Toys R Us GallowayCole Galloway with a rehabilitation patient and her recently modified car.

A couple of blog posts ago, I introduced the Maker Movement, a growing community centered on the idea that we can build physical solutions ourselves. Today, I want to introduce you to one of the best examples of Making in action, and that is Cole Galloway and his Go Baby Go campaign.

Galloway works in physical therapy to get children with physical disabilities mobile. The problem? Motorized vehicles for rehabilitating children’s mobility can cost as much as $20,000 and often involve long waiting periods. Galloway got inspired through trips to “Toy R Us” to try something different. He now modifies toy cars such as those you can pick up at a toy store to become vehicles for these children. The cost: $89 and most modifications can be done in an hour with his team. Children who could barely get around can now do what children naturally want to do, move!

Galloway’s case illustrates some important principles of making: First, that the best solutions are often conceived by those on the front lines, who know best the contours of the problem. Second, making is impatient in a healthy way. Making challenges the assumption that meaningful solutions must be expensive and take a great deal of time. Third, and perhaps most important, the solution is carried out in a community, patient centered way. The modifications to the cars are carried out by clinicians but also by parents and community members.

So if making is so wonderful why don’t we see more of it? Why aren’t all of us creating great physical solutions like this everyday? I think we are conditioned by the notion of expertise, the idea that we can only be good at one thing and must be consumers of everything else.There is also a certain inertia that must be overcome to create, but those who overcome this inertia are always struck by the possibilities. And word is getting around . . .

Making can in fact become a way of life. This occurred to me through an unusual path, an online karaoke app! Going back to my musical theatre days, I love to sing and discovering this app has been a revelation. The goal of this application is to promote online musical collaboration across the world. You can sing one part of a song with full accompaniment and leave the other part to be filled in by anyone else on the app, anywhere in world. One night, I recorded half a duet and woke up to find 10 new complete duets from singers who joined in from China, England and Mexico. Aside from the variety, I have never encountered such a unique blend of talent. Music made for mass media consumption must, I think, make certain stylistic concessions to be broadly palatable. But this music can be as creative, raw, spontaneous and yet high quality as it aspires to be. I don’t know if I can call this Making, because it is not strictly speaking tactile and may not be solving a pressing physical need, but the philosophy of making seems to be at work. Recording music is democratized, lack of proximity is eliminated as a limiting factor, and there is a genuine sense of community. Something beautiful can be created every day.

Where else could this go? Well, I’d like to leave you with some resources as you consider ways  you can discover your own potential for making:

  1. Parents may want to check out MakerKids.com which describes itself this way:

    “We are one of the first and only makerspaces for kids in the world.We run programs and camps on topics like Minecraft, 3D Printing, Videogame Programming with Scratch, Robotics Inventions using Arduino, Electronics and Remote Control Robotics.”

    2. The organization Maker Faire holds maker events across North America. One of the best ways to start getting into making is simply to get inspired, to see what people are doing to trigger your own ideas. For more information on maker events and ideas, you can check out, MakerFaire.com which includes event information, a magazine and further resources.

    I think one of the most important questions that Making asks is “What are you waiting for?” And it doesn’t ask this question in a sensationalized, infomercial kind of way but as a question with real tension, that makes us challenge assumptions about perceived obstacles. How do we justify NOT doing anything? The big three reasons are:  I don’t have enough time. I don’t have enough money. I don’t have enough expertise. Making proposes that all three of our grandest excuses are, in fact, hackable.

     

 

Comments
  1. Malaika says:

    Fascinating JB and very inspiring! I like your conclusion that all of the three common excuses for not doing anything are actually surmountable! Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a fabulous – and fun – idea! I’d not heard of Galloway’s work or the Go Baby Go campaign, thanks so much for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re welcome! I appreciate your comment. I think this approach strikes a chord with me in the global health space as well where when donated used medical equipment breaks down everything comes to a standstill, but groups like the MIT lab at the University of Nairobi are using local talent to create on site. It’s exciting stuff especially because it can, and often does, amount to better care.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Kenel says:

    Jonathan,

    It’s interesting that I come across the word hackable here. Through the book, Invent to Learn, I learned that hacking has an interesting history that started at MIT in the late 1950s. I swear many times I learn something only to stumble upon it somewhere else shortly thereafter!

    Thanks for your time in elucidating how the ‘maker’ movement is not as far-fetched as thought. In fact, as you mentioned, it’s happening. I’m always looking for ways for my toddler to do more hands-on activities and so, I’ll definitely check those resources you listed. Finally, I enjoyed the “inertia that must be overcome…” passage. Physics is really all around us!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Kenel. I like the title of the book you mentioned. Will have to check it out. And yes, I think an opportunity to make is a great gift to a child. I’ve been thinking about similar things for my boys. And yes, physics is indeed everywhere. I look forward to hearing about more examples of that from you!

      Liked by 1 person

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