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This Saturday I have, perhaps, my most ridiculous flight itinerary to date – and it is certainly the most ridiculous for the City X Project. While Libby, our Project Director, is coming from San Francisco, Brett and I are flying from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to Chicago, to Anchorage, to Bethel, to Eek, Alaska. For those keeping count, that’s three layovers on the way there, but we have five on the way back. (We are happy to hear tips on how to make the most of our ten minute layover in Quinhagak, Alaska.) And why are we flying on prop planes to rural Alaska to a city whose full name is also its airport code (EEK)? To run a workshop, of course! The joys of 3D printing and design thinking know no geographical boundaries, and we promised to test our workshop and toolkit in a variety of cultures and environments.
After we’re picked up on the trailer of an ATV at the Eek Airport, we’ll be taken to Eek School, where we’ll be living, eating, and running a City X Project workshop. This workshop, like our design thinking workshop in Lebanon, will also be for a bilingual audience, as Eek School teaches in both English and Yup’ik, the local native language.
Eek is a multiethnic, multilingual population of a mere 296 with virtually no overland access to major populations, and we’re extremely excited not only to introduce design thinking and 3D printing and modeling technologies to the community, but to learn from the kids how they see social issues differently from kids we’ve worked with in California, Wisconsin, and Lebanon. One of the questions we set out to answer with the City X Project is how do hopes and assumptions about the future differ across cultures?
We never have any way of guessing how kids in unique parts of the world will react to our creativity prompts differently, but we’re excited to soon share with you the inventions of the kids of Eek, Alaska!