Can you describe your project(s) I work with children from poor neighbourhoods, making very basic, handcrafted cardboard books from recyclable material. We make the covers from cardboard boxes that we cut and paint with gouache (or markers, crayons, etc.). Then we add the pages by stapling them (glue them or sewing them) to the cardboard cover. The children paint the covers and make drawings in the pages of the book. We provide them with a story (based on a children song we hear before together). The workshops take place once a week and last around a month. After that period, the kids can take with them the book they have handmade by themselves. Most of these kids have never had a book in their entire life, so this is a way to provide them with books, while we are involving them in the process of making a book. How did it develop? What was the “problem” that needed to be solved? The project of making cardboard books with children started when I saw how involved they were in the literacy and reading project “Livro Aberto”. Their excitement when touching and reading books, along with the sad fact that their family does not have enough income to buy any books, made me look for a solution to this situation. Can you describe the process that led to the idea for the books? The starting point was to see how those children enjoyed books during the classes of “Livro Aberto”. When I saw how poor they were and realized they had no books at home because their families did not have money to buy them, I started thinking of a way to provide the children with books. I came up with this idea of making handcrafted books, which would also teach them basic notions about recycling. What inspires you? The idea of cardboard books from recyclable material comes from a very popular and successful publishing project that has expanded through all Latin America since 2003, in response to a political and economic crisis. The “cartoneras” (as these projects are known) were then born as non profit publishing houses, that sell very ship cardboard books, offering feasible prices to those who can’t afford regular book prices, and therefore providing quality literature to a large numbers of readers. I was inspired by this Latin American idea. Where do your creative ideas come from? Why do you think you are creative? What helps to develop your creativity? They come from a desire to help in difficult situations. When there is any sort of necessity and also a lack of resources to face a problem, some times the only solution I have is being creative. Imagination and the lessons I have learned from other’s experiences are the only tools I can count on when we have financial difficulties working for the people. I think sometimes I am creative because I try to think about solutions that are imaginative, simple and helpful at the same time; I am not afraid of taking ideas that have worked in other contexts and adapt them to the specific circumstances of the project I am involved in; and I try not to depend on money to make my dreams come true. When developing creativity, it is very helpful to me to be able to discuss my idea with my partner or my friends, and have several conversations to develop a plan. The capacity of listening to the others, processing feedback, adapting previous experiences to the current context, and accepting constructive criticism really helps my creativity.
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