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 Time To Make Some Botjoy

who in your community is feeling scared and uncertain right now?

I deeply believe that art can help...

...It can comfort, sooth, support, and help us feel like we are part of a community. It feels like a good time to make some art. 

Here are the questions running through my head right now (Actually these woke me up at 4 AM this morning so I thought I should write them down): 

  • "Who in my community needs help right now? Who is feeling scared and uncertain?"
  • This immediately begged another question, "Who is my community?" 
  • "What can I make that might help?"

I found my answers to these questions (your's might be different). But even asking them seemed helpful. 

Here is what I am going to do (I invite you to steal this idea, change it, smash it, break it, collide it): 

It's time to make some more Botjoy, (host some art making gatherings, and invite others do the same).  

What's a Botjoy? It's project that explores how art can help. You can read more about it here, but a quick summary: To date I have made over 30,000 of these small hand-painted messengers of joy (hope, love, bravery, frustration). I have enjoyed finding fun ways to get them out into world: leaving them on the street for strangers to find, giving them to children's hospitals so patients can get a small dose of courage, going into classrooms and making them with kids as they identify who in their community needs a little help. They are simply doodles of different kinds of robots painted on the back of a domino. I am not the only one making them. Kids, teachers, other artists, communities have "stolen" the idea (with my encouragement and blessing), are creating amazing work and finding unique ways to get them out into the world. 

My invitation/ask of you? Make some Botjoy and get them into the hands of people that need them. It's a small gesture that can communicate a lot.

Here are some suggestions/resources:

1. Below is a step-by-step video that describes how to make them

2. Throw a Botjoy making party. Gather your friends, family (strangers) together, bring a supply of pens (oil paint Sharpies, Krylon, or Krink markers work the best I get these at my local art supply store, or on-line), dominos ( I order lots, so I get them from CHH Games, but you can get them at Target, a game shop, or try Goodwill for repurposed dominos). Then once you have everyone together, ask (and answer) these questions:

  • Who in your community needs help?  You'll have to decide who your community is. It could be your city, neighborhood, street, country, the world. It could be a specific group: immigrants, young women, newly sworn in senators, writers, astronauts... This is your call. By asking, you'll surface what you value and care about.
  • What kind of Bot might help? I have seen people make Bravebots for families living in transitional housing, Welcomebots for incoming high school freshman, Dreambots for girls attending science and math camp. 

Schedule an hour or more, put down some paper to protect your table, and start making Bots together!

3.Deploy your Bots. Once they are made (or before you even make them), you'll have to figure out how to get them to the people that you are making them for. This can be simple, like making few and sharing them with a supportive charity or non-profit, or making them and sending them (one classroom made Adventurebots for NASA astronauts and simply sent them to Houston). I have been inspired by an idea I learned from facilitation expert  Thaigi who said, "If you want to know what your audience needs, you should...ask them."

Some other (optional) tips/resources:

  • Operating Instructions. I like to include a set of operating instructions (below) with each Bot. It describes what they are and how they work. Below is an example. You don't need to print anything fancy, you can hand write, or photocopy these, make your own. I can send you a template if you like. Feel free to email me.
  • Packaging. This isn't necessary either, but I package each Bot in their own box with a sticker on the front (the handwritten text changes depending on the type of Bot) . I can set you up with a box resource as well if you email me.

If you share what you do please use the #botjoy, so others can be inspired by your work! Thank you and I hope this helps!

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