to the streets of Philadelphia. The Dutch artists facilitate community-driven urban interventions with paint, working to shift the perception of what the outside world has of people and place, while bringing positive attention to often-disenfranchised communities and neglected spaces.
Haas&Hahn's large-scale painting projects span multiple buildings, covering urban landscapes with explosions of color. Their much-heralded Favela Painting projects in Brazil worked to create a new narrative for place in some of Rio's most notorious neighborhoods.
It's hard to ignore the visual impact of their projects, but Haas&Hahn's work is about more than paint. Residents transform their own neighborhoods and take ownership of their hard work, generating widespread community pride. The highly visible projects also help to establish a new line of communication with the greater public about a neighborhood's identity, delivered by the people who live and work within the community.
In September 2011, Haas&Hahn began working in the United States in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on a major public art project set to transform yet another neglected region of a city - North Philadelphia. The project, in collaboration with the City of Philadelphia's Mural Arts Program, is currently in-progress (as of April 2012).
Visit http://www.phillypainting.org to learn more.