Lesson 1: Communicating Spark-Central's Mission
Spark-Central's mission is central to the work of the organization and shapes many of the conversations you will have with visitors to the facility. At its simplest, the organization is about ensuring access - to creative technologies, tools and educational opportunities - as a means to build community capacity (creative, economic, educational, etc.). It is particularly focused upon building capacity within the West Central neighborhood where Spark-Central is located.
The following statement, taken from the Spark-Central website, outlines the organization's mission. Take some time to read through the statement and put it into your own words - then try out the practice activity below.
"At Spark Central, we believe that everyone—regardless of income—deserves creative learning opportunities and innovative technologies so they can thrive. We break barriers to creative growth like cost, confidence, and access to tools and technology by offering our membership, youth programming, and community events at NO COST and adult programming at very low costs.
SPARK CENTRAL IS A 501(C)3 NONPROFIT THAT IGNITES THE CREATIVITY, INNOVATION, AND IMAGINATION NECESSARY FOR PEOPLE TO FORGE THE PATH TO THEIR BEST FUTURE."
Think about how you would explain Spark-Central’s mission to a variety of different visitors (e.g. to an 8 year old, a senior in the community, a business person from the neighbourhood, etc.). What do you think are some key points to emphasize when communicating the mission to these different visitors? How would your explanation change with each one? Practice having this conversation at home with anyone who will listen!
One of the ways that Spark-Central is working to build creative capacity is by providing members with opportunities to explore new creative and technological media or tools. Unfortunately, as many members lack familiarity with these tools, they are often nervous about trying them out. In many cases, volunteers feel the same way.
While trying something new can be a little unnerving - it can also be exhilarating! We are all beginners at some stage, and nurturing curiosity in yourself and in our members is fundamental to Spark-Central's approach. So try not to let fear or uncertainty stand in your way. Embrace your curiosity and encourage members to do the same. Play, experiment, explore and invite others to join you - you don't need to be an expert, you just need to be willing to try. After all, encouraging questions, nurturing creativity and building confidence is what Spark-Central is all about.
And we're not the only ones advocating this approach - In the following TEDx talk, India-based social entrepreneur, Ramaprasad Raghavan, describes how experiential learning has been used to spark curiosity, enhance capacity and unlock the creative potential of youth from various socio-economic backgrounds.
Challenge yourself to try a new activity or learn a new skill. You've already decided to volunteer, so we know you're up for it! Why not start by signing out one of the tech kits at Spark-Central and attempting to set it up. If it's not busy, you can even try this during one of your shifts.