The Story of Making: Bays Mountain 2015
You know as well as anyone that nothing gets folks together like a warm fire on a cold night. On the slope of Bays Mountain, we all felt a special kind of electric energy that only comes from being out under the stars surrounded by the sounds of howling wolves. This was SHiFT’s first winter camp and the very first camp held outside its native home of Alabama. The “Story of Making” was an experience that took campers to a more deeply connected, almost primal, emotional state where Bays Mountain revealed its ancient narratives through its terrain, wildlife, and Appalachian culture.
We started out this epic week with everybody’s favorite team building experience, the community build, where campers created an intimate space around the campfire with deconstructed pallets and hand tools. The next day we met skilled raconteur Dr. Wright who regaled us with ancestral tales and personal life experiences giving the campers story building tools to engage their future audiences. In one of Dr. Wright’s’ activities, we learned that one of the most essential storytelling tools is the ability to internalize others words through active listening. These techniques would go on to help campers during their final presentation at camp.
The next few days overflowed with workshops that exposed the group to a mix of past and present fundamental building techniques that would be the foundation for creating powerful tools and works of art. Jon Cookson ran a metal forging workshop that kept campers tending fires and clanging away at anvils. After Jeffery Skelton’s presentation on designing for plastics, we took a tour through Eastman’s design and research facility in Kingsport. The peek behind the creative curtain was extremely informative in how a large corporation applied innovative techniques to develop materials that evoke emotion, are appropriate to the global production, and are responsible solutions for the physical products. Local ceramic artists, Vanessa Mayoraz and Lindsay Rogers, took campers back to the fire for a demo on ceramics where we built underground kilns that allowed us to glaze and fire our creations.
Each night, with everyone gathered around the fire, an Igniter would engage campers in a discussion through anecdotes from their own industry experience. Igniter talks included R Campbell’s discussion on perseverance in his own life, Tiffany Stevens’ shared her journey from a chemist at P&G to lead Product Designer/ Researcher, Bryan Shackleford spoke about finding your own tribe, and Will Woods talked about how fear can shape your life. As visitors to the site, we wanted to hear from the true locals of the land. We were treated to Native American peoples hoop dancing and singing powerful stories about how their tribe’s history was tied to animals, the earth, and the heavens.
To stretch our legs, we enjoyed a tour and scavenger hunt through the 1300 acres of wilderness and the park facilities. Participants identified the strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities that we used as fuel for creative solutions and business development. Using insights from their adventures, techniques learned from speakers, and interviews of park visitors and staff, the teams generated ideas feverishly for their presentation to the organization’s stakeholders.
For the finale, Bays Mountain staff were overwhelmed with the killer presentations on concepts around updated park community collaborations and unification of the park’s wayfinding and brand development. Many laughs were had during these original and provocative proposals, but the best part is that many of the solutions were put into effect by the park officials throughout the years since the “Story of Making.”