By Mario Tarradell, Public Relations & Marketing Manager
The imagination doesn’t need expensive materials or professional workmanship. All it needs is the freedom to be creative.
A little creativity could take on anything, even the expanse at the foot of Dallas’ Trinity River. That’s where the Fossil Foundation, a longtime Big Thought partner, comes in. They invited kids to Fossil’s Trinity Cardboard Innovation Challenge on Sept. 29, 2016 at the Ronald Kirk Pedestrian Bridge, which overlooks the river.
The late afternoon event gathered youth with artistic minds and turned them loose on tables full of Fossil tins, leather scraps, recycled cardboard boxes, milk cartons, paper towel tubes, Styrofoam, colorful tissue paper, poster tubes, shoeboxes, Ritz cracker boxes, lots of paint, and so much more. Their challenge: Design a structure, or more than one, that beautifies and functionalizes the Trinity River corridor.
“Your idea is just as worthy as anybody else’s,” says Jessi Moore, Fossil Foundation Specialist. “You can be creative with the materials you have on hand. This is such a hot topic, what to do with the Trinity corridor. It’s the importance of creative play and sharing your ideas. They want kids to be part of this conversation.”
The idea for Fossil’s Trinity Cardboard Innovation Challenge comes from the heartwarming and Internet-buzzing Caine’s Arcade story. Caine Monroy from East Los Angeles was 9 years old in 2012 when he decided to build a completely DIY cardboard arcade in his dad’s used auto parts store. His dream was to have people visit and play at his arcade.
Caine, who wasn’t having much luck getting customers for his makeshift arcade, was awestruck when a filmmaker named Nirvan Mullick not only walked into the store and actually play at his arcade, but he was so fascinated that he created an 11-minute documentary dubbed Caine’s Arcade. The film became an Internet sensation with more than 1 million views, garnered Caine $240,000 in donated college money, and prompted the start of a nonprofit organized named Imagination Foundation.
To date more than 500,000 kids nationally and internationally have engaged in DIY projects via the Global Cardboard Challenge, yet another amazing byproduct of the film.
So our own Dallas youth, cheered on by fellow Big Thought partners All Stars Project, SPARK! and Dallas Teacher Residency, all of which were in the house, got to cutting, painting and gluing. This was all about the educational uplift of creative play, yet another way to close the opportunity gap that disproportionately affects youth from under-resourced areas in the city.
Cruz Rendon, 18, a member of the Student African American Brotherhood Brother to Brother chapter at Mountain View College in Dallas, designed and constructed a stage that goes over the river. He would carefully take a charcoal-colored Fossil tin and suspend it over his homemade river, trees, and grassy area. The engineering required some thought, he admitted, but he was determined to make it work.
“I studied theater in high school and I feel like this bridge needs more entertainment, more arts,” he said. “Doing this is much more fun and really gets you thinking outside the box. This gives you a primal sense of creating.”
Isabel Adams, 13, was also hard at work a few tables down. She never looked up as she answered questions. She was engrossed in her tower apartments design. “I like doing arts,” she said, “and you can be extra creative with this.”
Two days later Fossil Foundation shared pictures of the event’s artworks on social media. The results: Colorful, innovative, imaginative, and beautifully DIY. Self-expression and creativity know no bounds.
Photo by Mario Tarradell