A year or so ago I came across this video of a nine-year-old boy named Caine Monroy who built a cardboard arcade. A filmmaker shot a short documentary about Caine's creation. You can read all about it and Caine's journey since he became a YouTube sensation here. His arcade sparked a nonprofit called the Imagination Foundation and worldwide cardboard frenzy. In October of last year, IF hosted the third annual Cardboard Challenge where over 125,000 people from forty-six countries came together to play with cardboard. IF imagines a planet " . . . where all children are taught to be creative thinkers and doers, and encouraged to make their very best ideas happen in the world."
The Cardboard Challenge attracts younger children. But that shouldn't stop teens from taking it on. When I was in college, I chose cardboard for a project and serious artists are doing amazing things with the medium. Check out these sculptures by artist Chris Gilmour.
The thing I like most about IF's project is that it encourages collaboration between generations and people with various talents. And it's fun. The fourth challenge officially kicks off in September, 2015, but why wait? Gather friends and neighbors of all types and ages. Get parents, mentors or teachers involved (you'll need a sponsor and gathering site). Brainstorm ideas, draw up plans, and wow us with your cardboard creations. You can even use the event to raise money for IF's scholarship fund if you want, and there's a contest for best video. Here's a link to FAQs about joining the challenge.
So teen artists, why not cardboard? It definitely made a difference in Caine's life.
I spent Valentine's night watching Neil Gaiman and his wife perform. Gaiman is one of my favorite YA authors and it was an evening I'll never forget. There were lots of funny moments, poignant and thoughtful moments too.
But because people had just been killed in Denmark while gathering to talk about free speech, Gaiman opened the evening with something serious, his response to the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris. I'm sorry I didn't record his reading but you can see some of it here in The Guardian.
Gaiman's a fierce defender of free speech and as I listened to him read, I remembered a video I'd watched of Hank Green a week or so ago. He was speaking about ideologies, tolerance and the freedom to practice your beliefs without fear of retaliation.
There is lots I could say about this subject but I think Gaiman and Green have said it better. Here is Hank Green's response on YouTube to the negative comments he received after he interviewed President Obama.
Blur the edges. Artists and writers, create work that celebrates the easing of boundaries. Readers, read and share books that promote tolerance. Don't buy into monocultures that promote hate.
I write middle grade and young adult books with a magical twist. And creatures, always creatures. I'm represented by the fabulous Leslie Zampetti of Dunham Lit.
Lorin Oberweger - Freelance Editor